Akira Kurosawa’s Masterpiece – Seven Samurai

7 07 2012

It is one of cinemas all-time Greats. It is rated as one of the Greatest films in the history of cinema by Reviewers and Audiences and that is not just a statement, here is the proof:

  • “voted number one in an audience poll conducted by MovieMail in 2000”
  • “the highest reviewed movie at Rotten Tomatoes with the highest number of votes that is listed as an action movie on the site”
  • “Cited as the greatest Japanese film ever; at number 12, it is the highest-ranked Japanese and Asian film on the Internet Movie Database‘s “Top 250 movies” list. It ranked, for the first time, at number 3 in the 1982 Sight & Sound Critics’ Top Ten Poll, appeared on the Sight & Sound Directors’ Top Ten Poll in 1992 (ranked number 10), and tied for the highest-ranked Japanese and Asian film in 2002 (ranked number 9). It is ranked number 2 on Rotten Tomatoes‘ top 100 foreign films, and number 1 on their top 100 action/adventure films. It was also voted the “Best Japanese Film ever” in a 1979 Kinema Junpo critics’ poll”
  • “It is now regarded by some commentators as the greatest Japanese film ever made, and in 1979, a poll of Japanese film critics also voted it the best Japanese film ever made”
  • “Ranked #1 in Empire magazines “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010”
  • 96% Audience Rating on Rotten Tomatoes
  • 100% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes

I myself have known about this film for many years but it was usually only in passing, I did not know what the film was about at all. Then when I heard about it more and more I decided that I wanted to see it. It has been many years since that time but at long last I have seen it. The film came at in interesting point for Japanese Cinema. It had only been a couple of years since the occupation of Japan by American forces had finished and as such restrictions on what films Japan could do had been lifted. Film Company TOHO were very successful during WW2 making propaganda films but when Japan lost they could not do that anymore. In 1954 TOHO would once again make a name for themselves with the release of not 1 but 2 films which would become legends in their own rights. The first one was Seven Samurai; the second was the original Godzilla.

The film’s director Akira Kurosawa was already an internationally acclaimed director after his 1950 film Rashomon. In 1952 he took his writing team to a 45 day secluded residence to write Seven Samurai, the plot was really simple, production was difficult. The film spent 3 months in pre-production and 1 month in rehearsals. The films rising production costs were a continuous issue with TOHO wanting Kurosawa to shoot the film at the studios while Kurosawa was adamant to shoot the film on location. The film took a year to shoot with the mixed issues of costing’s, production and the director’s health. The film opened half a year after it was supposed to be released, but as soon as the film was released all these issues did not matter thanks to the films instant success. The film was later remade in 1960 in America with a western style, the film in question was called  The Magnificent Seven.

Akira Kurosawa

The film is set 400 years ago (from 1954 at least) when a group of bandits who ransacked a village earlier in the year have decided to return to it when the village harvests its barley. When one villager hears this he tells the other villagers. The villagers are greatly upset at this and consider many ideas of what to do including suicide. They go and speak to the village patriarch Gisaku (Kokuten Kodo) who tells the villagers to get Samurai. The village is poor and unable to afford warriors but Gisaku has the idea of paying them with rice because they will eventually have to eat. A group of villagers go to the town but are initially unsuccessful until they see a Samurai who kills a thief who kidnapped a child. They follow him into the town but he too is followed by a younger warrior and a warrior acting very strangely. The Samurai Kambei (Takashi Shimura) is a ronin (master less) and initially unsure of the idea and states that he can’t do it by himself. He eventually agrees when he realises that the villagers are sacrificing their rice for the Samurai.

Kambei and his new young warrior Katsushirō (Isao Kimura) start looking for Samurai and test them by hitting them on the head. They eventually recruit Gorōbei (Yoshio Inaba) who is a skilled archer and acts as the second in command, Shichirōji (Daisuke Katô) who is a former lieutenant for Kambei, Heihachi (Minoru Chiaki) who is a less skilled fighter but keeps their spirits up and Kyūzō (Seiji Miyaguchi) who declined originally and only really cares about perfecting his skill but later changes his mind. Kambei tries to get rid of Katsushirō for being too young but his mind changes after the other Samurai talk to him. The night before they set out, a group of men from the town say they have seen an incredible fighter who also got drunk. This fighter turns out to be the strange acting Samurai from earlier, he shows the others his nobility papers but it becomes obvious that he has stolen them. As the Samurai leave for the village the drunken Samurai follows them. He is later inducted into the group and is given the name (Toshiro Mifune) Kikuchiyo.

