All My Godzilla! A Loving Retrospective

godzilla-size-chart

It is incredibly hard to believe that there are THIRTY FIVE (going on 36 with 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong!) Godzilla films currently in existence. And the premise of all of these films all boil down to being about a giant creature roaming through large cities, causing havoc and destruction. How is it possible to stretch such a simple formula to a franchise of such longevity? James Bond hasn’t even reached 25 films yet! What is it that makes Godzilla so special and beloved by audiences?

A lot of people say that it is because of what Godzilla represents. Depending on the era it is based on, Godzilla represents the mistakes that Japan has done like in the original film that involved nuclear bomb testing that brought back memories of Hiroshima; a parable of the mistakes of humanity.

Another reason why people love Godzilla so much is because the franchise delivers exactly what its premise promises: Mindless chaos and destruction shown in a massive cinematic scale. Or getting drunk out of your minds due to its cheesy execution, it all depends on the installment.

Throughout the years, the Godzilla installments have changed the perception of the titular creature to the point that it became campy and made the star an anti-hero that fought other creatures, therefore saving the world. I will investigate and give my brief impressions on every Japanese-language film, unless stated otherwise. Join me on this kaiju journey.


Gojira_1954_Japanese_poster

Godzilla (1954)

GODZILLA (1954)

Director: Ishiro Honda

The original film that started it all. One would expect that the first film would be what most mainstream audiences expect of the titular creature, which is monstrous, destructive and mindless, campy fun. But not in the case of Godzilla (1954). What the final product is an admirable and successful attempt at social commentary, that just so happens to have the monster action future audiences would want.

The social commentary being that the titular creature represents the mistakes that Japan has made in terms of nuclear bomb testing and paranoia. This sense of social conscience adds a lot of depth to the story and manages to make Godzilla something more than just a mindless adventure. It adds a layer of melancholy to the proceedings, as we don’t get a simple tale in which the good guys – ie, the humans – try to kill the evil monster.

Indeed, we develop a moderately sympathetic and almost humane view of Godzilla. Basically, he’s just a tired old creature who gets disturbed from his deep sleep by the misdeeds of mankind – can you blame him if it’s irritated and acts out just a little?

Okay, a little is an understatement, since there are many scenes of city-wide destruction and chaos. Even all the depth and symbolism (which is well-executed if not entirely subtle) is the action. Sure, the modelling work is dated, but the direction by Ishiro Honda lends the action tension and menace. The use of sound and restraint of revealing the creature (especially during the title sequence) works wonders and provides a great teaser of what’s to come.

The pacing and characterizations do fizzle out the overall film, even with future Godzilla standees Akira Takarada and Takashi Shimura lending their presence, but the actors do fine with their parts and the drama (especially in comparison to the future installments) and they provide a refreshing change due to the climax, which is more of a dramatic, emotional and thought-provoking one than one would expect.

Despite the problems with pacing, effects and some characterizations, Godzilla (1954) does manage to work pretty well and thanks to its mix of social commentary and action, it delivers a satisfying adventure.

NOTE: There is also an American recut version of the film called Godzilla, King of the Monsters! Basically it is a version for people that do not want to read subtitles (thanks to the presence of Raymond Burr) and it is an inferior version in almost every way. The depth, the social commentary and the drama is gone and is replaced with faster pacing and unintentional hilarity.

Complete with cropping the aspect ration of 4:3 to 2.35:1 so that shots look awkward, terrible stand-ins for Burr to talk to, cringing dialogue, the list goes on. Only worth watching for added camp value, historic value and nothing more.


1955_toho_godzilla_raids_again_poster_japan

Godzilla Raids Again

GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)

Director: Motoyoshi Yoda

A quickie follow-up to the original film that takes place a year after the original. As with most sequels, it has a bigger budget and it ups the ante by providing more monster action at the expense of characterizations and, in this case, diluting the power of the social commentary of the original.

But it does have its enjoyable moments such as it is the first film to feature Godzilla fighting an actual opponent — Anguirus, a prickly customer of a creature (that is inspired by the look of an Ankylosaurus and a bearded dragon). The fight between Godzilla and Anguirius is a lot of a fun to watch, even if the undercranking makes the scenes unintentionally funny.

Aside from an extended cameo by Takashi Shimura (who reprises his from from the original as Dr. Kyohei Yamane), none of the characterizations stand out, apart from a sweet yet simplistic romance between the lead characters, Kobayashi and Yamaji (both played by Minoru Chiaki and Setsuko Wakayama).

With an even more explosive climax involving air raids and avalanches, Godzilla Raids Again finishes on a high note and it is until 7 years later, it comes back for more. It may not be as emotionally satisfying as the original film, but it does provide other pleasures and it is just as inspirational of what is to come. Definitely a solid outing.


130827000026-0

Godzilla vs. King Kong

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962)

Director: Ishiro Honda

Before we get Adam Wingard‘s film Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020, we currently have Ishiro Honda‘s King Kong vs. Godzilla, the first Godzilla film in colour! Discarding away the depth, social commentary and characterizations altogether and fueling up the action, the camp and the monster fights, the film is quite fun, with the plentiful battles and attempts to capture the creatures being quite entertaining.

But large amounts of alcohol and a strong sense of humour are needed if you want to get pass the political incorrectness (the natives are portrayed in blackface), the laughable special effects (the use of an actual octopus is laugh-out-loud funny), the extraordinary overacting (particularly from Ichiro Arishima, who is out-of-this-world bonkers as the Pharmaceutical CEO) and the ridiculous plot (A pharmaceutical company wants to capture Godzilla for marketing purposes?).

NOTE: There is also an American version of the film, that has extra scenes, rearrangement of existing scenes and a different musical score, in an attempt to make the film more Americanized. Unfortunately, the extra footage consists of boring exposition that slows the film down to a screeching halt. Stick with the original version.


mothra-vs-godzilla-poster-1

Mothra vs. Godzilla

MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964)

Director: Ishiro Honda

The newer the entries get, the weirder they become. And on the basis of this installment, it is starting to look a bit cuckoo. Mothra makes her first appearance in a Godzilla film here and she makes one hell of an impression, lending a new sense of flight and geography to the monster battles, thereby improving them.

Also an improvement is the political correctness – particularly in the portrayal of natives in contrast to the blackface in King Kong VS. Godzilla; the characters are more memorable than the low bar set in prior installments, thanks to the cast – Akira Takarada returns to the franchise under a different role, Yuriko Hoshi brings a much-needed spirited performance, Kanji Sahara brings pantomime fun while The Peanuts are oddly endearing as the Shobijin, caretakers of Mothra.

