Advertisement

Godzilla Minus One's Black-And-White Version Has A Lot Of Positives, But I Definitely Missed One Important Factor

 Godzilla swims after a small boat attacking him in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Godzilla swims after a small boat attacking him in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

The 2024 movie release schedule may still see the world waiting for the debut of the next MonsterVerse film, but the festivities for Godzilla’s 70th anniversary have technically already kicked off. Through the release of writer/director Takashi Yamazaki’s Godzilla Minus One, cheering on the legendary kaiju’s milestone birthday hasn’t been easier, especially since it looks like the box office smash is about to end its domestic run through the specialty re-release of Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color.

I took advantage of this new variant’s limited run in theaters, which is set to end on February 1st, and it was an experience I’m glad I got to partake in. The black-and-white version of this picture certainly has a lot of positives, which all add to the fun of the movie itself.

However, there was one important factor I still missed in Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color, and it’s something to consider in future exercises such as this. Before we get started though, feel free to take a look at the re-issue trailer for the black and white version. It'll help set the tone for what we're about to discuss, and it's also pretty amazing.

Now that you have that reference point in mind, let’s take a look at the positives, and the slight negative, that came with Godzilla’s big prequel outing. Don't worry, there are no spoilers here, just appreciation for the beauty that is Godzilla Minus One, plus or minus color.

Godzilla looking down at some power lines in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Godzilla looking down at some power lines in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

Godzilla Minus One Minus Color Is An Impressive Visual Throwback

When Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color was first announced, some may have seen it as a cash grab. As the latest Toho-produced entry reached staggering heights for what was essentially an independent-budgeted production, its theatrical success felt like an opportunity to give the public something special.

Takashi Yamazaki and his team gave the world just that through this black and white presentation. Godzilla Minus One’s color free version is a beautiful visual throwback to the 1954 original, co-written and directed by Ishirō Honda.

Yamazaki’s reasons for Godzilla Minus One’spost-World War II setting only bolster the choice of offering a black and white version of the movie. Lending even more of a period-appropriate vibe to the finished product, there's more of an authentic air to the vintage Toho experience present. Which, of course, best benefits this 70-year-old kaiju, even if he's being shown on the big screen younger than ever.

Godzilla roars in pain in front of clouds in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Godzilla roars in pain in front of clouds in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

Godzilla Looks Even More Terrifying And Expressive Minus Color

While the upgraded visual effects of Godzilla Minus One still keep the audience in a modern perspective, they don’t become distractingly so in Minus Color. In fact, the more I’ve looked at Godzilla in particular in this black and white context, the more I’ve actually noticed about Takashi Yamazaki and his VFX team’s efforts on this iteration of the creature.

Upon seeing the trailers for Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color, two things stood out as hugely impressive. The first was how expressive this Godzilla happened to be, especially in scenes as simple as the lizard god chasing our heroes sailing to safety iun a wooden boat.

Godzilla’s eyes peeking out from the waves looked spectacular in this scene, and you can really see the anger and determination shine. Then there’s the memorable moment where Godzilla roars in anger, baring his teeth in a black-and-white image of terror that’s stuck with me since first seeing it in promotional materials.

But something really exciting I noticed in Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color was Godzilla’s movements. In the current era of highly-polished fun the MonsterVerse gives us, Toho’s mythic creation is pretty agile and moves rather swiftly. Godzilla Minus One’s creature, on the other hand, looks like it’s still a person in a suit performing for the character.

Hidetaka Yoshioka and Miou Tanaka addressing a crowd in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Hidetaka Yoshioka and Miou Tanaka addressing a crowd in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

The Black And White Godzilla Minus One Doesn’t Distract From The Story

Let’s really put the cards on the table here: there are two different sorts of Godzilla cravings. There’s the sober examination of humanity’s hubris that leads to some of the most introspective and best sci-fi movies, and then there are the popcorn factories that pose the question, “What if Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed were Titans?”

Godzilla Minus One is, without question, a film that caters to that first craving. So the wrong black and white approach could become a distracting attempt at going old school for the sake of novelty. Consider that concern further dashed, as the drama surrounding Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and his post World War II trauma isn’t robbed of its potency Minus Color.