The Samurai train the villagers with Bamboo spears and look through the village to figure out the best way to defend it. Kikuchiyo finds a large amount of Samurai equipment which was taken from a killed Samurai. Six of the Samurai don’t like this but Kikuchiyo tells the other six that the farmers have hard lives and the Samurai class makes life hard for them, it is here that Kikuchiyo early life as a farmer is revealed, as a result of his words the other six turn their anger into shame. Katsushirō begins to fall in love with a girl called Shino (Keiko Tsushima) who has had her hair cut to make her look like a boy so the Samurai will be fooled. Heihachi creates a banner for the Samurai to help raise their spirits which includes the symbol for Farmer, six dots and a triangle (the triangle is for Kikuchiyo).

The harvest of the barley begins and 3 bandit’s scouts are discovered. The bandit’s camp is reveled and 3 of the Samurai go to it. Many bandits are killed but Heihachi is killed to. The Samurai feel a bit down until they remember his banner which rallies their spirits. The bandits arrive to attack the village but are originally overwhelmed by the defenses and several die. Kambei leaves an opening to tempt the bandits into it; several more bandits are killed in this way. Kikuchiyo heads outside the village and manages to grab on of the bandits guns, however a couple more Samurai are killed. The night before the final battle it is revealed that Katsushirō has had relations with Shino and her father is enraged by this. On the day of the final battle the remaining bandits are let into the town to be slaughtered. However Kikuchiyo gets mortally wounded when he is shot by the bandit leader; however he keeps going long enough to kill him before he dies. With the bandits killed the Samurai have saved the village from the bandits. However, when the villagers plant their new crop, Kambei notes that it is a loss for them; the villagers still have their village while the Samurai have lost a few friends and gained nothing as well as the fact that the Samurai are merely just Hired Guns and don’t come from the village. The last shot of the film observes the burials of the 4 fallen Samurai.

While the story does look quite long it is a long film but it does not get boring for one second. Overall the film is over 3 hours long (207 minutes if you are lucky enough to have seen the entire thing although I like most people have only seen the 190 minute version – anyway the full length is longer than all 3 Lord of the Pants films, Hopefully one day I will be able to see the full 207 minute version) which is a long time to watch a film however it is worth every minute and every penny (and possibly some more pennies). The films length is also the key to its story as if it was any shorter the story would have been hard to tell in such a short space of time, this would also mean that the film would not have been as Amazing as it was. All the sitting down, numb bum is all worth it by then end.

The film’s effects are all nicely put together. While audiences today are spoilt rotten by 3D and CGI this film uses good old stunts. When the swords are used not much stabbing appears to take place but you need to remember that the swords being used are the sharpest swords in the history of the world and so if you were to simply get cut by one, it does not matter if it was just a cut because it is more than likely that you are already dead. The films set is also well made and benefits from being on location as a studio would not have the same effect. Some people today may not like the fact that it is in Black and White and not Colour, however you don’t even notice the Black and White presentation because you become so engrossed in the film you don’t even notice (STOP RELYING ON CGI, 3D, HD AND COLOUR – THESE THINGS DON’T MAKE A FILM GOOD IN ANY WAY AT ALL). The film’s soundtrack (Produced by Fumio Hayasaka) is a nice blend of traditional styles in Japan with old-fashioned instruments from the period, with particular mention going to the Big Drums. The films main theme is has a nice heroic essence about it and uses traditional instruments to make it a real part of the film, it is a piece you will want to hear over and over again.

The cast chosen for the film is a nice mix of actors who do an excellent job of looking and acting like the characters in the story. Takashi Shimura is well-chosen as the lead Samurai; the way he portrays his character is with a level head and as such is an important part for the leader of the group. Also the way he manages to plan how they will defend the village and his caring nature to the younger Samurai in the group (Shimura would also star in the Original Godzilla film seven months later along with Kokuten Kodo). Kyūzō’s (Seiji Miyaguchi) character is another excellent portrayal as a master swordsman who also appears to have a level head and when he is fighting appears to be in the moment and not straying his head mind thinking about what has past or is to come. Keep special notice of both Gorobei (Yoshio Inaba) and HeiHachi, these 2 are like the jokers of the group and their scenes are very good, but keep special watch for when they smile, they both have really happy smiles.