The film does drag in the second act due to screen-time dedicated to the drama and characterizations whilst trying to reestablish the lore of Mothra (despite having her own standalone film that came out prior) and the camp is restrained in comparison to King Kong vs. Godzilla, but overall, Mothra vs. Godzilla is a good step in the right direction for the Godzilla franchise.


MV5BNjU1MDBiNzEtZWIwZC00Zjg1LWIyYjMtM2FiNGQ1Nzg0M2ViXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ2MzU1NzQ@._V1_

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster

GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964)

Director: Ishiro Honda

This film marks the entrance of the true villain of Godzilla; King Ghidorah. Although it may take a while for it to make an impression, the final act makes it worth the wait. It also makes an interesting change in storytelling, where it is the first time in the Godzilla franchise where interstellar travel is introduced. The battles keep improving over time due to increased budgets as well as introducing the first team-up for Godzilla, as it works alongside Rodan and Mothra for the first time.

Another deviation from the formula is that the plot for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster focuses more on the human characters with the monsters taking a more secondary role until the final act, and this time it actually helps with the character development. Not to say that there isn’t any action in between — there are some entertaining shootouts, courtesy of attempted assassinations and police investigations. Although scenes like the Shobijin’s appearance in a TV show would be better off on the cutting room floor.

A solid cast certainly helps with the proceedings, thanks standout performances being Yuriko Hoshi (returning from Mothra vs. Godzilla in a different role) as Naoko Shindo, Yosuke Natsuki as her brother Detective Shindo, Akiko Wakabayashi in the dual role of Mas Selina Salno and Princess of Selgina; Takashi Shimura (veteran Godzilla franchise stalwart) and of course The Peanuts (in their final appearance) as the Shobijin.

Overall, a very good entry in the Godzilla franchise.


nCm9XPyvCVfpyYM85X5XkBrikVJ

Invasion of Astro-Monster

INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (1965)

Director: Ishiro Honda

A bit of a step down from Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, but still an entertaining entry nonetheless due to a couple of surprises.  One of them being Nick Adams‘ performance. Despite being dubbed in Japanese, he lends charisma and solid presence to the part of being the token American. Another surprise is the introduction of the alien invasion trope, which lends some freshness and fun to the franchise formula.

Unfortunately, this was the installment that had a reduced budget and it really shows on-screen. There are less monster battles this time around, the special effects scenes had less elaborate model cities built and the film incorporated footage which had been shot for previous films, particularly Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster. The costumes, particularly in the case of the Xiliens, the alien antagonists, look liked something parents would make for their children for trick-or-treating.

The film still benefits from a solid cast consisting of stalwarts like Akira Takarada, Jun Tazaki, Akira Kubo and Kumi Mizuno and others. Despite its flaws, Invasion of Astro-Monster is still an entertaining installment, if one were to have an open mind. And on a hilarious note, the film features the infamous Godzilla victory dance.


MV5BMTBkY2I5NzItMWUxNy00MGYyLWIxMDctZjM4YWUyODcxMTc3L2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzExMDQ5MTc@._V1_

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep

EBIRAH, HORROR OF THE DEEP (1966)

Director: Jun Fukuda

For this installment, there was a bit of a creative overhaul. Director Jun Fukuda takes over the reigns of the Godzilla franchise, Kazuo Yamada takes over cinematography duties from Haijume Koizumi and Marasu Sato takes over composing duties from Akira Ifukube (once again, since Godzilla Raids Again). And for the most part, the film succeeds as a refreshing change of pace for the Godzilla franchise.

Akira Takarada finally gets a good role to sink into as the gruff and sly bank robber, where he oozes charisma and gives him some acting to do as the gruff demeanour wears off. Hideo Sunazuka, Toru Watanabe and Chotaro Tugin are all solid with their parts, but unfortunately Kumi Mizuno (who made a good impression in Invasion of Astro-Monster) is given very little to do but perform eye candy duties. The Peanuts do not return as the Shobijin, but Pair Bambi do just fine as their replacements. The human antagonists are a bit too stiff to be menacing or fun to hate.

The cinematography by Kazuo Yamada is a lot sunnier in comparison to grittier, prior entries and Marasu Sato‘s musical score forgoes the intensity of Akira Ifukube‘s score and goes for a groovier and relaxed score (complete with fun 60’s music) to entertaining effect, despite being unintentionally hilarious in its incongruous use at times during action scenes. It makes Godzilla look like its dancing away from the projectiles to groovy music!

One major change is the setting of the story — usually installments would be set in major cities —  it is set on a Pacific Island, where it gives the film a serial, adventure vibe, and the monster battles are a joy to watch. When Godzilla faces Ebirah in the water, the battle is on! The details on the costumes have improved immensely, more so on the look of Mothra. One odd and distracting decision was the inclusion of The Giant Condor, which is basically a rip-off of Rodan and is disposed of as soon as it shows up.

Overall, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is a great entry in the Godzilla franchise and I can’t wait to see what Fukada’s direction comes up with next.


Son of Godzilla 1967

Son of Godzilla

SON OF GODZILLA (1967)

Director: Jun Fukuda

One of the most polarizing installments in the Godzilla franchise. While some say that it is an entertaining and cute respite from the more grittier entries while others have thought of it to be one of the worst entries due to how juvenile tone. Where do I fall on this? Somewhere in between.

The bonding moments between Godzilla and Minilla are cute, as the former teaches the latter on how to use his monster skills like the atomic ray; and it all leads to a surprisingly poignant final shot that even veteran Godzilla fans would embrace. The special effects are a mixed bag as the suits are more visibly “damaged”, as if they are cracking at the seams.

But the welcoming of the new opponents such as the Kamacuras (giant mantises) and the Kumonga (a giant spider) make great additions to the franchise, particularly the latter, as it will make arachnophobics quiver. The cast of franchise regulars all do fine with their parts, even if the characterizations are thinner than usual. Although newcomer Beverly Maeda brings a striking screen presence as Saeko, an Infant Island native.

The musical score by Masaru Sato and Minilla’s childish actions will grate those yearning for the rougher, more destructive direction of Ishiro Honda‘s, but there are enough enjoyable moments to make Son of Godzilla an enjoyable installment.


destroy-all-monsters-poster-3

Destroy All Monsters

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)

Director: Ishiro Honda

The most anticipated entry for me and unfortunately, the most disappointing. This film had the most monsters, the return of director Ishiro Honda and his crew and an awesome premise. What went wrong? Unfortunately, the human element of the film is what made it fall flat on its face.

Because of the thinner-than-usual characterizations and the mundane storytelling, the wait for the monster battles becomes arduous. Whenever the focus is on the humans, that is when the film comes to a screeching halt. And it is moments like that, which would make you wonder when are the monsters coming back; and that is never a good sign.

