Monthly Archives: October 2014

Godzilla’s Enemies: Part III

10. Kamacuras: Kamacuras is a giant praying mantis. First seen in Son of Godzilla. In the movie there are many giant praying mantis that grow to an even larger size during a weather experiment. Honestly, I am ambivalent about this monster. Giant bug monsters are a staple of science fiction movies. I think they server there purpose but I don’t really get attached to them in any significant way.
11. King Caesar: King Caesar is a mystical monster. He is actually a statue that is magically brought to life to fight Godzilla in the movie Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla. Standing 50 meters tall he has a leonine head, floppy ears and a lower half of the body that is all made up of scales. Oh, and it has a lion like tail with a fluffy poof-ball at the end of it. In my opinion this is one of the silliest monsters Toho ever sent down the pike. He was again seen in Godzilla Final Wars. This suit looked a little better but I must say it is my least favorite monster.
12. King Ghidorah: King  Kin Ghidorah is considered Godzilla’s number one enemy. His origins are said to be from outer space. He is a giant three headed golden dragon with giant wings. I do like this monster although he has a design flaw that bothers me. The monster has no arms! Many dragon like creatures have a wing/arm combination. In other words the arms are incorporated within the wings. On Ghidorah they are just wings and no arms making him look like he is missing something. Often Ghidorah towers over Godzilla and with him being depicted as pure evil it allowed Godzilla to transform from the villain into the anti-hero and then hero that defends the earth. On one occasion Ghidorah is smaller and and portrayed as the good guy against a very evil and malevolent Godzilla. Some fans did not like seeing Ghidorah used as a good guy but to me it made sense. With Godzilla being particularly evil who but Ghidorah has the history with Godzilla and could be depicted strong enough to stand up to him? Ghidorah was the obvious choice.
13. King Kong: This Kong is different than the one used in the Universal Studios movies. This one is 148 feet tall compared to the one that is either 25/50 in the other movies…depending on your source. So far these two famous behemoths had only one match that came to a draw. Seeing how well Pete Jackson brought a CGI Kong to life I would love to see a remake of this movie!

Godzilla’s Enemies Part II

6. Gigan: This is a monster I both love and hate. Gigan is a cyborg monster that has extraterrestrial origins. He has sharp hook like claws for hands and a buzzsaw protruding from his abdomen. I find the design very silly and ridiculous. In the 70s, when he debuted, his suit made him look flabby. By the time Gigan showed up in a Godzilla movie the movies had become very kid friendly due to the influences of Gamera and the Ultraman series. Gigan was not used again until the last movie, Final Wars. In this movie he had a bit of a dramatic make-over. He was much slimmer and swifter and more powerful. I liked this design so much better! So I didn’t like Gigan from the 70s but the one used in Final Wars is a pretty cool design. Movies he has appeared in” Godzilla vs Gigan, Godzilla vs Megalon, Godzilla: Final Wars.
7. Gorosaurus: Gorosaurus is a plucky little monster that made his first appearance in the Toho/Rankin Bass movie King Kong Escapes. Although no relation to the 1933 movie King Kong, Gorosaurus plays the same role as the T-Rex in the 1933 movie. He is a victim of Kong abuse and is defated the same way the T-Rex was defeated in the 1933 movie. The next time we see Gorosaurus is in the movie Destroy All Monsters and his notable scene is bursting up through the ground destroying the Arch de Triumph. Gorosaurus was seen again in stock footage only. I like this monster. He looks like a T-Rex and in that way is the only monster that resembles Godzilla himself. I would to see Toho use him once more. With the advent of CGI they could make a more life-like and fierce looking Gorosaurus!
8. Hedorah: Hedorah had creative origins. He was a product of our environment. The 70s was a time of awareness of the environmental issues that was causing problems all over the world. Hedorah (aka the Smog Montser) was the result of mankind trashing his environment. In the movie Godzilla vs Hedorah (Godzilla vs the Smog Monster) he develops via stages from a tad-pole like creature to a giant monster that likes to suck off the fumes from smoke stack belching factories. The idea is much better than the execution. Given the suit making at the time the final stage does look a little goofy in my opinion. Hedorah appears briefly in Final Wars. I do mean briefly! As soon as he appears on screen he is literally roasted by Godzilla.
9. Jet-Jaguar: Jet-Jaguar is not really a foe of Godzilla. He is actually a robotic pal from the movie Godzilla vs Megalon. In the movie Jet-Jaguar teams with Godzilla to defeat the combined forces of Megalon and Gigan. Jet-Jaguar is a robot that has a silly grin on his face that can magically grow to the size of 50 meters (the same size as the Showa era Godzilla). Again Jet-Jaguar was inspired by Ultraman and is very silly in my opinion.