For me Toshirō Mifune’s character Kikuchiyo is my favourite character. While Kikuchiyo starts off a bit odd and strange it is this that draws your attention to him and then as the film progresses you start to warm to him more and more as his caring side for the villagers and for the other Samurai starts to reveal itself. So it is hard at the end when he gets killed because you want him to survive the whole course of the film but when he does get killed by the chief bandit you can still see his heart as a warrior when he fights dying long enough for him to kill the bandit chief. To me he is like the muscle of the group, while the others have their own skill in battle; Kikuchiyo is a Ferocious Wildman in combat. Kikuchiyo is one of the reasons why the film should not be dubbed. While it may be hard to constantly have to read the dialogue, dubbing can’t bring out the passion. When Kikuchiyo talks about the farmers being murderers but have been forced to do it by the Samurai, he shows the angry passion and in a way talks sense. The farmers have killed Samurai which is not noble but the Samurai burn their villages, steal crops and rape women, the farmers are not just going to let them do this, they have to defend themselves somehow and so while it may not be noble it is self-defense, and when Kikuchiyo explains this in an Angry Rage, he makes the six other Samurai see sense. But while he does have this side to him, he has another more caring side. In the early stages of the Samurai training the villagers, Kikuchiyo strikes a friendship with a farmer called Yohei (Bokuzen Hidari). As the film progresses there are several comic scenes with Yohei and Kikuchiyo and a couple of scenes with Yohei’s horse, Kikuchiyo also helps the farmers out when they harvest their rice. Kikuchiyo cares about the farmers and in some way the other Samurai despite being seen as a somewhat joke by them earlier in the film. When Heihachi dies there is some sadness at the loss of the one who keeps their spirits up but Kikuchiyo remembers his banner and thrusts it onto one of the houses for the Samurai and the villagers to look at and raise their spirits in battle. While Kikuchiyo is rather odd, he is by far the merriest of the group and in some way one of the most caring and so while he is this fierce warrior he is a Good person, a Great Friend and a Fantastic Warrior.

All of these things are brought together in a brilliant story by the fantastic directing of Akira Kurosawa. Perhaps this is why Seven Samurai is regarded as his masterpiece. Seven Samurai while coming out in 1954 is the best film I have seen this year. In the space of about 3 months I have seen 3 incredible films and all of them are in my top 3 favourite (Non-Godzilla) films with Seven Samurai taking the top spot. While I could talk about this some more I don’t want to spoil it for you and me. Seven Samurai is an EXCELLEANT Film that does not get boring, it is everything you would want in a film and more, so if the recommendations at the top of the post are not big enough for you to watch it, a recommendation from me definitely is, so no excuse, GO AND WATCH IT, SERIOUSLY, STOP STALLING AND WATCH IT, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, SO WHAT IF IT’S LONGER THAN LORD OF THE RUBBISH, SO WHAT IF IT’S IN BLACK AND WHITE, WATCH IT, IT IS ONLY £12 FROM HMV, JUST LOOK IN THE WORLD CINEMA SELECTION OF HMV AND IT WILL BE THERE AND IF IT’S NOT JUST GO TO THE DESK AND DEMAND A FREE COPY FROM THEM FOR INCONVENIENCING YOU, STOP STALLING AND BUY IT AND WATCH IT, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU, WATCH IT, IT’S ONLY £8.38 ON AMAZON, £14.99 IF YOU BUY THE AKIRA KUROSAWA SAMURAI COLLECTION WHICH INCLUDES OTHER GREAT AKIRA KUROSAWA FILMS, YOU CAN WATCH THE FULL 207 MINUTE VERSION IF YOU BUY THE CRITERION COLLECTION BOX SET, IT’S £9.29 WITH FREE DELIVERY WITH PLAY.COM, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS, YOU COULD HAVE ORDERED IT ON AMAZON BY NOW, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, WATCH IT, WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Places Where you can buy Seven Samurai on DVD:

So, choose one of the above DVD retailers and BUY IT, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CLICK ONE OF THE ABOVE WEBSITES, BUY IT, BUY IT, BUY IT NOW.

GENEPOOL





Space Impression From Space – Godzilla VS SpaceGodzilla

6 07 2012

What are the chances of meeting yourself, well in some cases you will have to go back in time which is a bit tricky if you do not have a time machine. In the history of professional wrestling there have been cases of people meeting each other including Kane and The Undertaker. One possibility is the idea of sending your DNA into space in the hope of it going through a Black Hole, but this could be a really bad idea as seen in this film.

SpaceGodzilla is a creature from space (obviously) that is made from Godzilla’s DNA. The film also cleverly explains how this occurs, more on that later. There is some similarity but SpaceGodzilla has giant crystals coming out of his back and shoulders. He also has his own Death Ray and can also produce a shield. Here is a comparison for you to look at.

The film starts with a view into space and something in crystal form like a crystal meteorite is heading towards earth. On an Island on Planet Earth some shards from this space thing land on the surface and cause some explosions which wakes up Godzilla. Meanwhile in Japan, the government are building a new Giant Weapon to replace the previously destroyed MechaGodzilla. Two soldiers are sent to an island where it is believed that Godzilla is living. When they get there they notice giant crystal formations, they are then found by a man named Yuki who has been living on the island. He saves one of them from a poisonous spider and then goes away. The 2 soldiers (Shinjo and the slightly childish Sato) go and talk to him but are then interrupted by Little Godzilla who has grown a lot since the previous film (and likes Yuki). They then set up traps for Godzilla before Yuki shows them his special weapon designed to kill Godzilla, a bullet filled with blood coagulate. On the Japanese mainland a plan has been set in motion to telepathically control Godzilla called Project T. Miki Saegusa is reluctant at first but then learns from a tiny Mothra and the 2 fairies of Mothra that Space Godzilla is coming and while Mothra has been sent to deal with a Meteorite that could destroy the Earth the planet must now rely on Godzilla. The Project T team head for the Island.

