TURNING THE GENRE ON ITS EAR
A Video Review of "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" also known as "Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju Soukougeki" or "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Giant Monsters General Offensive"
Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker
Writer director Shusuke Kaneko finally tries his hand at Godzilla after revitalizing the Gamera franchise for Daiei. It was bits like the absurd idea of naming the monsters that clued me in to this movie’s real intent - to turn the kaiju eiga genre on its ear. Rethink it and create something new. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack does just that.
Most surprising right away is the opening sequence which acknowledges the original 1954 Gojira as its only prequel yet also refers to the 1998 American Godzilla as being in continuity as well. Wow. Or more appropriately, oh no.
Now I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that this is all new. Mothra, Baragon and King Ghidorah have never appeared before and they are possessed by the spirits of Japan’s war dead. I don’t buy it but okay, I can deal with it.
These three ‘guardian monsters’ have returned to stop Godzilla from destroying Japan. That’s your plot. Throw in a plucky girl reporter along with a few masterfully directed monster fights and that’s the movie.
Baragon is a nice update of the underground monster from Frankenstein Conquers the World, a gone but not forgotten Toho classic from the 1960s. Mothra’s larva form has been made fiercer and a bit scarier. King Ghidora this time around is rather short and stocky, traditional gold in color and the wings seem small and rather useless at first. Its final form is the King Ghidora we all know and hate.
The reworking of Godzilla is different from its Millennium predecessor. Nasty empty eyes and an old school design highlight this decidedly evil creature bent on destruction. It’s a while before we actually a look at this new Godzilla probably to increase the suspense.
Writer director Shusuke Kaneko has a good vibe on how Godzilla and giant monsters in general should work. The big G is frequently filmed from below to accentuate his enormous size. Puns aside, yes, in this genre size does matter. When Godzilla uses his breath trees fly through the air in his inhalation. The camera shakes with his footsteps. The only bad parts are where he walks like Barney but we won’t mention that. Kaneko knows how to induce size and danger in this type of flick. His Godzilla rocks.
Chiharo Niyama plays Yuri the plucky girl reporter. She’s quite possibly the first likeable human player in a G film in a long time (even Miki Segusa wore on me after a while). She works for a tabloid TV station specializing in the paranormal - an excellent conduit for daikaiju reporting. I can’t help but notice the parallel to "Ultra Q."
When Baragon first shows up folks think he’s Godzilla - last seen fifty years prior - when the real G appears they understand how deep their sh!t truly is. He towers over Baragon. The battle between Baragon and Godzilla is among the best I’ve seen in some time. The smaller kaiju displays all the scrappiness he did in his original cinematic appearances.
The Mothra transformation from larva to imago is among the most uninteresting I’ve seen however. The queen moth is just a big bug here. Yawn. When she does appear in full glory as a moth though she flies low over a crowd including twin sisters who glance at each other knowingly. Nice touch.
Godzilla vs. Mothra. Again as with Baragon, size matters. As I said, she’s just a big bug. It would have been a very boring fight had King Ghidora not shown up. Unfortunately Godzilla dispatches them both easily.
There is some beautiful miniature work as a suspension bridge goes down toward the end. That might not sound like much considering the scale model building effects haven’t improved all that much since the 1990s but the bridge scene is superior.
The musical score, although missing the familiar marches of the legendary Akira Ifukube, is just as incredible by Kow Otani. He has a definite ear for how a kaiju eiga should sound.
This off the wall Godzilla flick that stands alone and knocks the genre on its butt is one of the best. Definitely check GMK out.
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