I finally saw Shin Godzilla, the new Japanese Godzilla film from Toho Studios. What follows is a review with minor spoilers.
This really is a very different Godzilla film! One could argue that there are many Godzilla films which are different from one another and you would have a valid point. In the case of Shin Godzilla you would have an even greater point for this movie is unlike any that have followed before it. To begin to understand this movie one needs to comprehend that this truly is a Japanese movie made for a Japanese audience to provide both commentary and satire unique to the Japanese culture. Having said that, it doesn’t mean these elements of the film are not beyond the reach of a non-Japanese audience.
If you have heard or read the rumor that this movie has many scenes where people are in government conferences as they debate and discuss what to do when this giant morphing creature threatens Japan. These rumors are true and therein lies the heart of this story which is commentary and satire focused at the government of Japan. If you think Godzilla is the central focus of this movie then you will miss that point and may not walk away with understanding this film. Although commentary and satire toward the Japanese government is the focus that doesn’t mean this movie lacks the proper elements that we Godzilla fans and fans of Kaiju movies.
Therefore, the simple plot of this movie is, after an unexplained creature attacks boats in Tokyo Bay the top government officials focus on military strategy and civilian safety, while Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi is put in charge of a task force to research the creature. Due to high radiation readings, the creature is theorized to be energized through nuclear fission. The US sends a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson, who reveals that a disgraced zoology professor, Goro Maki, had been studying mutations due to radioactive contamination and theorized the appearance of the creature but the US covered it up. As the creature, The creature, now named Godzilla, reappears, now twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are mobilized, but their attacks have no effect on Godzilla and they suffer major casualties. Yaguchi’s team discovers that Godzilla’s fins and blood work as a cooling system, allowing them to theorize that through the use of a coagulating agent, they could trigger a reaction and cause Godzilla to freeze.
Generally in my reviews I offer both the Pros and Cons of a film. For every film whether I enjoyed it or not will have varying degrees of Pros and Cons. In the case of this film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the Con are not outweighed by the Pros in the first place.
Pro: Great Monster destruction. Isn’t this what most Godzilla and Kaiju fans come to see? Gone are the model miniature sets..which is sad…but in its place is a real world setting and real world destruction with great CGI. Godzilla’s atomic breath just has to be seen and the amount of power and destruction it delivers is the best of the entire franchise in my opinion.
Godzilla’s three forms. I really enjoy the many different designs of Godzilla. While this Godzilla isn’t actually a traditional design it really works for this movie. This is the largest Godzilla ever seen!
Great depiction of scale and Size of Godzilla. Although I have always loved the man-in-the suit approach coupled with model building one never really did get a sense of size and scale in a Godzilla movie…until now. With Godzilla 2014 and Pacific Rim (Godzilla 1998 to some extent) those movie were able to really demonstrate the massive scale and size of the creatures within the movie. Shin Godzilla finally achieves that sense massive scale and size and to me it is awesome!!
An interesting story. Once you understand what the movie is trying to say, it really becomes interesting to watch these government officials stumble and bumble their way through the bureaucracy until they reach a point of action.
Con: An uninteresting story. I will contradict myself. Yes, I do like the story and I understand the commentary on the ineptitude of bureaucracy, however, there are times that it is too much and goes on a little too long.
Lumbering Godzilla…or shall I say… Zombie Godzilla? While I do like this design and despite the epic destruction this Godzilla brings, there are times when all he does is walk… very…very …slowly.
While Shin Godzilla will not go down as my very favorite it is up there in my top 10. Once the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out this film will have many viewings in my home. The destruction scenes alone are worth the price of admission. A very different and still enjoyable Godzilla film!
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!
In my review of the King Kong movies I decided to do this one first because I have recently seen it for the first time. I heard it was very bad so I went in with low expectations. The movie was co-produced by Toho Studios and the Rankin & Bass people who brought to life so many Christmas specials such as Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. The movie was also loosely based off of a Saturday Morning children’s cartoon. Sadly, it shows. The movie was directed by Ishirō Honda with music by Akira Ifukube.
I apologies for this next part but I get bored typing out detailed synopsis of the plot so let me see if I can put it in a few paragraphs.
