The Giant Lizard And The Giant Plant – Godzilla vs Biollante

25 05 2016

Godzilla vs Biollante (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1989)

How much of a Gardener are you? Ok, weird question I know. I myself am not much of a gardener, I don’t know much about growing plants, last year I tried growing one in my room but due to the lack of an instruction booklet, I wasn’t very good. Not to mention my failures in the past trying to grow and look after Bonsai Trees. I am just generally bad at it; but how about you, what are you like? As I probably do not know who you are; you may have to just tell me in the comments, but if you are a talented gardener there are some kinds of plants you may want to avoid growing. Obviously there is such a thing as a Triffid; in which case you may want to give that one a miss. Though growing a Triffid is probably not all that a bad idea compared to growing a Biollante. Not there is anything bad in that either if you are talented enough to grow a Biollante; it’s just probably not a very good idea.

Red Rose

Released in 1989 by Toho, directed by Kazuki Omori and produced by Shogo Tomiyama; Godzilla vs Biollante is the 17th film in the Godzilla series and the second film in the Heisei series following directly on from The Return of Godzilla released in 1984.  This time around Godzilla returns to attack the good friendly people of Japan once again, this time however having his own body caught up in a large scientific conspiracy which ultimately leads onto the creation of a brand new and terrifying monster known as Biollante. This film is something of a one-off departure in the series as it refrains from the tried and tested but simple formula of Giant Monsters just fighting each other, and goes in to explore man’s desire to create and prolong life and what the consequences of such actions can be.

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Tokyo is in ruins in the wake of Godzilla’s attack in 1984. The city is near completely destroyed as crews commence the clean-up operation. On the site, a piece of Godzilla’s skin is discovered and stolen by a group of soldiers, who in turn are killed by an assassin known only as SSS9 (Brien Uhl). The assassin takes the skin sample to the Republic of Saradia, to deliver them to the institute of Science and Technology, whom the President wants to try and turn the country’s vast desert into greenery and end the Republic’s dependence on foreign imports. Dr. Genshiro Shiragami (Kôji Takahashi) and his daughter Erika (Yasuko Sawaguchi) are enlisted to work on the project, but the labs are bombed, and Erika is killed in the resulting explosion. 5 Years pass by; and the Volcano known as Mount Mihara begins to spew lava but not yet erupt. Young Psychic Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka) and head of the ESP Institute Asuka Okochi (Yoshiko Tanaka) work with young children who all one night have a dream of Godzilla returning. Lieutenant Goro Gondo (Tôru Minegishi) and Scientist Kazuhito Kirishima (Kunihiko Mitamura) head up a project to turn some Godzilla cells into Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria, or ‘ANEB’; in the hope of having a weapon to fight Godzilla with should he return. Gondo and Kazuhito try to get Dr. Shiragami’s help who has since returned to Japan. He agrees only if he could have access to some of the Godzilla Cells before they begin work. One night, Shiragami merges cells of a rose with Erika’s DNA in it, with the Godzilla Cells. With other bio companies and the Republic of Saradia still wanting access to the cells, the bio company known as Bio-Major send two agents to Japan to steal them back, while SSS9 follows them. The three agents break into Shiragami’s lab and get into a fire fight, until suddenly, a giant vine attacks them, killing one of them before the other 2 agents flee the scene. Gondo and Kazuhito arrive to find out what happened and question Shiragami’s work there.

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At Lake Ashinoko across from the Lab, a Giant plant emerges which Shiragami calls Biollante. He explains that the creature is made up from the Godzilla Cells, a Rose, and Erika’s Soul. Gondo and Kazuhito meanwhile receive word from the government that Bio Terrorists have placed explosives at the top of Mount Mihara, and will detonate them, thus releasing Godzilla unless the Godzilla cells are turned over to them. Kazuhito and Gondo head to the meeting point, but both them and the Bio-Major agents are interrupted by SSS9 who shoots the Bio Major agent and steals the Cells. Gondo and Kazuhito try to flick the switch to disarm the explosives, but the timer runs out, and Godzilla is freed. The army is called out, and the newly built Super-X2 is deployed to attack Godzilla directed by Major Sho Kuroki (Masanobu Takashima), but the attack is mostly a failure. Godzilla instinctively heads for Biollante, sensing something like him, and he quickly dispatches the creature. The military set up a plan to counter Godzilla, but accidently set up in a location opposite to where Godzilla decided to go. On his approach to Tsuruga, Miki; using her psychic powers gets up and close to him, successfully diverting him to Osaka instead. Another plan is launched to attack Godzilla with the ANEB. Gondo and his men deploy themselves inside Osaka’s Business district, while Major Sho leads the Super X2 in another confrontation. The attack is something of a success with some ANEB even getting inside Godzilla’s mouth, but Gondo is killed in the attack.

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Several hours pass by but Godzilla appears to be unaffected from the attack. Acknowledging that Godzilla might be a cold-blooded creature, Kazuhito decides that they should try to increase Godzilla’s temperature. Another attack plan is put in place to raise Godzilla’s body heat by using the M6000 T.C. System, a weaponised open air microwave like weapon. The plan doesn’t really appear to work, however suddenly; Biollante returns in a new form much larger than Godzilla and attacks him once again. After a prolonged battle, Godzilla is able to use his Deathray on Biollante once more, but then exhausted falls on the floor near the ocean. Biollante disintegrates and spores fly into space. Shiragami, watching the scene and having seen an image of Erika in the spores is shot dead by SSS9. Kazuhito chases after him, and after a small fight, SSS9 dies after stepping onto one of the microwave emitters from the M6000 T.C. System. Theorizing that everything is now OK, and that the ANEB has worked, Godzilla awakens, the sea water having cooled his body temperature down and then returns to the ocean.

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Godzilla vs Biollante does standout more than most Godzilla films when it comes to its narrative output as it tries to be different by sending more of a message out than simply putting monsters in a city sized wrestling ring. It’s a pity that such writing craftsman ship was sort of abandoned after Biollante because this films narrative makes the foundations for a classic piece of science fiction; in a literal form at least. The film begins with a reminder of what happened in the previous film and immediately turns to show the remaining devastation. It acts like not just a reminder but a tie-in and a clever opening as it uses this setting to begin what becomes one of the key plots; that of the Godzilla cells. This use of the opening though, allows the film to work and act as more of a direct sequel than just an ordinary singular sequel or spin-off. To this end we get a film that creates and carries on the themes and ideas it creates. It makes me think of the aftermath of the 911 attacks and the memorials built to remember what happened. In this case though (and about 12 years before the 911 attacks) we see how buildings destroyed and even imprinted by Godzilla are kept and turned into their own memorials. These scenes are very brief, but the idea and attention to detail in a fictional setting (especially after 911) is impressive and incredibly believable to say the least. This though acts as more of an introductory narrative to get the film started and set up the past for audience members. The real narrative begins during the post opening title credits as it starts the process of describing the benefits of the Godzilla Cells and then it evolves from there as to what they can do and how valuable they are.

