Monday, December 24, 2012

GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK (2001)

FINALLY.  This is the GODZILLA experience that I'd been hoping to have, the one that wouldn't yield disappointment after endless anticipation, like your first sex or your first Terence Trent D'Arby CD.  Godzilla had quite the history at this point and it really showed in the unfocused, ineffective 'Zillas of the 90s.  Like a soap opera, so many different elements had been stuffed into the Godzillaverse that it was just a bloated mess—psychics and anti-Godzilla task forces blocked out all the scenery, breaking my mind.  So two great decisions were made.  One, Godzilla continuity would be hacked to bits and basically returned to the universe of the first film.  Two, GAMERA director Shusuke Kaneko would be given the controls for this outing.  Let's get upset hospital person to explain Kaneko's vision of Godzilla:


Pretty much.  This Godzilla is not a dad, a friend to all mankind, or an emo lizard who wants to tell psychics about his feelings.  He's back to being the engine of destruction from the original film, albeit with an even more ghastly look:


White Deadite eyes over a mouthful of deadly fangs and cool new blue fire-breath.  This Godzilla would never pass a hospital without destroying it!  He's such a behemoth menace that THREE giant monsters, including the legendary Mothra and King Ghidorah, must team up to try to stave off civilization's collapse.  The creatures all look great-ish, not totally indistinguishable from real life, but certainly worlds better than the bad old angry-puppet days.  Plus this GODZILLA actually gives up human characters to care about!


Cute drunk girl reporter Yuki is our protagonista here (third great decision!), but we also have interesting minor characters like her skeezy lank-haired supervisor, assorted military folk, and an old man who passes along monster legends from the hills.  Acting is solid, effects are good, and the narrative really benefits from having Kaneko's hand at the helm.  There are no dead spaces here, the battle scenes are as long as they need to be, and plots are juggled with deftness and mastery.  Plus the movie gets in shots at previous entries, which is always a plus:


It also dishes a sick burn to the disastrous American remake, which must have really incensed Japan, as it's been dissed in at least two GODZILLA movies now (this and FINAL WARS).  


I love the angsty generic emo-rock that accompanies Zilla's appearance!  "Kashmir" was better when Puffy did it, too!  But, anyway, GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH does everything right.  It gives you your RDA of mayhem and devastation, but doesn't skimp on the elements that made good movies good.  It's the first GODZILLA in a long time that you could arguably call a great film.  Highly recommended.


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