Ryunosuke Kamiki sits in a fighter jet with a determined look in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Ryunosuke Kamiki sits in a fighter jet with a determined look in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

An Alternate Godzilla Minus One Is A Great Lure For Repeat Viewers

I really can’t blame Toho International for wanting to give Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color a spin in theaters. Normally you’d expect a movie like this to save the alternate black & white cut for a home entertainment release, much like director Frank Darabont’s The Mist.

While James Mangold’s Logan Noir did make a theatrical appearance, that happened to be connected to Hugh Jackman’s X-Men movie swan song. That scenario seems to have the more effective connection to Godzilla Minus One, as Logan’s black and white trailer made some people want to see that film all over again.

It’s basically giving the people more of what they want, and in a slightly different form than what they’re used to; which is exactly what Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color did. So if you loved it before, why not feed your curiosity and see it again in this interesting new variation?

Ryunosuke Kamiki and Minami Hamabe running away from Godzilla with a crowd in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.
Ryunosuke Kamiki and Minami Hamabe running away from Godzilla with a crowd in Godzilla Minus One Minus Color.

Godzilla Minus One, In Any Form, Is A Truly Theatrical Experience

Our final, and perhaps most obvious, reason that Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color is a good idea runs parallel with the point that repeat audiences will benefit from this exercise. Though it’s been a runaway box office hit, and made history with its 2024 Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects being the first golden nod for Godzilla film ever, people are going to be curious about the hype.

This will hopefully lead to more potential audience members experiencing Godzilla Minus One in the best place to do so: a movie theater. Even without the support of previous premium format offerings like Dolby, IMAX and 4DX, this picture absolutely needs to be seen on a gigantic screen.

So while repeat viewers are undoubtedly going to be drawn in, first timers may wonder if they should take the gamble or wait for home entertainment. Take it from me, as someone who has seen both versions, you need to see Godzilla Minus One in either form on the big screen.

Godzilla roars as he blasts his Heat Ray in Godzilla Minus One.
Godzilla roars as he blasts his Heat Ray in Godzilla Minus One.

The Important Factor I Missed About Godzilla Minus One Minus Color

I did promise to talk about one important factor that I did miss in Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color. If you’ve guessed that it was the color itself, you’re absolutely correct. Again, I highly recommend Takashi Yamazaki’s opus of destruction as a theatrical showing of any stripe. But if I’m completely honest, I really loved how this movie worked with its palette of pigments.

Much like the world of 3D conversion, you can usually tell when a movie is shot for black-and-white, or if it was post-converted. There are a handful of moments where that difference is noticeable, while also not taking away from what’s on screen. But at the same time, when Godzilla charges up his Heat Ray for the first time and shoots it off with an atomic roar, it is so gorgeous to behold in full color.

As an exercise in comparing and contrasting these two visions, take a look at the full color trailer for Godzilla Minus One. Included below, it's the perfect bookend to the Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color footage you observed above:

Maybe that’s just me being kind of spoiled, as I come from an age group that’s looking forward to Godzilla x Kong’s Pink Godzilla theories either being proven or debunked. I can certainly appreciate black-and-white movies, but admittedly I do love the neon-glow of a good larger than life adventure such as Pacific Rim or Godzilla vs. Kong.

As such, nothing will replace that awe when I first saw Godzilla's atomic blast in this movie's color release. That being said, I'll double down on my enjoyment with Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color and continue to recommend it be enjoyed.

With Godzilla Minus One impressing life-long fans, like my CinemaBlend friend and colleague Rich Knight, that should be enough hype to get even outsiders to check it out. But again, if you’ve been worried about whether or not the Minus Color reskin was just a cash grab, let me crush that assumption once and for all.

At the same time, whether you choose to enjoy this grand adventure in color or black-and-white for the first time is up to you. But if "big screen versus small screen" is the debate you're currently waging, I can definitely help with that decision.

If you’re even the least bit interested in seeing Godzilla Minus One, see it any way you can theatrically; and do it quick. Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color’s theatrical engagement ends the film’s domestic run on February 1st, and while this will definitely play at home, you shouldn’t rob yourself of some true cinematic magic.