Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster

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Back when you start into your fandom and its all fresh and new, the question of “What should I avoid?” seem ludicrous. Then after you are in any fandom for a decent amount of time and you take time to reflect on everything you have experienced you come to the harsh realization that not everything is sunshine and rainbows. As a Godzilla fan you put up with a lot of inconsistencies in science and the limitations that the studio had to deal with but still find yourself enjoying the movies. Yet once you scrutinize the film and learn what went on behind the scenes, you become aware of how close to greatness a project reached.

After his brother goes missing, Ryota and his friends “borrow” a boat from a man who turns out to be a bank robber and set sail. They soon fall prey to the Ebirah, a giant shrimp who also destroyed Ryota’s brothers boat. Stranded on an island, the unlucky crew finds the island inhabited by a military organization known as Red Bamboo, befriend a runaway island girl and seem hopeless. Their only option: awaken Godzilla who they find sleeping on the island.

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This film makes a lot more sense once you understand it’s background and original concept. You see this film was supposed to star King Kong as the title monster fighting Ebirah. This casting smooths out the questionable moments that the film possesses such as the giant vulture that comes out of nowhere and Ebirahs lack of origin (both of which fit in perfectly if the story had been on Kong’s island of lost gigantic beasts), why the sea monster would actually be a threat (unlike Kong, Godzilla breathes underwater so those scuffles would have more severity to them), and that moment that Godzilla shares with the island girl (because as we all know Kong loves the ladies). Once you think of the movie recast with Kong instead of Godzilla you are presented with a film with a lot more gravity and less plot holes. Unfortunately Toho didn’t get the rights, had to use Godzilla instead, and we are presented with a film where the King of the Monsters doesn’t even break a sweat when dispatching his latest opponent. If they had gotten the rights to use Kong I believe this would have been one of the better outings for the giant ape but sadly this did not come to pass and Ebirah gets owned by Godzilla.

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This film does age well and becomes one of last Godzilla movies I find myself re-watching. The film by itself was never really that impressive and once you know the truth behind it and the recasting, you really can feel where the movie would have been improved with King Kong in the rule and how Godzilla really is just copy and pasted in their to make the film work.

The idea of the Red Bamboo group is interesting as they seem to be plotting something with their nuclear facility (probably global domination) but have picked the worst spot possible. They have to use the local natives they kidnapped off Mothra’s island (that Yuta and Ryota both conveniently end up on) to make formula to fend off Ebirah which is waste of a lot of man hours and power. This movie really doesn’t hold up to scrutinizing at all. Sorry people. I’m not a fan.

Rating: C-

Gojira


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While getting the materials for this entry, I discovered that there is a French Heavy Metal band known as Gojira who actually wanted to be called Godzilla first but faced a copyright violation and had to chance it. It makes me want to look some of their music up and give it a listen. Maybe later though, I have a much bigger task at hand.

After a fishing boat is destroyed near Oda island, investigators soon discover that the weather had nothing to do with the destruction that has been plaguing the island. Instead, the islanders watch as the head of a giant monster they call Gojira raises its head from over the mountain and bellows his oncoming destruction. The result of a nuclear test, this fearsome creature is a force of nature that no man made force has any ability to take down. Only the recluse Dr. Serizawa holds the key to defeating the creature and victory will not come without a sacrifices.

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For anyone who sees the later movies of Godzilla that were more geared towards children (Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla’s Revenge) will immediately recognize the difference in atmosphere that htis movie possesses compared to what came after it. Gojira is a serious and powerful anti-nuclear war film. It makes it a point to showcase that the monster is the result of man’s foolishness and the ramification that come from believing that we have the ability to control all that their is in life when we are very insignificant against the destructive force of nature. This film is definitely geared more towards the more mature Kaiju fan who isn’t simply watching the film to enjoy the explosions and cool monster fight scenes.

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One of two most polarizing scenes in the movie is as the children’s choir calls for peace as they camera scrolls across the destruction that was caused by Godzilla’s rampage. Its chilling and you feel the blight of the people as they call out for help to save them. The other scene which has been forever etched into my memory is the scene where Dr. Serizawa realizes that his weapon, the Oxygen Destroyer is far too powerful to exist in the world and will only create as much destruction as Godzilla would and sacrifices himself only after telling his fiancee to be happy with the man she has chosen to love. Like I said this isn’t the type of Godzilla movie most people are used to watching.

This film would later be turned into Godzilla King of the monsters thanks to additional scenes with Raymond Burr as an American Reporter named Steve Martin. Many American fans have probably watched this version but may not have taken the time to track down the original Gojira. For those who wish to elevate themselves to be a more well read and knowledgeable Kaiju fan, finding this version of the film and watching it is a must. I highly recommend you watch it and I dare you not to feel something during the ending.

