Following the child-focused "All Monsters Attack" (1969), Godzilla returns as an ally of man in the battle against pollution, as personified (kaijufied?) by Hedorah (the Smog Monster)*. There are a number of stylistic changes from previous movies in the franchise, including James Bond-like opening credits, surreal psychedelic interludes (the fish-headed people at the 'go-go' club are memorable) and a number of odd animated inserts reminiscent of early 70's public service cartoons. The musical score, much of which sounds like background music for slapstick comedy or uplifting marches similar to the grating (but catchy) Gamera theme, is horrible. The franchise is still targeting younger audiences, so the central human character is a little kid (Ken Yano, played by Hiroyuki Kawase) who, among other things, comes up with the name for the new monster (Hedorah) as well as a method to destroy it. He also seems to have a psychic bond with Godzilla, and the last scenes of the film are straight out of "Shane" (1953, except that Shane is now a giant mutated dinosaur). Despite being a child-oriented film, "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" is much grimmer than any of the previous sequels, with human body counts after the monsters clash, on-camera 'deaths' of individuals (such as the gamblers or the driver of the truck crushed by Hedorah), and most jarringly, the 'melting' of people exposed to Hedorah's noxious exhalent (Ken encounters the gruesome partially-dissolved bodies of a number of these victims). Hedorah itself is so improbable looking that it might as well be accepted as a metaphor rather than a monster, but the titular fights are pretty good. The anthropomorphisation of Godzilla, who now constantly uses human-like gestures (almost rolling his eyes at mankind's ineffectual attempts to stop Hedorah), continues (although one delirious surprise in the film is the revelation that Godzilla can fly (!), a ridiculous-looking skill that would have come in handy in previous outings). All in all, "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" (the eleventh film in the franchise) while not a great kaiju film, is eccentric, imaginative and entertaining: a deviation from the downward slide that leads to the next two entries in the series (the woeful "G. vs Gigan" and "G. vs Megalon"). (*these comments pertain to an English subtitled version of the film).