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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack Review

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus had one of the worst box office showings in the franchise. To keep things fresh and to bring back all those un-loyal fans, they decided to go ahead and step out of the norm for this film. First off, this is the only really fantasy based movie in the series, no science fiction here. Now how exactly were they going to make this a standout film? Why, hire the guy who directed the Heisei Gamera trilogy of course, Shisuke Kaneko. Now there was something to look forward to here. Originally the film was going to have Anguirus and Varan instead of Mothra and Ghidorah. TOHO decided that to bring back the people, they would use two of their most popular characters instead of The Unbelievable and Godzilla's sidekick. GMK on its first viewing is one of the greatest things you'll ever witness. Repeated viewings loses a little of its greatness, but it's still a step above the average Godzilla film.

The official description from Sony TriStar:
Fifty years ago, the Japanese Defense Forces killed Godzilla or so they thought. When a series ofterrifying natural disasters begin to plague Japan, including the inexplicable offshore sinking of a U.S. submarine, a mystic old man warns his nation that Godzilla has come back to destroy Japan asrevenge for all the souls lost in the Pacific War. When mere military might can not squash the monster, the mystic man awakens the Holy Beasts of Yamato - King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon, sleeping giants that protected Japan in ancient times. These untamed mammoth beasts take on Godzilla with frightening supernatural brute power that has been 2,000 years in the making. Tradition and technology collide in this chilling high-tech, cutting-edge fable.

This is one of the G films where you can actually picture sitting down in a theater and watching. It has that cinematic feel that 2000 established. The film succeeds in making Godzilla out to be an actual giant monster. Camera angles help that, great perspective. You can see Kaneko's elements from his Gamera movies here. There's a great fantasy backdrop here. Earth guardians, 1,000 year old dragon, stuff you'd probably find in some random anime. Whereas Megaguirus was a more fun science film with giant insects, this one is dark and serious. While not as depressing as the original Gojira, it's one of the darker ones. The cast here is pretty good for the most part, but wasn't as great as I remembered.

Yuri is our main character this around. You'll notice that a lot of the same actors keep appearing in these films. She was.....okay. Then there's her level-headed friend Takeda. He's basically there to give us the scoop on the Guardian Monsters. There's also Yuri's father, the best character in the whole thing. He felt genuine. Then there's the mysterious old man. His role is basically to warn the characters that "Godzilla is coming!!!!!" With that said, with his limited appearances, he was definitely one of the better characters. There are a bunch of side characters (Actor Yukijiro Hotaru from the Gamera trilogy appears with a very similar role, another sighting of Kaneko's take here) but the majority of them are about average. The cast overall isn't that great, but still pretty good. The monsters on the other hand are pretty spectacular on the other hand. (Well maybe not so much Ghidorah.)

Godzilla is really GODzilla here. They really wanted to show the audience how powerful he was, he's portrayed as practically invincible. First off, the suit. You'll notice how different it is. Obviously the standout feature is the eyes, it's all white, no pupils. It's awesome and makes G look just plain emotionless. Here we have him actually attacking humans, you can see the darker approach to his character already. It's good to see such a drastic version of G, it's interesting to see him on the complete evil side. That itself isn't the most shocking part, the big thing here is that Ghidorah is a guardian monster. What that means is that he's the good guy and we're rooting for him. This is one of the most controversial things in all of Godzilla. Ghidorah's a wimp in this film, there's no getting around that. He only becomes half of what he should be when Mothra merges with him. Before that, he's pretty much thrown around like a rag doll. While he looks like an ancient dragon, it's hard to see him getting beaten up so easily. You don't go from being the 'King of Terror' to this weakling. Mothra gets a different look here, a lot more insect-like. It's a unique take and fits the film, but I wouldn't want to see it in a future film personally. And now we have Baragon. He gets a major redesign, he looks fantastic. His portrayal is great, and he's just a fun little monster to root for. He looks realistic, one of the highlights of the film. You really do feel for him as he's getting pummeled by Godzilla.

The soundtrack is a highlight here. We get some very powerful themes here. It may be different than the iconic Ifukube themes, but different is (usually) good. There's the amazing intro theme, King Ghidorah's theme, it's all good stuff. One must admire at how great they made the destruction sequences here, the special effects are some of the best in any G film. The scene where Ghidorah transforms into King Ghidorah is awe-inspiring. Godzilla's dramatic first appearance was great, and the carnage he leaves in his wake is felt. The battles are pretty cinematic, G's battle with Baragon is a nice throwback to the earlier fights in the series. It was also cool to see the jab they did at the 98 film in the beginning, only Godzilla fans would get it. It was also a very nice touch to have the classic Godzilla theme playing over the credits. Such a great ending, and the final fight is pretty climatic.

Overall, GMK is a very solid film. It has that cinematic feel and scope last seen in 2000. Godzilla's dramatic portrayal was great to see. We also get Baragon, a monster that hasn't been seen since DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, which was over thirty years ago. Mothra gets a unique design and Ghidorah.....shouldn't have been here. Rodan should have been here instead. Now that I think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Anyways, what's done is done. The special effects are some of the best in any G film, the CGI and the monsters look great. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is one of the most high quality of the G films. After repeated viewing, you do however realize that the cast is just above sub-par. Still, this film is a highly recommened entry.


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