The Return of Godzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1984)

Another narrative that is explored briefly is that of detecting Godzilla’s return and the departments involved. From here we get two viewpoints. One of the ESP institute, and that of a small department run by Gondo. These two pretty much work in tandem from the word go. This leads to a couple of funny scenes, well one scene and an idea. The scene takes place when the psychic children have a dream, and when asked to draw what was in the dream, it’s sort of a laugh out loud moment when they all hold up pictures prominently featuring an image of Godzilla in them. The build up to the scene is the suggestion that something has gone wrong, but the delivery is excellent, especially when the pictures reveal what the issue is, and the idea that all the children draw the same thing. The other scene (well, more like an idea) is that of a government department run by Gondo whose sole responsibility is the handling and planning of affairs including the preparation of defences in case Godzilla returns. For some (or at least me), it would be something of a dream job, but for Gondo however, it is more of a burden (or maybe even some form of punishment), as given the department’s sole purpose relies on Godzilla actually being around; it’s more boring than exciting as Godzilla is currently buried in a volcano, nor is a current threat. A further narrative asset on to this comes in the form of the Godzilla Warning system which helps drive the plot forward to Godzilla’s eventual rampage. The idea though of such a department’s existence is rather clever and fun and one am surprised that doesn’t come up more often. It’s sort of like: imagine a country like the UK, or USA, or Russia, China, or any other country’s ministry of defence having a small office run by no more than 2 or 3 blokes whose sole responsibility it is to watch and plan for attacks from Giant Monsters, despite the grand highly likely possibility that it will never happen……….but then it does.

Super-X2

These strong starting points help to deliver early on a very in-depth idea based plot; but where you find strengths, you are bound to find weaknesses. As the plot develops, there is constant mention of the country of Saradia. This works in tandem with the conspiracy and secret agent story about a terrorist Bio group who are the ones in the end who release Godzilla. That scene in the end is pretty fun and suggests more of an imagination from them in comparison to others in film. I mean what’s more creative than threatening a country with a Giant Monster? But the ever-increasing mentions of Saradia, plus the mingling with its agents (who sound more Greek than Middle Eastern if that was supposed to be the idea) is just silly. It does not really provide anything or benefit the film except for a minor piece of backstory. In the end, it simply provides a reason for the SSS9 agent to keep running around; who is somewhat of a good thing, I think. The thing is, this story gets a little tangled up within itself, and always finds a way to divert itself. It’s supposed to be about the ethics of biology and science, and how rare/valuable biological material can be used to great effect when used properly, but also how dangerous it can be when used wrongly, and the consequences of such actions. The main one being (or at least should be) Biollante. The Problem Biollante has is that despite being in the title, she is seen very little of. It’s similar to the argument ‘suggesting’ the lack of Godzilla in the 2014 film (although I disagree). In this case however I find the issue is that despite being on even terms with Godzilla in the film’s title; Biollante is not shown that often to really warrant her name in the title. In fairness though, her appearance is early on enough to really include her, but after a few short-lived scenes and a fight with Godzilla, she disappears for nearly an hour. From that point on it becomes more of a film about a nation’s attempts to defend itself from a fire breathing atomic tyrant. I’m not saying that is a bad thing necessarily. In fact given the lack of such content in comparison to other films in the series; this is a real standout: but it’s not what it’s supposed to be about! Eventually Biollante does return, but only engages Godzilla for less than 10 minutes, before disappearing and showing a rose in space; but what does this even mean? It’s pretty similar to both Godzilla vs Destoroyah and Godzilla vs Megaguirus in that both films, despite once again featuring in the title; both monsters are pretty much side-lined for an entirely different and possibly irrelevant plot and just become mentions: although this is not so much the case for Destoroyah as he has much greater part than the instances involving Biollante and Megaguirus. In the case of Biollante it feels more like there could have been more for and of her (in this film).

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A point I feel brings us on quite nicely to talking about the film’s cast. Now I will attempt to do this bit quickly as I have still a lot more to talk about (not to mention a 100 metre tall lizard). The cast of characters is quite a nice build of memorable characters whether they be tertiary, secondary or primary, with all of them playing an interesting but still memorable parts, but of course you have some who are not as big as others. These are not necessarily bad or good, more like they have more a part compared to others, when you want them to have more of a part than others. Biollante does mark something of a start in the series for some tertiary characters who would become a mainstay for the series for many years to come, such as one Japanese Military official played by Koichi Ueda. These kinds of parts are usually tertiary, and even if portraying different characters in later films, they begin to get really recognisable due to the amount of times they are cast in small or even larger parts. Some of these occasions they can become rather annoying, but once in a while, they can do something better, sometimes perfectly. There are also other instances as well of characters from other films, mainly later in the series that turn up, and you instantly recognise them, as them. In this case we have one of the Super X2 pilots (Kosuke Toyohara) who would later appear in the lead human role in the film following on from this one (Godzilla vs King Ghidorah). Alongside him in the Super X2 role (sort of off the point topic I know), there is another character (Kyôka Suzuki), this time not a pilot, but featured well in the dynamic of the two roles being shown. Ok, they’re not shown in great depth compared to all the other characters, but they’re still memorable to the point they deserve a mention. There is also the case of a cameo appearance from Demon Kakka in a small role, but I had not heard of him until I had watched this film a few times, noticed him in a 10 second scene, and then looked him up. It’s a nice representation on modern culture of the time, but also a nice funny moment, especially given his appearance and what he says just after Godzilla is released. Now onto the primary cast. Kazuhito does have the sort of lead human role, but I find him rather bland and boring. Alright it’s not a great shout out to a strong cast, but I just have no feeling toward him or his character, and just feel like he is just in the way. On a similar case you have a character like Major Sho. He is presented like a sort of rogue or cool military commander, I just feel it doesn’t work. He has his moments and becomes something of a secondary hero saving Katsuhiro’s life at the end, plus his moments directing a counterattack are ok, plus the other moments where he is in more a professional capacity but still military, they are ok. I just don’t think he really delivers anything to benefit the film, he is less in the way than Katsuhiro, but I don’t get him.

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Next to them you then get leader characters, leaders and more mature characters like Gondo and Shiragami. Shiragami for instance plays something of a tragic version of Doctor Frankenstein. He creates a monster, but for a tragic reason, which then just causes more problems. It’s the sort of situation that is understandable, but goes against ethics. The character that loses someone, wants to bring them back and put things right, but does not have the skills. Is then given an opportunity but the end result is not what he really wanted, and chaos lets loose. He then becomes something of a standing assistant for the rest of the film, which is something of a shame, but he delivers it really strong, and in the end becomes the tragic sacrifice presenting something, presenting an idea. Maybe as to say as it started with him, it had to end with him, or that he succeeds in keeping his daughters soul, spirit alive, but he dies to accomplish it. I don’t really know, I am just guessing here, but something along those lines maybe. Despite his tragedy though, he is a nice enjoyable character and less of a scientific character that you usually get in monster films. Not of someone to explain what is going on, but maybe more like Serizawa from the 1954 film, someone who creates, does something else, but that something is questionable. On an opposite but equally enjoyable side we have someone like Gondo. Now I have already said a lot so I’ll (try to) keep it brief. He is a more witty character than a serious one in comparison to someone like Shiragami. He is in charge of a division of which he is the sole employee, he finds a way out and gets involved in a more important task with Katsuhiro and becomes a very respected and well thought about character. This level of development plus his level of character and on-screen time make his death more of a powerful one. It’s not just some character dying; it’s one you’ve come to care about. When he does die though, he goes in a great scene going near head to head with Godzilla, not many people can say they have done that.

