Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidorâ: Daikaijû sôkôgeki (Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) (2001)

Seen: At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, part of their "Stomp Boston" monster movie series.

With a title like "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" it was hard to resist this offering in the long-running, oft-disconnected Godzilla series. Set in present-day (well, 2001), the film calls back more to the original Godzilla than to its sillier successors. The giant lizard has returned to wreak havoc on Tokyo, primarily as a message to the Japanese who have forgotten or dishonored their destructive and decimated past in the first half of the twentieth century. Godzilla (the product of nuclear technology) contains the souls of those killed in WWII, now unleashing their torment on Japan. The nation's ancient guardian monsters Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah awaken to fight off the lizard, and their mission is followed by intrepid news reporter Yuri (Chiharu Niiyama), whose father (Ryûdô Uzaki) is leading the military resistance against the sudden monster attacks.

I've only seen scattered Godzilla films but I felt sufficiently knowledgeable about the main monsters that I could follow the references to other movies, which were worked in nicely for big fans of kaiju stories. But what was nice is that this really doesn't rely on the precedents set by other films, instead striking out to create a new version of Godzilla and these other monsters, one that is more closely connected to the original film in its WWII-influenced commentary while also delivering big fights and city-wide destruction to satisfy audiences who've come to expect that. It's a fun and exciting film that manages to communicate a thoughtful, somewhat dramatic story amidst all the giant monster stuff. I liked the human characters, especially the unflappable Yuri, and how their stories intermingled with the guardian monsters. The dialogue is super cheesy, though, (and the version we saw was dubbed) so it isn't exactly a gripping character study.

The effects are generally awesome, relying on humans-in-suits and miniature cities for most of the fights, with some computery magic thrown in at the end. The CG used during the final fight scene is distracting, and actually I though the whole battle was way too dragged out. Like, this is a pretty cool movie but it could be shorter in general.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Well this was shown at the theater after several other Godzilla movies, which seemed to work, so pick your favorite!

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