What makes Destroy All Monsters all the more disappointing is that the climax is very well done and contains all the monster havoc one could want. The action, featuring the classic monsters as well as new additions like Gorosaurus, Manda and even the return of Anguirus makes it one of the best moments in the franchise. But in the case of this reviewer, it was still too little too late. Shame.


all-monsters-attack-poster-1

All Monsters Attack

ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1969)

Director: Ishiro Honda

This installment is known to be the worst Godzilla film in the entire franchise. Despite the promising title, as much as I hate to admit, I am inclined to agree with the public opinion. Many people have tried to excuse its shortcomings by saying that it is a film for children. But just because the demographic of the film is for children, it doesn’t mean that the film should be sloppy in all aspects of filmmaking.

Saddled with an incredibly ridiculous story that implies the monsters of the franchise do NOT exist, shoddy filmmaking to the extent that most of the footage is cribbed from prior films, an annoying child protaganist thanks to Tomonori Yazaki‘s one-note performance, some incredibly baffling moments (Minilla can talk?! How is it that Minilla is shown to be both the same size as the precocious lead and half the height of Godzilla?!), an uninspired new creation in the form of Gabara (essentially the Poochie of the franchise) and a palpable moral that is flushed down the drain in the ending.

The only positive of the film is that it is only 69 minutes, so it is a good segue to the conclusion of this brief review that All Monsters Attack is the worst Godzilla film so far.

P.S – This film was released in the US as Godzilla’s Revenge. But there’s no revenge plot whatsoever and Godzilla is barely in it!


4cfaef935f11661b7f2d1ab09ed3c75e

Godzilla vs. Hedorah

GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971)

Director: Yoshimitsu Banno

To jump from All Monsters Attack to Godzilla vs. Hedorah felt incredibly strange, as this is one of the weirdest and most polarizing Godzilla entries I’ve seen so far. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most entertaining and underappreciated entries ever.

Straying away from the established formula so far to the point that the producers hated the final product, director Yoshimitsu Banno managed to inject a level of surrealism and a contemporary 70’s style. Yet somehow, Banno manages to retain the darkness of Godzilla and the social commentary (in terms of the environment), making the film an incredible balancing act that somehow works, even with the weak characterizations and the slower-than-usual pace.

It helps that Hedorah is one of the most challenging antagonists Godzilla has ever faced, thanks to its many forms. The detailed, blood red eyes; the dark, grovelling body; and the glowing head create a truly disturbing look for Hedorah‘s final form.

The flying form prop (which looks like a sting ray) is also well made, and since it lacks wings, it is luckily not just another victim of the visually painful “hovering flap”, a big problem with flying monsters of this era.

The land form Hedorah is also an interesting suit, especially with its eerie, wiggly projections. The water form (which is the most simple and best one) is extremely well done. The simple, dark prop with the bright red eyes, swimming through the surface of the water menacingly, is very effective.

The most criticized elements of the film are the musical score by Riichiro Manabe and the animated interludes that take care of the exposition. While the latter is effective in delivering said exposition (especially since it makes sense when the child character is in the room), the musical score depends more on preference of the audience.

The score is very effective in exposing as well as poking fun of the obliviousness of humanity and its contribution to environmental damage, as well as adding a dream-like, surrealistic feel to the proceedings, others have said that the music kills the suspense and foreboding mood of the film. Pick your poison.


1541261407485

Godzilla vs. Gigan

GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)

Director: Jun Fukuda

After the refreshing left-turn of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, we’re back into the post-modern, cutting-corners filmmaking that brings to mind All Monsters Attack. Using more footage from past films over and over again, a boring story and non-existent characterizations and dwindling effects work that even features body suits tearing apart, this entry is a disappointing step down in the Godzilla franchise.

What gives this film some sort of reprieve is the climax, in which Gigan appears in full and it gives Godzilla a run for its money as the antagonist. Featuring shocking signs of blood and gore (for the franchise, anyway), and a fearsome character design, the film provides a good springboard for the sharp monster that is Gigan. It is just a shame that the rest of Godzilla vs. Gigan is quite dull.


tumblr_poo2izjnBX1txynxco3_1280.png

Godzilla vs. Megalon

GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973)

Director: Jun Fukuda

Now this is a bit of a step up from Godzilla vs. Gigan, but that is only because it is a little bit more competent in its filmmaking, rather than anyone in the cast and crew stepping up their game. If anything, the film is more off-putting due to some bizarre choices from the filmmakers.

The use of stock footage is thankfully minimized and the story had potential to be entertainingly goofy, but Jun Fukuda‘s leaden direction, slack pacing, boring characters and a lack of presence of the star itself.

The biggest bizarre choice made is the introduction of Jet Jaguar. The implementation of the character is so out of place to the point that the film feels like a springboard for that character, which pushes Godzilla out by the wayside. The film even ends as if the film belonged to that character, hinting a sequel or continuation just for him!

The climactic battle is entertaining for mostly the wrong reasons (there are some moves Godzilla should never, ever do), but it is too little, too late. Godzilla vs. Megalon is best viewed with some alcohol in your system.


D5t3a0DV4AIwtiK.jpg large

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)

Director: Jun Fukuda

Now this is more like it! A great antagonist that sets up new challenges for the star, surprisingly moments involving blood and gore, plenty of action for both monsters and humans (involving shootouts and fistfights), an interesting ally set up with an intriguing mythology (King Caesar), a derivative yet cartoony story involving aliens that take the form of apes, personable characters and faster pacing, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a step up from the dirge of films that director Jun Fukuda has made.

It also contains one of the most violent images I’ve seen in a Godzilla film, which involves a monster grabbing another monster by the jaw and attempting to break it, with blood gushing from the mouth.

It may not be up with the best Godzilla installments, but in comparison to the inferior ones from Fukuda before it, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla a winner.


terror-of-mechagodzilla-poster-1

Terror of Mechagodzilla

TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)

Director: Ishiro Honda

With the return of the original crew of director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ikufube and the new talent in screenwriter Yukiko Takayama (one of the few female creative forces in monster films), the collaboration manages to steer the franchise back on course with a very entertaining entry that improves on its predecessor.

Doing away the cartoonish tone and hearkening back to the darkness of the original film, Honda’s direction returns to the serious social commentary of the early 60’s, where themes of sacrificing for the greater good are palpable. The direction is grim in tone, but what makes it inferior to the original is its adherence to stereotypes i.e the greedy mad scientist who wants to get back at the world for what “they” (in this case, humanity) have done to him.

Despite the stereotypes, the performances are fine mainly due to characterizations that give the actors something to do. The standout would be Ai Tomoko, who transcends the brainwashed character stereotype and manages to deliver her performance compellingly; handling the facets of the hesitant girl, torn between love and her family very well.

