Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Admittedly I am a bit behind the game. I absolutely loved Japanese Kaiju monster movies as a kid, a love I carried well into my adulthood, but until I saw a copy of the 1992 film Godzilla Vs. Mothra sitting on a shelf at an FYE back in the late 1990’s I had thought that they had stopped making monster movies in Japan. Of course the truth of the matter was that they hadn’t stopped making them, we just weren’t getting them over here which was just a damn travesty. So I had some monster movie collecting and catching up to do which culminated in my actually watching ‘Gamera: Guardian of the Universe’ at a local art theater and subsequently purchasing the entire Shuseke Kaneko Gamera trilogy box set the moment it became available. But despite the recognized excellence of the Gamera trilogy, particularly the third film ‘Gamera: Revenge of Iris’, the monster movie I kept hearing was THE monster movie to end all monster movies was this movie, the Kaneko helmed ‘Godzilla, Mothra, King Giddora: Giant Monsters all out Attack’. After finally getting the chance to watch this film I have to say it is a good one, but the be all to end all? Well, maybe not.

You have to love the way the movie starts as Defense Force Commander Tachibana (Ryudo Izaki) gathers his troops to inform them there could be another sighting of the Godzilla creature that they thought they had dispatched in 1954. What’s funny about this scene is that they’re referencing the 1998 American Godzilla movie for this alleged sighting and though the majority of the soldiers don’t question the fact that the American’s encountered a monster, they do doubt that this monster could seriously be Godzilla. Here, here.

Whether or not Godzilla has returned is somewhat uncertain but monster-wise something is definitely going on. There was the funny looking monster that caved in that tunnel killing a bunch of rogue bikers, there was the big larva monster that came out the sea toppling over some silly boaters and encasing some stupid kids on shore in cocoons and there’s also that three headed monster encased in ice being watched over by some weird old guy.

Chronicling most of this activity is Commander Tachibana’s daughter Yuri, a reporter for a sleazy sensationalistic underground television station who is overjoyed to finally get a chance to cover a real news story. Her story has just gotten that much better because the star of these festivities has touched ground in Godzilla, and ‘Zilla is none too happy. There are a lot reasons for Godzilla’s reemergence and overall sour disposition that may have something to do with the Great Pacific War and the current complacency of the Japanese people and whatnot, but we won’t get into all of that right now. The bad news is that Godzilla is on his way to Tokyo, to the absolute surprise of no one. The good news is that legend has said that three monsters are here to defend the homeland from the scourge of Godzilla, these monsters being the underground burrowing Baragon, the always heroic giant bug Mothra and the now majestic King Giddorah. Problem is that Godzilla was apparently working out diligently on his Bowflex during his time off because right about now it is virtually unstoppable. It’s going to take the might of all three of these monsters and the strength of the completely worthless Japanese Defense Force put Godzilla down this time, and things aren’t looking too good.

Shusuke Kaneko certainly doesn’t romanticize these monsters, that’s for sure. He also loves to go ground floor level with his graphic visualizing of monster destruction and its human toll. We are used to Godzilla destroying everything in its path in its efforts to get from point A to point Tokyo, but he’s always seemed fairly indifferent towards the humans that get in his way. Not this Godzilla, baby. This Godzilla HATES people. This Godzilla stops what he’s doing, observes fleeing humans and incinerates them. This Godzilla goes out of his way to crush buildings filled with humans. Kaneko and his crew have slightly reworked the Godzilla suit to make him look meaner and far less sympathetic and campy, an effect which is enhanced by the fact that the monster has no cornea or pupils, not to mention that rather vicious set on incisors he sporting this time around. Godzilla the monster is better in this movie than he’s ever been and everything surrounding him is great. Unfortunately the rest of the monsters… not so much.

Recognizing that the only the movie that exists in this particular monster universe in the first Godzilla movie back in 1954 it shouldn’t really matter that Mothra and Giddorah got short shifted in this flick but I did kind of expected more from them. The behind-the-scenes story goes that Kaneko’s original script had no intention of including Mothra and Giddorah until Toho stepped in a demanded it be so, thus these other legendary monsters were added at midnight and probably weren’t given the screen time that they deserved. Especially Mothra. Come on man, Mothra is a star in its own right but in this movie it probably didn’t even get its own trailer.

The story itself is a strange combination of spirituality and politicizing with a historical aspect to it which at times was a little out there, but I can see where the filmmakers were trying to make this more than just a run of the mill monster movie and this did give some justification to why Godzilla made it point to destroy as opposed to his usual fits of random destruction.

‘GMK’ was a very entertaining monster movie with a great look and some fantastic monster battles to it but I would still tip my hat to the third Gamera film as a better monster movie with its tighter focus on a main monster and more concise narrative. Still a very good movie and one that should be owned by monster movie fans worldwide.

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