Two blokes from NASA arrive in Japan and tell the government that a space monster is heading for Earth. The government launch their new weapon Moguera to attack the monster. The Moguera ultimately fails and the creature continues to head towards Earth. Back on the island the Project T team plant a device on the back of Godzilla’s head and successfully make him walk but the machine overloads itself. SpaceGodzilla arrives on the island and attacks Little Godzilla. Godzilla turns up but is overpowered by the Space Mutant. SpaceGodzilla then imprisons Little Godzilla in one of the Crystal formations that arrived on the island. SpaceGodzilla then leaves and Godzilla goes after him. Yuki and two of the scientists from Project T (Professor Gondo and Doctor Okubo) return to Japan and tell the authorities about the Monster and explain that Either Godzilla cells from Mothra or Biollante were sent into space and went through a black hole and created the Space Monster. Back on the island the following evening Miki is captured by the Japanese Mafia (Yakuza). Professor Gondo goes back to the island to pick up Shinjo and Sato and also explains why Yuki is obsessed with Godzilla, his best friend and Gondo’s brother was killed by Godzilla. The Yakuza with help from Okubo want to use the Project T to control Godzilla, however Shinjo, Sato and Yuki successfully rescue Miki before SpaceGodzilla arrives and destroys the building. SpaceGodzilla heads for Fukuoka and creates a crystal fortress around Fukuoka Tower. Yuki, Shinjo and Sato are sent to pilot the Moguera and to use everything possible to stop the Space Monster. Godzilla then arrives at Kagoshima bay and heads towards SpaceGodzilla in one of my most memorable City Attacks from the Heisei series.

When Yuki finds out that Godzilla has appeared he sees this as the perfect moment to kill Godzilla. He pilots the Moguera towards Godzilla, Shinjo knocks Yuki out and he and Sato go to Fukuoka to attack SpaceGodzilla. The attack once again fails and the Moguera is almost destroyed. Godzilla arrives and begins his attack on SpaceGodzilla. The Moguera team discover that SpaceGodzilla is drawing energy from the crystals and Fukuoka Tower. SpaceGodzilla begins to use some of the crystals from his fortress as missiles against Godzilla. The Moguera team split the machine into two vehicles, the star falcon and the land tank. The Land Tank proceeds to destroy Fukuoka tower and disrupt SpaceGodzilla’s Energy. The Moguera then comes back together and uses its spiral grenades to destroy SpaceGodzilla’s shoulder crystals. Professor Gondo and Miki arrive at the area to try and help. The Moguera teams up with Godzilla to fight SpaceGodzilla but ultimately fails. Shinjo and Sato escape the machine while Yuki tries to go after Godzilla. SpaceGodzilla begins to emit energy like it is about to explode but Godzilla uses his Super Charged Atomic Deathray (“spiral fire ray”) to destroy both SpaceGodzilla and the remains of the Moguera. Miki, Professor Gondo and the Moguera Team reunite and watch as Godzilla leaves Japan, as Godzilla is leaving Miki uses telepathy to remove the mind control device and shows Shinjo Little Godzilla having been freed from its crystal Prison.

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla is one of the oddest entries in the series but in some way it is not bad. The crystals of SpaceGodzilla that almost appear everywhere are an interesting idea but make the creature sound somewhat more like an evil villain rather than just a nasty creature. The most interesting part of the creature and its crystals are the ones on its shoulders. SpaceGodzilla’s best scenes are the ones where he is attacking the cities, well more like arriving. While the creature may look odd, it is apparent that a lot of work has been put into it in both its concept and it’s design, including how it does look a lot like Godzilla. It was both an interesting and nice change for the main city scenes to take place somewhere other than Tokyo, the Fukuoka tower is an amazing building and a great mini-co-star if you will.

Little Godzilla is a nice extra, this form of a younger Godzilla shows a life-cycle of the creature from its baby form in the previous film and it’s more mature form in the following film. Little Godzilla is a whole lot better than Minilla who was just weird while this one looks more reptilian and dinosaur-ish. The Moguera (Mobile Operation Godzilla Expert Robot A-Type) is a great addition to the series. Instead of a robot it is more like a machine and relies on weapons only. Its ability to split is comparable to the Power Rangers Zord’s but the Moguera is far more impressive. Some of the film’s best special effects come from the Moguera, in particular the Land Tank and the Star Falcon. Moguera previously starred in another Toho Monster Movie, The Mysterians.

But of course it comes down to Godzilla to be the main star. The previous film (as far as I know) is the first time that he used his Super Charged Atomic Deathray which returns in this film too. His city scenes and approach towards SpaceGodzilla as I said previously are some of the most memorable scenes in the series and also show how times have moved in terms of putting a living city view in the foreground and put Godzilla above them. This shows his size better than when the same effect was used in Terror Of Mecha-Godzilla.