The special effects and the fight scenes are better than ever and even pits Godzilla against not one, but two welcome adversaries, Mechagodzilla and Titanasaurus. While the weight of the massive creatures is long gone, it is made up for in ferociousness (amped up by Ikufube’s welcome score) and the unintentionally funny moments are kept to a minimum.

What is unfortunate about the film is that it was a total flop at the box office and it took a 9-year hiatus until the next installment, which marked the beginning of the Heisei era.


1543278316_81sw9xojgcl__sl1363_

The Return of Godzilla

THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)

Director: Koji Hashimoto

This is a complete reboot as well as a retcon sequel that ignores all the prior films and continues on from the 1954 original.  While it may not be critically successful as the original film, it does work on its own two feet, as it provides a strong political punch, technically superior special effects work, a rousing and epic-scaled musical score by Reijiro Koroku and an interesting change of pace in portraying Godzilla.

You can’t get more political than this scenario: Cold War enemies agreeing with one another that Japan must allow them to launch a nuclear missile at Godzilla in order to save the world; but Japan’s strict no-nuke policy stands firm and the Prime Minister must send the Americans and Soviets home unhappy. But an accident makes the nuclear threat to Japan very real, and the world must come together in order to prevent further devastation.

The portrayal of Godzilla is interesting here, since there is a more realistic and scientific approach to it that hasn’t been done before. Unlike the 1954 portrayal, which envisioned Godzilla as a nuclear bomb, in The Return of Godzilla, it is seen as a nuclear reactor, that has to feed on sources of radiation to survive. And with its biological link to dinosaurs (as well as birds), it has a need to migrate as well. What is quite surprising as well as refreshing, the humans use that information to their advantage against Godzilla, which leads to the entertaining climax.

Although it is not the fun crowd-pleasing spectacle that one would expect from a Godzilla film (Lacking an opponent kaiju, fun characters, and the usual childlike goofiness), it is still a compelling Godzilla installment that shows what the franchise used to be about and does a good job as a throwback.


godzilla_vs_biollante_poster_01

Godzilla vs. Biollante

GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989)

Director: Kazuki Omori

The positive critical reception for this one had me extremely excited for this installment. And by God, I really am reconsidering what my favourite Godzilla film installment is, thanks to Godzilla vs. Biollante.

Retaining the anti-nuclear message and the dark tone while taking the storytelling to fresh and exciting new heights involving the use of espionage, chemical warfare and even extrasensory perception, Godzilla vs. Biollante is one of the best installments (since Godzilla vs. Hedorah) in the franchise.

The titular opponent, Biollante, is a fantastic antagonist mainly because, like Godzilla itself, it is a reflection of the meddling of nature by human intervention and it is realized so brilliantly and hauntingly well; as well as a convincingly dangerous opponent for Godzilla, using its deadly vines and spores to destructive effect, which pumps up the fight scenes considerably.

The characters are well-acted (even if the spoken English is rough) and worth caring about, the political intrigue is interesting, the science is both simultaneously immersive and ridiculous and the thematic power of its message still resonates.

The only notable flaw in the film is the musical score by Koichi Sugiyama, which is wildly inconsistent. While the use of it in battles works incredibly well, there are moments that require suspense that come off as oddly jolly and joyful, which will put people off.

It’s a shame that the film didn’t succeed at the box office, due to the lack of appeal towards younger audiences, which lead to the change in storytelling in the next installment. Overall, Godzilla vs. Biollante is the gold standard entry in the franchise.


MV5BMjE2NzY5NjMwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTk1MjI4MzE@._V1_

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (1991)

Director: Kazuki Omori

Retaining the same crew of Godzilla vs. Biollante, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is not at the same level due to its gradual change in creative structure from sci-fi to fantasy, but it is an entertaining entry due to its throwback feel of the best of the Showa era.

The introduction of time travel (inspired by the Back to the Future franchise) is filled with potential, but the way it is handled in the film makes absolutely no sense and would make the film fall under scrutiny if a single thought were to be made about it. It also doesn’t help that the motives from the villains (known as the Futurians) are unfathomably stupid. There is also an element of nationalism that borders on xenophobia, due to its portrayals of Americans, which might put off audiences.

But the time travel does pay off for the monsters in the film, as it introduces different reiterations of them, leading to entertaining battles with all the destruction one would want, despite the anti-climactic ending. Adding to the power of the film is the musical score by returning composer Akira Ifukube.

The characters are just as likable and interesting as the ones from the prior film, with Kosuke Toyohara, Anna Nakagawa and Robert Scott Field standing out with roles. The action scenes involving the actors are quite fun as well — a car chase involving the Futurian is an absolutely laugh-out-loud funny.

It is a step down from the prior film, but apart from nagging issues in its storytelling, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is an entertaining entry.


4OaIWFUlVLY5sCVp4c7OYpAJ7mh

Godzilla vs. Mothra

GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (1992)

Director: Takao Okawara

The gradual change from sci-fi to fantasy takes another leap due to the change in director from Kazuki Omori to Takao Okawara (although Omori remains as scriptwriter) in Godzilla vs. Mothra. What makes this film stand out is that like its predecessor, screenwriter Omori takes inspiration from American films i.e. the Indiana Jones films.

On that note, the film is a lot of fun. The portrayal of Mothra is still as entertaining as ever (even with the singing from the Cosmos) and it is still seen as sympathetic and sweet. The characters are well-portrayed and surprisingly all have arcs. Despite how simplistic they are (one tries to be a good father despite being a thief; another realizes the error of his ways after committing a bad decision), they still have a positive effect in the storytelling and the audience have something to cling on to while the monsters are not in the picture.

When the monsters are in the picture, the fights are entertaining, with a great addition in Battra, who actually has a compelling motivation as to why it does what it does i.e. being angry over humanity’s interference in the Earth’s natural order.

The film also concludes with a poignant final shot that is quite magical, cheesy and quite touching all at once; similar to the final shot in Son of Godzilla.


godzilla-vs-mechagodzilla-movie-poster-1020433270

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II (1993)

Director: Takao Okawara

Godzila vs. Mechagodzilla II was made without Kazuki Omori in either directorial or scriptwriting capacity — unfortunately, it really shows. Despite Akira Ifukube‘s stellar musical compositions and a satisfying and action-packed climax, the film just lacks the odd and inspired touches that Omori would add to make the overall experience enjoyable.

The plot is simplistic but overstretched, the acting is uninspired and the setpieces (apart from the elongated climax) lack thrills to succeed. The re-introduction of Rodan and the first version of Mechagodzilla is problematic due to how rushed and ineffective their presences are. The whole film is quite reminiscent of Destroy All Monsters, in that they both promise a lot, but deliver very little.