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Asuka meanwhile who plays the female love interest to him is far more interesting and has real scene dynamic with all characters involved plus delivers power; providing reason to being in the scene. She is more of a leader than a supporter, and the film’s strongest form of human reasoning, even if she spends the third act as more of a questioner than an answerer. Her scenes with Miki (speaking of which) are a bonus. This is the first time Miki is seen in the film series, a character who would become the only mainstay of the Heisei series from this point on, and one of the longest running characters in the whole film series to date. This time around though, we finally get an introduction. Ok, I say finally, that is mostly due to how long it took fort me to see this film, due to release issues, but that time has passed so let’s move on. Now, she has reason and purpose rather than being someone included with no backstory until discovered, now she has been introduced. Miki this time is a very young girl, still touching teenage-hood, but her strength is already on show. She is mostly an informer to the situation and mostly works on a co-dynamic role assisting Asuka. There is actually more of Miki I feel in this film than others. Not in number of appearances, but more in who she is and what she can do. She plays more of an interesting part than being a background assist. It just feels like this was a film designed more for her character her role, and the others just included her, and it feels like something of a shame now, because it works.

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Right, I think that’s enough people talk, let’s talk MONSTERS! This film is one of those even rarer occurrences in recent films to feature new stuff, and in this case, we have a New Monster. Biollante (Masashi Takegumi) is very different to other Monsters, not saying that all monsters are the same. I meant more as in while all the others have something of a clean crisp look; Biollante is more of an abomination. Yes she is a plant, and begins looking like a giant rose with giant leaves and vines. Then transforms into something very large, even larger than Godzilla. Something with a huge crocodile like mouth and lots of sharp teeth (although those same teeth can be seen to appear in rose form, with is also very scary but still grotesque). Biollante is a scary creature, but her sweet cries, almost wisp sounds produce something else, suggesting something trapped inside the body of a monster. Suggesting possibly that Erika does live inside, but is crying for what has become of her, that she is no longer who she was. Biollante as a design is fantastic, and the concepts regarding her appearance and abilities including details such as spores, or the bodily moving mass despite the lack of Legs really produces a sight to behold. Here we have a creature that is more than a match for Godzilla, but not necessarily one you can use all the time. Biollante could make a return, but would require a well thought out plot like this to happen. For now at least, we have an incredible new monster on show, presented in a horrifyingly near realistic interpretation that will continue to scare and spook all those who want to give it a go, until we see her again.

Biollante

Which brings us nicely round to Godzilla. Yet another appearance for Godzilla (Kenpachirô Satsuma), but as that is who the films are about I suppose we can allow it. Godzilla is back in a similar role to those he had when he left in the 1970’s. Remembering of course that the previous film was more about him on the loose than fighting another monster, here he is back to fight monsters. This time though he is once again a (please excuse my language) ‘Badass Villain’. He is no longer out to save the world, but as the frightening force of nature who symbolises the destructive might of Nuclear Weapons on the world who made them, and as mother nature’s Punisher come to, well, punish. Yes, he is back and not happy. Setting up his role in the previous film and mentioning the previous film’s events, Godzilla of course starts off more as an idea, a non-existent threat, one who is there; but is not coming. This idea builds until his release from volcanic imprisonment. From there it is back to the city crushing, fire breathing leviathan we have all come to love so much. He maybe a baddy but we do love him in our own quirky way (right?). This time around though he has other quirky little bits we have not seen him do before, like get up close and personal with some characters, even to sneaking up on people like Gondo. Before he would never do something like that, just ignore it, but now, he is doing new scary things. His appearance has some issues I think, from an angle and to the sides he looks pretty good, like he used too, but now even more terrifying, but from the front, it sort of reminds me of King Kong vs Godzilla, where a direct front view looks rather flat, and like an entirely different monster. Apart from that though, it’s him. I don’t exactly know what to say other than to point out cool new traits in him that stands out more from what there are normally about him; I mentioned his look too, but other than that it’s the Godzilla we all love (again?).

Godzilla (Heisei)

Visually Striking! That is how I can best use to describe how this film is presented. The film contains a lot of visually striking moments, more than any other of the series films to date. Such scenes range from important narrative to just general background shots. Mount Mihara for instance features a lot early on in the film as that is where Godzilla is currently residing. Most of this coverage though is in the form of volcanic activity, but one sweet moment lies early on when Asuka and Kazuhito are talking in the foreground, and the active volcano of Mt. Mihara can be seen in the distance, a ring of red at the top, and the sound of the activity in the distance. I like that shot. But it’s not all reserved for Mount Mihara however.

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Other shots of spectacular note include the beautiful business centre of Osaka just before it gets pulverized, the area outside and inside Tower 2, the platform Miki stands on as well as when Godzilla is within reach, Godzilla’s lifeless carcass near the road, Godzilla sneaking up on Gondo, the many showcasing’s of digital battlefield mapping, the stormy weather near the film’s conclusion, the final battle seen on the hill-side, the military manoeuvres, the ruined remains of Tokyo after Godzilla’s rampage from the previous film and not forgetting of course, Godzilla’s glorious return from the Volcano he was put into, walking out in his own time to preserve the majesty of his reappearance. You see, I can talk about Special Effects, describing the uses of miniature sets and suits, but as we have already come to know these things, how am I supposed to rehash these every time and retain interest. On this occasion you see however, that it’s not the effects that stand out most here, but the visually striking shots of the world that becomes the battleground here, and those remain with me most than most things about this film. It is such a well-used piece of filmmaking, and those kinds of things should not be wasted by the audience, nor be forgotten in an analytic review.

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It’s not just the imagery that’s memorable either, as the soundtrack can say one or two things about that. Composed this time round by Koichi Sugiyama with his one and only entry into the Godzilla series; where he produces something that could be thought of as a black sheep to the soundtrack collection. Sugiyama produces a soundtrack that is a mix of the wonderful to the bizarre, the strange to the ridiculous, and the unique to the downright silly but overall has this relatively light feel to them. There is hardly a dark or heavy tune in there with the one main exception being the opening credits which is more of the original Dark Godzilla theme combined early on with this sort of repeating drum snare or even rasp that just captures your attention even before you see the head of the film’s lead Antagonist.