An evil genius named Dr. Hu (pronounced “Who”, but no relation to the BBC character of that name) creates a robotic version of King Kong, named Mechni-Kong, in order to dig for a highly radioactive element called “Element X”, found only at the North Pole. Mechni-Kong enters an ice cave and begins to dig into a glacier, but the radiation produced by the substance destroys its systems and shuts it down. Meanwhile, a damaged submarine from the United Nations is forced to weigh anchor off the coast of Mondo Island. The UN team encounters the true King Kong who battles the Gorosaurus and falls in love with the UN assistant, Lt. Susan Watson, played by the lovely Linda Miller. Basically Dr. Hu, an over the top bad guy, reminiscent of a combination of Snidely Whiplash and Dr. Evil, is bent on world domination as the UN team and eventually King Kong try to stop him. Mechni-Kong and King Kong eventually have an epic battle while climbing Tokyo-Tower.
That is the basic plot in a nut shell and I do not want to give too much of the plot away in case you want to view it. As with all of my reviews I will list some pros and cons.
Pros: This movie does have its charm. It stars my favorite Toho actor Akira Takarada as Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura so his performance does increase my enjoyment of the movie. I will talk about the suit for Kong in the con section but I would like to comment on the miniatures. Like in many Toho productions of the Showa era it isn’t that difficult to spot miniature sets and in this movie it is actually even easier. I think the miniature sets is actually part of its charm. The miniatures help to set the tone and the mood for the film and the place the film in a very light mood.
The story itself is not bad and this movie is the first time a Mechanised version of a monster is used. Sure, the villains and the good guys are one-dimensional but that doesn’t detract from the charm of this film. I did find the story engaging and one of the litmus tests for movies that I watch is the movie engaging or do I want to turn it off? In the case of this movie I was willing to see it through until the end.
Cons: The movie is a bit too much like a Rankin & Bass cartoon and did not feel like a typical Toho production. The suit for Kong is one of the problems. While the body of the suit isn’t too bad, the face does look to kid friendly and like it came from a cartoon. Kong reminded me a bit too much like the Abominable Snowman from their Rudolph production. The evil Dr. Hu was just over the top and very silly. He was voiced by Paul Frees a staple of Rankin & Bass productions and for me it was very distracting for that recognizable voice coming from that character. I mentioned that the tone of the movie was very child friendly…but it really wasn’t always. There is some violent shooting and seeing some key characters die was a bit unsettling.
I try to stay away from the good-bad dichotomy so I will say that the movie was something I only marginally liked. I am not sure if I will add this to my collection because my feelings are almost equally divided on this movie. Sometimes the pros will out weigh the cons or the cons will out weigh the pros, but in the case it is a dead heat. I would only recommend this movie unless you’re a fan of either Toho movies or Rankin & Bass productions or a big King Kong fan and need to have a complete collection.
As many of my readers know I am a huge Godzilla fan. So I do focus a good portion of this blog to that character. One of my interests in the character that has grown over the last year or so surrounds the design of Godzilla himself. I think that also ties into my hobby as a budding artist. In my love of Godzilla and other giant monsters I enjoy seeing how they are designed. When I was following the viral marketing of Cloverfield I was very curious to how that monster was designed. After the movie came out and I discovered that Neville Page created Cloverfield that also increased my interest in how these monsters are designed and depicted.
I am not going to go into an elaborate history of Godzilla suits…although I may do just that some day, today I will just focus on what I have liked in these designs over the years. I like the fact that he was and is a mutated dinosaur. When I was little my first love were dinosaurs so naturally I would go ga-ga for Godzilla. I always liked the spines on Godzilla and the menacing face. The best design of the Showa Era (1954-1975) was the suit that was in Godzilla vs Mothra (AKA Godzilla vs the Thing).
s the series went on and got more child friendly Godzilla did get more friendlier looking. In fact it has been often said that he resembled a Muppet in the 1968 classic Destroy all Monsters.
In the Heisei Era we got a more serious looking Godzilla. All-in-all I like the Heisei Godzilla but there are times when the face looked too feline. The last series Toho produced was the millennium Series and it produced my favorite design. Godzilla 2000. For the first time Godzilla is actually green. Prior to that he was actually a dark charcoal gray or sometimes even brown. The spines were exaggerated and enlarged and that is my favorite part. They were also given a purplish hue to the. Years ago if I had learned that my favorite design would be a green Godzilla with purple spines I would have said you’re nuts!! But it really works!
