Godzilla has had a long and convoluted history. First appearing in 1954, Toho's Godzilla went on to be the star of fifteen movies through 1975. Then he took some time off, and another Godzilla movie wasn't made until Godzilla 1985. This movie restarted the mythos by ignoring everything that happened after the first movie. This was probably a good idea since the stories had gotten a little silly in parts. This second series went on to have seven movies up to and including 1995's Godzilla versus Destroyah. After this, the rubber suit was hung up again for a while. Hollywood made their Godzilla movie in 1998, which most 'zilla fans refer to as GINO (Godzilla In Name Only.) This movie may have prompted Toho to reexamine their franchise, because a little over a year later Toho released Godzilla 2000. This movie once again restarted the story from the beginning, ignoring all the movies in the first and second continuities. It was successful enough for them to release Godzilla vs. Megaguirus in 2001.
Which brings us up to 2002 and the latest Godzilla movie, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack. Once again, Toho has decided to restart the story line. It has been almost 50 years since Japan was attacked by Godzilla. (Though they refer to the American Godzilla movie, oddly enough.) People have almost forgotten about him, and grown complacent. But when a nuclear submarine is found destroyed at the bottom of the sea, and a giant fin is seen swimming away, you know Godzilla is back. Before the giant reptile makes it to Japan, some strange things happen. An earthquake occurs that has a moving epicenter, some teenagers are found wrapped in cocoons and a man stumbles onto a cave that has a frozen monster in it. At the same time as these events, a young female reporter from a local low budget television station has a hunch that something big is going to happen and goes out to investigate. She is right of course. These occurrences are due to the three legendary monsters, Baragon, Mothra and King Ghidorah, who have returned to protect Japan. When Godzilla reaches island nation, these three monsters attack him one at a time, while the plucky young reporter follows them, recording the havoc. But can even these three creatures stop the unstoppable Godzilla?
This is a great giant monster movie. One of the best. The problem with most Godzilla movies is getting a good mix of plot and fighting. This movie seems to get it right with appearances by the monsters early on, and a few fights sprinkled throughout, with a grand finale at the end. The plot with the girl reporter flows smoothly and adds to the movie. It's more than just padding. The script is often humorous too. At one point an army officer wonders why, out of the whole world, does Godzilla always attacks Japan.
Giant Monsters All-out Attack is materially different from the movies that came before it. In the others, Godzilla was treated as an semi-intelligent animal or as a force of nature like a hurricane; something to survive, not to be defeated. In this movie he is neither of those. As odd as it sounds, he is the spirits of all the people killed in the Pacific during WWII. The innocent people who died want revenge, and the vessel for that revenge is Godzilla.
The special effects are okay. Toho wisely decided not to animate Godzilla. After all, that's a lot of the charm of these movies is seeing two guys in rubber suits fight over a miniature city. There is some CGI, and it does not mesh with the film too well. It's not the worst I've ever seen, but not the best either.
As we all know, the main yard stick for evaluating any Godzilla movie, is the quality of the fights. There are some great ones in this movie. With three of Toho's most popular creatures fighting Godzilla, the action is fast and frantic. Now, I've never been a big Mothra fan, I mean, he's a moth. Is that supposed to be terrifying? Anyway, his part of the battles were the weakest, in my opinion. The fights with Baragon and Ghidorah were excellent though. This movie is great fun.
A word to parents: In this movie Godzilla is evil. He doesn't
kill people accidentally, he does it on purpose. In one scene there
are people running away down a street, and Godzilla stops just so he can
breath fire on them. (This happens off screen, but there is no doubt
that it does happen.) He looks much meaner than previous incarnations
too. My two pre-teen boys, who have seen all the Godzilla movies
with me, were not scared or disturbed by this, but they didn't like it
at all. It was their main complaint with the movie, that Godzilla
Get ready for this: There is a Japanese 5.1 audio track! To my knowledge, this and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus which is released on the same day, are the only region one Godzilla movies that have an original language track. There is also an English 5.1 dub, and the dubbing was excellent. They went to a lot of trouble to match up the lip movement, and hired competent voice actors. Besides the language, the two tracks sounded similar. They were both clean and clear. The sub got a real work out with the fight scenes, my windows were rattling. It was a great mix with the sound from the battles coming at you from all sides. It sounded like you were in the middle of it.
There are also English and French subtitles.
The picture quality was excellent. The anamorphically enhanced
widescreen (2.35:1) picture was very crisp and clearand the colors were
very bright. There were several fireballs filling the screen and
you could easily make out the details and subtle shades of color in the
fire. The only complaint I have is that some details were lost on
black objects, such as the black uniforms some of the military officers
wear. If they were not standing right in the light, the curves and texture
of the fabric was lost. Other than this, a very good looking disc.
The only extras on this disc are trailers for five movies: Alien Hunter, Godzilla (USA,) The Medallion, Returner, and So Close. I would have liked a trailer for the movie itself, even if it was in Japanese, but since this was not released theatrically in the US, I can understand why they didn't put one on.
This latest Godzilla movie is a lot of fun. Fans of giant Japanese monster movies and shows, such as Ultraman, and Giant Robot, should make a point of picking this up. A lot of excitement, and a great set of monsters make this a disc that even the casual Godzilla fan will enjoy. The Japanese language track along with the excellent sound and audio quality make this an easy DVD to rate Highly Recommended.