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Godzilla Minus One is a reminder that action movies can be good, actually

Fie Jurassic World! Fie Dial of Destiny!

Image featuring Godzilla with a blue tail
Image credit: Toho

It's been a long time since we've had a good action movie. I don't mean fun frothy romps like Mission Impossible or Fast & Furious. I mean properly good movies that are both all-in on the action and all-in on the human story. Think Jurassic Park. Think The Matrix. Think Mad Max: Fury Road. Movies which have great set pieces, but will also make you cry.

Now I love a fun romp, but (like many I think) I was starting to feel like I would never get a good action movie again. Like the studios didn't believe that action movies had to be good, because they would get butts in seats anyway (though even that wasn't true for this recent Mission Impossible, and Marvel and DC excursions). That's why it's such a breath of fresh air (could it be that we were drowning?) that Godzilla Minus One is not just a good action movie, but is also a good movie in itself.

Godzilla has long functioned as a symbol of post-war Japan, and in recent years (and in American adaptations especially) that has fallen away for how many ant-sized people the kaiju can stomp (and whether or not the kaiju is a symbol of environmentalism, which, to be fair, is also interesting). In Godzilla Minus One, writer/director (and visual effects lead, if you can believe it) Takashi Yamazaki brings Godzilla back to post-war Japan as a symbol of the trauma and shame birthed from war and the real-life manifestation of a country broken through the dehumanization of death (almost ironic when it comes to an action movie, isn't it?).

Godzilla Minus One is a celebration of life, as Yamazaki said at the movie's US premiere, but it's also a celebration of regular people addressing each others' wounds and coming together to heal and thus build a better world for future generations. In other words, it's a movie that has something to say to its audiences alongside images of Godzilla destroying a building with one swipe of his tail. For that, I am grateful.

An advanced review screening for Godzilla Minus One was provided ahead of release by Toho International.

Godzilla Minus One is currently in theaters. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Cover image for YouTube videoGodzilla Minus One trailer works better when we barely see Godzilla

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Godzilla Minus One director on why he chose a "difficult" time period for his Godzilla story

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Tiffany Babb avatar

Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.