A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Contrasts the idea that soldiers must give their lives for their country (or be branded cowards) with the notion that humans have the right to live and find happiness. There are struggles with survivor's guilt, as well as shame, but there are also examples of courage, compassion, and kindness and a strong depiction of teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Shikishima goes through a huge transformation, starting out cowardly and riddled with guilt. He takes in a young woman and an orphaned girl and finds himself tackling a dangerous job to be able to take care of them. By the end, he has found his courage. His co-workers are equally ready to pitch in and help one another to solve a big problem.
The main cast members are all Japanese-born, and -- unlike the American-dubbed release of the original film -- no White people were added (the original made that choice because they thought it would appeal more to American audiences that way). Dialogue is in the original Japanese, with English subtitles for U.S. release. The movie also attempts to identify with and understand the mindset of the Japanese people after the destruction and despair of World War II.
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Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting. Dead bodies and bloody wounds. A person is attacked from behind and hit on the head with a blunt object. People punch one another and grab other by the hair. Giant monster decimates half a city with an atomic blast. (News reports that 30,000 were killed.) Giant monster stomps on and eats people, chomping on the upper half of their bodies. Monster also smashes things with its tail and feet and throws trains and boats through the air. Ocean mines, a plane, and ships explode. Person in peril, hanging on for dear life as the monster holds a train in its mouth. Dead fish bobbing in water. Dialogue about death. Small girl cries in anguish. A baby is an orphan.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic feelings between two lead characters.
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Sporadic use of "damn," "hell," "idiot," "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
Nothing on-screen, but Godzilla is a well-known franchise with lots of tie-in merchandise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink sake with dinner. One character drinks more when upset. A character is accused of being drunk. Background smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Godzilla Minus One is a giant monster/kaiju movie set in post-World War II Japan. Expect lots of action violence, including guns and shooting, dead bodies, explosions, bloody wounds, punching, hitting with a blunt object, pulling hair, etc. A giant monster decimates a city with an atomic ray and smashes things with its feet and tail, crushing and eating humans and throwing trains and planes. There's also dialogue about death, and a baby is orphaned. There's a tentative romantic connection between two characters that isn't realized until the end. Mild language includes uses of "damn," "hell," "idiot," and "stupid." Characters drink sake with dinner; one person drinks more when upset, and a character is accused of being drunk. There's also background smoking. One of the best movies in the Godzilla franchise, it explores themes of human value and survivor's guilt and is surprisingly emotional. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This great-looking, exciting, surprisingly emotional movie gets its power by setting the action in post-WWII Japan, tapping into both heart-rending despair and newfound hope. Most of the 36 Godzilla movies made before this one was released were either somewhat cheesy, or, in the case of the American versions, overly bombastic. But Godzilla Minus One manages to find an appealing new tone. Director Takashi Yamazaki's handling of the kaiju action is skillful and smooth -- and sometimes deeply affecting; Godzilla's leveling of the city with his atomic blast is truly shocking.
The movie has startlingly good visual effects -- Godzilla's first appearance on a dark beach, suddenly illuminated by a spotlight, is a heart-stopper -- but the focus is squarely on the characters. It's a simple distinction, given that, historically, these movies' main goal has been to deliver an ecological message. But by settling Godzilla Minus One on themes of guilt and cowardice, as well as friendship and kindness, viewers may feel more invested in the action. Yamazaki handles things with an open-hearted quality but never lets anything get too soapy or hysterical. Even Sumiko (Sakura Ando), the neighbor in Tokyo who initially comes on strong, attacking Shikishima for his failures, settles into a more nuanced character. This sense of compassion makes Godzilla Minus One easily one of the best of the series and definitely on par with the original 1954 classic.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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