Godzilla (Heisei - Toho Co., Ltd.)

The human cast are a nice blend with Shinjo and Miki equally as good. Miki has become more of a central figure than just the background as she was in previous films, she has kin do become the main star after Godzilla. The character of Yuki is Interesting but I can’t say any more than that really. But Professor Gondo (Towako Yoshikawa) is the one who really shines. A character who is genuinely a nice person who cares a lot for Yuki. It is a shame that she does not appear again in the series. It would be good though if the actress in question could receive another central role in future Godzilla films to the same style of Character as professor Gondo. Akira Nakao returns to play the commander of G-Force as he did in Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2. Nakao would make several appearances throughout the series in later films usually as a commanding figure, he is one of the series top actors when he plays these roles and should not be overlooked.

The films tone of being slightly more Superhero element than Monster Movie does let it down a bit and this is also the case in the music, but that does not mean the music is bad. The music is quiet nice and keep a lookout for the theme of Godzilla when he is attacking Kagoshima. What is most odd is that when SpaceGodzilla begins to emit energy it is almost like he is choosing Suicide. For most of the early part of the film he has the upper hand but now he is losing he can’t stand it. The film’s ending is a bit abrupt and could be better. Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla is a bit of a weak (mostly towards the end) film which is a shame because most of the early parts of the film are actually very good and if it could keep this pace it could have been one of the strongest entries in the series. I do sometime find myself thinking about it because I do like it, it is a bizarre entry in the series but in some way it is one of the most memorable (I do sometimes consider it to be one of the best in the Heisei series) So while it is let down towards the end of the film it is worth watching to see the early parts but also in my opinion it is not a bad film, ok it is not great but it is entertaining and enjoyable (It may be better if the producers had another go at it as long as they can keep the same cast of course) with some really good cast and really good monsters. Watch it and see for yourself, who knows you may be surprised, you may even like it, at least I do (I like it, what’s wrong with that).

GENEPOOL (I have just realised that this is the 40th anniversary film)





Attack Of The Giant Moth – Mothra vs Godzilla

5 07 2012

Out of all the Godzilla films made this is regarded as one of the best, and I agree, it deals with many issues in the world including nuclear testing, ownership of objects, the environment and Giant Insects. If you had an insect problem in your house you could easily ring up someone to come and deal with it, but what would you do if the insect is almost 100 metres long and weighs 25000 tons?

Mothra 1961 - Present

Mothra vs Godzilla came out 10 years after the original Godzilla film and so is a sort of celebration, and what a celebration it is. The film is produced once again by the big four consisting of Ifukube, Tanaka, Honda and Tsuburaya and is the third film in the series to have a Monster fight in it. The previous year of course saw the release of King Kong vs Godzilla, well for this film another Toho Monster was used, Mothra. Mothra previously had her own film in 1961, but since making her debut in the Godzilla series not only became one of Toho top 5 (Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan and MechaGodzilla) but became one of the companies most loved and most well used monsters, she holds the most wins over Godzilla, and if you have still not figured it out yet, yes Mothra is a Giant Moth.

The film begins with a massive typhoon; the following morning while work is being done to clean up the area News reporter Ichiro and photographer Junko find something strange in the wreckage. Meanwhile at a fishing village a monster egg has been discovered. The villagers decide to keep it under the idea that it belongs to them. While Professor Miura studies the egg he is interrupted by a business man called Kumayama who has bought the Egg and seeks to turn it into a tourist attraction. Ichiro, Junko and Miura are disgusted at this and discuss it at a hotel, just as Kumayama checks in. Kumayama goes to see the head of happy enterprises Jiro Torahata. While the two are discussing the idea, 2 little fairies turn up and ask them to return the egg; they instead try to capture them. The fairies escape and meet up with Ichiro, Junko, and Miura. The fairies tell them that they have come from Infant Island, an island that has suffered from Nuclear Testing. The egg itself belongs to Mothra and the egg must be returned as soon as possible because the baby Mothra inside the Egg could cause a lot of damage when it hatches in its search for food. The fairies tell them that Mothra is nearby and wants their help too. The three people then see Mothra through the bushes nearby.

Miura, Junko and Ichiro go and see Kumayama and ask him to give the egg back and also show him the fairies, which he instantly recognises. He tries to buy the fairies but the three people leave. The three people try to come up with ideas of how to give the egg back to the people of infant island, but the fairies decide to leave with Mothra. Due to the lack of interest in editorial pieces about the egg, Ichiro gives up. At this point Junko arrives and tells them that Professor Miura wants to see them. They enter a containment area and are sprayed by strange purple gas, Miura tells them that they thing they discovered in the wreckage is incredibly radioactive. The three go to the site of the wreckage which has now been cleared up and don’t find any radiation. A couple minutes later, while taking some photographs Junko notices the mud moving, Miura checks the radiation level and finds that there is a lot of radiation in the area of the moving mud. Eventually Godzilla appears from underneath all this mud (this shows that the mysterious thing is part of Godzilla’s flesh and that when it was discovered by Ichiro and Junko they were standing a short distance from him). Godzilla proceeds to attack Nagoya.

