Top 10 Godzilla Films

29 06 2016

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It should come as no surprise that my favourite film series is of course Godzilla. I don’t know how many times I must have mentioned it to people I know, people passing by, or the number of posts I have written on the subject on this very blog that you are reading now (speaking of which, did you know this is my 500th post?). Yes, I love Godzilla movies! Ever since I was a young boy to right now and probably beyond, I have had a craving fascination for a film series starring a Giant Nuclear Irradiated Japanese Monster. While there are a lot of really great movies out there not including/starring Godzilla, it should come as no surprise that my Top 10 absolute favourite films are all Godzilla films. But which ones though? You see back in 2014, after the release of the 2014 Godzilla film, I thought I would finally work it out. What do I mean by that, well, you see the thing is that for many years I had always said which ones were likely and which ones would be high up but I never actually had a defined list of which were my top 10 favourites, just an idea. So with the 2014 film out of the way and to sort of celebrate I thought I would work it out.

Godzilla 2016

To zone in and find for definite which ones are my favourite and then order them was always going to be trivial. How I actually did it was like this:

  1. I ordered the films in order of when they were released starting from the original 1954 film, to the 2014 film.
  2. I then picked out the ones I thought were terrible (and there are 3 I can think of) and deleted them off the sheet.
  3. Even after cycling through some bad ones, I still had near 25 to choose from, so I just worked through them from there, picking out ones I did not feel strongly for until I get to a more definitive list (between 15 and 20) to then think more carefully about.
  4. As the process continued, some of the remaining films became obvious as to being ones I absolutely loved, so I then began to order those ones around a little.
  5. From there it became a process of difficult elimination as I analysed the films in my head and said to myself; “Is that one better than that one?”
  6. In the end it came down to 12 films and a difficult choice to get to specifically 10, so I worked hard and finally whittled it down to just 10 films.
  7. I then repeated step 5 to put the surviving 10 in order from 10 to 1.

Making this list was actually rather fun and interesting experience, and one I look forward to doing again in the future, but to which series I do not know (probably Studio Ghibli once I get more head on into it). There is a little bit of an issue with the choosing process, and that is I have not actually seen Invasion of Astro-Monster or Son of Godzilla. Invasion of Astro-Monster is on my shelf, and just haven’t got round to watching it yet, whilst I do remember seeing something of Son of Godzilla from when I was about 4 years old, but as I cannot currently get a copy of it, I am pretty much stuck. If anything, the only other one I have not seen is Godzilla Resurgence…..which has not been released yet. As this list goes though, there are still plenty of surprises…possibly. Some surprises for me as some films I was sure of being on here are not, and some surprises for you my wonderful readers as to where some films have been placed, however, being the Godzilla fan that I am, I will not have put it in that position unless I thought that it deserves to not only be on this list, but also in that position. Anyway, introduction’s over, I hope you enjoy this post as much as I have enjoyed working it all out. So sit back, relax (not unless you are like me and have to lean in on a computer to read something), and find out what my Top 10 Favourite Godzilla films are.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1974)

10. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla – An Ancient prophecy begins to come to fruition when a dark cloud in the shape of Mount Fuji appears in the sky. The prophecy states that a Giant Monster will come along to destroy the land. Things take a confusing turn however when the Monster that appears turns out to be Godzilla. Things take an even bigger twist when another monster, who also looks a lot like Godzilla appears also. With everyone by this point really confused, the first one decides to shed its skin and reveals itself to be a cybernetic clone.

Mechagodzilla

The 1970’s were not a great time for the Godzilla series. From the start of the decade the series was already beginning to slump with the mediocre release of Godzilla vs Hedorah. Things then got even worse as the two films that followed were mostly made up of Stock Footage and very little were actually filmed. This landslide from Great films to terrible films appeared to be unending, until veteran director Jun Fukuda returned. Having previously done three Godzilla films in the past, and being one of the most important directors in the series, it came down to him to turn Godzilla’s fortune’s around; which he did spectacularly. Out with the stock footage; back in with actual film making. This film in the series was also made up with a lot of firsts: While Godzilla and Anguirus make an appearance in the film, both King Caesar and the now legendary MechaGodzilla both made their debut in this film. The film manages to cram a lot of human story and character elements into it also, with the characters having to help the Monsters as best they can; because otherwise, the green-skinned ape aliens would win. With a very jazzy soundtrack from Masaru Sato and also showing how fun a night time chase around a ferry cruise could be, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla remains one of the series most stand out and thoroughly enjoyable entries into the series.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2002)

9. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla – In 1954, the monster simply called Godzilla attacked Japan and left Tokyo in ruins. Over the next 40+ years; several more Giant Monsters including Gaira, Mothra and a monster that looks a lot like Godzilla attack the nation. Having had enough, the country of Japan launches a new weapons program to build a machine specifically designed to defend themselves from these attacks. The machine code-named Kiryu is built on the fossilized skeleton of the original Godzilla. When Godzilla suddenly reappears, Kiryu is sent into action. After hardly any battle, Godzilla leaves, but Kiryu runs amok in Tokyo, but why?

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Since the release of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, MechaGodzilla has been redeployed in a film sense on several occasions. But the 2 times between this and the original did not fare so well and did not impact all that greatly. By the Millennium, and with the new series in full swing, Toho brought MechaGodzilla back, and created one of the Millennium Series most stand out films. In comparison to the above mentioned film, this one is not crammed full of characters, with instead only 3 really appearing as leads; but in this instance they are worked on in a great deal. The story and setting produce an initially terrifying but also heart-warming story telling of the connection between man and machine while also creating an initial yet terrifying plot twist, with not Godzilla necessarily running amok, but the weapon. Still providing the best in monster mash-ups, and up to date special effects as well as terrific pieces by Michiru Oshima for an unforgettable main movie theme, Against is an absolutely superb film and is easily Mechagodzilla’s best film appearance to date (not unless Legendary have plans).

Godzilla (Legendary

8. Godzilla 2014 – In 1954; something is discovered by the American navy; this thing is quickly covered up and supposedly destroyed. Nearly 50 years later, a nuclear power plant is destroyed supposedly in an earthquake. Sometime later, the husband of a scientist who died in the power plant goes mad trying to prove it wasn’t an accident, and he was right, as inside the power plant is a Giant Monster which escapes it’s confines and goes on the rampage.

Godzilla Beach

In 2010, Legendary Pictures announced it was going to make a brand new American Godzilla film, even though in the end we had to wait 4 years for it to be released. I went to see it on opening night, and absolutely loved it. It was near perfect, Godzilla himself was perfect, and the new MUTO’s were amazing creatures, all combined into a very human story (that seemed strangely similar to Gamera: Guardian of the Universe) supported by a terrific selection of cast, special effects and heart pounding music (composed by Alexandre Desplat), all brought together by Director Gareth Edwards. I enjoyed it so much that I went to see it another two times at the cinema. But for me, the real proof of the pudding came the Saturday after it was released. I had the night off, and really wanted to watch a Godzilla film for some reason, so I watched Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, one of my favourite Showa films and one I have always enjoyed. But right there and then, I was struggling to enjoy it as much as I used to…..I wonder why?

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1966)

7. Ebirah: Horror of the Deep – A young man who is looking for his brother lost at sea, finds a couple of people at a dance contest who take him to see some boats. They go aboard one, and the following morning the young man steals it, which ironically has already been stolen. After several days at sea, they get caught in a storm and the boat is destroyed by a giant claw. They all wash up on shore and discover that the giant claw belongs to a giant Lobster called Ebirah. Yet more nightmares are to be realised however as the island is the base for a terrorist group called the Red Bamboo, and the island boasts yet another secret.