Rating Godzilla’s Enemies: Part I

There have been 29 Godzilla movies, 30 if you count the 1998 TriStar film (and I do) by and most don’t and since this is a piece about the enemies Godzilla has fought it really doesn’t count because the 1998 Godzilla did not fight any other monsters. The 1954 and 1984 Godzillas didn’t fight with any monsters either. Since 1955 with Godzilla Raids Again Toho has pitted Godzilla with a number of different and unique foes to varying degrees of success. I haven’t always been crazy about the foes Godzilla has been up against. Some of the monsters are like Godzilla himself, dinosaur like in many aspects, and those are my favorites. Others have been designed after bugs and other insects, crustaceans; while some have followed the fantasy route.

The Godzilla franchise encompasses three distinct eras. The Showa eras (1954-1975), The Heisei era (1984-1995) and the Millennium era (1999-2004). Many of these monsters, such as Mothra, were used in all three eras, while some only saw action in one area (Jet-Jaguar, Showa), (Biollante, Heisei) and Orga (Millennium). In rating these monsters I need to view them across all eras. Each monster was designed differently when used in other areas. Sometimes that re-design was significant, and other times it was not. There were times the redesigned monster influenced whether or not I enjoyed the character.

Here in alphabetical order is my review of each monster.

1. Anguirus: Anguirus was first seen in the movie Godzilla Raids Again (aka Gigantis, the Fire Monster in the US) and he was the first monster that Godzilla ever fought in a movie. He is said to have been a mutated Ankylosaurus. At first Anguirus was an enemy of Godzilla but in subsequent films he became an ally of Godzilla joining him in battles against other monster threats. I like this monster due to the fact that he is like Godzilla himself, a mutated creature that is also a force of nature. My only complaint is that he walks on four legs which means that when he is portrayed by a suit actor the actor will be on his knees giving the monster a very strange stance, although the film makers try hard to hide the fact that he is on his knees. Anguirus was seen in seven Godzilla films. Godzilla Raids Again, Destroy All Monsters; All Monsters Attack(stock footage); Godzilla vs Gigan; Godzilla vs. Megalon; Godzilla: Final Wars
2. Baragon: Baragon is another mutated dinosaur-like creature who made his first appearance in Frankenstein vs Baragon. He is a strange monster. He has big floppy ears and a large horn on his snout and he likes to burrow underground. He is another monster that walks on all fours and suffers from some of the same problems that Anguirus suffers from while being filmed. Other than his first appearance Baragon has not seen a lot of action. He was seen very briefly in Destroy All Monsters and there is stock footage of him in Godzilla: Final Wars. He did have a large role to play in the movie Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters all out Attack. In that film Baragon is the first of the guardian monsters to fight Godzilla in what is one of the most enjoyable monster fights ever. Baragon is sorely outmatched but this plucky little monster gives it his all fighting against one of the most powerfully depicted Godzilla’s ever on film.
3. Battra: Battra is the evil twin to Mothra. He is only depicted in the Heisei era film Godzilla vs Mothra: Battle For the Earth. Although Mothra is a giant moth-like creature, Battra doesn’t resemble a moth but more of an flying insect with horns protruding from his head and he has glowing red/orange eyes. Like Mothra, Battra also appears in his larval form. However, he doesn’t have to go into chrysalis in order to metamorphose into his adult form. I do enjoy the movie he is in and although I am not crazy about monsters that are based on insects, Battra is executed very well.
4. Biollante: Biollante is one of the all-time strangest monsters Godzilla ever had to face. I have mixed feelings about this one. Biollante only features in one Godzilla movie, the Heisei era: Godzilla vs Biollante (although it is seen briefly in a flashback in Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla). In my opinion Biollante is one of the most creatively designed monsters and also one of the most silliest in regards to looks and origins. Biollante was a monster created by a scientist. He mixed Godzilla cells with that of a rose and somehow the spirit of his dead daughter got thrown in the mix and viola! A giant 120 meter rose/plant monster with a large snout and many rows of sharp teeth!! Yeah, it is very silly. Like other Toho monsters this one goes through several metamorphosis until it reaches its final stage. The final look of the monster is pretty cool I must admit. Despite the very silly premise Biollante does show Toho studios thinking outside of the box and creating something entirely new.
5. Ebirah. Ebirah is nothing more than a giant lobster. His two appearance were in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster and Godzilla: Final Wars. The only thing I liked about this monster is the fact that in both movies they use him to really show his size and scale. One of the stranger usages of Ebirah is in the movie Final Wars were the mutants fight him in some industrial setting. You would think they would have placed a giant lobster somewhere in the sea.

