Netflix movie of the day: Godzilla Minus One is one of the best films of the last year, and it just stomped onto Netflix

Godzilla facing away from camera, with his huge rear spine visible
(Image credit: Toho Co.)
Movie of the day

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Godzilla Minus One arrived last year with phenomenal word-of-mouth, and I personally ranked it as my second favorite movie of 2023, after the similarly nuclear-weapons-themed Oppenheimer. The Godzilla sort-of-prequel (you really don't need to know anything about any other Godzilla movies to watch it, but it's intended as a lead-in to the original Japanese Godzillas) is one of the new Netflix movies in June 2024 – in 4K with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, no less – and you absolutely cannot miss this gripping, affecting movie. I think it deserves to rank straight among the best Netflix movies.

Godzilla Minus One mostly follows Kōichi Shikishima, a WWII kamikaze fighter pilot who fakes a mechanical failure in his plane to avoid having to kill himself in battle. Landing at a repair base on an isolated island, he and the base's repair team suddenly find themselves attacked by Godzilla. Shikishima has the chance to use his plane to try to stop the monster from killing them all, but he seizes up, and only he and one other mechanic are left alive.

He returns to Tokyo to find his family dead, and his neighborhood devastated by fire bombings. He tries to find some purpose and redemption by taking in a homeless woman with a baby she rescued and hiding his shame and guilt from his perceived cowardice. But there's no chance of that when the skyscraper-sized manifestation of his inaction arrives in Tokyo, causing nuclear devastation. So Shikishima will join with a group of war veterans, scientists, and the hate-filled lone other survivor of the island to come up with a way to defeat Godzilla.

This all sounds very classic monster movie, but what Godzilla Minus One nails in a way that few other disaster movies manage is the powerful human side of the story. Shikishima is both a deeply sympathetic and frustrating central character, and the movie challenges his different sides, driving towards an incredibly cathartic final few scenes. It also fills the rest of the space with engaging characters who all carry their own baggage about the war – so many of them also feel regrets or personal failings. 

The inaction of both the Japanese and world governments (in particular, the US, which controlled so much of Japan's operations post-war) leaves this group with no choice but to attempt a likely suicide mission. I've rarely been more gripped by any scene in any movie than by the whole final battle with Godzilla, and it's because I cared about this ship full of fantastic Japanese actors – I especially want to call out Kuranosuke Sasaki, who delivers one of the ultimate 'still waters run deep' performances on screen as the captain of a minesweeper ship that has multiple run-ins with Godzilla.

And on top of all this, if you pay for Netflix's highest tier, you'll really enjoy it in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos – especially paired with a great home theater system or one of the best soundbars, because there's some incredible sound design among the battles. With or without 4K, though, I also love the design of Godzilla here. It's kind of a CGI call-back to the original man-in-a-suit Godzilla designs. It has more detail and movement to it – but it walks stiffly and has a deadness to the face that actually makes it feel all the more terrifying because it comes across as true indifference. Godzilla doesn't need to react to what's around it most of the time – and so if it does focus on you, you know it's going to be absolutely devastating.

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Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.