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/Dark_Godzilla_by_Gojigirl_zpsd64b8672.jpg Alright this model is Blue and Prurple…but it still works.
The Millennium series also saw two other great Godzilla designs. Kiyru-Goji which looked like the Godzilla 200o design with more traditional colors and a slightly redesigned head. Then in 2003 with the Movie, Godzilla, King Godhira, Mother Giant Monsters-all-out-attack where Godzilla was brown and had white eyes with no pupils and he looks pure evil.
The other design I want to talk about is the 1998 American Godzilla, now renamed Zilla by Toho Studios. I really liked this design. Sure, he is a mutated Iguana and not a mutated dinosaur, but a cool design none the less. I won’t go into defending him of the movie, i am on record here stating how much I do like them both and there is no need to rehash that here.
With that in mind I have a link to a petition to have S.H. Monsters Art, who does excellent detailed work and has done great work on other Godzilla figures, make a detailed figure of Zilla. I hope it happens because it is a great design!
To close this post I wanted to point you to a Facebook page I created which discusses the 60 year History of the different Godzilla designs in both the movies, comics, toys and art.
We are little more than a year out from the next Godzilla movie being released to theaters. I am actively watching for news of the production. From the last bit of news I found was that production has shifted to Hawaii (where I am told Jurassic Park IV is currently filming). As I wait for this movie I have read online the expectations people have for this movie and I have contemplated my own expectations.
This movie will be the 30th Godzilla movie. 28 of them were Japanese productions and one other movie, the 1998 Godzilla movie, was the first American produced Godzilla movie. This movie will be the second American production. I can envision some readers having a fit or a stroke by the mere fact I mentioned the 1998 American Godzilla movie because many fans call the movie, and the American Godzilla, GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) and to this day the mere mention of this movie will produce a volume of outrage and hatred. I understand from my reading message boards and other sources about the 2014 Godzilla is that their main concern is that this new American production will not resemble the 1998 version. While I enjoyed, and still do enjoy the 1998 movie I am pretty confident that this movie will be nothing like its 1998 counterpart.
Some of the fans seemed concerned that they will get another design of Godzilla that will not look or act like the Japanes version of Godzilla. After the bad reviews and the outcry from fans over the 1998 Godzilla movie I have no worries about the design of Godzilla for 2014. The studio isn’t that crazy to put out a multi-million dollar Godzilla movie and have it be where the monster doesn’t look like Godzilla. I don’t think Legendary Pictures will make the same mistake.
Director Gareth Edwards has stated that he wants this to be a serious movie like the 1954 original. He want to portray Godzilla as if these events were happening in real life. One of the stars of the film, Elizabeth Olsen, described the film as “definitely not lighthearted. It’s kind of going back to its roots of the original Japanese film.” These statements also have me thinking about the tone of the film and my personal expectations. With so many Godzilla films that I enjoy there is a diversity of themes and tones to choose from.
Godzilla 54 is a very dark movie in tone. As the series moved on it also moved away from that serious tone. At one point it moved so far away from that serious tone that movies such as Godzilla vs Megalon are like a Saturday morning kiddie show! In later movies Godzilla did return to a more serious tone but it never would reach the seriousness that the very first movie achieved. It seems that Gareth Edwards wants to be the first to return to the tone of the 1954 movie.
I am very excited about that because in many ways the first Godzilla movie was the best. But I do have one slight concern. Although I think Godzilla, King of the Monsters (and the un-Americanized Japanese version, Gojira) are the best films, they are not always the most fun to watch. More often I am in the mood for a more lighthearted romp through the streets of Tokyo. So I am hoping that this serious tone will also be equally enjoyable to watch. I don’t have too many concerns that it won’t be.
That leads me to my next point. They story. Screenwriter Frank Darabont is on record saying that not only will Godzilla be returning to his roots as force of nature but that the film will add a “very compelling human drama.” I am encouraged by that but I must confess that I am pretty sure that even if the story isn’t that great I will probably still enjoy the movie. First of all, of the 29 Godzilla films already produced not all of them have great human stories to begin with. Yet, I really like ALL Godzilla movies therefore my expectations on the human story are not that high. If we get a real good compelling human drama then that will be the icing on the cake.
