Rebirth of Mothra

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When Godzilla made first appearance in America the throne for the king of the monsters became empty. Two different contenders stepped up in an effort to prove their greatness by releasing trilogies. These two enormous titans were Gamera and Mothra. I have already reviewed the Gamera trilogy and how exceptional those three movies were but what about Mothra?

Picking up after Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, Mothra has presumably saved the world from an asteroid that would have wiped out all life and has since returned to his island and laid a new egg. Elsewhere a construction company is tricked by a mischievous fairy named Belvera into released the ancient evil known as Death Ghidorah (I’m aware wikipedia has it named differently but that’s the name the version I saw used and I think it sounds better than Desghidorah). Working to stop Belvera plans is the twin guardians, Moll and Lora who summon Mothra to fight against this reborn terror. As the new born larva hatches he has no choice but to fight along side of its weakened mother to stop Death Ghidora from destroying all mankind.

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The characters for this outing are a mixed bag. I don’t really remember anything that stands out in the human characters of Taiki and Wakaba and are really only there so the Moll and Lora have someone that doesn’t know what’s happening to explain the situation to. The three Elias sister though definitely stand out. I’m glad that they didn’t have Moll and Lora talk in unison. That would have really gotten old fast. The fact that the two of them have to watch their sister, Belvera try to take down humanity and stop them is very touching to watch. I’d be willing to go to bat with other Kaiju fans to say that are the top runners for the best priestess Mothra has ever had.

Once again we witness a Mothra death scene but this one is probably one of the most tear jerking of them all. His Showa era death was pretty memorable with the Mother Mothra sacrificing itself to protect her egg but in this film we witness as the baby Mothra can do nothing to save its mother who is too weak to return home and collapses into the sea from exhaustion. It definitely is one of the most heart breaking scenes of the Heisei era of monsters.

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One minor strike I can’t help but note against this series is Mothra’s genre. The movie makes it a point to express that the Mothra that is the center point for this trilogy is distinctly male, even given the name Mothra Leo once it hatches from its cocoon. What did they not think that a female monster would be able to carry the entire series. Come on Japan, that’s old school thinking.

The Rebirth of Mothra trilogy comes out swinging and delivers one of the Kaijus most action packed and heart felt outings. It also possesses my favorite version of Mothra, complete with lasers coming out of every possible surface. Unfortunately it’s all downhill from here. Unlike the Gamera where all three movies maintain a high level of quality through the series, the next two films are not as entertaining as this one. My advice is to just watch this one and walk away. Stay tuned for later posts where I will describe in detail how those movies don’t stack up.

Rating: B+

Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster

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This is going to be a first on this blog. You see I have seen every Godzilla movie ever. Some more than others with how much I enjoy them. Today though I’m revisiting one of the films I have only seen once to see if a second viewing can change my mind about it. I didn’t enjoy Ghidora the three headed monster the first time I saw it. Let’s see if it can score any higher in my book.

After a foreign princess survives a plane crash, she appears before the world insist that she is a Martian and death and doom are coming. Meanwhile the Fairy companions of Mothra hear of the girls prediction and go to meet with her. They soon find that she is right and that the mysterious meteor in he mountains was in fact King Ghidorah the monster that destroyed Mars many years earlier. Realizing that he cannot fight such a creature alone, Mothra calls for the help of Godzilla and Rodan to stop the menacing Ghidorah or watch the rest of the world be a barren wasteland like Mars.

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Few things. What happened to the other Mothra larva? Did it die? How did a television station get the fairies without Mothra coming to tear the city apart to look for them? Why did only one Rodan survive the volcanic eruption? Why do they insist on having Godzilla blow steam the entire time? That last one was a point that I found myself having trouble getting over. I have seen footage of him using the steam breath at other times where it doesn’t bother me as much but when they happened I actually saw that the attack did any damage. Here he uses it on Rodan several times and without any type of effect. Castrating Godzilla’s signature power was a lot to get over.

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Still on the rewatch I was able to find some new aspects about the movie that I found entertaining. Watching Mothra attempt to play with the big boys, was entertaining. He was only a little larva but still found a way of two of offering his aid. When the three come together that they are able to succeed and it really is fun to watch them all fight a common foe. Later films would perfect the style of the monster team up to fight a greater monster, but this was the first time so we have to give it some slack.

