Thursday, May 16, 2013

Movie Review: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All-Out Attack (2001)

Japanese movie poster
One of the interesting things about the last round of Godzilla films, known as the Millennium series, was that none of them had to have much continuity with the previous films, other than the original Gojira (1954). There was also none of the sixties and seventies' Godzilla,  who was a friend to children and protector of the planet. With Godzilla Mothra King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All-Out Attack, the Big G goes further back than the original; he's not just a force of nature in this one - he's a mean bastard out to destroy everything in sight.

While Godzilla was ostensibly destroyed in the original movie (with a little retroactive continuity for this one), the monster in this movie is given a much more mystical origin and is basically Zombie-Godzilla for all intents and purposes. The lack of pupils and irises makes him even more evil-looking in my opinion.

Godzilla now exemplifies all the lives lost to Japanese forces during the Pacific War. He's come back to take revenge on the islands of Japan for those deaths, since the Japanese people (or at least the Government) is more than willing to consign those acts to a forgotten corner of their history. To protect the land (the actual land of Japane, not the people), the Guardian Monsters rise up: Barugon (from Frankenstein Conquers the World), Mothra (from almost as many movies as Godzilla), and King Ghidorah (ditto). It is interesting to see Ghidorah as a hero, as usually the space monster is one of the ultimate bastards. Barugon is still a popular kaiju in Japan, which explains his inclusion, rather than the more popular Rodan or fan favorite Anguirus (Angillas).

The human side to the story features the commander of the Japanese Self-Defense Force dealing with his often-drunk daughter, a reporter for a cheap digital TV station producing sensationalist dramas. She's the only one who has contact with an old man who knows everything about the Guardian Monsters, and the coming battle.

There's a lot of great action and destruction in this one, as Godzilla, left loose for the first time in his cinematic career, gets a free hand to destroy Tokyo. Nothing accidental about this rampage ... he's there to kick ass and take names! He decimates the Japanese land forces in less than a minute, and nearly destroys everything on the water as well. The battles with the Guardian Monsters show there's no quarter given to the populace of Japan. Hundreds, probably thousands of people are shown being crushed under the debris of the monsters' swath of havoc. The only way this could be worse for Japan is if Godzilla was hungry and started eating people.

Godzilla facing King Ghidorah and Mothra
(Barugon already met his end about
twenty minutes earlier).
Barugon gets a bit short-changed in the end, but does have a pretty long battle with the Big G in the movie. Mothra's role is apparently just to die and supercharge King Ghidorah a couple of times. Ghidorah is at his most impressive (short of his brief Mecha-King Ghidorah phase, which was simply too cool for words), but it is Godzilla's show all along. And one of the few instances in the long series that the efforts of the human forces actually play a major role in the villain monster's defeat, much like the original 1954 movie.

This is definitely a must-watch for the kaiju fan, and it is a very accessible film for the average movie-goer.

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