Rave reviews and box office records: How ‘Godzilla Minus One’ took the U.S. by storm

Since its release, a handful of discussions on the community-focused website Reddit have been buzzing with one question in particular: How is the film so good? On X, others have also had similar reactions. Some lamented that bigger-budget action films have paled in comparison.

Takashi Yamazaki, the film’s director, writer and VFX supervisor, told The Verge he wanted to “bring some of that original intention behind Godzilla back.”

“Out of all the Godzillas there have been throughout the years — scary Godzilla, cute Godzilla, the more heroic Godzilla, etc. — my favorite is still the original from the very first movie,” he said.

He also “wanted to look at how the war affected people at that time” and tell a more human story, through the lens of the film’s lead character, former kamikaze pilot Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki).

“Everyone’s already living with post-traumatic stress disorder and not knowing how to carry on,” he said. “But then Godzilla shows up, and while the situation becomes even more dire, the threat he poses is also what gives people like [Kōichi] Shikishima a reason to step up to the occasion.”

U.S. audiences will be getting more Godzilla next year. The first trailer for “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” debuted this week, though it was already drawing some scrutiny for a clip of the Japanese lizard running (Godzilla tends to be relatively slow and plodding in most movies).

Dergarabedian noted that quality and creativity trump concerns about whether audiences might be burnt out on particular characters.

Audiences don’t have “Godzilla fatigue,” he said. “It’s not even action movie fatigue. It’s bad movie fatigue. Or movies that just don’t push the envelope enough for audiences to get on board.”

When moviegoers get what they feel are “fresh” offerings, buzz often generates organically, he added.

Both “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” — two very different films that upon their simultaneous release became known as the cultural phenomenon “Barbenheimer” — were released by big Hollywood studios (Universal Pictures and Warner Bros., respectively). But like “Godzilla Minus One,” they also offered a “non-cookie cutter experience” to viewers. (NBC News and Universal Pictures are both units of NBCUniversal.)

“Trying to get a handle on what audiences want is very tough,” Dergarabedian said. “I think there’s a huge underestimation of what audiences want. Using the conventional wisdom that makes for some very watered-down content is getting boring to audiences. They want to be pushed.”

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