Baby Godzilla, on the other hand, is an improvement over Minilla, in that it retains its cuteness and sympathy, without the overdone goofy demeanour. The same goes for the new Mechagodzilla, who becomes more intimidating than ever before due to the addition of Garuda, if not its original form itself.

Overall, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II isn’t bad, but it could’ve been so much better.


DwprdEXXcAUyO9D

Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla

GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA (1994)

Director: Kensho Yamashita

Of all the Godzilla installments in the Heisei era, Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla is the most infantile of all. Stripping away the pseudo-realistic science-fiction elements and going full-fantasy, it may irk some fans, but it does have some appealing surprises up its sleeve.

The best one is the use of Megumi Odaka, whose character of Miki Saegusa (ESP extraordinaire) is promoted to leading role status — thankfully, Odaka is up to the task, as she provides a refreshingly nurturing, yet still proactive presence.

The action on the ground is quite fun to watch, with the Yakuza-influenced shootouts and a rescue mission action scene standing out. As for the action involving the monsters, the quality is wildly inconsistent. One scene, known as the asteroid scene, is incredibly amateurish and cheap — which blatantly displays a black background, devoid of stars, amongst immobile clumps of meteors.

However, one of the best shots from the movie happens when Godzilla first emerges from the water heading toward Birth Island. The brief shot of Godzilla with the water up to his knees while advancing on Birth Island is breathtaking. Although Akira Ifukube decided not to return, newcomer Takayuki Hattori is up to the task, as he brings an energetic theme to the action scenes as well as to Spacegodzilla itself.

Speaking of the titular creature, it’s nice to see something more scientific utilized against the creature, which goes along the lines of Godzilla vs. Biollante. And the creature itself is well-designed, up to the quality of Mechagodzilla, with lots of weapons that prove to be welcome against Godzilla.

Overall, it’s a bit of a step up from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, but still on the lower end of the spectrum in the Heisei era.


MV5BZjVmMWE2ZDYtMmJhYy00OTg4LTgyNzAtZjJlMWQ5NDk0M2U5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ2MzU1NzQ@._V1_

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH (1995)

Director: Takao Okawara

The last Godzilla installment in the Heisei era. And what an installment! Not only this is one of the best installments since Godzilla vs. Biollante, but it is in the top 3 in the entirety of the franchise.

Godzilla vs. Destroyah was meant to be a send-off for Godzilla and thankfully, everybody from the cast and crew was up to the task. It certainly helped that screenwriter Kazuki Omori (who also directed Godzilla vs. Biollante) came back to contribute and does what his directorial contribution did best: mixing Hollywood influences (in this case, the sci-fi films Alien and Predator) with the framework of Godzilla.

But since this is a sendoff, director Okawara and Omori had to up the ante. The numerous callbacks to the previous installments are all there, whether its references to the story of the original 1954 film, the numerous cameos (Momoko Kouchi reprises her character, Emiko from the 1954 film), it is nice to see the film treat the history of its property with affection and dignity.

The acting from the cast is solid (with Megumi Odaka and Akira Nakao reprising their roles), the action scenes are wildly entertaining (one involving monsters attacking the humans is both scary and funny) and the monster battles reach a certain level that transcends its bombastic nature — the climax is absolutely touching, beautiful and poignant, complete with Akira Ifukube‘s brilliant score (his final contribution to the franchise).

A fantastic installment in the Godzilla franchise and a rousing sendoff for the big guy. Until the next one, that is…


1484114856695

Godzilla (1998)

GODZILLA (1998)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Ever since the sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day became a worldwide hit, Sony Pictures gave filmmakers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin carte blanche to do whatever they wanted and they chose to bring Godzilla to American screens their own way. What was unfortunate was that the marketing for the film was absolutely awful.

The folks behind the flick stupidly touted it as the greatest thing ever committed to celluloid, and they actually were dumb enough to predict it would top the recently-crowned box office king, 1997’s $600 million-grossing Titanic. Basically, those who promoted Godzilla did pretty much everything wrong, and the movie badly fell short of expectations. Eventually the film didn’t even make the top five in a fairly lackluster year, and its gross was much lower than anticipated.

Did the film deserve the doomed fate? It’s a very mixed bag of a film. Purists will be shocked at the portrayal of the titular creature due to how it has such very little personality of what made it legendary in the first place.

The action scenes are fun though, once you get past all the dull-as-dishwater characters. The movie starts slowly, but once the fur begins to fly, it really begins to go somewhere. From a sequence set in Madison Square Garden to the end of the movie on the Brooklyn Bridge, the third act provides one long action piece, and most of this material is quite fun to watch.

It’s a shame that despite the established cast, they are saddled with characterizations that add nothing to the film. Matthew Broderick is miscast as the lead, Maria Pitillo is annoyingly petulant as the love interest and on the bottom of the barrel, Michael Lerner gets the worst of the bunch. In what is supposed to be a clever slam on film critics, Lerner portrays Mayor Ebert, a character obviously based on Roger, who even has a bald sidekick named Gene. It’s absolutely pathetic.

The best of the cast is Jean Reno, who’s an absolute blast as “insurance agent” Philippe Roache. Bringing charisma and machismo, he gives a fun and compelling performance that plays exactly where the material should be.

The CGI was not seamless in 1998, despite the majority of the action being set in darkness and rain. What is worse is that the size of Godzilla is wildly inconsistent, as it constantly changes size according to the many different situations — especially when the characters “lose” the creature. Um…how?

Overall, Godzilla (1998) is quite bad, but saying it is the worst Godzilla film in the franchise is quite unfair when you compare it to the other garbage of prior installments.

*coughs* All Monsters Attack! *cough*


godzilla-2000-2

Godzilla 2000

GODZILLA 2000: MILLENNIUM (1999)

Director: Takao Okawara

Godzilla is back! Again! After the fantastic send-off in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah and the sub-par American installment, Godzilla (1998), we now have another reboot of the franchise, Godzilla 2000: Millennium.

Abandoning all prior entries (bar the original), Godzilla is given a resurgence once again and a new redesign. The kaiju designs are one of the best things in the film. The titular creature is more sleeker; has a more muscular torso, longer purple dorsal spines and a pugnacious visage which more than adequately conveys his strength and personality — especially in comparison to the iteration featured in Godzilla (1998).

The action scenes are great overall, even if some technical flaws hinder its impact. When they are set in the daytime, the integration of CGI and green-screen are quite noticeable, while that problem is not as problematic in scenes set in the nighttime. Also complicating matters is the misuse of Takayuki Hattori‘s score, which there isn’t enough of it to bring the dramatic power to the battles. The climax is fantastic and creative in terms of how Godzilla and Orga (the alien antagonist) fight, especially in terms of how it fits in with the lore — how Orga tries to annihilate the planet by essentially imitating and becoming Godzilla.