The human aspect of this film is also quite interesting drawing aspects from a spy movie. Shindo the police detective trying to protect the possesses princess Saino is very moving. This is especially true as Saino seems hellbent on only spreading the message that Ghidorah is coming. Speaking of hellbent what about her assassins. You would think they would just leave her to get destroyed by the monsters that are lumbering towards the city but no, they are dead set on making sure that the princess is dead this time around. I would also be in the wrong if I didn’t mention the Fairies, who are doing all they can to help mankind despite their previous negative experiences with us. If it weren’t for their efforts, the attack against Ghidorah would never get off the ground.

So a revisit to this film did indeed help me to appreciate it a bit more. I wish I could to this with more films, but I can only do so much. I assure you though the different Godzilla and Gamera films I have reviewed so far on the blog I have seen countless times before. I have lost count of the number of times I rewatched the Gamera trilogy. Still, in the future if someone suggests watching Ghidorah, the three headed monster I won’t be so quick to shutter at the idea.

Rating: D (first time)/ B-(after watch)

Ultraman


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Like I said previously I have weaknesses when it comes to the Giant Monster Fandom. Old school giant monster moves took the number three spot on that list and I decided to keep the train going. The second weakest area of GMF (giant monster fandom) is with Ultraman.

A special division of the government, the Science Special Search Patrol (Mostly referred in the series as the Science Patrol) is tasked to investigate weird disturbances around the world. As they go to investigate a crashed meteor, one of there members, Shin Hayata collides with a secondary meteor and almost dies but it turns out that the meteor was in fact a being an energy being who wishes to help to defend the earth. Giving him the Beta Capsule, Shin is able to transform into Ultraman and defend the earth from evil monsters.

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I’ll be blunt. I found this series to be bit dull. This series did have some pretty good moments. The episode with the monster graveyard where the team shows respect for the fallen monsters they have fought and vanquished was actually moving. Unfortunately, this episode it comes after over thirty episodes of the usual formula of investigating a strange phenomenon, it turns out to be a monster, the Science Team tries to stop it but don’t succeed and Shin turns into Ultraman to defeat the monster. Yes there is the classic timer on Ultraman that reminds him he only has three minutes which should add tension to the story but personally I found that little “dinging” over and over again to be incredibly annoying and it comes at some point every episode.

I’m sure others will point out that I’m a big fan of Godzilla and Sentai why do I have such a problem with Ultraman. Most Sentai and Godzilla do have character development to the characters in the series and movies. Ultraman has the old school sitcom feel to it. There isn’t much change or growth in the characters as the series progresses. Things change but once in a great while and the biggest change I can remember is that the kid sidekick became a full fledged member of the Science Patrol.

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This is the only Ultraman series that I have watched all the way through. Its not to say that I will never watch an Ultraman series again or haven’t. I have tried to watch a few others but have yet to watch them to completion. The problem is that I haven’t found “My Ultraman” series. What do I mean about that? Allow me to explain. I’m a big fan of Kamen Rider and the first series I watched was Kamen Rider Blade and was and still is one of my favorite Kamen Rider Series. What I need to do is find an Ultraman series that I enjoy immensely and can look back at and remember “Keep going. The franchise can entertain you as much as I did. Don’t give up on us.” Once I find that series I’ll let you know and write up about it.

Well there you go the second of my weaknesses in the GMF. What’s my biggest weakness? Come back next week and find out.

Rating: B (the monster graveyard episode and Pigmon`s death episode)/ C+ (for the rest of the series)

Gamera: Revenge of Iris

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Rounding out a trilogy is a very hit or miss task. For every Return of the Jedi or Iron Man 3 there is X-Men: The Last Stand or Batman Forever to compare it to. After the first two movies were incredible there was a lot riding on the third film in the Gamera Heisei Trilogy to be just as impressive. So how does it stack up?

In a flashback, young Ayana watches helplessly as Gamersa destroys her family’s home with her parents inside during his battle with Gyaos in Tokyo. In the present a graveyard of Gamera’s bodies are found and while he attacks two Gyaos, Gamera ends up destroying Shibuya. Seeing this and still fueled by pain and loss Ayana discovers a baby monsters that she calls Iris. Soon little Iris grows big and is absorbing the blood out of helpless victims for nourishment. Meeting in Kyoto Gamera and Iris have an epic showdown but is the recently discovered grave site a bad omen for everyone’s favorite Guardian of the Universe? 968full-gamera-3--the-revenge-of-iris-screenshot

The world continues to spin in the Gamera trilogy and the effects of the previous two films catches up with our characters. Having absorbed Mana to defeat Legion has had devastating consequences causing Gyaos around the world to hatch. The world’s is now in chaos and Gamera is working his butt off trying to keep up. Helping him out we have the return of Dr. Nagamine (who is now a globe trotting Gyaos expert) and Asagi (Gamera’s former priestess and biggest fan). The two women work as a team helping to recruit allies and investigate the claims of a Gyaos mutation (Iris) in efforts to do all they can for Gamera. It’s this incredible attention to detail and world building that make me love the series so much.