Ebirah

With the Godzilla film series now in full swing, directing duties were handed over to hot up and coming director Jun Fukuda. Most of his previous work involved comedy and mystery, but in all fairness, Ebirah wasn’t any normal Godzilla film. It was originally intended to be made as a King Kong film, but Toho decided to make it a Godzilla film instead; such is why Godzilla does not smash-up a city, as well as show off several un-Godzilla like traits including attacking Mothra after supposedly now being friends. Any who; as a young boy, this one stood out for me a lot as for quite a while it was the only Godzilla film I had VHS access to, until the collection grew. As time has passed and other films have come that I prefer to it, this remains one of the films I have enjoyed the most. It’s not just a connection to my youth, but also a film that I have come to love with a great deal of memory and passion with many scenes, quotes and a heart thrilling caper like soundtrack being many a highlight. It’s place on this list always a guarantee; more than any other Godzilla film, it’s possibly the most enduring and one that I have conceivably the most memories of just watching it over and over again, even remembering specific times and days of watching it.

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

6. The Return of Godzilla – In 1984, it’s been 30 years since Godzilla attacked Japan, but has not been since. His presence has still cast a shadow over the nation even as it progresses into a modern high-tech future. Out at sea, a fishing boat is discovered where only one member of its crew survived. He talks about seeing a Monster and as time passes, more incidents get reported, and it’s all revealed to be true, that Godzilla has indeed returned.

Super-X

After nearly a decade since Godzilla’s last movie appearance (Terror of Mechagodzilla), Toho finally decided to bring the monster back during the ever-growing tensions of the cold war. It was perfect, with the monster having lost his terrifying persona over 20 years of film making, they brought him back to his terrifying self in a movie that ignored all events of the films in between this and the original. This was also only the second time in the series that Godzilla attacked a city and did not fight another monster. Yes, while we all love a good fight, Toho showcased how terrifying, realistic and enjoyable a Godzilla film could be when he is not surrounded by other Monsters. This film would go on to kick-start the best era of Godzilla movies to date: the Heisei series; and while Godzilla the hero would come out to play a couple more times, the producers worked really hard to maintain Godzilla’s terrifying position and persona throughout. More than any film, this one ensured Godzilla’s long lasting cinema presence, one that is still being seen to this day.

Destroy All Monsters (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1968)

5. Destroy All Monsters – The year is 1999 (hypothetically), and all the monsters of the world have been collected and made to live together on an island decidedly called Monster Land. All of a sudden communications with the control station nearby is lost, and the supposedly ‘contained’ monsters all start attacking the Major Cities of the world, all except Tokyo?

Mothra, Gorosaurus, Rodan, Kumonga, Anguirus, King Ghidorah, Varan, Godzilla, Manda, Baragon, Minilla

What was originally intended to be the final Godzilla film, and as such was given a much bigger budget, remains one of the most popular in the series. Having just done some research, I have discovered that this is one of only a few Japanese Godzilla films to have a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, for about 11 years, this was my favourite film. What sets this film apart from others is its large cast of Monsters. Loads of Monsters appear in this film, some remaining real favourites and some of the most endearing monsters in the series. Plenty of city destruction takes place, with others than Tokyo being hit for once, all the while setting the early instigations into an alien conspiracy. Expect some of the most memorable pieces of music, and some of the best military vs monster scenes to date as Godzilla leads the charge of the Monsters (which includes but is not limited to: Gorosaurus, Rodan, Varan, Manda and Baragon).

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1991)

4. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah – In 1992, over the sky of Tokyo, a UFO is spotted. It is eventually tracked, where it turns out not to be aliens, but people from the future. These people go on to talk about the future non-existence of Japan as a nation and that the country is to be finally destroyed by Godzilla. They send a team back in time to an island battlefield in World War Two, where the Dinosaur that would become Godzilla first appears; sending it to the bearing sea, preventing it from evolving into Godzilla. Returning to the present day, rumours of a new monster begin to circulate.

MOTHER

This film easily remains one of the most beloved films in the series by fans. After struggling to get Godzilla going with the release of Godzilla vs Biollante, it was decided that for their next film that Godzilla would fight his arch-nemesis for the first time in nearly 20 years: the three-headed golden dragon; King Ghidorah. This new film in essence is based on the popularity of the time travelling element in the recently released Back to the Future films while also combining it with a story that focusses on how Godzilla became Godzilla. Its story; while basic does achieve quite a bit, with the implication that with Godzilla removed from history, King Ghidorah takes his place and is under the control of people with vengeance on their mind, only for their plans to eventually backfire. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah in the process creates some terrific scenes of city destruction, as well as not one but two incredibly well fought battles as Godzilla goes one on one with his Greatest Nemesis, in a battle that leaves one monster horribly scarred for life.