Rating: A

Godzilla vs. King Ghidora

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Ever had that film that does so many things so wrong that you want to writ it off as terrible but keep giving it the benefit of still being entertaining because of a few scenes. That is Godzilla vs. King Ghidora in a nut shell. The movie falls onto its face for most of the film until the very end. the real question though is “Is sitting through the bad parts worth the greatness that comes at the end?”

A flying saucer flies through Japan that turns out to be visitors from the future. They say they wish to help get rid of Godzilla by going back to the past and stopping him from mutating into a his current fire breathing form. But there true intention is far more sinister as they hope to create a monster of even greater force: King Ghidora.

The expression “Jumping the shark” refers to when a series goes far from the original message or theme. You`d think that a film series involving mutant dinosaurs, mystical guardians awakened by song, and space cockroaches disguised as humans. that jumping the shark would be impossible. Still, thanks tot he introduction of time travel, such a feat is accomplished. And man does it make the move feel awkward. That and the humans make several turns with their operations. First they get rid of Godzilla, but need him back then need the defeated King Ghidora to defeat him. You’d think after messing things up the first time they would leave well enough alone and just let things work out. The time space continuum only needs to be messed up so much before you just wish someone would use the time machine to make it so things never got messed up in the first place.

There is also the whole aspect with the Android which really helps to hammer in the “Jumping the shark” aspect. He just feels totally out place during the movie. And before anyone tries to remind me of Katsura from Terror of Mechagodzilla as she was a cyborg, hold your horses. Katsura’s presence as a cyborg was much more underlying and not nearly as overplayed. She wasn’t running down cars in Tokyo in an obvious homage to another movie with killer android disguised as a human from the future.

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Not to say this movie is not without its perks. For starters this is the first time we actually get to see Godzilla fight King Ghidora one on one without any other monsters giving him any aid. The fight is gloriously topped off by the fact that Godzilla does more damage to his winged foe then in any other movie before. The use of Mecha-King Ghidora is a very interesting spin on a classic villain and a better take than Kaiser Ghidora from Final wars. Also Yasuaki Shindo played by Yoshio Tsuchiya is one of the most memorable humans in a kaiju movie. Watching him respectfully bow to an oncoming force of destruction he once come to look upon as a savior was truly touching. Basically since those two aspects come at the end of the movie you’d be better just using the DVD to jump to the last hour to get the best part of the film. Which is the best advice I can give for this movie.

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Rating: C+

Invasion of Astro Monster a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Monster Zero



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One of the first question people ask when selecting a Kaiju movie is “Would you show this to a newbie to the genre?’ The answer that I give an enthusiastic yes! Why am I so passionate about newbies seeing this movie? Simple. This was my first Godzilla movie.

I still remember like it was yesterday. I was Twelve but had already heard about Godzilla from different shows and cartoons growing up. I was curious and wanted to know more about this legendary creature. On a weekend at my grandmother’s place, she took me to the video store, Grand Video and let me rent movies to watch at her house. That’s where I found it, Godzilla vs. Monster X a.k.a. Invasion of Astro Monster. Once I rented that movie there was no turning back. I was a Kaiju fan.

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From the beginning with astronauts Fuji and Glen landing on Planet X and finding the Xians, a mysterious alien race being plagued by a being they know call Monster Zero, but the earth knows as King Ghidorah. Wishing to vanquish the threat of the three headed beast, the Xian’s request that Earth allows them the service of two other monsters, Rodan and Godzilla with the reward of a universal cure if the planet is willing to cooperate. What follows is series of events that include betrayal, epic monster battles and a rape prevention device being turned into an alien inventions prevention device. If that doesn’t get you interested in watching this movie then just walk away from the giant monster genre as there is nothing here that will interest you.

Watching this movie as an adult allows a person to have a different appreciations then I did now. Back in the day I found myself enjoying it because it was awesome watching Godzilla shoot at King Ghidora with his nuclear breath. In this day in age…I find it awesome watching Godzilla shoot at King Ghidora with his nuclear breath. That and the mysterious Namikaze played by the incredible beautiful Kumi Mizuno.

It also gave us one of the most iconic moments in Godzilla history, the Godzilla Victory Dance. Sure people give it a bad press and think it’s the start of the series losing its edge. A better way to look at it is that it helps to solidify the Godzilla’s new role as a protector of the people. Together with his buddy Rodan, they won’t let any three headed chumps tear apart their plant earth. Once they break away from alien mind control of course.