Shame that the plot is quite draggy, the characters are quite annoying (Naomi Nishida is the main culprit, with her character always nagging and complaining) and the unintentionally funny moments are plentiful (I’m looking at you, Hiroshi Abe!). But Godzilla 2000: Millennium is an improvement over Godzilla (1998) in that it knows and appreciates its own history.


godzilla-vs-megaguirus-1

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (2000)

Director: Masaaki Tezuka

Despite continuing on in the Millennium era, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is once again, another reboot in the sense that it retcons all prior films and starts all over again. In fact, it even calls one of the major events in the original film into question.

And while the story in the film is quite ambitious, it doesn’t always pay off due to sloppy storytelling. The characters however are likable and memorable, even with their simple characterizations and arcs. Misato Tanaka is convincing and believable as Tsujimori, a soldier who is vengeful for her colleagues to the point that her anger overrides her judgement. Shosuke Tanihara is amusing as the young, unmotivated prodigy of a scientist that helps the military.

The action scenes are well done, with plenty of monsters in the form of giant locusts that plague upon civilians as well as Godzilla; and the implementation sci-fi in its use of gadgetry and weaponry brings many entertaining moments of frivolity (A machine that creates black holes?!); but the climactic monster battle is spectacular. Megaguirus is a fantastic opponent that is well-designed and surprisingly crafty in how it attacks Godzilla, but the ending of that battle is executed is absolutely inspired.

If you have seen the Indonesian action film The Night Comes For Us, the ending of the climactic battle in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is eerily similar to the closer of the climactic fight scene.

A very solid installment in the Millennium era.


f59f68e5b4596a38137f4a815a0f5a25

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah - Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001)

Director: Shunsuke Kaneko

In this latest installment, we have a change in director in Shunsuke Kaneko, who has a cult following due to his directorial work in the kaiju films, the Gamera trilogy. And like the prior Millennium installments, it retcons all prior entries and starts after the events of the original film.

While the film brings the requisite action with gusto, the rest of the film completely sinks. The story is full of holes (despite the change in Godzilla’s imprinted motivation) and the character development is nonexistent. The estranged relationship between Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki) and Yuri (Chiharu Niyama) is supposed to be dramatic and poignant, but the attempt fails miserably, despite the efforts from the actors.

One of the refreshing changes is the portrayal of the creatures, although not all of them are for the better. King Ghidorah is portrayed as a hero here, rather than the usual villain, and Kaneko makes the most out of its appearance. Unfortunately Mothra and Baragon are left in the dust, due to changes in attacks and appearances to make them less impressionable.

A step down from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is an average entry overall, but a true disappointment if one knew of Kaneko’s prior work.


4910285111079_3

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002)

Director: Masaaki Tezuka

One of the best things about the installments in the Millennium era is its focus on female leads. In the case of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, it features one of the best in the entire franchise. Portrayed by Yumiko Shaku, Lieutenant Akane Yashiro is a talented soldier who is made responsible for the deaths of her task force after a mission gone wrong in taking out Godzilla.

Stuck in a rut of depression of guilt and desperation to prove herself, she is given a chance to pilot a man-made Mechagodzilla to fight Godzilla, despite the qualms of her colleagues. The character arc may be predictable and quite simplistic in its execution, but Shaku’s committed performance makes the drama more substantial than expected; giving the audience a character to sympathize and to root for.

It improves from the previous film due to faster pacing, distinct characters, better execution of its nationalism elements, an interesting story that weaves well with the monster elements, a stronger focus in its portrayal of monsters (being technically one) and its human element in providing the emotional through-line in the action scenes, thanks to its standout musical score by Michiru Oshima (the first female musical composer of the franchise).

A solid installment in the Millennium era.


DdEvtiFVMAE-GSr.jpg large

Godzilla - Tokyo SOS

GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S (2003)

Director: Masaaki Tezuka

Continuing on where Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla left off, Godzilla had just surrendered from the last battle and Mechagodzilla is undergoing repairs. As the Shobijin (the guardians of Mothra) warn the humans about how Mechagodzilla was made, the people are persuaded to dump Mechagodzilla into the sea and in exchange, Mothra will be the sole protector of the human race.

Hence the start of city turmoil, the return of monsters and city-wide mayhem! There is very little plot in this film, even for a Godzilla installment, leading to even thinner characterizations. But thanks to the fast pace and the short run-time, the action is consistently top-notch and the incorporation of the sins and faults of the past into the embodiment of Godzilla (both original and Mecha) was a very nice touch.

Of special note is the return of Yumiko Shaku as Akane Yashiro (in an extended cameo) lends gravitas to the drama as she basically hands the baton to the lead character, mechanic Yoshito Chujo, who is an effective lead that feels a special kinship with Mechagodzilla.


tumblr_mosvklnQkE1s2jfn0o1_1280

Godzilla - Final Wars

GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004)

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Now this is the most polarizing entry in the Godzilla franchise. Which is saying quite a lot since Godzilla: Final Wars marks the 50th anniversary of the big guy. Let’s start with the positives first.

The action here is absolutely wall-to-wall relentless from beginning to end. Whether it is the monsters fighting other monsters, humans fighting other humans via close-combat or airborne (or in this case, the Xiliens), humans fighting monsters on the ground, everyone contributes to the mayhem and it is almost infectious to see that up on the screen, accomplished with energy, utmost glee and playfulness.

Speaking of playfulness, the numerous callbacks and moments of meta-humour are quite effective. Whether its the hilariously brief appearance of Zilla (the Godzilla in the 1998 film) or the cutesy appearance of Minilla, fans will, for the most part, be delighted by the references.

The cast of young talent, Ryuhei Kitamura regulars, acting veterans and Godzilla stalwarts are all in on the joke and they genuinely look like they are having fun. As for franchise returnees, Akira Takarada (who has appeared in more Godzilla films than one can count) is extremely entertaining as a UN functionary who turns into something sinister while Kumi Mizuno is such an appealing presence as ever (since her days in Invasion of Astro-Monster). Ditto for Akira Nakao and Kenji Sahara, who both have small, yet memorable roles.

As for the leads, Masahiro Matsuoka does a decent Keanu Reeves impression; Rei Kikukawa is amusingly feisty as the proactive scientist and Kane Kosugi (son of legendary actor/ninja Sho Kosugi) makes a strong impression as the unruly colleague of Matsuoka. But in the end, the two main standouts are Don Frye and Kazuki Kitamura (no relation to the director).

