Sunday, November 6, 2011
Godzilla Raids Again Review
Godzilla's Counterattack, once known to American audiences as Gigantis, the Fire Monster, is-wait a second, let's stop there for a moment. If you've been a fan of the franchise for as long as I've been, you would know the infamous story about that title. For the uninformed, I'll put it simply. The original Godzilla, (Gojira) was a smash hit in Japan. So, what's the first they thing any movie company decides to do? Get a sequel released quick of course. In this case, it was ultra-quick, it was released in six months after Gojira came out! The sad part is, neither famed director Ishiro Honda nor legendary music composer Akira Ifukube returned for the film. It was a rushed cash-in to the first, received poorly by both fans and critics alike. So bad was the reception, Godzilla wouldn't get another film until 1962, when he battled King Kong. However, when compared to the English version's reception, the Japanese version's was box office hit.
For some odd reason, Hollywood decided that they wanted this film to be completely separate from the first, a standalone you could say. Wow, they didn't just dub it, they changed almost everything. Godzilla's roar was changed to sound like Anguirus, (why?!) and there's narration, overly annoying narration. With that said, this review will be on this infamous version, so let's get started.
Two pilots are out searching for some tuna when one of the planes malfunctions and the pilot is forced to land near Iwato Island. The other pilot finds this guy, then they hear a roar. Above where they are, a familiar face appears, which is instantly recognized as the infamous Godzilla.(Yes, I will refer to him as Godzilla throughout the review, since I cannot stand the name Gigantis.) But that's not all, a spiky four legged monster called Angurius is also there battling it out with the monster. The battle takes to the ocean, where both monsters fall deep into it. They aren't done yet, when the two pilots make it back to Japan, they realize the beasts are coming to the city to finish their epic confrontation.
Whereas the first film had a very dark atmosphere, this film is definitely more light. The whole blame can be put on the overbearing narration. Wow, it was just too much. The guy describes practically everything. "As she looked outside her window, she realized the city was in shambles." Not exactly word for word, but close enough. This isn't a novel, the images could speak for themselves. The actual guy narrating, Tsukioka, has no emotion whatsoever. In fact, everyone in the film was lacking emotion, they were just dull. The sad part is that this film places the main focus on the human characters, and they are just too dull to watch. The monsters go too long without appearing, and there's too much emphasis on the human side-plots, such as the poorly developed romance between Kobayashi and Hidemi. (Now you see why no one really likes this entry, hence why they never went this route again.)
Now I could get into the part I like typing about: the monsters. This is the second ever appearance of Godzilla, think about that for a second. This film is famous for two things. One, it features the first ever giant monster battle, and two, the first appearance of everyone's favorite aramdillo: Anguirus. Godzilla is lacking his character from the first, the problem was his very little screen time. For a film made in 1955, the monster suits hold up well. A fun thing I noticed is how strong Anguirus was portrayed, when compared to his later appearances. I mean, he shrugged off Godzilla's atomic ray like a boss. (And the atomic ray was referred to as fire. Fail.) The fight between the two is the main redeeming factor. What's interesting is that the footage is sped up, thus making the fight supremely fast. It's truly different than the slow-moving fights we get later on. The fight is cool, vicious, but the screen gets oddly dark when the major fight in the city happens. I found myself squinting trying to figure out what was happening sometimes.
It's hard to live up to the Akira Ifukube's great themes, and this film fails in the music category. Where's Godzilla's theme? There were no standout themes, this might be the worst of the Godzilla movies' soundtrack. Example of one of, if not the worst dub. The film is not very long, only an hour and eighteen minutes. It felt like two hours.
Overall, Godzilla Raids Again is definitely one of the lower Godzilla movies. Probably the worst dub ever, shallow characters, too little monster appearances, and generic soundtrack. Still, this film did revolutionize the franchise, featuring the first ever kaiju fight, and first appearance of Anguirus. Really, only if you're a big Godzilla fan, can you enjoy this film.