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Perhaps the real major problem is that the true intention of the Xian’s are incredible obvious to everyone. Why are humans in sci-fi movies so stupid and trusting? Shouldn’t we have found a way to ensure we had some type of incentive to ensure that the Xian’s didn’t be total screw Earth over? Maybe sneak a bomb on their spaceship when they had their initial suspicions that the controller was up to something? For that matter, what did Glen and Fuji think Godzilla and Rodan were going to do on Planet X? Buy a time share and wait for cable guy to come on Wednesday.

To reiterate this movie is a must watch for Godzilla fans and those who are new to the Genre. The only thing that could have made it better would be if Glen had stumbled into the Xian lady’s Onsen. An entire hotspring of Kumi Mizunos, yes please!

Rating: B+

Godzilla (2014)

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After the previous attempt to bring Godzilla to the states was less than stellar, the American Kaiju community took something of a hit. Not in the fandom overall but Hollywood squashed more giant movies for years to come regulating them to being produced in the low budget straight for DVDs and SyFy channel demographic. There were moments of hope with the release of King Kong and Cloverfield which were entertaining but still had their flaws. The biggest ray of hope came when Pacific Rim was both a commercial and critical success and reminded people how awesome it is to watch giant robot punch giant monsters.
This left fans mixed on what to expect from Godzilla’s second stomp through America’s shores. Especially since the director, Gareth Edwards’ previous film Monsters left fans feeling just as mixed after watching it. Luckily we as fans of Kaiju were rewarded with what they saw. Not with what everyone was expected but was still incredible entertaining.
The human element of this movie is handled by three characters. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) a nuclear scientist who losses his wife to an accident he knows is more than it appears. Joining Joe on his journey is his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a military man who just wants to go home to his wife and son. Finally, Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), a scientist who along with his secret organization Monarch knows the truth behind the incident that took Ford’s wife.

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After digging into the mysterious accident Joe and Ford discover that the accident was actually caused by a creature known as a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) a giant monster that eats nuclear energy. Upon further investigation it is revealed there is a second MUTO that could mate and create an army of creatures that will wipe out humanity. As all seems lost, Serizawa says there is a creature of immense power, an unstoppable force of nature and a mighty predator that sees the MUTOs as his enemies. This ancient creature may be humanities last hope and they call him Godzilla.
The initial trailers for this movie presented us with a much different Godzilla then what is actually delivered in the film. The previews fooled us into believing that Godzilla had returned to his origins as being an uncontrollable force of nature that will bring our destruction. Instead it delivers a tribute to the films of the late Showa Era where Godzilla was a defender of a humanity who only wrecks a building or two while smacking around his monster opponents. Depending on if that’s the version of Godzilla you prefer or not may affect how much you enjoy this movie. On a personal level it was a welcomed sight. The “Kiss of Death” scene was a moment of pure Kaiju ecstasy.
Speaking of tributes the movie makes sure to make nods to other great monster movies. The family name Brody is a reference to Chief Brody from Jaws. Dr. Serizawa was the name of the scientist from the original Godzilla movie. The MUTOs appear to get inspiration from Gamera’s villains the Gyaos. There also is a nod to Godzilla’s rival Mothra in the form of a cocoon in an abandoned aquarium with faded letters on the side spelling it out. Go see it again to check. Its little nods like this that showcase the love this film has for the genre.

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The weakest part of this movie is the human factors. Dr. Serizawa and Joe Brody are intriguing scientists which are dedicated their lives to researching the Kaiju and their origins. Sadly we don’t get nearly enough time with them. Instead we spend more time with Ford who is just trying to get back to his wife and son but keeps getting side tracked with giant monsters. He also just happens to be the highly trained specialist that is the only one who can both arm and disarm the nuke they want to use as bait for the monsters. The whole perfect man that is exactly suited to the situation he gets thrown can work but just doesn’t in this movie. Frankly he just seems a little flat compared to the more impassionate scientists that are dedicated to stopping the MUTOs and helping Godzilla. Also Ford’s wife has next to no character moments and it became just a little frustrating anytime the movie pulls away from the giant monsters to focus on them. Almost makes you wish she would have an up close encounter with any of the monsters so we could see more of them in the movie. Almost.
Still the movie does show enough city destruction, monster combat, and goose bump producing Godzilla roars for any jaded Kaiju fan to enjoy this film. It also is very effective way of introducing new fans to the media. So kudos, Edwards, you didn’t mess up. Now get to work on the sequel. More Dr. Serizawa, Monarch, Godzilla, and work on getting more character out of your lead. Especially if he’s helping Godzilla save mankind.

Rating: A-