Junko and Ichiro along with the professor head to infant island to ask for Mothra’s help. When they get there they see the destruction caused by nuclear testing, they are captured by the islanders and are told by the chief they cannot ask for help because they failed to return the egg and because of the nuclear testing on the island. The three of them go and see the fairies and they refuse to, until Junko talks and really argues the case for asking Mothra’s help. The fairies talk to Mothra, who agrees to help although it is likely that Mothra will die because she has almost reached the end of her life. Back in Japan the military build large electrical pylons to use against Godzilla. Kumayama ends up broke from his venture and tries to steal money from Torahata, who shoots him only to be killed himself as the hotel is levelled by Godzilla. Godzilla heads towards the egg, possibly to destroy it but then Mothra shows up and fights him. Mothra initially gets the upper hand and almost beats Godzilla, But Godzilla uses his Atomic Death Ray on Mothra’s head and she flies to the egg and dies when she lands on it.

The Military attempt to deal with Godzilla in a 2 stage plan and almost succeed until they get way ahead of themselves. The fairies and the island natives sing for the egg to hatch and 2 caterpillars come out of it. Godzilla attacks a local fishing village and heads to Iwa island where a party of school children are stranded. The caterpillars go to attack Godzilla while Ichiro, Junko and Miura go and get the children, they are successful and the 2 caterpillars successfully wrap Godzilla in cocoon string as he falls in the sea. The children are returned to the mainland as the 2 caterpillars and the fairies return to Infant island.

The films cast is a good mix of characters. The film’s human villains, Torahata and Kumayama are nicely played by Kenji Sahara and Yoshifumi Tajima. They do look like gangsters in the way they are played but also can play the crowd to the point that you just don’t like them, Kumayama in particular looks and acts like a fool, which he is. The character of Junko is a good supporting character but only makes a few independent pieces. The same actress would appear in Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster the following year but not as the character of Junko but as a completely different news reporter. One of the real privileges though is Hiroshi Koizumi who plays Professor Miura. His part is a more noble character filled with wisdom and more level headed in a situation. This is Koizumi’s second role in the Godzilla (Godzilla Raids Again being the First) series and would continue to star in another 4 films, usually playing the role of a professor. He actually returns to a similar storyline in the 2003 film Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. which has a similar plot involving Mothra. A couple of other good roles in the film include the island chief on Infant Island (Akira Tani) and the Japanese Military Commander (Susumu Fujita). Both of these characters show that commanding presence that the characters are and are two memorable characters even if they are not the main characters.

It is interesting to compare Mothra from how she looks in this film to how she looks more recently. Of course back then they did not have the same technology as we have today but the original effects are still pretty amazing. By using something real, it appears to be real and can easily captivate the audience. The same goes for Godzilla, this is one of my favourite and best well-remembered appearances for the King of the Monsters. His scenes where he is attacking cities are nicely made with some scenes showing him in the background and some in the foreground, you do get a sense of scale with something like that. His attack on Nagoya and the castle is nicely made as well. The scenes where the military attacks him with the tanks, aircraft and pylons are some of the best in the film, the best of which in my opinion is the night time one where tanks are moving in to attack something but you don’t realise until the camera pan around that they are not far away from him. These are some of the best military attack scenes in the whole series. One way of showing how much technology has moved on is in the way of animatronics, particularly on the Mothra twins. When you consider the mouths in this film they just open and spray but in more recent films you could see a lot more detail in the movement. There is also the Egg to think about which is nicely detailed in both as a miniature and large pieces for close ups but if we were to look at the Egg from Godzilla vs Mothra 2 we could see a lot more detail in it. For me though the best monster scenes are the scenes involving Godzilla.

Akira Ifukube’s pieces of music are great for this film. Sometimes in the film series pieces are recycled from previous films with not much new stuff but in this there appears to be several new pieces, almost as if the whole thing has its own independent soundtrack except for the Theme for Godzilla of course. The military sounding pieces work very well with the scenes that it is used while the pieces that are set on Infant Island have the nice sense of mystery, and Mothra’s theme when she is first sighted as a sound of shock and mystery, almost like going “What is that”. One thing that should be pointed out of course is the music sung by the fairies which would become a theme by itself for Mothra and in most films involving Mothra would make some kind of appearance in the soundtrack.

Mothra vs Godzilla is a Great film and you can see why fans of the series like it a lot. It has a great group of characters, Great Monsters, Great Fight Scenes, Great Military Scenes, a Great Soundtrack and Great everything really. It is another on of Ishirō Honda’s films which has his sense of Storytelling and makes sure it does not go too fast for people new to the series while still keeping fans entertained. There is nothing more to say about it than it is A Great Film and a must see for Everyone and I mean Everyone.