Godzilla 2014 vs. Godzilla 1998

Now that I have seen Godzilla 2014 I just have to compare it to the other American produced Godzilla movie, the 1998 version. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may know I am one of those rare Godzilla fans that doesn’t hate the 1998 movie. I enjoy it. Also, I am not into competitive comparisons. I don’t think in terms of what movie is better or worse. I actually enjoy both movies for different reasons and since these two Godzilla movies are so different it is like comparing apples to oranges.

Although many fans call the 1998 movie GINO (Godzilla in Name Only) they do so in a derogatory manner. I may use the term GINO but not in a derogatory manner. He is much different than his Japanese counterpart and I have come to see this monster, now called Zilla by Toho, as a completely separate monster all his own with his own identity. I do love the design of Zilla. He looks menacing and he is quick and fast. I also like the new design of Godzilla for the 2014 movie. He is a little fatter than I would have liked and his spines could have been a little bigger, but other than that the 2014 does look and act like the Japanese version.

I am one that was not upset that the 1998 Godzilla did not act like the Japanese version. I knew going into the film that he would be different. Plus, even as a young fan in the 1960s I had wondered what Godzilla would be like if he were depicted to act more like an animal than a lumbering guy in a suit? The 1998 movie gave me an answer to that question and I happen to like the answer.

Besides Godzilla 98 not acting like Godzilla the biggest difference is in the tone of the two films. The 2014 movie is like many recent films in that it is supposed to be “grounded in reality.” That translates into, “what if these events were happening in the real world?” The 1998 movie is filled with humor and the tongue firmly planted in the cheek. Although the new movie is grounded in reality that doesn’t mean that the movie is joyless either. Throughout the movie there is a sense of wonder concerning the monsters and even a scene or two that is more light hearted. One example is the scene in a Nevada casino where we see the MUTO on the TV screen headed our way. All the patrons are oblivious that a giant monster is headed in their direction. Suddenly all the lights go out and then the giant MUTO comes crashing through the roof. It may not seem so light and fun on paper but it is on the screen.

The tone of the 1998 movie is very similar to Emmerich’s other film…Independence Day. While these films are not campy they are not all that serious either. Many films of the 90s, such as Twister or the Lethal Weapon series for example, mixed drama and comedy in a natural stylistic way where neither the comedy or the drama dominated the film. Since these movies were meant to be fun entertainment they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Godzilla 98 fits well in that style of film.

Do I have a preference? No, not really. I may prefer the special effects of the new movie and the life-like depiction of both Godzilla and the MUTOs, although I do feel the CGI in Godzilla 98 has held up pretty well. The monster battles in Godzilla 2014 does give it the slight edge. However, in the end I enjoy each movie for what it is and both will continue to get viewed depending on my mood.