Face it, most Godzilla fans watch the series for good monster action and destruction. I am as guilty as charged in that area. Also, if you have been following this blog, I am unapologetically a special effects junkie. We are in a Golden Age of special effects. I know many people complain about CGI and I think good quality CGI is very enjoyable and I love how it can whisk you off to other worlds. Double Negative is the effects company that are doing the special effects. Follow the link and the bottom of the page to see the stellar work they have done. So I am pretty confident we will ge a life-like Godzilla, unlike any we have seen before, with other spectacular effects to go along with it.
So my confidence is high for this movie and from everything I have read I really do not have anything to worry about. If you’re a Godzilla fan I don’t think you should worry either.
This next film in the Millennium series, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., is a direct sequel to the previous film, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. I think I made a mistake in that review. I believe it is this movie that mentioned the previous monster attacks from Mothra, Gaira (the Green Gargantua) et al. and not the previous movie. Some of these millennium films, while enjoyable, do blur together in my mind. Although the movie begins with Kiyru (Mechagodzilla) being repaired after its damage from the previous film, this movie has an entirely new set of characters. So while technically a sequel because it share continuity with the previous film, it also seems like a stand-alone-film due to the new story surrounding the new characters.
The Shobijin, Mothra’s twin fairies, show up and appear to Dr. Chujo (from the 1961 movie Mothra) and warn him that Mortha is very angry that the Japanese government used the bones of the first Godzilla to create Kiyru and if the bones are not returned to the sea Mothra will come to destroy Tokyo. The Government then ignores this warning and shortlyafterwards Godzilla appears once again to raise havoc. A repaired Kiyru, along with Mothra, battle Godzilla with Godzilla gaining the upper hand. Kiyru once again is returned to base for repairs while on Infant Island two Morthra larvae hatch and head to Tokyo to assist their mother. Once Kiyru is again repaired Godzilla and Kiyru face off. During the ensuing battle Mothra is killed. Kiyru is able to inflict a significant wound in Godzilla’s chest and his roar reawakened once again the Godzilla bones inside of him. As the Mothra larvae encase Godzilla in their web and Kiyru, who no longer wants to fight Godzilla, wraps him with cables and carries him out to sea where the two crash into the ocean to rest at the bottom of the sea.
I have read where some fans didn’t care for this film. I happen to enjoy it a great deal. All Godzilla movies have pretty good monster battles and destruction so many of these films fail or succeed with the human story being told. For me I really enjoy the human story. Dr. Chujo is a very kindly old man who teaches his grandson about Mortha and it is this grandson who, thinking outside the box, creates the symbol that contacts Mothra using desks from a school room. Meanwhile Dr. Chujo’s nephew, Yoshito Chujo, a mechanic on the Kiyru repair team, is having a difficult time as the Kiyru pilot squad doesn’t think much of him. But in the end it is Yoshito Chujo who saves the day and repairs Kiyru allowing the pilots to capture Godzilla.
There is a great deal of warmth and charm in the human story as each over comes some prejudice and adversity to make an impact and a difference. Sure, many of the things we see in the monster fights have been done before but it is the human story that really does it for me. I do have to say the special effects are very well done and the monster battles are enjoyable. Mothra, at times is rendered in CGI so it is not a model and that actually brings him to life more than he has been in the past.
I rate this movie: A
The next film in the series is Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. I have seen this title written out different ways. We already had Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla in 1974 and Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II in 1993. This movie is generally written out as Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla or Godzilla X. Mechagodzilla, or simply, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla III. Yes, sometimes the US titles of Godzilla movies can be confusing. Like all other Millennium Series films this movie does not have any connection to either the previous Millennium Series films or the Showa Era or the Heisei Era or the other Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla films.
Like other Millennium Series Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla recreates Godzilla’s origins and only the 1954 movie has relevance to this film. The film also depicts that Japan had also been attacked by other giant monsters such as Mothra and Gaira (the monster from the film, War of the Gargantuas). The movie also has a sense of deja vu. The plot echoes some of the elements in Godzilla vs Megagurius. Both of these movies begin with a female military soldier who causes the death of her commander and spends the rest of the movie mourning the loss and trying to make amends where she can.