 

GENEPOOL





King Of The Monsters Tournament – The Final

4 07 2012

Three weeks ago I started a Monster Tournament to decide who is the King of the Monsters. We started with 32 monsters and whittled them down in many furious battles until we had just 4 left. Tonight these 4 monsters will fight again for the ultimate prize of King of the Monsters. Let us remind ourselves how they got here.

Gyaos defeated one of the year’s wildcards, The Kraken. Gyaos then moved to fight one of the competitions toughest monsters, Kiryu and from this victory secured a place in the final. Manda successfully defeated The Host in round 1 before defeating the Commander of The Autobots to secure a place in the final. Gigan was one of the highest qualifiers for the competition but in order to get to round 2 had to defeat another high qualifier in Ultraman, which he did in a very tough match. He then went on to defeat the Wildcard Champion and Guardian of the Universe in a tough match. Gigan’s well fought matches and high qualifying status means he is the all-round Favourite to win, but do remember to expect the unexpected. Finally we have Rodan who defeated a monster who is well known to be The King of the Monsters, Godzilla (who has not been seen since last week’s Locker Room City incident) before going on to defeat Battra in round 2.

So let us remind ourselves who is fighting who;

Gyaos, The Terror of the Skies vs Rodan, The Fire Pterodactyl

Manda, The Serpent God vs Gigan, The Mutant Menace

The final round of the competition is set to go off like this. Each of the above matches will have 7 fights under the same rules as the previous 2 rounds of the tournament. The 2 losers of each match will then have a third place decider which will also have 7 fights. The final match of the evening will have 9 fights. The monster who wins that match will be declared the winner and King of the Monsters Champion.

So, we have the Monsters, we have our matches, what are we waiting for, Let the DESTRUCTION COMMENCE.

Match 1 – Gyaos vs Rodan – Rodan goes first.

Rodan                                                  Gyaos

10                                                        4

16                                                        4

15                                                        5

5                                                         17

6                                                          5

13                                                        19

8                                                          15

Rodan Wins

It was almost a flawless victory but towards the end Gyaos manage to get back in the fight before losing overall. Rodan goes through to the final.

Match 2 – Manda vs Gigan – Gigan goes first.

Gigan                                                   Manda

5                                                          15

5                                                          15

5                                                          14

6                                                          17

18                                                          5

11                                                          7

20                                                          3

Manda Wins

Once again a tough match and some more outside interference from Microsoft Word (so the first 2 rounds were re rolled) but Gigan was too late to do any major damage. Manda goes through to the final.

So the City Stage is set and in a few moments we will find out who is The First King of the Monsters Champion. But first, it’s time for the consolation prize of third place.

Third Place Fight-off – Gyaos vs Gigan – Gigan goes first.

Gigan                                                   Gyaos

3                                                          17

19                                                        14

13                                                          1

15                                                          4

9                                                            7

7                                                          13

17                                                          2

Gigan Wins

It was obvious Gigan wanted something and pulled out all the stops to make sure he got third place.

Now is the time you have been waiting for, we now head over to the Final City Showdown for the monsters to make their entrance.

In the Black Corner, with a fight record of 3 Wins 0 Losses, weighing in at 30,000 tons, The Fire Pterodactyl, RODAN.

And in the White Corner, with a fight record of 3 Wins 0 Losses, weighing in at 50,000 tons, The Serpent God, MANDA.

Rodan goes first.

Rodan                                                  Manda

9                                                          6

2                                                          4

6                                                          17

9                                                          13

6                                                          15

16                                                        6

15                                                        6

17                                                        3

7                                                          2

Rodan Wins

It was a tough match and it seemed like Manda would win but Rodan kept on fighting to win the match. Let’s head over to the final ceremonies to announce the winners.

We took 32 Monsters, we then put them through pain and agony and destruction until we had just 4 monsters left. We then put these 4 monsters through the same thing but this time it meant more than just qualifying. In a commendable 4th place we have Gyaos, The Terror Of The Skies. In Third Place we have Gigan, The Mutant Menace. In Second Place we have Manda the Serpent God. Here is your champion, the First King of the Monsters Champion, The Fire Pterodactyl, RODAN.

There we have it, That was The King Of The Monsters Tournament for this year and we have an excellent champion. Come back next year as we will put more Monsters through Pain, Agony and Destruction to find out who will be the King Of The Monsters Champion 2013.

GENEPOOL





The Undersea Warship – Atragon

3 07 2012

If you had the world’s most powerful, most dangerous warship, what would you do with it? Well you could do whatever you wanted with it. Also what features would you put on it? Well in this case let’s say it’s a submarine, you would of course add a torpedo launcher, some kind of really good propulsion system, a way to make it fly and of course a whacking massive drill on the front of it, or would you? Well you would if you were the captain of the submarine in this film.

