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Friday, March 7, 2014


Slowly but surely, we're making our way through the big list of movies to watch before Godzilla (2014).

We're in the middle of the Daimajin trilogy ... movie two (1966) is called Return of Daimajin or Wrath of Daimajin, depending on where the movie was released.

We both loved the first film.  What about the second?

My ten-year-old son, James, goes first:
Well I liked the first better because 1) Daimajin's in a cave on an island instead of on a mountain, 2) the first appearance in the first movie was too awesome to beat at being cool, 3) this shouldn't be a series because how did the statue come back, you saw it get reduced to rubble, right?!!) 
so, i give this one 4.003 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
hash tags: #ABOA! & #TheFirstWasBetter !
My turn:
(I'll say this right off the bat: I love those back banners that they wear in Kurosawa samurai movies.  Seeing them here made me smile.) 
Unfortunately, the plot of this one is almost exactly the same of the first film. 
The first film had a coup with the good guy's kids escaping, only to come back later with the aid of the angry statue god, Maijin.  Just desserts were served. 
This time, it's a neighboring nation that seeks to overrun the good guys.  The same castle set from the first film is attacked by samurai this time, shown sometimes in the same camera angles ... having watched the first movie a few days before, it was very obvious. 
The Maijin statue is on an island this time and the bad guys, again, attempt to destroy it.  Using gunpowder, the statue is blown to bits and the people are disheartened and enslaved.  There's a lot prayer and then Maijin awakens to kick butt. 
It's exactly the same as the first movie.  Truly.  Don't get me wrong; it looks great.  The parting of the lake that the Maijin does to get to shore is very cool and the attack on the castle is nice ... except they reuse some shots from the first movie. 
In the logic of the trilogy, I'm a little confused.  The people seem to have been revering the Maijin for generations ... is this the same statue from the first movie?  Are there several different Maijin around Japan?  Just wonderin'. 
And Akira Ifukube is back with the music.  Sounds great, as usual.  The mournful "Daimaijin prayer theme" is here again ... but I could swear that the opening musical blasts of the film are straight out of a certain Toho franchise's theme. 
Another note: there seems to be a lot of religious imagery here.  The parting of the lake (Moses), loads of crosses, people strung up on crucifixes ... I don't know what the aim was, but there you go. 
Look.  This movie is done very well and it looks great.  It's just recycled on so many levels that it's distracting.  (I'd love to know the full story behind why they made and released all three films in such a short span of time.  That explains the reuse of sets and locations, for sure.) 
The Return of Daimajin ... good, but it feels like we just saw this.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, the finale of the Daimajin trilogy.

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