Watching "Shin Godzilla," Toho's reboot of its signature monster series, I couldn't help feeling sorry for the non-Japanese fans forced to read a blizzard of subtitles for this extremely talky and densely populated film, with a break every 10 minutes or so for Godzilla rampages — the real reason they bought the tickets.
But those rampages — staged by effects veteran Shinji Higuchi and his team, with co-director and sci-fi/fantasy maestro Hideaki Anno supervising — are worth the wait. Working with a fraction of the budget that Hollywood CGI spectacles get, they have created scenes of frighteningly realistic destruction, with a beast that has evolved far from his "man in a suit" origins of Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya's 1954 original "Godzilla."
Similar to that film, "Shin Godzilla" unfolds in a contemporary Japan that has never heard of Godzilla. When the beast first makes its presence known in Tokyo Bay in the form of strange rumblings, water sprays and a catastrophic tunnel flooding, the authorities scramble to come up with answers — and decide the cause is a volcanic eruption.