Godzilla (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1954)

3. Godzilla 1954 – Out at sea, several fishing boats are mysteriously destroyed. On a nearby island, the village is destroyed a few days later. A team is dispatched to investigate, and make a chilling discovery, one that will bring repercussions for the country of Japan for decades to come.

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1954 was a big year for Japanese cinema, especially more so for Toho. A few months earlier they released the Akira Kurosawa masterpiece Seven Samurai, but on set; apparently everyone was talking about something called Gojira. After trying to produce a film in Jakarta which ultimately fell through, Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka took two pieces of inspiration: the Lucky Dragon 5 fishing boat incident and the Ray Harryhausen film; The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and in the process created Japan’s first movie Monster. Taking into account the destruction dealt upon Japan at the end of World War 2 by not one, but two Nuclear Bombs, Tanaka created a creature born of the forces of Nuclear Power and Nature’s answer to humanities destructive attitude and set this new monster loose in Japan’s Capital. Backed up with a terrifying soundtrack by composer Akira Ifukube, and the latest in Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, all under the direction of Ishirō Honda; I believe they say: “The rest is History!”

Godzilla vs Mothra (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1992)

2. Godzilla vs Mothra – Out in space, a meteor strikes earth, and a Typhoon ensues revealing a giant egg. A team is dispatched to investigate the island where they find the egg and are told a harrowing tale of how an ancient battle was fought between Earth’s guardian Mothra, and another monster similar in design called Battra, who might have reawakened.

Battra

For over 11 years or so, Destroy all Monsters was my favourite film, until by chance I was able to get a copy of this film, and within one showing I knew this was my new favourite film. What is basically a film telling something of a lesson of the importance of keeping earth clean, and what is renowned as being rather rushed, is also a fantastically enjoyable film. It is rife with elements of tension; lots of city based destruction, and so far the only film in the series to contain one of the series best creations, the creature known as Battra. Containing some great acting, a fully thriving in-depth story and some amazing Monster Powers to create a full on power play of a Monster Battle climax, Godzilla vs Mothra in sense recreates the story of Mothra vs Godzilla, but ultra-charges it into the early to mid-nineties, and in the process creates one of the series best films to date.

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2001)

1. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack – Across Japan, several incidents take place, in each one a Monster being spotted. It has been nearly 50 years since Godzilla attacked and has not been seen since, and his print on Japan’s history is slowly being forgotten. Meanwhile a young Science Fiction TV Presenter goes on the trail of an ancient legend concerning the reawakening of several monsters, monsters determined to make sure Japan does not forget its history, but more importantly, make sure Japan is defended from the return of the King of the Monsters.

Baragon (2001)

During Christmas 2007 (I think it was 2007), I received a couple of Godzilla DVD’s from my parents. One of them was this, with the other being Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. I was certain that Tokyo S.O.S. was going to be the better of the two, boy was I wrong. I had no real clue as to what this film was going to be like, but boy did I enjoy it. Directed by the man behind the Gamera Heisei Trilogy: Shusuke Kaneko and including a mystical based soundtrack from Kow Otani, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack is a very different film to its predecessors. What we have here is less a modernistic take on Godzilla, but more one that relies on the myths and legends of Japan’s history and combining it with the terror that Godzilla should stand for; and that’s what we get. We get three Monsters teaming up to take on Godzilla which includes Baragon, while Godzilla himself shows off his real power. He has bare white eyes, and can create an atom bomb like explosion from the power of his atomic breath. The monsters are relatively smaller than before, but their power isn’t by far. Its story of a Mystical history is addictive, its cast is effective, its soundtrack is enchanting, its effects are magical and its ending is terrifying. I watched this film many a time before I finally realised that this was my favourite film, and my favourite film it remains. To me at least (how long this will last is yet to be seen, but for now), of this I am certain; this is the best of the best, My Favourite Godzilla Film.

GENEPOOL

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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





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…..?

Godzilla 2016

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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