The female soldier, Lieutenant Akane Yashiro, a mazer technician, is transferred to another job and all the blame for the failure to kill Godzilla is placed on her. The government has also found the bones of the first Godzilla and decides to construct a weapon around the bones of Godzilla. A widowed scientist with a young daughter, Tokumitsu and Sara, befriends Akane and helps her though her grief. Although a bit older he is attracted to her. A giant robotic Godzilla is built around the bones of the original Godzilla. In the center of his chest is a weapon, called absolute Zero, which instantly freezes things to absolute zero.
Godzilla once again rises from the ocean to bring destruction to Japan. Mechagodzilla, now called Kiyru, is brought to confront Godzilla. Just as Kiyru is about to fire the Absolute Zero weapon, Godzilla roars which awakens the DNA in his bones resulting in Kiyru going crazy and destroying most of the city until it runs out of power. The rest of the plot is basic and simple. Tokumitsu and Sara keep trying to help Lieutenant Akane and get Kiyru fixed so it will not run amok once again. When Godzilla attacks once again Kiyru is battered which allows Lieutenant Akane to take personal control of Kiyru in beating Godzilla. The movie ends with Kiyru flying off to the ocean and dumping a defeated Godzilla. Lieutenant Akane climbs out onto the shoulder of Kiyru as Godzilla swims into the sun-set. An after the credit scene shows that Lieutenant Akane agrees to have dinner with Tokumitsu and Sara.
Review: Although I do enjoy this film it isn’t my favorite of the Millennium series. This movie does take creative license with the origins of Godzilla’s bones. In the 1954 Godzilla movie he is seen being eaten alive by the Oxygen Destroyer…bones and all. In this movie that scene is recreated but this time all that is left of Godzilla is his bones. For me the fact that they had to build Mechagodzilla around the bones of the original is a bit silly. For the first time in franchise history Mechagodzilla is given a name, Kiyru, and that also seems a bit silly to me. The reasons for naming him Kiyru are never explained. Another strange occurrence in the movie is that when Godzilla faces off against Kiyru for the first time and Kiyru bombards Godzilla with his weaponry…Godzilla just stands there doing nothing!!
Now for the positive aspects. Although the grieving soldier mourns the death of her commander and tries to redeem herself was already done, I actually like the way it was handled in this movie. She really is hurting and despondent and it really made me want to root for her. The relationship between Lieutenant Akane and the scientists Tokumitsu and his daughter Sara, is touching, awkward and humorous all at once. This is one of the human stories in the Godzilla franchise that I really enjoy.
Godzilla has been redesigned once again. The Godzilla suit we saw for Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack was never, or so far, has never been used again. In this movie the suit is very similar to the one used in Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs Megaguirus. One major difference is that the colors have changed. He is back to his more charcoal gray color with silvery spines. The special effects of this movie are well done and from the beginning when we see Godzilla rise from the ocean in a Typhoon you know your eyes are in for a good treat with this movie.
The next Godzilla movie will be a direct sequel to this film and it will be the only movie sequel in the Millennium Series.
I rate this movie: B+
I think my favorite Godzilla movie is the 1954 original. It has a somber and serious tone. Artistically and creatively it is the best. Right behind that movie is Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (GMK) released in 2001. In some ways it is a more enjoyable movie than the original because there are some lighthearted moments too, along with great action sequences, making it more fun to watch. In all honesty this movie is the Godzilla movie I watch the most!
Like the others in the millennium series this movie ignores all the others that went before it and acts like a direct sequel to the 1954 original movie. Like the original Godzilla this Godzilla is at his most malevolent and destructive behavior. This movie also features one of the most coolest and slickest designed Godzilla suits.
Godzilla’s eyes in this suit have no pupils and are totally white giving Godzilla an evil menacing look. The dorsal fins on his spine begin lower and appear to be heavier and actually cumbersome to Godzilla as he walks. I have read some com plaints about the suit that it makes Godzilla look fat. Well, he does have a bit of a gut on him and I as I look at other suits from the past, having a Godzilla that is bottom heavy is not without precedence. A minor complaint is that in some scenes it shows Godzilla in different colors. In the majority of the scenes he is his typical charcoal grey. However, in some scenes he is brown and in a few close-ups, like when Baragon is chewing on his arm, he is actually green!
