Strange incidents occur when an American submarine has been destroyed by a mysterious force at sea off the shores of Guam. Only Admiral Tachibana was certain that behind the disaster was none other than the destructive King of the Monsters, Godzilla! 50 years after his attack on Tokyo in 1954, Godzilla has mysteriously returned to life to destroy Japan, and General Tachibana, whose parents died in the monster's destructive wake, was prepared for his return to protect Japan from yet another tragic disaster, but is dismissed by the overly confident Japanese government, who underestimate Godzilla's power. But to further prove Tachibana's claim, his daughter Yuri, who works for the TV news program "Digital Q," investigates strange phenomena in three separate areas in Japan (two of which involve the deaths of immoral youths), and meets a mysterious old man named Isayama, who proclaims that aside from his infamous nuclear origins, Godzilla is an accumulation of vengeful souls (of both ...Written by
John Cassidy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mizuho Yoshida: The pink-shirted young man (wearing a black baseball cap) standing behind the twin teenage girls in Yokohama when Mothra flies over the area. Yoshida is also the stuntman playing Godzilla. See more »
When the fighter planes attack Godzilla, the pilot yells "missiles away" but free fall laser guided bombs are used. See more »
[recalling his encounter as a child with Godzilla in 1954]
The sky was blood red and filled with smoke. And through it a devil appeared, its face was twisted with rage and hatred. When it was over my parents were gone. I will never forget the wretched cries of the dead...
See more »
During the November premier, in addition to the unfinished special effects shots, the score was incomplete. It has been remixed since then. See more »
For a movie about spirituality, this is certainly a soulless picture.
Around 1998 or 1999 I remember thinking "What if Shusuke Kaneko directed a Godzilla movie? Surely that would be something to behold." There's the old axium, "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it." Lamentably in 2001, I got it-- but much more (or less) than I bargained for.
The cumbersomely titled "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" (the movie's clumsy title should have been some tip off) came out much to the hoopla of fans across the world, claiming this to be the best Godzilla movie since the original. That tells me nothing as I don't find "Godzilla '54" to be the benchmark to test entries against.
The script is a complete mess. Ideas are introduced and dropped with impunity. Godzilla is portrayed wrongheadedly and a wholly unreasonable reason for his return is handed to us (if I was a spirit, I would care less what the living were doing-- let Japan learn their own lessons... you're dead. Your life is over, you shouldn't be able to effect the living... Japan doesn't need to start going back to "the old ways" as much as they need a monstrous Max Von Sydow) and uninteresting characters meander throughout the story. We have the childish daughter of a general whose parents were killed by Godzilla in 1954, a TV producer who looks like a refugee from one of Kaneko's Gamera films, and so on and so on.
Anyway, the film plays out and we have characters who are introduced, and then take center stage for the film. This is a Godzilla movie. Godzilla is center stage. Ishiro Honda once said "Once the monsters appear, they become the focus of the picture". This is the manner that all the Godzilla films have been made in from 1954-2000 (when the monsters start fighting, we follow the monsters, which is what we're there to see). GMK broke that mold, with disasterous results. The final showdown is on, but wait-- we're forced to follow along with Yuri Tachibana as she realizes that her country needs to wake up and smell the roses and change. Who cares? Godzilla and King Ghidorah are fighting. That's what I'm here to see. I don't give a damn about the characters by this point in the film.
The characters are largely nonexistant and flatly played. Yuri Tachibana's character does a full character arc, but it's so uninteresting why does it really matter? The Military Head provides a few laughs ("What is this? Monsters on Parade?" No, it's "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack") and Eisei Amamoto is suitably sinister, but everyone else is either limp, nonexistant, or boring.
Shining above this dregery is Ryudo Uzaki as General Taizo Tachibana. Uza ki takes what is essentially a poorly written and flat character and breathes full life into him and I admire the actor for succeeding. He also brings some respectability to the proceedings when everything else is going to hell. He "keeps his head, while all about him is losing theirs". And that scene at the very end of the film of Tachibana walking triumphantly through the smoke is the coolest thing in the Godzilla series since Agent Namara kicked space monkey butt with impunity. Bottom line, I want to see Uzaki in another Godzilla movie.
The monsters don't fare any better.