Directed by The Great Ishiro Honda, Atragon is a Japanese Monster Movie that is not a Godzilla film (King Kong vs Godzilla was released one year earlier and was the film that really kicked off the Godzilla series). Although it is an interesting thing to point out that both Manda and the Gotengo would later star in the Godzilla series. It is also an interesting point that what I like to call the Big Four (Tanaka, Honda, Tsuburaya and Ifukube) who made the original Godzilla film are all present in the production of this film.

The film starts off with a strange man seen coming out of the water by a couple of Photographers who spook him when they photograph him, suddenly a car drives into the water and a lot of steam comes from the Water. The next day the car is fished out of the water but the police find the story hard to believe. A peculiar writer goes to see a retired Japanese admiral and asks question about the I-400 submarines including I-403 which was captained by Captain Jinguji. The reporter also claims that Jinguji has been building another. Jinguji’s daughter, Makoto is present also. Later on Jinguji’s daughter and the former admiral are in a car which is not taking them to their destination, they arrive at the beach where the driver turns out to be an agent for the Mu Empire and plans to take the 2 as slaves, however the photographers from earlier turn up and disarm the agent who retreats in to the sea. A package is sent to the admiral with a roll of film in it which tells the story of the Mu Empire, also becomes apparent that the Mu Empire have the I-403.

Several cities around the world are destroyed by earthquakes created by the Mu Empire. The forces of the world ask the former admiral if he can get in touch with Jinguji after the worlds most advanced submarine is destroyed by the Mu Empire. The Admiral has no idea how to get in touch with him, but then someone who has been stalking Makoto is captured who turns out to be someone who works for Jinguji. He initially refuses to help them but later decides to show them the way to his base. The former Admiral, Makoto, the photographers, a policeman and the strange writer go along. After 3 days of travelling they reach the island and meet the mysterious Captain Jinguji. The next day they all see his magnificent submarine Gotengo.

They spend the rest of the day watching the submarine as it undergoes its first test run. The former admiral tries to convince Jinguji to use it to help save the world against the Mu Empire but Jinguji wants to use it to get Japans pride and power back after its defeat during World War 2, it appears that this is all he wants to do. Then the strange writer turns out to be a Mu agent and kidnaps Makoto and one of the photographers. As a result of this action it is enough to persuade Jinguji to attack the Mu Empire.

Makoto and the photographer are taken to the Mu Empire and discover the giant serpent God Manda. The Gotengo goes on the attack while the Mu Empire cause an earthquake which causes a crack underneath Tokyo causing most of the city to fall into it. Makoto and the Photographer along with some other prisoners take the Mu Empress hostage and escape with the use of some diving equipment; however Manda prevents them from escaping until the Gotengo shows up and distracts the giant serpent. Using the Gotengo’s freeze cannon the Serpent is dispatched quickly. The Gotengo then attacks the Mu Empire itself by drilling into the nation’s heart and uses its freeze cannon again to destroy the nation from within. The Gotengo escapes and the Mu Empress swims off to die with her country.

The films ending is a bit abrupt and could have been executed better. However this film does have the story telling style of Ishiro Honda, he doesn’t expect you to know things before hand and so he tells the story like he would to someone who has come to see a film for the first time. While he has made some better films than this, his essence is in this film from start to finish. The film’s story as a whole has some nice bits in it including the Japanese defeat in WW2 as well as the mention of Japan’s secret weapon during WW2.

The scenes with the Gotengo are brilliant in particular with it being the best piece of special effect in the film. It is a shame though that more of it is not seen which would have been nice, but the scenes you do see are a continuous treat. The Gotengo would make another appearance later in the film Godzilla Final Wars where it would also have a fight with Manda. The fight with Manda could have gone on for longer I think but then again how is a submarine supposed to fight a giant serpent.

The cast themselves are a nice bunch but the actress playing Makoto (Yoko Fujiyama) is the best particularly when you combine her with her mysterious patriotic submarine captain. The Mu agents also have a nice intimidating, commanding look to them. Now while all of these things are great the real treat with this film is the soundtrack provided by Akira Ifukube, the main title in particular is a nice blend of mystery with an intimidating military feel. The soundtrack is not only for the film it is also for the submarine and it is amazing when you combine the two together. Look at the Gotengo and listen to the music at the same time, it is incredible and one of Ifukube’s best pieces during the 1960’s.

All together the film is a nice blend of Sci-Fi action, World War 2 patriotism and Monster Movie with some delightful scenes and characters with the main theme tying it all together in a nice but powerful way. Ok, it is more than likely you have not heard of this film, well, you have now so why don’t you go and watch it, Seriously. Ok it is not as good as Godzilla films from the same time but is another case that TOHO know what they are doing when it comes to making Monster movies and also shows that it is not just about Godzilla. You may enjoy it, you may not but it is one of those world cinema films you have more than likely not heard of but are missing out as a result, a real treat.

GENEPOOL








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