There is a feel of super hero type stuff in this soundtrack with those feelings coming out at times such as when the Super X2 comes out to play or when the countdown to Godzilla’s return comes to light. This piece in certain however also contains something of a possible trademark to his work on this film as it sort of diverts, changing feel and tune in a different direction. Yes this moment does sound a bit silly and a bit caper-y, but does ramp up the tension (although when it does change note it sounds very similar to the soundtrack for Airplane). Yes the soundtrack does have its silly points such as the Saradia theme tune, but generally, most of the soundtrack is rather fun and light and enjoyable to its overall core. Two pieces though that really stand out more than most are two points where the music is different, not just generally, but completely in comparison to the rest of the soundtrack. The first of these is the Bio Wars tune of which there are 2 versions. This I feel is like the filmmakers trying to include a sort of ultra-new wave Bond theme at a time when the Bond series was on Hiatus. It feels really sort of future spy like, I don’t know how best to describe that other than “listen to the guitar.” It’s a nice fun piece which adds a level of mystery and conspiracy, especially to scenes when including SSS9 in the middle and end.

The other occasion though has nothing to do with the composer. Much like the inclusion of a popular figure like Demon Kakka earlier on, the film tries to add a piece of popular music briefly. It adds a level of confusion as to what is going on, as it is used during one of the moments when you see through Godzilla’s eyes like you do in Jaws when he comes to the surface. It cuts in and plays. It’s different and rather fun, before getting cut off completely to feature a local rock concert being put on hold because of Godzilla being close by. It’s a nice fun little tune from Yuki Saito called Into A Dream. It’s similar I find to the inclusion of Claude Francois‘s Stop Au Nom De L’amour in X-Men: Days of Future Past as it enriches the film that little bit more in atmosphere, if only very briefly.

Godzilla vs Biollante is a very different film to the rest of the films in a series that is currently 30 strong (31 in July). It’s different in its presentation. It has great narratives relatively unexplored to this point and since. It features visually striking shots of what an Amazing country Japan is (one of which I still want and need to visit). It incorporates interesting characters, not forgetting terrific performances from both Godzilla and a brand new monster. It hosts a soundtrack that is relatively light, but also spectacularly fun to listen to. It is a very different film indeed; one made with such careful attention and craftsmanship and in the end produces one of the series most stand out and enjoyable films. While it may not be the strongest, most standout or best film in the series (depending on who you ask); what this film does provide is just a stellar excellence and an exceptional experience.

GENEPOOL





Godzilla News – Bad News

20 05 2016

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

In June last year, I put up a minor post that was just a teaser for Godzilla 2. I basically put up an old poster for the film and just said coming soon or something along those lines, and posted it for the same day as the planned release day for Godzilla 2 in 2018. Well, on Sunday evening I just went online to remember that day to possibly plan a new little teaser once again, and I got an immense shock!

Godzilla 2014 Nuclear

What I discovered is that Godzilla 2, which is still on course and is still going to be produced, has been pushed back. Not by a month or so, but to March 2019. Yes, the film has been moved back by nearly an entire year. The reason for this though was not apparent until I discovered another shock: that of the loss of the film’s Director; Gareth Edwards.

Gareth Edwards

To cut a long story short, back in 2014, after the release and success of Godzilla, Legendary Pictures announced plans to create a sequel, and possibly an entire trilogy starring the big nuclear Lizard. However, before they could sign him, Edwards signed a deal with LucasFilm to direct the first stand-alone Star Wars film. With Legendary wanting to keep the Director, they decided to give him some time to go away and make that ‘Space Movie’, and then once complete, for him to then start work on Godzilla 2. Now while this would mean a 4 year wait (again) for this next Godzilla film; I was sort of ok with waiting in the meantime as it would allow the studio to get the next one right, especially with the announcement of the possibility of Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah making an appearance in it. Anyway, it was announced that Edwards decided to split from the project to make his own smaller films after the release of Rogue One later this year.

Rogue One

This is a major loss for the studio and series as Edwards did a fabulous job and now with no current news of a director, it is going to be rough period as the studio goes looking for one. It makes sense in a way that the release be pushed back as a new director is found. In all honesty it’s rather more annoying than that. It means, that if Edwards had not signed on to do Godzilla 2, we could have had it by next year at the latest, but now we have to wait an agonising -3 more years for the new film. To be honest, part of me wondered if this might happen, if Edwards would be dropped, just so production could finally get going. To be honest, it’s also good news, in one respect. You see, last year, after the release of Jurassic World, a sequel to World was also announced, and the date was within the same month and same year as Godzilla 2. So, this sort of comes as good news for Godzilla 2 also as it does not have to compete alongside another movie involving big monsters.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

So far, the news is just shocking and sad. I am finding hard to cope, but will have to as it is not going to come any sooner. So far, still no news on how it is going to differ or connect as a sequel, and even more terrifying, no news as to whom will direct it either. Already I am having a few ideas, including Bong Joon-Ho, Guillermo del Toro and Jordan Vogt-Roberts. It’s yet another bad piece of news regarding the future of Monster Movies; especially more so after what is going on with Pacific Rim. Hopefully soon, things will happen, and in the end, I am sure I may be able to wait another 3 years. It could be an exciting time, who knows?

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

GENEPOOL





This Is Just Ridiculous!

27 04 2016

Gorgo (King Brothers Productions - 1961)

I like Monster Movies, that is a pretty well-known piece of information about me, and one I have discussed many a time here on this blog. I absolutely adore Giant Monster movies from works such as the obvious Godzilla, to the lesser known Gamera, and a whole host (pun not intended) of independent and mainstream Movie Monsters, I have a great passion for the subject. I will happily admit however, that I have not seen every Monster Movie; in fact I bet there are still some I have yet to hear of…..I think.

The Host (Showbox - 2006)

Of the films I know I have not seen include classic films like The Giant Claw, Reptilicus, Garuda, Yonggary and Gorgo to name but a few. It’s the case that some of these are not shown on TV all that much and some are hard to get on Home Media. Some of the time; such films do require a relative amount of interest and reminding myself about them when looking into what films to get for my collection, but on occasion, you will also get instances such as the Godzilla films not being readily available in the UK due to DVD region codes and International movie distributors. It is really annoying, especially when you are such a fan of these films, and it makes you wonder whether or not you’ll actually ever get to see them. One of the above mentioned films however I have discovered is similarly hard to get in a UK home media format, but saying that alone is just the chip of ridiculous.

Gorgo Monster

Released in 1961, Gorgo is a Giant Monster movie originally created to be a homage to the original Godzilla film. It was originally set in Japan, but eventually just got set in Britain. It features the storyline ideas of Sea Monster gets discovered and is put on display, only for that creature’s Mother to show up and cause a significant amount of damage. The film was produced using similar techniques to the Godzilla series including the use of Monster suits and miniature buildings. It is something of an icon to the Monster Movie genre as it is something very different, but also very standout, as the film’s effects and setting suggest a very realistic setting and monster (but that is about as far as my knowledge on the film goes). Even when you look at pictures of the Monster or even in the trailer, you see similarities to the Original Godzilla in the creature’s arrival, bobbing out of the water and rampaging through a yet to be polluted skyscraper skyline. Plus it’s also interesting to see a city other than one in Japan or America get trampled on for a change.