Godzilla transforms from a "strange creature" (the literal meaning of "kaiju") to a monstrous boogeyman. Gone is the monster who destroyed cities that were in his way just for the reason they were in his way. Here, Godzilla ruthlessly murders people (something he'd never done before-- Godzilla caused destruction and killed people sure, but they were always in the way of his destruction, not singled out apart from it. Of course, there is the exception such as Katagiri in "Godzilla 2000 Millennium", but he was trying to kill G the whole film, so yeah, he should have died). He's transformed into a 60 meter tall Jason Voorhees. He lives to kill, and that is not what Godzilla is all about at all. Ishiro Honda would be yearning for the Gojira Shie if he ever saw this.
Kaneko wrongheadedly makes Godzilla the strongest monster in the film. He's also been quoted as saying "Would anybody really like my Godzilla?" I am a Godzilla fan, and I root for him always (the exception is "King Kong vs. Godzilla" where I just sit back and enjoy both monsters get their licks in since I love them both so much). I began rooting for Godzilla in this movie as well, but Godzilla just kept winning, and winning, and winning, and winning, and winning... ho-hum. There's no point in rooting for Godzilla if there's not the slightest possibility that he may lose.
The best way to describe Godzilla in this movie is as an evil Superhero Godzilla. Look at him-- Godzilla has the brains and all the cool wrestling moves that Superhero Godzilla had, but instead of fighting for good, he's there to raise hell. And as the film drags on and on, he becomes nothing more than a "Dragonball Z" villain. Evil Superhero Godzilla... how oxymoronic, which is very much like the film itself.
Godzilla has no personality in the movie, which is the movie monster's most endearing trait. Sure, the monster is expressive (his eyes blink, head shakes around, cheeks rise, smiles, etc.) but the monster might as well be Majin, the vengeful god (who is more loveable than Godzilla in this picture-- at least Majin always fought for right). Godzilla is not a hero, he's not a force of nature, he's not even a villain. He's simply an asshole, and Godzilla deserves better.
The least of Kentucky Fried Ghidorah's problems is that he's "a good guy". The creature doesn't look like it could go toe-to-toe with Guilala, let alone this Godzilla, what with his useless floppy wings and chicken feet and fakey looking heads (NEVER let the actor use his hands to operate Ghidorah's heads ever again. Ghidorah actors: just do what has worked in the past. Use your legs to walk around, and let the 22 wires do everything else). Ghidorah is talked about the entire movie, but when he shows up, it's anticlimactic in the least. The three headed dragon just pops out of nowhere (HOW?!) and tries to lay the smackdown on Godzilla (failing miserably, of course), then gets beat down for the remainder of the film (Godzilla kills Kentucky Fried Ghidorah four or five times-- I lost count. He comes back to life more times than Jason!). The monster even goes Super-Saiyan on Godzilla's ass with little to no results (Godzilla even starts absorbing Ghidorah's attack... ho-hum). The monster flies around, makes a lot of noise, then gets blown into fairy dust by Godzilla. Wow... there's our 1,000 Year Dragon for us. And plus, Akira Oashi's Ghidorah is the most lifeless ever. Even Hurricane Ryu's Futurian pretender was more impressive.
Mothra just plain gets it jammed up her and broken off. She's in the movie one scene as a larva, then she's a peanut shaped cocoon, then she hatches as a moth, then she flies off and gets tromped on by Godzilla, worse than ever before. Sure, she may look more realistic and be able to fire stingers/fecal pellets, but of course, they're all for naught. She's there to be had by Godzilla... plain and simple.
Baragon offers the film's highpoint of the film: "The Great Fuji Battle: Godzilla vs. Baragon". But the monster is too small to be impressive at all. It's not even Rocky vs. Ivan Drago... it's more like Rocky Jr. vs. Ivan Drago. You'd think for thousand year old spirits, they'd have picked up a thing or two about fighting. Once Baragon is dealt with, the movie goes downhill fast and the film is poorer for his absence.
Bottom line: the monsters are nothing at all more than punching bags for Mizuho Yoshida.
As for the effects. Mostly they are fairly good. Godzilla's ray finally gets the badassness it deserves (though I miss the old sound effect). Basically, anything computer generated was good, as were the miniatures.