The movie also takes what I think is a very creative path in developing Godzilla’s origins. Since this is a direct sequel to the original Toho could ignore the other continuities and they were free to explain his origins anew. In this movie Godzilla’s origins are shrouded in Japanese mysticism. Godzilla is now the embodiment of the angry souls of those vanquished during World War II. The route they took in using a mystical approach may seem silly and implausible to an American audience steeped in the Western Civilization’s tradition of relying on the scientific method in explaining phenomenon, However, I find it refreshingly creative and it exemplifies the different mindset of the Japanese culture. Although Godzilla is no longer a force of nature the anger and the rage driving the creature makes him just as unpredictable and destructive.
Going further into Japanese mysticism is the appearance of the old man who is similar to a Wizard like mentor in western cultures that prophesies and warns people of the future. Another aspect of mysticism the old man delivers is the ancient concept of the guardian monsters. These ancient creatures are foretold in legend. Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, who must be awoken to protect Japan should Godzilla return to destroy the country. This idea is also new and creative. GMK was the 25th Godzilla movie and how many different plots and story lines can you create around the theme of a monster attacking a city or battling other monsters? Toho continually tired to create new scenarios on a theme that can easily become clichéd and formulaic. GMK, with its mystical approach and concept of the guardian monsters, offers something new, exciting and different from previous films.
For this movie all three of the guardian monsters (who have been in Godzilla movies before) were made slightly smaller and weaker in power so Godzilla would appear that much stronger. They each battle Godzilla in a solo exchange. First up is Baragon. I do like this creature yet I am not crazy about monsters on all four legs there is something about that which just doesn’t work for me. His roar and flapping ears are a bit silly. The special effects during these battle scenes are spectacular as the monsters are made to blend in with real world settings, as well as the usage of miniatures, in a seamless and realistic fashion. In my opinion this movie has some of the best special effects of any Godzilla movie. His atomic breath has never been better depicted as it is in this film. He creates a very symbolic and destructive mushroom cloud on his first appearance. His plasma breath is powerfully depicted destroying buildings, monsters and military equipment.
Although Godzilla makes short work of the scrappy Baragon and easily takes care of Mothra it is his battles with King Ghidorah. I have read that many fans complain to what was done to King Ghidorah in this movie. He had always been the villain and in this movie he is smaller than usual and he is one of the good guys. I can understand an empathize with those that are upset. Yet, I also can see that using him as one of the good guys makes perfect sense. In this movie there is no ambiguity about Godzilla being a bad guy. In fact he is depicted as pure malevolence and evil incarnate. So who else could face this unmovable object but the one monster that has been his most formidable foe through the entire franchise? No other monster really had the presence and the history with Godzilla such as his number one rival, King Ghidorah.
The other aspect I enjoy is the human story between Admiral Taizo Tachibana of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and his daughter Yuri, who works for a low-budget science fiction movie company. Yuri is not happy in her work and wants to do more serious work. She is also not happy how women are treated in her line of work. In GMK we get to see how both a civilian and a person inside the military face the attack from Godzilla. We also see the father-daughter relationship grow and change throughout the movie. These are two characters that I did care about and was able to see the attack from Godzilla through their eyes. Great monster action needs to be tempered with a good human story and in GMK we get both of those criteria met. Also, Yuri is pretty easy on the eyes and that sure helped!
I enjoyed the serious tone of the movie and I liked the design of Godzilla and the fact that he was at his most destructive and monstrous best since both the 1954 original and the 1984 reboot. As I mentioned it is a new and unique story with good modern special effects. This is one of the best Godzilla movies Toho has to offer.
I rate this movie: A+
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus was the second film in the Millennium Series of films. It was released in November of 2000. It was directed by Masaaki Tezuka. Like the previous film (Godzilla 2000) this movie uses the same Godzilla suit and design but it is not a direct sequel to that film or any other Godzilla film except the 1994 original. This would become the halmark of the Millennium Series which, except for two, were stand alone films.