For the most part, my knowledge on this film only comes to the point of things I have seen and read. My first real attention came a few years ago when it was suggested that Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright was considering doing a remake. While anything has yet to come out, it did sound interesting enough to take a deeper look into the film. I still don’t know much, but that is likely to change once I have actually seen it, which is also why I am writing this post; because well, you’d think that a film made and set in Britain would be ready available in Britain wouldn’t you? Well, it’s not!

Godzilla 1954 DVD

When I looked on Amazon.co.uk a couple of weeks ago for a copy, all I could find were a bunch of American imported DVD and Blu-ray copies. While this may not be an immediate issue for me as I am capable of watching such formats; I just found it absolutely ridiculous that a film set and made in this country, is somehow not readily available in this country. I was expecting this film to live up to a classical form, live up to being something you’d maybe find a rare copy of in HMV, something that you could find in nearly all major DVD shops in the UK of some size. I thought it would be a in a classic section with copies of the original Godzilla and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms nearby. You know what I mean? I just thought that all being well, such a film that is considered a classic Monster Movie, would have a status big enough for copies to exist in the country it was made in…..but it turns out that the answer to that is NO (or at least unknown)! And then there is the language issue. Despite once again being made in Britain, for some reason, the DVD copy of the film only comes in French Dubbing. It has English Subtitles, but in order to experience the English Dubbing (which I thought would have come as standard for a British Film), you have to buy the Blu-Ray copy. Why can’t it be the case with both, that both languages are available in both options? How bad must a DVD copy be that only one language is dubbed? Not saying there is anything wrong with the French language, I just don’t understand why the DVD copy does not come with English as well, if Amazon is to be believed!

Mini Rant over (I was originally writing this really tired at 2am in the morning after a celebratory night after being a runner-up in a story competition I entered), so, what to do? If I was really desperate to watch this film, I would probably just allow this one to slide, but due to how ridiculous this feels, I thought that as a British Monster Movie Fan, that it was something of a duty of mine to point out this near if not completely stupid situation…..then end up buying it in its current form eventually under the knowledge that my words are highly unlikely to change a thing, and just suck it up and give up! Why this film does not receive simple air-time in its own country is beyond me, surely this thing must’ve been shown on Film 4 or something at least once since it was made? Well, you can’t blame me for trying. In the end, I may like it when I get round to it, in the meantime though, it’s just a sad situation that when Britain does get its own Giant Monster, it has to live a life mostly outside his own country of birth, and speak a language not his own, it’s presence and existence relatively unknown to that country’s residents.

Gorgo Blu-ray

GENEPOOL





Godzilla Resurgence News –Trailer

18 04 2016

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Within a few months of the release of the 2014 Godzilla film, and after the announcement of a sequel to that one; TOHO, the owners and original home of Godzilla announced that they were going to make a new film too, making it the first Japanese Godzilla film to be released since Final Wars in 2004.

Godzilla Final Wars Poster (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2004)

Now when I first heard this announcement, I was very excited, and confused. I did not know what this new one meant to the already announced sequel to 2014, but it appears that this new one and 2014 would have no relation and that the sequel was still going ahead, of which I was very happy, as I absolutely loved the new one. I was also rather worried too, as I had no idea whether or not I would get to see it given the historical issues with Japanese Godzilla films being shown in the UK, especially since the Millennium, as most of the showings appeared to have dried up except for that 1998 film and more recently of course the 2014 film. Anyway, I had no idea originally what to think other than excitement and worry as whether or not I will get to see it. That reason alone has restricted my excitement for the new Japanese film, and put it very bottom of my top 10 films to look forward to in 2016; because, well, why should I pour so much excitement into a film’s release if in the end I don’t get to see it?

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Anyway, forgetting the above issues, it is something to feel genuine excitement for. It’s a new Godzilla film from not an outside company, but by the company that gave birth to this creature over 60 years ago. It was going to be interesting to see where this one would go and what the film would involve. Would it be a sequel to a previous film, would (like the Millennium series of films) be a direct film on from the original 1954 film, what would this film be about? Over the past few months, news has been limited, but some pieces of info have been revealed over that time including a title (and one of 2 films to be released with the word Resurgence in the title this year), images of Godzilla, and even a small teaser trailer. We know that Attack on Titan director Shinji Higuchi and Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno are both co directing this film. We know that Hiroki Hasegawa, Satomi Ishihara and Yutaka Takenouchi are starring in it. Plus we know who is producing the film’s score in Shirō Sagisu. We also heard the plan that this Monster was going to be the Biggest Form of the Big G to date. Well now we have a proper trailer, and it is both exciting, but also rather worrying……….again.

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This new trailer does have a good look to it. it looks a lot different to previous Godzilla films, looks much bigger in content and detail, it shows pictures of the cast, as well as the obligatory running away scenes and moments with Tanks in it. The plot is still relatively unknown, but information suggests that this may be a sort of Japanese Reboot, a sort of modern retake on the original, presenting the Arrival of this new monster as being the first attack and nothing to do with any event (whether anything happened in the 1950’s), or at least that is the way I am understanding it. This trailer though, while devoid of detailed sound suggests such a thing too. The film makers did announce that it was their plan for this one to be a lot like the original film and info has suggested that too, but part of me in writing this thinks I may be skimming over a bigger issue.

But yeah, this film does look interesting, and makes me think a lot of the Gamera Heisei Trilogy in it’s current presentation, like they are going down that route and trying to pull off something with a detailed story and plan something of a series from it. The effects look pretty good, and show scenes of imagery similar to that I think of Godzilla vs Biollante, plus also some effects that look like well detailed uses of CGI, especially when you see Godzilla’s tail swing over-head.

Burning Godzilla

But as said before, I feel there is a major issue with Godzilla, in his image. It’s a widely known fact that Godzilla’s skin is shown in such a way that it looks like he is scarred, scarred from the brutal testing of the Nuclear Weapons that woke him up, scarred for life. However, his image still looks smooth, he is not a shrivelled up abomination, like an enlarged zombie from a horror movie. He has always looked reptilian. In this trailer, his in-depth image I think is very similar to that of his appearance in Godzilla vs Destoroyah in the level of red on show. Similarly I think he also looks a bit like the creature Nemesis in the Jeremy Robinson book; Project Nemesis.

Project Nemesis (Smashwords Edition - 2012)

However, his general image I think is overdone. He looks like a shrivelled up abomination, like something taken out of a horror film. He just looks awful, off-putting, not the sleek reptilian giant we all know and love. He just looks hideous and off-putting. Was this the intention? Because I sure hope not! From a distance it does not look too bad, but a close-up on his face just looks horrid. What have they done to him? When he roars, he looks like the killer Teddy Bear out of Krampus. The roar is still the same thankfully, no sign yet of a Deathray, but, what else can I say…..?