Frye, who is not an actor but a former MMA fighter, has a wonderful screen presence that is so well-honed that he simultaneously fits in the film and yet seems to show him acting as if he is in his own film. It’s a strange, yet infectious performance.

On the other hand, Kitamura is an absolute hoot as the alien leader who casually kills his superiors and takes over the show, which leads to him going into repeated, increasingly hysterical hissy fits every time Godzilla slaughters one of his deployed monsters. It’s a wonderful, pantomime event to witness.

Let’s start with the negatives. The monster fights, while plentiful, are quite brief. When you compare those fights to the action scenes involving the humans, the balance is askew and it will put people off. The derivative nature of the story (which rips off Star Wars and especially The Matrix) will annoy with its cheesiness and the lack of focus in storytelling and control of tone will exhaust as well as put off many. Especially for a film that runs 125 minutes. The musical score by Keith Emerson, Nobuhiko Yorino and Daisuke Yano is quite unexpected for a Godzilla film, but it compliments the action very well. It’s just unorthodox.

Overall, if may not be what the purists wanted but the film is such insane fun that quite frankly, it’s hard not to adore it. Godzilla: Final Wars is the type of film that is perfect for drinking parties.


67421d55bbb94286a24e716d14660128

Godzilla (2014)

GODZILLA (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

16 years after that critically reviled debacle, America attempts to bring Godzilla to the big screen once again. Directed by acclaimed indie director Gareth Edwards, coming off his indie hit, Monsters; he has created a visually stunning rendition of Godzilla that pays respect to the original (the opening credit sequence is a real winner) while standing on its own feet as its own beast.

Scenes involving Godzilla and the MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) are beautifully realized (thanks to cinematographer Seamus McGarvey), whether it is seen through the eyes of the civilians or us as an audience. That’s not to say that the humans do not have their own action scenes against the monsters. A particular example is a skydiving sequence, which is ingeniously undercut with the use of Requiem, for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Mixed Choirs and Orchestra; best known for its usage in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Speaking of music, the musical score by Alexandre Desplat effectively captures the epic scale of the situation as well as the turmoil and wonder humanity goes through when witnessing these monsters.

The things that let this film down is the script by Max Borenstein and David Callaham. While Edwards’ intent was to portray the chaos and destruction from the view of humanity, (as we see more of the destructive results, rather than the act of destruction) there isn’t much of any humanity in any of the characterizations in the script, which do very little to help the talented cast.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is believable as Ford Brody, but the material gives him little to do for the audience to be engaged. Elizabeth Olsen fares worse due to be given even less to do than Taylor-Johnson. Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Juliette Binoche do their best to lend credibility to the project, but the only performer that truly stands out is Bryan Cranston, as Joe Brody. Cranston is the only actor in the cast that manages to inhabit his character convincingly as well as give a character that the audience can easily engage with.

It is also noticeable that Edwards loves the filmography of director Stephen Spielberg. It is definitely not a coincidence that the leads have the last name, Brody. There are also visual references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jurassic Park and there are lots of shots involving the slow-zooms to peoples’ faces as they stare in wonder and fear at the monsters.

But what is most prevalent Spielberg staple is the theme of fatherhood, as it goes from Ford to Joe, as well as Ford to his own children as well as a lost child and how humanity’s mistakes are passed down from generation to generation. But without much sense of character involved, there’s not much for the audience to cling onto to care. It also doesn’t help that the shifting from Godzilla to the MUTOs will frustrate some since the latter have more screentime than the titular creature.

Overall, Godzilla (2014) is miles better than the last American effort and it is a sincerely good effort. Unfortunately, the problematic script holds it back from being a classic.


Shin-Godzilla-Poster

Shin Godzilla

SHIN GODZILLA (2016)

Director(s): Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi

The Godzilla installment that truly got me into the franchise. Shin Godzilla lived up to the buzz and exceeded my expectations in every single way. It is basically a political satire disguised as a disaster movie; and it calls to mind the original 1954 film by referring to the mistakes of Japan have made for its people (in this case, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami), but presents it with satirical and topical humour, via its incisive portrayal of bureaucracy.

The actors (including an embarrassment of riches) are all entertainingly straight-faced to the point of achieving the perfect balance of sincerity and hilarity. The film goes backs to the basics to make Godzilla scary and menacing again, unlike the campy entries. The minimal screen-time, the less-is-more approach, it’s all here.

But unlike the 2014 installment which short-changed Godzilla to the point of being in a supporting role (thanks to the direction and the major focus on the other creatures), director Hideaki Anno makes Godzilla the main focus of the film; keeping him freshened up with a few tricks up his sleeve.

As for the city-wide destruction scenes, they are beautifully orchestrated and will definitely send a chill to one’s spine. No doubt, scenes of the destruction that are reminiscent of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami will stir up some people. A scene at night with Godzilla executing his iconic action after provocation from outside forces is still tattooed into my brain.

Speaking of tattooed images, the final shot of the film is also an image that I would never have thought to see and it just has me psyched for a sequel to see the themes and ideas more developed and thoroughly realized. It is just that haunting. The score by Shiro Sagisu (with the use of Akira Ifukube‘s original work) compliments the mood of the film succinctly as well as please fans of Anno’s prior work.

There is so much to process on what makes the film great, but it would be best to stop here. If you are a newcomer to the Godzilla franchise or a devotee to it, please see Shin Godzilla.

This review is an abridged version of my easternKicks review, published on 27th October, 2016.


 

GODZILLA NETFLIX ANIME TRILOGY (2018)

  • Part 1: Planet of the Monsters
  • Part 2: City on the Edge of Battle
  • Part 3: The Planet Eater

Director(s): Kobun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita

Note: This review may contain minor spoilers.

It is amazing to believe that it has taken this long for the Godzilla franchise to venture into the cinematic medium of animation, but better late than never. The trilogy was written by Gen Urobuchi, who is best known for writing the acclaimed anime series Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass — best known for incredibly nihilistic themes, extreme violence and borderline tragic plot twists. With that prior knowledge, it’s no surprise that the final result of the trilogy features all of those things.

The first film (Planet of the Monsters) revolves around the theme of coping with loss, as our lead character has a vendetta for the titular creature since the film becomes a story about revenge and regaining hope in a hopeless situation — which is that Godzilla has already won. Every single worst case scenario that resulted from that loss has come into fruition and it is all due to the mistakes of humanity.

The plot is nothing new (plan to stop Godzilla, with problematic moments of human frivolity) but the science-fiction sheen lends it a fresh new perspective and the introduction of themes like revenge, loss, perseverance and faith lend the drama much-needed power. Although it is the first film, the characterizations (apart from our lead character, Haruo) are quite thin and Haruo isn’t quite as approachable as one would want, even if his motivations are believable.