The movie shows that since the 1954 Godzilla attack (shown in black and white footage but with the updated Godzilla design) Godzilla had attacked several other times and was always attacking nuclear power plants forcing the government to close down all nuclera production. In 1996 Godzilla attackes again. Kiriko Tsujimori is in the Japanese Defense force and when attacking Godzilla in Osaka she causes the death of her commanding officer. Tsujimori is then transferred to a scientific unit, the G-Graspers, which is working on an experimental sattelite called Dimension Tide which is able to create a small balck hole. Durring a test run of Dimension Tide a black whole is created which swallows up an abandoned building. A wormwhole is created as an after effect of the black whole and from the wormwhole an ancient dragon fly flies out and lays an egg which is found by a young boy that is secretly watching the experiment. He takes the egg home but when it starts oozing a liquid he throws it in the sewer. While in the sewer the egg spawns thousands of other eggs which hatch into these large dragon fly creatures called Meganula.
Godzilla makes an apperance one again and is lured to a deserted island so the Dimension Tide can take him out. But before the weapon is launched thousands of the Meganula begin to swarm Godzilla. Although he destroys many of them with his plasma breath ray many are successful in stinging Godzilla and absorbing his radioactivity. These surviving Meganula return to the city and inject a giant larva with Godzilla’s energy before they die. This new queen dragon fly, called Megaguirus, takes flight. The first actually test of Dimension Tide on Godzilla fails as he is able to escape the black whole buy burrowing underground. Soon Godzilla heads to the mainland where the territorial minded Megaguirus and Godzilla do battle. After Godzilla defeats Megaguirus the G-Graspers now want to kill Godzilla. With the Dimension Tide falling out of orbit and unable to lock onto Godzilla Tsujimor takes a fighter jet that Dimension Tide is able to lock onto. Tsujimor ejects prior to the crash as Dimension Tide shoots a black whole at Godzilla which swallows him whole making hin disappear forever.
I really do enjoy this film and it has some very good scenes that are well done. The Godzilla franchise is often called a science-fiction instead of a horror franchise and this movie has some of the best science-fiction themes out of all of them. I really like the depcition and concept of the balck whole and I think the special eefcts depicting it are top notch. Somether well filmed scenes involve Godzilla himself. There are some great closeup shots of Godzilla attacking the city that give a great sense of scale and the destruction he brings. I particularly enjoy the senes where Godzilla is being attacked by the swarm of megenula. Great special effects and very well done. I actually feel bad for the big guy and want to hand him some inscet repellant!
Now for some negatives. I really had a hard time liking the main charcter, Kiriko Tsujimori. After her commanding officer is killed she comes off as real tough and hard. I just have had too many experiences with tough women that the main character puts me off a bit. The other thinbg I wasn’t two crazy about was Megaguirus. A giant bug like monster wasn’t that interesting to me. I like the monsters that are most like Godzilla himself. However, the battle between Godzilla and Megaguirus is pretty intense and well done. Megaguirus does give Godzilla run for his money.
Despite those minor negatives, and they are minor to me, Godzilla vs Megaguirus is a very entertaining film and a worthy addition to the franchise.
If you watch this movie, make sure you watch through until the end of the credits for a little surprise!
I rate this movie: B+
I am going to resume reviewing the rest of the Godzilla movies in the franchise. Before I continue reviewing the final series, called the Millennium Series, I want to back track and review Godzilla vs Biollante which was one of the movies from the Heisei Series that I had not seen yet nor reviewed.
First a little background on why I never saw this movie until recently. In my 20s and 30s I fell away from the Godzilla franchise. One of the reasons for that is the lack of Godzilla movies released to US theaters. I knew the first of the Heisei films, Return of Godzilla, had been released to the theaters and other the only other Japanese Godzilla movie I had heard of was Godzilla 2000. In 2005 I began to buy Godzilla movies on DVD and discover between 1989-2004 there were many other Godzilla movies than had been produced. All of them had been on VHS but they must have slipped under my Radar. 1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante was one of the movies that I had not seen on VHS and by 2005 the VHS era was over and it wasn’t released on DVD until just last month! So Now I will be able to review this movie.