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Avoiding that point for now and secretly hoping that the design and current look is currently unfinished, it’s nice to see this film going somewhere and this recent showcasing sort of brings me back into the fold with it. Whether or not I get to see it is still hanging out there, but now I am a little bit more desiring to see it (but not for Godzilla’s appearance).

GENEPOOL





Tonight’s Main Event: It’s Monster Madness As Mechagodzilla, Takes On Godzilla, Takes On Mothra In A Triple Threat Match For The Supreme Heavyweight Championship – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

17 02 2016

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2003)

I don’t know if you watch Professional Wrestling; oh you do, OK. Well in that case, for those of you who may not watch Professional Wrestling, in Pro-Wrestling there is a kind of match called a Triple Threat Match. Now this pretty similar to a singles match, except that it involves three competing athletes instead of the usual two. It brings an extra level of tension and jeopardy to a match as the athletes have to worry about not one, but two athletes. It’s the kind of match that is not wheeled out as much as it might have done once upon a time, but imagine for a second, that there is a Triple Threat Match, and competing in it, are the three of the best Pro Wrestlers in history (something like Triple H vs Sting vs The Undertaker). Well, we have something like that here in this film, as Three of Japan’s best loved Giant Monsters fight it out in a Triple Threat Match.

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Released in 2003 by Toho, Produced by Shogo Tomiyama and Directed by Masaaki Tezuka; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is the 28th film in the Godzilla series, and serves as a direct sequel (as in it follows where the last film left on, instead of a sequel in the generic form of just happening to be made after a film) to the previous film: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. The film also serves as continuity to both the original Godzilla film and Mothra back in 1961. While the previous film was entirely about the confrontation between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla; this film also sees the welcome return of Mothra, whose only other appearance’s in the millennium series include Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack and Godzilla: Final Wars (which came after this).

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Set about a year after the Events of the previous film; Mechagodzilla is undergoing repair after his confrontation with Godzilla, while Japan is rebuilding after both the fight, and Mechagodzilla’s rampage. In Karuizawa, Airman Yoshito Chujo (Noboru Kaneko) and his nephew Shun (Kenta Suga) are staying with Yoshito’s father; Dr. Shinichi Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi). Suddenly, two tiny twin fairies (Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka) appear to Dr. Chujo, who remembers them well, as he has met them before. The twin fairies warn the three of them, that if they do not return the original Godzilla’s bones (the same ones used to build Mechagodzilla) to the bottom of the ocean, then Mothra will declare war on the human race. Yoshito argues with them saying MechaGodzilla is Japan’s only real defense against Godzilla, but the Twin’s tell him that if they return the bones to where they belong, Mothra will take Mechagodzilla’s place. Upon returning to the base where MechaGodzilla is being rebuilt, Yoshito has mixed feelings to what he has heard. Meanwhile a new set of Mechagodzilla pilots arrive, one of whom; Azusa Kisaragi (Miho Yoshioka), is an old friend of Yoshito’s. Meanwhile, the news and press are all wrapped up in wondering why so much money is being poured into the MechaGodzilla project, especially after the robot’s accidental rampage. Back at his home; Dr. Chujo tells Shun about what how he met the twin fairies and Mothra’s attack on Tokyo back in 1961. Dr. Chujo makes an appointment to see Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi (Akira Nakao), and tells him of Mothra’s warning and that they should end the project. Out at sea, the carcass of a strange giant turtle like creature called a Kamoebas washes ashore dead, with a scar in its neck, believed to have been done by Godzilla, who is also responsible for the destruction of an American Nuclear Sub too.

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With news of Godzilla possibly heading for Japan, Mechagodzilla’s repairs are fast tracked as a new weapon is added to replace the defunct Absolute Zero weapon that was destroyed in the previous fight. Wind of Dr. Chujo’s talk with the Prime Minister reaches hot-shot pilot Kyosuke Akiba (Mitsuki Koga) who gets into a fight with Yoshito. A short time later however, Godzilla reappears, and is attacked by the military, soon landing ashore. The city is evacuated, but Shun goes missing. Dr. Chujo goes to find him at the school, where he discovers that Shun, using the tables and chairs within the school, has made the sign for Mothra in the playground. This instantly summons the appearance of Mothra who quickly sets to attacking Godzilla. Shun and Dr. Chujo run from the scene while Mothra and Godzilla engage. Mechagodzilla is ready and waiting, but the command to attack has not been given yet. On Infant Island meanwhile, the twin fairies start singing to an egg.

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Mothra begins to lose the fight. Prime Minister Igarashi gives the orders for Mechagodzilla to be launched in order to help out Mothra. Yoshito leaves the base to go and look for his father and Shun, and is given assistance by the twin fairies. Back on Infant Island, the egg hatches to twin Mothra Larvae, which then immediately head for Tokyo. Back in Tokyo, Godzilla and Mechagodzilla engage in battle with Godzilla quickly gaining an upper hand, eventually knocking out MechaGodzilla indefinitely. Yoshito finds Shun and his father, badly beaten and in desperate need of medical attention. Mothra’s twin Larva arrive and distract Godzilla, but just when it looks like they will be destroyed too, the adult Mothra jumps in the way to save them. With MechaGodzilla needing on site repairs, Yoshito volunteers to do on site repair work. With help from his crew back at the base, as well as the twin fairies, Yoshito is able to repair Mechagodzilla, but gets trapped inside. Mechagodzilla comes back online. He is soon able to get an upper hand over Godzilla, and with some help from the Twin Larvae, Godzilla is cocooned in silk. At that moment, the twin fairies singing can be heard all over the city. Yoshito hears it within Mechagodzilla, and takes it as a sign that Mechagodzilla just wants to sleep in peace. The Twin fairies declare that the bones residing within Mechagodzilla should be returned to the sea, and that humans have no right to touch the souls of the dead. Seeing Godzilla lying defenceless on the ground, Prime Minister Igarashi decides that Godzilla should be destroyed, and that then he will cancel the Mechagodzilla project. Mechagodzilla though becomes irresponsive, as the spirit of the original Godzilla wake up inside Mechagodzilla once more. Mechagodzilla wraps itself around the cocooned Godzilla, picks him up, and flies out to sea. Yoshito meanwhile is still inside but is rescued by both Azusa and Akiba. Mechagodzilla then, with Godzilla still attached dives into the ocean.

