Today's film is (deep breath) Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (aka GMK; 2001).
My son, James, is first:
Well, this one is great! Godzilla is bad, and Mothra, Baragon, and King Ghidora are good. That's different and that cool! But the only bad thing are Godzilla had to kill Ghidora three times!!
So, rating wise, i'll say 4.2 out 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!I'll go next:
Let's be frank. The Millennium Series hasn't been so hot thus far. 2000 was decent. Megaguirus was ... (shrug). Compared to those two, GMK is may as well be The Empire Strikes Back. On first glance.
For the third (or just second?) time in this era, we get a wholly different setup for the monster that ties back to the first film and no others (well, there's a quick reference to 1998's Godzilla). This time, however, Godzilla isn't simply a monster created by the hubristic science-mad actions of humanity. It is, in fact, a monster. An evil, pupiless, sinister beast that seeks to punish and destroy. Godzilla is the collective of victims' souls who suffered at the hands of Imperial Japan in World War II. And Godzilla does indeed mete out punishment.
I'll say it right now: I love this concept of Godzilla as a nigh invulnerable force of evil. Of course, I prefer the version seen in the original films and the Heisei era, but this twist is one I greatly enjoy. It's different and sometimes different is good.
We can't have an evil Godzilla stomping Japan without someone to fight, so who do we get? Baragon.
The fight goes on for a while but the cute burrower just isn't a match.
Again, it's hard fought, but Mothra falls.
Finally, Godzilla faces the force of goodness embodied by Ghidorah.
Yes, that's a stumbling block for me, too. Sometimes I'm not able to get past it but when I do, I'm able to enjoy the movie more. But it's difficult, I'll admit.
I completely understand the reason why Toho went with Ghidorah, but I really would rather have seen the original line up of good monsters: Baragon, Varan and Anguirus. Varan in particular hasn't had much to do since his solo effort. But Mothra and KG put butts in seats, so there you go. (The strategy worked. GMK is the most successful film of this era.)
What could have been ...
Despite the inherent evil associated with this version of Godzilla and the national guilt dripping from the interpretation, in the end, the weight of these elements feels rather light.
First and foremost, there is a large amount of humor injected into the story. Mostly in the form of one liners and situational business (like the guy trying to take a leak when Godzilla attacks or the couple at the Baragon fight: "Take my picture and then we'll run") ... there's so much it undercuts the mood. It's throughout most of the film. They really should have scaled it back.
The more I typed the more I realized how much that's the case. The power and weight of the movie got sucked away at almost every turn because of the humor. That's a shame.
Also, there's a problem with the suit. Not the head. The head is aces. When we get street-level angles looking up at Godzilla, it's particularly noticeable. He ... jiggles quite a bit. Now pudgy Godzilla suits are nothing new, but with the darker tone, it would have been better if he didn't wobble so much as he walked. (And it seems to me the actor was moving his arms around a bit too much, as well. That might be my imagination.)
Special effects wise, just about everything was great. The digital compositing is much improved over the previous films. CG Mothra isn't as bad as one might think. I absolutely adore the power of Godzilla's breath in that first blast from the film. Oh, and I'm not a fan of Ghidorah's short necks. Sure, when he's a simple guardian, but once he gets the power-up from Mothra, maybe he should look more like the Ghidorah we all know and love.
Other tidbits: I liked seeing the inspector from the Gamera trilogy again ... The reporter's (Yuri) chase of Godzilla is well done, but the end with her and the whole bridge sequence just felt contrived to add more action to an already action-packed finale.
Remember earlier when I said that GMK feels like Empire ... at first glance? If 2000 and Megaguirus are Episode I & II in this equation, in the end, GMK is really just Episode III. (But that's fine. I like Episode III.)
GMK ... definitely better. 3.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.Here are a couple of commercials:
Up next, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
(GIFs from tokumonster, destructionmode, killertapir)