The monsters, on the otherhand, are unconscionably bad. Sure, they may be able to do things other suits didn't, but that still doesn't change the fact they look like crap-- every one of them (except Mothra when she's CGI). Godzilla looks like something found in Tsuburaya's dumpster. He's never looked phonier! (in comparison to the times the films were made) The monster's head bobs about on a neck that's way too long with a head that's way too big, and teeth that are way too large, and what's with Godzilla's arms drooping to his side occassionally instead of being held out front where they belong? In fact, I know the reason Godzilla's so pissed off... he's looking for the man that stole his pupils! The monster moves about ungracefully and stumblingly, looking exactly like what he is: a big chunk of rubber (Why is it that Toho has yet to make Godzilla look as good as he did in the Heisei films?).
The less said about Kentucky Fried Ghidorah, the better. The torn-up Ghidrah suit used in "Zone Fighter" looked better (not to mention, more menacing).
Mothra, of course, looks great when she's CGI. She's not so impressive just as a prop. I liked the "chicken leg" look of the 1992 movie better. Mothra has a certain "look". She looks like Mothra. Mothra is a gigantic moth, but she doesn't look like a moth. Tsuburaya's design was done right the first time (this is the same with Godzilla-- he's a radioactive mutated dinosaur, yet he does not look like a dinosaur... Godzilla has his own look as well, which the GMK Godzilla is only barely reminesent of).
Baragon's costume fares the best, but he too looks like something found while rummaging around on Ultraman leftovers. The monster in his torn up and worn incarnation in "Destroy All Monsters" was more convincing to me. Gone is Baragon's roar, heat beam, and magnificent flowing tail. Heck, I don't think any of the monsters have looked worse anywhere than they have here (Baragon maybe have looked worse while doubling for monsters on Ulrta Q/ Ultraman... maybe).
The score is another problem with the film. I'm a big fan of Ko Otani's work on the three Gameras, but here, he breaks NO new ground whatsoever. His music sounds simply like recycled or reworked themes from "Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys" (which this film plays a lot like), and he constantly repeats the same themes over and over, when they aren't very engrossing to begin with. The only piece of music that really stands out is the piece when Tachibana, father and daughter, salute the souls of the dead (it still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it) and the opening titles (which I originally was unimpressed with-- it sounded like something found in a thriller, not a Godzilla movie--, but when used in conjucntion with the title screen-- see below-- it works very well).
GMK has Kaneko written all over it... Usually, that's not a bad thing, but here it for some reason is. Kaneko's direction seems masterful, as usual. The film flows along at a nice clip... too bad it concerns itself with dull characters, uninteresting and underdeveloped ideas, and poorly thoughtout Godzilla presentations. GMK never at all seems like a Godzilla movie proper, as much as it does a 90s Gamera film with Godzilla and company stuck in (This movie would have been MUCH better as "Titanosaurus, Manda, Kameba: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack"). Kaneko should have tried better to have changed his own style as he is making a differently styled movie. Godzilla movies are different than Gamera films, but Kaneko doesn't seem to be able to acknowledge this fact.
I hope both Kaneko and Otani fare much better in future. I still like their previous work, but am much more wary now because of GMK. GMK, in my eyes, is One Step Up and Two Steps Back for both of them.
The scene with the woman in the hospital bed: This was tacky, meanspirited, and just plain wrong to include. As much as I love him, Tachibana should have died-- it would have meant a lot more in the overall story. The woman in the bed should not have (maybe if she was introduced as a character earlier in the film-- say Yuri's friend, and we cared about her or something-- but as is, she's merely introduced and then executed. That's wrong on so many levels).
Regard GMK as the golden goose if you so wish. I, however, shall treat it as something I want to scrape off my shoe. It's barely better than my least liked Godzilla movie, "Godzilla Raids Again" and is about as bad as "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah", but at least "King Ghidorah" treats Godzilla with some semblance of respect and "Raids Again" is more in line with how the Godzilla movies are.
Kudos to GMK: Giant Monsters All Out Attack for having the greatest Godzilla title screen ever (barely beating out the insanely cool "Godzilla vs. Destroyer" title screen) and one of the series' coolest characters (if not for one shot in the whole movie), but nothing else.
I desperately WANTED to like GMK. Can't have everything I guess...
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