A recent viewing of this film reminded me of the insane amount of detail they have done improving upon the characters from the first film. After watching this movie and rewatching a trailer for the first film, it was insane to see all the different changes that the characters went through. The damage the Gyaos go through (especially the one in Shibuya with its eye hanging out) and the more menacing and jagged look that Gamera sports in this film really help to accentuate the darkness and carnage that the film is trying to express. Still, despite his intense new look, Gamera is still trying to do all he can to stop the world from coming under Gyaos’ control. My only major problem is that I don’t get to see the epic fight scene between Gamera and the large flock of Gyaos descending on Japan. That would have been one of the coolest fight scenes ever. Still, I’ve grown comfortable with the way they cap off the story.

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If you can’t tell I love this film just as much as the other two and find the entire trilogy to be some of  the best giant monster action that came out of the 90s. The series gave a new sense of respect and power to a character that had been written off as a joke. Watching him especially defend the Universe from the likes of Gyaos, Legion, and Iris is a joy that I will gladly partake in at the drop of a hat. Again, if you haven’t taken the time to watch these films yet, stop depriving yourself. If you are reading this blog then I guarantee you that you will enjoy watching these three films. So ends my discussion of the Gamera Heisei trilogy. This won’t be the last of our green flying butt kicker though. I’ll eventually go back and review his past films and the one that followed this. Still, my fingers are crossed that the new film that will come out in the near future taps into the roots set forth by this trilogy.

RATING: A-

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+

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

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I almost feel bad at times when I tell others about the Gamera 90s trilogy. I mean I have proudly proclaimed in more than one occasion to be a huge Godzilla fan but I can’t help but say that these three movies are the best Kaiju films that came out of the 90s. I just can’t help but want to praise these three films for being a cut above the traditional Kaiju genre.  Especially when you take a moment to look back at the comically campy movies the giant turtle was in during the Showa period. Despite that I have a yearly tradition of watching the trilogy and seeing its flaws and problems repeatedly it still holds up as some of my favorite Kaiju movies. Sorry Godzilla.

The film opens with a Japanese Plutonium ship hitting a mysterious atoll while at almost the same time an entire village is destroyed with only cryptic message that “it’s a bird” over the radio. As investigation teams set out to discover the truth behind these events and only to realize that the atoll is the monster Gamera and the “bird” on the island is the deadly creature Gyaos. Believing the Gyaos to be a lost race that needs protection the humans try to capture them whole exterminating Gamera. Meanwhile young Asagi Kusinagi is given a relic that allows her to connect to Gamera’s heart and feel his pain. Together the two most overcome the government’s efforts to protect the wrong monster and stop the world from falling under Gyaos’ shadow.

The modernization to Gamera makes nods to his origins by presenting him as both a destructive force and a defender all in the same movie. By showcasing that he just happens to destroy everything that’s in his way on his path to kill the Gyaos even though he has the best intentions in mind. A recent fact that has been pointed out about this trilogy us that no one ever calls Gamera a turtle. In fact the director has apparently gone on record saying that the idea us that in the movie universe there are no turtles and that is why he is never referee to as such. Interesting little tidbit there.04gamera3
The star of the movie is young Ayako Fujitani in her first acting role shows a lot of devotion for the giant Kaiju. Her devotion puts her on the list of some of the best females in Kaiju series if not one of the best human characters in all of Giant Monster Movies. Also, another interesting fat, she is Steven Segals daughter.

The Gyaos new look for the trilogy is incredibly more menacing then most other evil Kaiju can be. Sure bad guys like King Ghidora or Megalon will fly around and destroy buildings with their blasts but they isn’t nearly as intimidating as a gluttonous monster who has pieces of its victims falling out of its mouth as it struggles to chew. This cupped with the fact the creature can asexually reproduce much like the 90s Godzilla makes them a force to truly be afraid of.

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Probably one of my favorite moments in this film is the atmospheric reentry struggle between Gamera and Gyaos. The measures that Gyaos takes to escape from his eminent demise is truly impressive. If you can’t tell by now I highly recommend this film and it’s two sequels which I’ll work on writing up the reviews on soon. Basically if you take anything away from this review know that this blog highly endorses that you see these movie s to call yourself a true Kaiju fan.

Rating: A

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+