There are so many things with this movie I want to talk about. The awesome fighting. The ridiculous story. The even more awesome fighting.
But first, I have to talk about Yuri.
There has never been a character as dumb as Yuri in the history of Cinema. I don't mean her character arch is dumb, and I don't mean her motivation is dumb. I mean that the women who trip running upstairs in a slasher flick, the entire crew of scientists from Prometheus who managed to get lost in a cave they had already mapped out, and the super villain made of puzzle pieces that thought she could take Superman would tell this woman she needed some critical thinking skills.
This is a conversation that happens at one point:
Yuri: "Follow that helicopter!"
Takeda: "We're in a car!"
Yuri: "They'll lead us straight to Godzilla!"
* A few scenes later, the helicopter swerves over the mountain*
Yuri: "Damn, they outsmarted us!"
Yes, Yuri, the helicopter, that probably didn't know you were even following them, outsmarted you by flying over a mountain. Who knew?
We'll come back to this genius in a bit.
So the movie starts with the Japanese military meeting up after and discussing the '98 NYC incident, where the Americans are sure Godzilla attacked ( Japanese experts disagree, and believe the Americans misidentified the monster responsible). They fear Godzilla's return, even though he hasn't been seen in 50 years because god dammit this is another reboot that only acknowledges the original film. Most of the Japanese people don't even believe Godzilla was real, even though definitive proof that he killed people just a few decades earlier exists.
Yuri, our esteemed protagonist, is filming a docudrama elsewhere in Japan when a weird series of earthquakes hits. She meets a mysterious old man who fortells the return of Godzilla. At the same time, a Japanese sub is taken down by what video evidence suggests is Godzilla himself.
Interviewing the old man later, he tells her the legend of the guardian monsters that must be awakened to protect Japan from Godzilla, who has been possessed by the angry spirits of all the people the Japanese killed during the Pacific conflict. Even for a movie about giant monsters battling each other, this is pretty freaking weird. Yuri believes him without question, because yea. Meanwhile, Mothra emerges from a lake and kills a few teenagers. Again, because yea.
Some time later, both Godzilla, and the first of the guardian monsters, Baragon, arrive in Hakone.
Baragon didn't even get title credit, so I'm sure this will go well for him.
Yea, that's about what I thought.
It's during this time that our heroine falls for the helicopter's cunning ploy. So instead, she decides to stand and watch the two giants fight, and manages to get injured.
An injury I'm sure she has endured before, many times.
She continues to follow Godzilla's trail to Yokohama, where Godzilla begins to battle Mothra, the second guardian monster. She gets a few good hits in, but big G turns the tide quickly, and Mothra has to be saved by King Gidorah, guardian monster number three. That's right, King Gidorah, the Joker to Godzilla's Batman through the series, is the good guy this time around.
One of the best battles in Toho's monster fighting history happens here. Explosions abound, and monsters drop left and right as Godzilla rains down the punishment. Gidorah seemingly goes down for the count. Just as it looks like Godzilla is about to finish him off with a radiation blast, Mothra heroically leaps in front of it, and Godzilla blasts her into tiny glowing mothballs. She then possesses Gidorah, giving him his trademark wings. More fighting. More explosions. More blood. Godzilla regains the upper hand again. He blasts apart King Gidorah.
Meanwhile, Yuri once again gets into trouble as the building she is in gets shaken apart during the battle. Tekeda tries to save her, but they both tumble into the river below. Gidorh blasts to life and saves them, and goes on the offensive again. At the same time, Yuri's father, a general in the military, drives his sub directly into Godzilla's mouth.
Godzilla again beats down Gidorah, this time for good, blasting apart the three-headed dragon. Inside big G, Yuri's father shoots a missile that drills through Godzilla's shoulder. Yuri and Takeda climb from the from water, just in time for Godzilla to loom over them and attempt to blast them with radiation. Instead, the blast exits his shoulder. He attempts again, and injures himself greatly. One last attempt seemingly kills him, and Godzilla sinks into the depths of the sea.
Yuri's father leaves through the wide open wound, and rejoins his brilliant daughter. Japan begins celebrating the death of Godzilla. But on the seabed, a giant heart begins pumping.
The Good: Every on screen appearance by the kaiju. All the fight scenes. Monster-on-monster fighting at its finest.
The Bad: Yuri. The weird mystical plot. The complete change in character for Gidorah. Yuri.
I give this three Godzukis and a Minilla.