Before seeing this movie I thought that it had a very strange premise even for a Godzilla movie. Basically, a scientist, Dr. Shiragami, is working on cells from Godzilla that were found from his previous attack (as depicted in the movie Return of Godzilla). After his daughter Erica is killed in a terrorist attack he takes the cells from Godzilla and his daughter, combines them with the cells from a rose and creates Biollante a giant plant-based monster. Although I had heard many positive reviews from fans, I went into the movie hopeful but with low expectations.
The movie also has a sub plot of espionage. In the start of the movie a lone gunman working for a corporation called Biomajor steals the Godzilla cells and takes them to the Middle East Republic of Saradia where Dr. Shiragami works for the government. Shiragami hopes to create a strand of wheat that when combined with Godzilla cells will be able to grow in the most adverse conditions. Five years after Dr. Shiragami’s daughter Erica is killed he successfully mates her cells with the cells of a rose. At this time we meet Miki Saegusa a psychic who has sensed that Godzilla has woken up at the bottom of Mt. Mihara. The Government responds to the threat by activating the Super-X2 craft to combat Godzilla. The Government also is looking into a biological approach to defeating Godzilla and Dr. Shiragami joins in the effort. Henchmen from Biomajor also try to steal Godzilla cells from Dr. Shiragami but are attacked by the growing rose in his office.
Members of Biomajor then set explosives on the rim of Mt. Mihara releasing Godzilla. Godzilla makes his way to Biollante who seems to be calling for him. The two fight and Biollante is seemingly defeated and Godzilla makes his way to Osaka where he is confronted by the Super-X2. Another battles ensues where Godzilla defeats Super-X2 while leveling the Osaka. While he is in Osaka a poisonous projectile is shot in his mouth. Aft first he seems to have no ill-efect. After leaving Osaka Godzilla is faced once again by Biollante who is now in his…or her…final gigantic form…and the two titans face off for the final time. Godzilla is defeated and it was the combination of Biollante and the poisoned missile that vanquished him. Godzilla collapses into the sea as Dr. Shiragami is assassinated by the lone gunman who in turn is also killed. Godzilla suddenly arises revived and healthy and returns to the sea.
I really enjoyed this movie and felt it was one of the better of the Heisei Series. After having seen this movie I have to say I am impressed with the design of Biollante. Impressive and frightening looking monster in its final form. I also think the idea behind it, while being a bit hokey, certainly is new, creative and demonstrates that someone was thinking outside the box. The battles between the two are also impressive as Biollante is not the pushover you think a plant-based monster would be. At one point Biollante jabs one of his vines right through the palm of Godzilla’s hand.
The human aspect is also interesting although with the espionage and the double dealing it is a little confusing at first to know who is who and what exactly is going on. I felt a lot of empathy for Dr. Shiragami who is trying to save some aspect of his dead daughter’s life. This film also debuts Miki Saegusa, a clairvoyant, who would be used in every subsequent Heisei Series film. I actually feel that it is in this film where her character is most useful. There is a great scenes where a group of children, who all have been having the same dream, are asked to draw their dream for Miki and when asked to show their drawings to Miki everyone puts up a picture they drew of Godzilla. That is a great moment in the film and it is startling because it is so unexpected.
Most people watch these movies for the monster battles and the destruction of cities. As I already mentioned the battle with Biollante, but what is equally impressive and enjoyable to watch is the destruction of Osaka by Godzilla and the military. These scenes are filmed very well and have great special effects. It also is an important dory point and is not brief yet also does not over stay its welcome.
I have met some fans that did not care too much for the Heisei Series. I happen to enjoy the entire series and feel that there really is only one sub-par movie (Space Godzilla). Godzilla vs Biollante is one of the best movies of this series and even one of the better over all Godzilla films of the entire Franchise. Tone of a movie is always hard to pinpoint and describe. I enjoy the tone of the film and it has a look and feel very much in line with the Return of Godzilla. It has a tone that I feel is missing from not only other Godzilla movies in the Heisei Series but other Godzilla movies in general. Because the tone of Godzilla vs Biollante and The Return of Godzilla are so different they are often forgotten movies. I think that is a shame because both movies are gems in the crown of Toho Godzilla movies.
I rate this movie: B+