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Defector Up All Night

An Observation About ‘Godzilla Minus One’

Godzilla standing and I guess yelling, as seen during the trailer to the film Godzilla Minus One.
Screenshot/YouTube

If you're a Pal-level subscriber at Defector, you get access to a premium weekday newsletter called The Cipher, which has a recap of the blog day, links to other sites, and extra takes and bits from staffers. You can change your newsletter preferences or upgrade your subscription at the My Account page. Here, from December, is a newsletter bit about Godzilla Minus One. Mild spoilers ahead.

Drew's already told you that you should see this movie, but I have one thing to add. It's ingrained among connoisseurs of creature features that you don't show the monster all at once—you dole out little hints of the monster to build up suspense and take heart knowing that our imaginations are better than any VFX crew. Jaws has the theme music; the T-Rex in Jurassic Park has the water rippling; even Tremors knows to hide its baddies with POV shots and, uh, dirt.

I thought, initially, that Godzilla eschewed this rule, with thrilling results. In the opening five minutes, we get a quick glimpse of our main character and the setting, then almost immediately we hear sirens warning of Godzilla's arrival. I was expecting more noise, maybe some screams, perhaps a quick cutaway after some teeth, but BOOM, there's Godzilla, the whole dang thing. And because I thought I knew the trick, and I turned out to be wrong after I braced for it, I was still in awe of the thing.

Except it's not really Godzilla. A little while later, after apparently getting mutated at Bikini Atoll, an evolved Godzilla emerges from the water to munch on some boats. This dude is so much bigger than the first version we witnessed. Seeing it on the big screen, you get a knot in your stomach. It is a truly impressive freak, especially because of the baseline established by the lethal attacker at the start. Minus One gives you the hint of the monster disguised as the real thing, then, later, blows your mind with the whole shebang. That's just one reason why it's so dang good.


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