"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Posts Tagged ‘Godzilla’

Godzilla Minus One

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

My friends, I would be perfectly happy with just another cool Godzilla movie. That’s what I want to see. But it turns out the new one, GODZILLA MINUS ONE, is an actual masterpiece. I think you could say the same of 2016’s SHIN GODZILLA, a visionary take on the big guy. This one, from writer/director/special effects supervisor Takashi Yamazaki (RETURNER, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO), is more of a sweeping emotional one. Set between 1945 and 1947, it’s a serious and very involving post-war melodrama about the opposite of a war hero.

As WWII is winding down, kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki, RUROUNI KENSHIN: KYOTO INFERNO) lands on Odo Island with engine troubles. Or so he says. The mechanics all give him a look as their boss, Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki, BATTLE ROYALE II, HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI, SAMURAI MARATHON) tells him they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. “What are you implying?” Koichi cries, and storms off.

Tachibana catches up with him and says that, for what it’s worth, he’s on his side. The government treats life as cheap. It makes no sense to give your life for a war that’s already lost. Yeah, we agree, but that’s not gonna wipe the shame off of Koichi. So you see, this is a movie about about a guy who chose to live, and feels tremendous guilt about it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Invasion of Astro-Monster

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (1965) is Godzilla movie #6, once again from director Ishiro Honda. Weirdly it’s a co-production between Toho and the American animation studio UPA – a collaboration that began that year with FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON (the one that WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is a sequel to).

According to the opening text, ASTRO-MONSTER takes place in the year 196X (which you may remember from the Bryan Adams song “Summer of ‘6X”). World Space Agency astronauts Kazuo Fuji (Akira Takarada, GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER!) and Glenn (Nick Adams, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) are flying the P-1 rocket on a mission to the mysterious Planet X. Fuji’s sister Haruno Fuji (Keiko Sawai) also works at the agency, and he’s so controlling of her that during lift off he asks them to relay a message to her to “not rush into things” with her new boyfriend Tetsuo, inventor of “The Ladyguard Portable Alarm” (kind of an electronic rape whistle). (read the rest of this shit…)

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

“The earth doesn’t belong to humans alone. It’s ours too, and we should defend it.” —Mothra


GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER is Godzilla movie #5, released in 1964, 8 months after MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA. Like numbers 1,3, and 4 it’s directed by Ishiro Honda. And by now he’s getting cocky, so he uses cool freeze frame credits of Godzilla and his co-stars Rodan and Mothra #2 (one of the two larva of the previous Mothra. Godzilla killed the original Mothra and the other larva died of unknown causes between installments.)

The movie opens on the roof of a clock tower where a gathering of the UFO Society (who wear lab coats like legit scientists – they’re not kooks) try to receive a transmission from space. When they fail they blame the attendance of skeptical TV reporter Naoko Shindo (Yuriko Hoshi, KILL!). “They sensed your mistrust through your brain waves.”

They’re desperate for help from beyond, because shit is getting crazy. We hear about a heat wave in January, constant sirens, an encephalitis outbreak. “Everything has gone haywire,” we’re told, and “It’s getting strange out there. The Earth has gone mad.” Yeah, I know the feeling. I’ve lived through some times that feel like that. Also, “Strange things have been happening beyond our galaxy too,” whatever that means. There are meteor showers happening all around the world. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mothra vs. Godzilla

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Godzilla picture #3, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, was such a hit in 1963 that Toho realized their boy really should have an ongoing series where he battles other behemoths, so director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya (plus Haruo Nakajima redonning the Godzilla suit) immediately got to work on the next one.

Getting the rights to another studio’s characters every time wasn’t gonna be sustainable (too bad – GODZILLA VS. CAT PEOPLE would’ve been cool), so this time they decided to pit the big guy against Mothra, the giant moth goddess from Honda’s own 1961 film. I’ve always associated Mothra with Godzilla, so it’s interesting to realize that they weren’t originally intended to cross paths or exist in the same world. In a way, MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA is like if M. Night Shyamalan had made SPLIT unconnected to UNBREAKABLE and then decided to combine them in GLASS. Or if James Cameron made AVATAR VS. THE ABYSS.

Another thing it’s easy to forget is that there was an entire decade where Godzilla was always the bad guy. Here he’s in his fourth movie and the guy is just a total dick still. Only in movie #2 could you argue he was kind of good, because the other guy was so aggressive. Otherwise he’s just causing problems for everybody. For this one he doesn’t show up until a half hour in (such a diva) so Mothra gets top billing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla vs. Kong

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

GODZILLA VS. KONG follows GODZILLA, KONG: SKULL ISLAND and GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS as the fourth movie in the 21st Century American kaiju series known as The MonsterVerse. When it comes to the giant monsters, as I’ve told you before, I’m a Gamera guy. I’m not trying to be a hipster and choose the less popular thing to show off, it’s just a fact – he’s the Guardian of the Universe. But setting him aside, Godzilla and his Monster Island pals have always interested me more than the King Kong movies, as great as some of those are.

