Today’s movie tells of a monster which doesn’t get a lot of respect in the kaiju community. Sure those who know his name know how important he is and how good these movies are. For those who don’t pull up a seat as I tell you the tale of the mountain god known as Daimajin.
The peace of a town is thrown into turmoil when Samanosuke the chamberlain to the Feudal Lord decides to overthrow his master and take control. The Lord’s two children Prince Tadafumi and Princess Kozasa manage to escape with the help of a samurai named Kogenta. He takes the children to a cave near where the mountain god statute, Daimajin sits. Ten years pass as the children grow up in isolation from the rest of the world and Samonosuke has enslaved the people for his own ambition. When her brother and Kogenta are taken hostage, Kozasa is left with no option but to pray to the ancient statue and hope for a miracle. Luckily, her wish is answered as the statue comes to life and sets forth on a path of divine justice.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the film is it being a period piece. It takes place in ancient Japan where the country is still ruled by Feudal Lords who have samurai to enforce the laws. This also means the ways to stop Daimajin when he comes to bring his wrath are limited to what the people had in such a time. Ropes, hammers, and a few rifles are all they have at their disposal to fight against the magically possessed statue. It’s very interesting to see especially compared to other films where after a giant monster appears the audience finds themselves waiting for the army to show up to try and fight against the creature.
The scenes with Daimajin are the most striking and memorable parts of the movie. Moments like when the villains try to break his stone sleeping form to when he awakens to punish the wicked are very impressive bits of special effects which really help to make the movie distinct. Also, Daimajin has powers which he uses to extinguish flames and even travel great distances by turning into a comet. These more practical effects still retain their impressiveness even today.
The one glaring problem with this film is its ending. It wraps up far too quickly. A little bit more of an ending showing how the people are able to recover after their time being under the harsh treatment of the bad guys would have been nice to see. Also, Daimajin waits a very long time before finally awakening to offer aid, a trend he will carry throughout the entire trilogy. The people need saving buddy, wake up a bit sooner.
The Daimajin trilogy is a very good series which all fans of giant monsters need to check out. I’ll work on getting through the rest of the films later in the year. For now, just wait and if things get bad, ask some large stone samurai statues for help.
I’m not dead! I’m just behind on a lot of things. I’ll work on getting the posts I was planning on doing the last 2 weeks sometime this week so I’m back on track for next Monday. Until then here is a link for another podcast at Monster Kid Radio. Check it out as we review War of the Gargantuas. It was a pretty good discussion.
I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on a podcast I enjoy. Derek Kock hosts Monster Kid Radio which talks about the classic and sometimes not so classic movies of yesteryear and he let me come and and talk some giant monster. The movie we discussed? Frankenstein Conquers the WorldA Head over there and give it a listen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy us gushing about our love for giant monster movies.
Correction: While re-listening to this podcast I realized that in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla they make reference to maser cannons being first introduced fighting against the two creatures from War of the Gargantuas. Since War of the Gargantuas is a semi-sequel to Frankestein Conquers the World, this Frankenstein is thereby part of the Godzilla canon.
Monster Kid Radio
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!