In the second film (City on the Edge of Battle), the story shifts from the personal tale of revenge to the more open tale of humanity — which is quite fitting since this is the film that develops the important figures in the story more and brings focus to the character-driven narrative. The inhabitants on the planet (the Houtua) Haruo becomes a more relatable and compelling personality this time around, as his inner conflicts with revenge and his moral compass to do what is right is explored more thoroughly. Side-characters like the mysterious and enigmatic Metphies and the earnest and optimistic Yuko are given more to do that we are actually given more of a chance to care about these people.

The time for more character development comes at the expense of pacing, which takes a big dip in the second act, as the characters reach the nanometal base where Mechagodzilla was created. But thankfully, the climax is worth the wait since the drama is both convincing and shocking and the action scenes are absolutely top-notch; where the rendering of CG animation is much better than Polygon’s prior efforts — complete with lasers, explosions, atomic breath and all.

Which leads to the final film (The Planet Eater), where all of the story threads are tied up as it becomes a both a thrilling psychological battle and a battle of monsters. It is revealed that the only remote chance of survival in this world is divine intervention and the soldiers in the film are essentially brainwashed into worshiping the Exif — in comparison the Houtua live by a credo, which is basically you win, you live; you lose, you die.

Essentially, these conflicts between the Houtua and the Exif compliment the examination of Haruo’s tortured mind, which makes the elongated climax incredibly thrilling, as it is filled with plentiful, yet excellent visual storytelling choices (i.e. blending both past and present events into one shot). The psychological conflicts are so well-realized, that it renders the monster battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah (which is revealed as the harbinger of death and destruction) to be quite ineffective.

That is not to say that King Ghidorah is not well portrayed, as it is given a fresh approach with its luminous, yet menacing look that adds to the surreal feel to the psychological implications of the story. The musical score by Takayuki Hattori (who also scored Godzilla 2000: Millennium and Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla) manages to blend both the classical musical themes of Godzilla with a modern twist. much like the trilogy itself.

The whole trilogy is worthwhile for its powerful drama, the beautifully rendered animation, the thrilling action scenes and the daring, philosophical choices that will linger with the audience after its over. It is definitely not what Godzilla devotees will be expecting since it barely features any monster battles, cheesy humour or rousing moments. But as a change of pace for the titular monster, it is an admirable attempt to bring the big guy in a whole new way, and you have to respect that.


MV5BOGFjYWNkMTMtMTg1ZC00Y2I4LTg0ZTYtN2ZlMzI4MGQwNzg4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_

Godzilla - King of the Monsters

GODZILLA II: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019)

Director: Michael Dougherty

It’s finally here! We now have the long-awaited(?) sequel to the 2014 installment, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Prior director Gareth Edwards is replaced by Michael Dougherty, who is best known for his horror efforts like the Halloween anthology film Trick ‘R Treat and the Christmas movie Krampus. With an all-star cast of acclaimed thespians, rising talents and franchise returnees and free reign to utilize other monsters in the franchise, will the film be as fun as the premise promises?

There really is no need for a synopsis with a film such as this, since the marketing materials make it clear that the people want to see this for the appearances of monsters. On that note, the monsters certainly make their appearances known and the crew do their darnedest to make their action scenes as vast and impactful as possible; especially in terms of scale.

The action scenes take place in varied settings like Antarctica, cities like Boston or islands like Isla de Mara, Mexico, and cinematographer Lawrence Sher captures them vividly through different perspectives (whether human or monster), while editors Roger Barton, Richard Pearson and Bob Duscay manage to shift perspectives between action scenes briskly. Complimenting the film is the grand musical score by Bear McCreary (whose prior work included monster dramedy cult film Colossal), as he adapts original composer Akira Ifukube‘s score and brings his own touch, in both action beats and the dramatic beats, to great effect.

The monsters are portrayed with much colour (each monster is coded with a certain colour, hinting their allegiances) and vibrancy, with respect paid to their original appearances. Their movements in particular bring to mind actual animal behaviour, which lends them a stronger and more believable presence eg. how King Ghidorah attacks in a manner of a King Cobra.

The simplistic story is also a fitting continuation from the 2014 film, as it continues on from the disastrous events in San Francisco and how it affects the main characters. Although the film fulfills its promise to show monsters duking it out, the story is also quite effective due the inclusion of an interesting moral dilemma that bears food for thought in terms of its themes and issues that affect the world, like the classic franchise films. Without spoilers, there is a moment where humanity questions whether the monsters are a positive or negative step in the natural order, and it compliments the characterizations quite well, making their questionable, if honourable motivations convincing and even empathetic.

Complimenting the characters are the top-notch cast, whom all bring credibility and approachable presences that makes it easy for us to sympathize with. Kyle Chandler brings his salt-of-the-earth average Joe charisma to the character of Dr. Mark Russell; Vera Farmiga is convincingly conflicted and forceful as Dr. Emma Russell and Millie Bobby Brown does well as the moral center, showing tenacity, wonder and initiative to the character of Madison Russell.

The supporting characters are all colourful and the actors all add to the fun. Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch and O’Shea Jackson Jr. all amuse in their parts while Charles Dance, Aisha Hinds and Zhang Ziyi lend authoritative presence to their roles. Franchise returnees including Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe are given more to do (particularly Watanabe) and make the most out of their parts. No one in the cast act like they are above the material and look like they are actually having fun, which makes a positively huge difference.

Also adding to the fun experience are the numerous callbacks to the franchise. It is quite clear that director Dougherty and co-writers Max Borenstein and Zach Shields are big fans of Godzilla, since they pepper many witty references throughout the film — like a certain plot device from the 1954 original film; a callback to certain characters relating to the origin of Mothra and a clever role reversal that calls to mind a major moment in the 1954 film. It is moments like these that franchise devotees will truly appreciate. It’s a shame that they do not nail the humour quite as well, as it only amuses with mixed results.

Overall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an incredibly fun continuation of the titular franchise that respects and honours its roots. Thanks to solid direction and a committed ensemble cast, the film provides the extravagant action that franchise devotees will salivate for, while providing a story that brings forth an interesting moral dilemma that calls to mind the environmental messages of prior installments.

Long live the king.

Note: There is a post-credit scene.


60688027_117669809454133_3011887917695377581_n

GODZILLA VS. KONG (2020)

Director: Adam Wingard

This monster movie is one of the greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest…

*takes a deep breath*

…greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest…

*takes another deep breath*

…greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest…

*hyperventilates to take another deep breath*

…greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest, greatest fucking Godzilla installments ever made.

*faints*

b17


 

 

3 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s