So hopefully that puts some weight behind me saying that this crossover – which stacks the cards for Kong by starting with him, spending much of the movie with him and treating him as the underdog hero – is easily the best of the series.

It got me instantly. Opening with Kong waking up to a perfect needle drop and a sunny day on Skull Island, he scratches his ass as he groggily stumbles to the waterfall for a shower. It’s just a great example of those times I love when monsters just get to live a normal life instead of always leaping through the air and roaring at the camera. (read the rest of this shit…)

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

I can’t see the new GODZILLA VS. KONG in a theater, because we still have the pandemic here (and apparently slower vaccine distribution than some other states). But I’m excited to at least get to watch it on TV tonight. I don’t know if it will live up to my hopes, but I’m glad it inspired me to rewatch the original East-meets-West giant monster mashup, 1963’s KING KONG VS. GODZILLA.

In my mind it seems like this current GODZILLA series rushed to the KING KONG crossover pretty fast, but not really. KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was only the third film in the GODZILLA series (though it also followed the American productions KING KONG and SON OF KONG, both from 1933). As discussed in yesterday’s review, the series started with GOJIRA in 1954, and GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN six months later. It wasn’t exactly a smash, so seven years passed before they brought the big guy back. Think about that – seven years is almost as long as the gap between BATMAN & ROBIN and BATMAN BEGINS. Or FRIDAY THE 13TH and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII. About the same as the gaps between A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, or FREDDY VS. JASON and the ELM STREET remake.

So after that wait Toho brought back original director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and effects director Eiji Tsuburaya (who held KING KONG dear since it had inspired his interest in effects) to revive Godzilla in this big crossover event that marked both monsters’ first appearances in color and in widescreen. Also their first movie that opens with a quote from Hamlet (at least in the American version, which I watched because I didn’t realize the original was hidden in the supplements of the Criterion box set). (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla Raids Again

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN seems like an important movie to me because I think it’s the first GODZILLA sequel. GOJIRA was made in response to the popularity of KING KONG and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, but it was a very somber and elegiac disaster movie intentionally using its monster attacks to mirror the bombing of Hiroshima (as well as an incident less known in the U.S. in which a Japanese fishing vessel was radiated by U.S. atomic bomb tests). Its hero was a scientist who sacrifices himself to stop Godzilla without letting his bomb technology to be replicated, and it climaxes with a choir of 200 women singing sadly over long shots of the ruins of Tokyo.

The sequel came out only six months later and is the only other GODZILLA movie in black and white, but it’s the first one where Godzilla fights another monster, so it’s the first to resemble the specific type of fun we’re generally thinking of when we say we liked GODZILLA movies or kaiju movies.

Here’s one way it’s similar to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2: it’s not the same killer as in part 1. The first Godzilla was definitively killed by the oxygen destroyer, and when what appears to be the same creature is spotted, Dr. Kyohei Yamane (Takashi Shimura, returning from the first film) is sure it’s not a resurrection, but another monster of the same species. Everybody still call him Godzilla like it’s his name, though. (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla 1985

Monday, August 31st, 2020

August 23, 1985

“Godzilla. I was hoping I’d never hear that name again.”

Near the conclusion of the Summer of 1985 – a movie season that attempted to bring back James Bond, the Vietnam War, pirates, Dorothy Gale, Clint Eastwood westerns, Mad Max, Walt Disney animation, the Griswolds, Dr. Frankenstein and two different types of Living Dead – America welcomed back a very large visitor from overseas. Godzilla had not had a movie since THE TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA in 1975, so this is about the same as the gap between REVENGE OF THE SITH and THE FORCE AWAKENS, and it was a similar case of a younger generation being entrusted with reinventing and continuing an iconic series for modern audiences. Original producer/creator Tomoyuki Tanaka was still in charge, but director Koji Hashimoto (SAYONARA JUPITER) and writer Shuichi Nagahara (STRAY CAT ROCK: DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS) were both teenagers when the first film came out. (Hashimoto got his start as an assistant director on Toho movies in the ‘60s, including GODZILLA sequels).

This one ignores all the previous sequels. There’s no Mothra, no Minya, no Monster Island, only the events of 1954’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, so in that sense it’s less FORCE AWAKENS and more David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN. It was made for the 30th anniversary, so think about the films of 1990. In terms of time, if not cultural relevance, it’s like if this summer had a big new event sequel to TREMORS or DARKMAN, I guess? Or, to put it another way – GODZILLA 1985 is five years older today than the original GODZILLA was at the time. Shit. (read the rest of this shit…)