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Godzilla Minus One is dominating Netflix’s Top 10, as it should

Published Jun 3rd, 2024 8:22PM EDT
Godzilla Minus One is streaming on Netflix.
Image: Toho

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On Saturday, Netflix subscribers were pleasantly surprised to see that Godzilla Minus One had made its long-awaited streaming debut on the service. The Japanese kaiju movie was released theatrically in the US last fall, but as soon as it left movie theaters, there was virtually no way to watch it. That finally changed over the weekend when it joined the Netflix streaming library and became available to rent and purchase digitally across a variety of platforms.

Winner of Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards, Godzilla Minus One is a sight to behold. Even the CGI in movies with outrageous budgets is increasingly inconsistent, as so many visual effects studios are being overworked by the likes of Disney and Warner Bros. Pictures. But with a reported $10-12 million budget, Godzilla Minus One looks spectacular.

Looks alone don’t carry this movie, though. Set in post-war Japan in the months following World War II, Godzilla Minus One does an impressive job of recreating a bygone era full of characters trying to figure out how to put their lives back together.

The Godzilla movies have never really clicked for me, but I was fully engaged from the opening moments of this reboot. Godzilla is terrifying, impossibly large, and seemingly indestructible. It’s clear from the start that Japan will be no match for the monster, especially after being decimated by the United States in the years prior to Godzilla’s arrival.

But here’s why Godzilla Minus One worked for me in ways that recent American entries did not. The movie primarily follows Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a former kamikaze pilot who abandoned his mission by pretending that his plane wasn’t working. He was meant to die in that plane, but with the war over, he gets to return home.

His personal journey and those of the people he meets, as he finds his way in this new post-war Japan, elevate this entry in the 70-year-old franchise beyond any I have ever seen. When a new Godzilla movie comes out, you’ll often hear people talk about how lame the human story is. Why bother spending so much time on these human characters if their inner lives are less interesting than those of the big computer-generated monsters?

That’s not a problem that Godzilla Minus One faces. I was on the edge of my seat every time Shikishima and his motley crew of mine sweepers ran into danger on the water. I was far more interested to see who would make it out alive than I was to see Godzilla smash through another city block. It’s the complete flip side of the coin of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

Even if you have no interest in Godzilla as a concept, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. My only regret now is that I didn’t see it in theaters when I had a chance. That said, it still played great on a flat-screen TV in my living room.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.