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Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S, is an interesting film with a terrific title to boot. It has a lot of interesting ideas and is backed up with lots of Giant Monster action. It’s just a shame that these ideas do not really go anywhere. The film creates ideas and interesting story points, but some of these don’t exactly start out very strong, and in the meantime, the good ones do not really go anywhere either. The film’s plot begins with the arrival of Mothra and a warning to return Godzilla’s bones to the sea. This creates a first good build-up; it’s an ultimatum, not a request; however the consequences sound rather weak. Ok, Mothra will declare war on Humanity, which it does not want; but it feels like a weak consequence, against say something like the monster within Mechagodzilla from the previous film reawakening and going on a similar rampage like it did before, or even worse. It’s not a bad idea; it just doesn’t really feel all that strong a consequence to not heeding to an ultimatum. One thing this film mentions very briefly as well is the political and financial difficulties when dealing with a project such as building a giant robotic form of Godzilla. This idea is touched upon early in the film, but for most part is just ignored…..and it’s a real shame, because it is a really cool idea. If there wasn’t a political, financial or a civilian problem to such a large-scale project, then it would seem ok just to carry on with it, but in this case, there is an overall issue from all sides. You have TV coverage on the general populations view on the financial costs of a project that is only partially successful to date. Why is it then that this side of the story does not go into as much detail? It’s not like this kind of thing has not been done before in film. Gamera 3 deals with political and civilian issues with Giant Monsters in great detail to a high level of realism, so why is it not done here? Part of me thinks this film was done at the wrong time, and that such levels of voice in a hot situation as covered here, should have been done in a film made about now. There were no international monetary problems back then, or at least as bad as they are now. If it was to have been done now, it’s a subplot that could have been weaved in beautifully? But even if it wasn’t, there is a suggestion there that is not worked on, but rather skimmed upon.

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It’s a film of missed opportunities, and one whose list sadly continues. It’s like the writing team were dipping their fingers in a tank of water. They began to submerge the tips, but did not decide to push their entire hands. It’s a film whose points and issues could have been worked on by just dipping their fingers, or even knuckles; in that little bit more. The more they would have done it the more it would have improved, and then could have sprouted out more and produced a work of art that could have found itself in close ranks with the original 1954 film. It’s not bad, just not worked on enough for it to reach the stars. Another issue I have with the film’s story is how quickly it ends. The film’s big battle reaches a climax, but then all of a sudden it just stops. A realization then suddenly hits everyone. The story of Mothra’s Fairies warning comes to a bit of light and suddenly Yoshito learns what the fairies warning was really all about. It’s a subject that should have been constantly touched upon, but is forgotten during the fight, and then suddenly everyone realizes what was really meant? I just don’t understand it. It makes me think that the writing team were running out of printer paper and just decided to end it quickly. There is no build up, or consistent mention of story plot points, or at least not enough for this ideal to change in a good way. It’s just sudden and not understandable. It then ends altogether, very quickly with a change of heart from Mechagodzilla.

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Tokyo S.O.S. does struggle with casting. For what is supposedly a follow-up to a previous film, I find it weird that while the film does feature the monsters and events, there is very little form the previous films cast of characters. I thought a follow-up would include them in a much bigger form. While the film does boast at least one major character from Against in Koh Takasugi, while also being backed up with Godzilla veterans Akira Nakao and Hiroshi Koizumi, why is it, that the lead character from Against is only in this film for less than 5 minutes. Yumiko Shaku, who played JXSDF Lt. Akane Yashiro in Against appears in about 2 scenes before bowing out for the new lead characters. Surely a direct follow-up would feature her more so why is it then that she disappears? Along with the lack of Lt. Akane are the other 2 major leads in Sara (Kana Onodera) and Tokumitsu Yuhara (Shin Takuma). Where did they go, and why aren’t they mentioned in at least some vain if not given major parts in this film? While the lack of Akane’s character in this film is a real disappointment; that’s not to say that the cast taking her place are also. Some of these characters could have been developed more, but their onscreen appearance is still pretty good and very enjoyable. Hiroshi Koizumi and Akira Nakao for instance are always good value. Koizumi who sadly passed away last year had a prolific career and recorded several major appearances in the Godzilla series. Now providing a similar role to the one he had in Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla in the 1970’s, He is as good here as he has ever been. While his role is more reliant on the past experience of his role in Mothra, his caring side for his family, plus knowledge on the situation, continue to highlight his scientific character, one that Koizumi has practically played in every Godzilla film he has appeared in. His different stance though, that of a grandfather make his role a more active one, and one that takes him into more perilous situations, including being on the ground, very near to Godzilla. These scenes with Shun are pretty good ones to look out for, very enjoyable. Akira Nakao meanwhile continues to play another strong leadership role in playing the Prime Minister. In this role he is a strong character, but also a very believable one, and looks like a real politician/prime minister. He is a very caring one, and carries a lot of weight on his shoulders and continues to battle all sides and everyone around him. His sudden change at the end is a bit swift; much like the script, but throughout he is a character to look out for.

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Alongside them, we have our many side characters. Ok, Azusa and Akiba are more up front, but don’t really have as much air time as Yoshito. Akiba is a prat, and a real one at that, but his character does have some redeeming aspects to it, and one that grows as the film carries on. While Akane might not be in it, her replacement is still very good. Azusa enters as a possible love interest to Yoshito, but becomes more of a supporter to him. It’s not till the end that more of that comes out of her, going so far to rescue him at the end of the film. Shun is a good little character for Yoshito, someone to look after and care for, and whose near death in the film creates a very powerful moment, it’s just sad that it wasn’t strung out or developed a little more. After them we have our collection of Side characters. The Shobijin (or twin fairies) are nicely done once more, but don’t really show much in the way of character other than near replicating every Shobijin performance so far. There are a lot of extra characters of note including military personal and politicians including JSDF Chief Hitoyanagi (Takeo Nakahara), General Dobashi (Koichi Ueda), one character whose name I cannot find…nor an actor’s name, but plays Akiba’s Father, and a fleeting appearance from Shun’s mother (Noriko Watanabe). After that, it really only comes down to Yoshito himself. Yoshito is a good person and a great mechanic. He takes his job seriously, and is very caring of his family. But this man is thrust into a difficult situation, as two twin fairies tell him that he needs to dump Godzilla’s bones in the ocean. This plagues his mind throughout, until eventually he learns what they really mean. They mean it not in the form of getting rid of the Japans only defence against Godzilla, but in letting the original Godzilla’s bones, and history rest in peace. He begins to understand this as the film reaches its conclusion, whereas when it first starts he does not believe that Mothra is a hero given the creature’s past, but now realises that what the twins meant is that Japan had no right to drench up a dead body and mess with its soul. Yoshito is a good lead for a film that has lost its previous main, but he is one that you want to follow, and one whose life you care about. You feel his pain, his emotions and struggle throughout, but all the while he remains strong.

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A Godzilla film though is not without its Monsters. Godzilla has changed somewhat from his previous appearance. Detail has been made to his look to include a still healing injury from the previous film. He is still though incredibly powerful, and one whose talents are on great show in this film. His merciless like domination as he kills but does not eat a giant turtle like creature, his destructive underwater power as he destroys yet another submarine in a scene that is very reminding of The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah. Mothra is back in a much bigger way than his/her/its previous performance in GMK. Mothra is represented more as this guardian and caring creature but once again with some strict morals, as per its ideal that it is earth’s natural guardian. The representation of Mothra however I feel is that it relies too much on things Mothra did in previous films. Things such as Twins coming out of the Mothra Egg, like in Mothra vs Godzilla. Mothra does not appear to be as powerful as he/she/it can sometimes be and appears to be somewhat weaker, however, it’s early arrival, flying through the clouds and appearing on a small hill, as well as its appearance near the symbol of its calling make some really good shots though. I just don’t know however the real reason for Mothra’s inclusion in this film, it just does not really appear to fit. It seems more like a small part, like Baragon had in GMK. The lack of strong powers really helps this point, as it seems to be a bit weaker in comparison. Despite this though, it’s always fun to see Mothra in a film, and whose appearance adds an extra level of taste, if not much spicy. Mechagodzilla seems to have changed some level despite it supposedly being a follow-up. In Against, Mechagodzilla was constantly being referred to as Kiryu, a name which I rather like, but now Kiryu has just gone and has been replaced by Mechagodzilla, so it’s all rather confusing. Mechagodzilla is of course being repaired, and scenes from with-in the factory floor, plus its launch are really well made scenes. What I don’t get with it this time though is why the sudden change of heart? In Against, he gets mad and goes on a rampage, now he has a sudden change of heart ad decides to go back to where it belonged? Why is it that it did not want to do that in the first film, why now? What has changed? It is talked about in a form that suggests that it was ok fighting for humanity, but now it does not want to. Something has definitely happened in between the two films that are not getting explained here. It’s just further questions, as all of a sudden; Mechagodzilla has become nearly a different monster. Despite all those points though, he still looks as good as he did in the previous film. This form of Mechagodzilla is definitely my favourite (preferably with the name Kiryu, I just rather like it, it’s a cool name), plus his appearance in this film comes with a much more sinister look.

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One way the film really struggles though with its monsters is the detail of the special effects aimed towards them. Now while the CGI may not be all that great in spots, as this series was built on its pioneering and experienced use of monster suits, I can look over that. It’s more in the suits that this film starts to fail. When an effect is done properly, as in it is worked on hard enough to create the right effect, it is something that as an audience member you don’t necessarily care about while watching the film, as the real looking effect grabs your attention and draws you more into the story. With films like this, one of the things that helps is that because it is a suit, it’s easier to have something look real, as there is actually something real standing in the foreground, instead of having to act or create around something that is not originally there. Suit acting therefore helps with the effect in one important way, that it’s real because it is. As the Millennium series has progressed, more has been done to incorporate suitmation into other forms of special effect creation to create more outstanding moments; an example of this being in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, when Godzilla first rises out of the sea above an Aquarium.

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It’s a fantastic shot, and real work has gone in to make Godzilla look both Authentic and Real. When we come to this film though, most of that seems to have been thrown out of the window. In the previous film, Godzilla looked Authentically Real, here; I can look at Godzilla and instantly tell it’s a suit. A level of reality has been thrown out the window, and it does put me off. There are scenes when shots are done properly to make it look as real and astonishing as possible, such as Godzilla walking through a building site, a Fantastic Shot in its own right, but then it cuts to a suit walking through an obviously fake town. The realism is gone, and it is a detracting thing from this film, as it just sort of looks bad; and it’s not just restricted to Godzilla neither. Mechagodzilla and Mothra suffer from this too. Not necessarily Adult Mothra as it has some good scenes such as on-top of the hill and above the school, but more the larvae. The larvae have some nice added bit of detail, and the shots of them crawling round the town are pretty cool, it’s more how much use is made of solid colouring and no real form of shading, they look absolutely solid if it wasn’t for the little added bits of movement around their heads. Mechagodzilla meanwhile has lost some life in his look, and the effect of him looks pretty similar to Godzilla, in that he looks like an obvious suit. It’s a real shame considering the effects of the film before it, but S.O.S. has its moments; mostly from uses of cinematography, such as capturing moments where Godzilla rises out of the sea, Mothra over the school, and Mechagodzilla knocked out on the floor and having people scrambling over him.

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It’s sounding like this is a bad film doesn’t it? It sounds like a film of missed opportunities raising more questions than delivering answers, not providing much in the special effects department and kicking actors out the door. But don’t think that means I don’t like it; because I do. It does have its problems and moments, but for all the things that near disappoint, something pops along which nearly makes up for it. The film’s monster battles contain a few continuity errors, and while it starts out nice and fast, action packed – it does begin to slow down and come to a crawl before eventually just stopping and ending on a weird note. However, when the action is nice and fast, it’s really good and at its best. It’s not too fast neither. Monster battles at speed are always good, but when going to fast just look bad, however in this, they go at a good speed and continue at relative pace for some time, making up for some of the early on monster disappointment, especially when Mechagodzilla is turned on. The film’s miniatures and set pieces are near to perfection, with special note going to the factory floor for Mechagodzilla, as well as his eventual launch. The city destruction scenes are really good, and as well are the scenes of people running away. They are scenes which are frequent of any monster movie for that matter; but these ones are done really well and add their own level of character too. Even the deserted city streets and inside the Tokyo Tower look really good. A lot of work has been put in to make this film as good as it can be no matter what, and it has worked. And while the story has its issues, it also has its moments. From scenes like the near death of Shun, to the scenes inside military command centres. But above all else is the after credits scene (which I might explain in a later post). To back all this up you have film extras who work really hard to make sets believable, but also, let’s not forget the film’s soundtrack, once again composed by Michiru Oshima.

The soundtrack itself is about the same as it were for Against, but with some pieces getting more attention than others. Yes there are new ones, but these take more of a sombre note rather than a militaristic theme like in Against and Megaguiras. These range from the ending credits, to Shun’s near Death. Weaved in is some more heroic pieces for characters like Mechagodzilla, plus scenes towards the end. All the while continuing to incorporate the soundtrack from the previous film, oh and of course, the sounds and songs of Mothra. It’s a nice soundtrack, and though while it may not standout like it did for Against, it’s one that works for the occasion. Oshima still continues to provide for the series in her own way, and one that continues to produce no matter what the outcome of the film turns out to be; creating in the process some of the most memorable pieces in the series to date.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. in the end is a really nice film. It is a nice enjoyable film combining the things we have come to love in the series while also continuing to create new ideas and moments. While some of its story, characters and even monsters do struggle with the films over broad and under developed points; it provides enough to get you thinking. While maybe not explored in-depth or enough to satisfy completely, there is enough to enjoy. While in its failings it does cause more questions to be asked than answers given, it provides enough to be enjoyed with for now, until something comes along to improve on them. Bolstering meanwhile good cast, monsters, soundtrack, effects, scenes, post credit scene and of course a brilliant title; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is definitely worth the time and money to watch, and when looking past it’s issues, provides an enjoyable entry to the series and one that every Monster Movie fan should see.

GENEPOOL (It’s not really a Triple Threat Match thinking about it, more of a handicap match, but with some moral issues between 2 members of the opposing team).








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