Alternate Title: Ok, I guess Godzilla’s a dad now?
I don’t care about this movie. You can’t make me care about this movie. I can barely bring myself to write this post.
That’s how you know this post is going to be a good one, right?
So this movie is another Jun Fukuda joint, the same director behind the previous film that wasn’t quite up to what we’ve come to expect from Godzilla and didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense but was still kind of ok. As I believe I previously mentioned Fukuda wasn’t a big fan of his own Godzilla output in retrospect, although I would say he’s probably being a bit too harsh on himself, overall. He did make a few that are really good for those like me who love the extra dumb ridiculous stuff.
That probably doesn’t sound like it’s a compliment, but I’m intending it as such.
Where was I? Oh yeah, I was crapping all over this movie. So whereas Ishiro Honda would direct Godzilla films to be about big dumb monster action but also had this hidden theme of social commentary layered underneath it, and underneath that would have a sense of vague sense of “you know, this is all good fun but this would also be crazy horrible to live through”. Three layers there. It’s like a cake where the top layer is crazy fun but the middle layer has encyclopedia pages in it that make you think of how horrible society as a whole is, and the bottom layer has a picture of your abs crying in it so you regret the whole thing. That analogy got away from me a bit, I think. But yeah, Honda’s movies were more dumb fun that made you think a bit about it. Jun Fukuda cut out the thinking part. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it didn’t. It didn’t here.
Son of Godzilla is notable for introducing Minilla, the hideously ugly Godzilla baby whose existence proves there is no such thing as a kind and loving god in the Godzilla universe. Even as far as child-relating young versions of Godzilla, Minilla somehow manages to be even less cool than Godzooky, and at the modern day, we’ve gotten exposed to Godzilla Jr. who is both way cuter than Minilla could ever be and could mop the floor with him without even getting short of breath.
Look at him. Doesn’t that make your soul shrivel up a little?
Anyways, lets get on with the recap.
So some ship at sea is going somewhere, and a radioactive burst disrupts their equipment and then Godzilla shows up but goes away again so whatever. A bunch of science guys are doing something on some uninhabited island that’s going to be the focal point of our story here, because all those shots of Godzilla wrecking cities are completely blase these days or something. Again, radioactive burst disrupt their equipment, and they’re like “Eeeeeeehhhhh probably nothing.” Then a plane comes by and some jerk parachutes out of it. They’re like “what’s a jerk doing here?” Then they find the jerk and he’s like “Hi I’m a journalist I’ve got no idea what you’re doing but how about I write all about all this stuff you’re obviously trying to keep secret and also I take all your food because I didn’t bring any of my own?” The science guys don’t take the sensible action kick his pasty butt to the other side of the island, and instead are like “Ok.” This is probably as good a time as any to say that I don’t remember any of the human characters names except for the jerk journalist, and I’m not going to make any up this time, because see my note above as to my capacity for caring here. Journalist is named Goro, which I remember because of the video game associations even though he’s not anywhere near as cool as the Mortal Kombat Goro or the Yakuza series Goro. Also, somehow this chunkthumper is one of the rare human characters to have shown up in multiple Godzilla films, so we’ll be seeing him a few times in the future. More than that, every time he recurs is in a different continuity. So this guy transcends canon. He gets like superpowers at the end of the film.
In any case, it turns out the science folk work for the United Nations and are researching how to control the weather. They say its to help with food production as overpopulation starts to occur, but come on. Tell me you’ve ever seen an application of broad scale, long-term weather control that’s not part of some supervillain scheme. Also there are giant praying mantises on the island. They’re call Kamacuras. I don’t remember why. On the day they’re going to attempt to run the experiment, Goro decides it’s a good idea to hunt down and try to beat up Kazuma Kiryu. I mean explore the island. So he wanders around a bit until he finds some girl swimming in the water, and like the creepo he is, tries to take a picture. She notices and runs away. So he goes back to the scientists and is all like “You can’t do the experiment, there’s someone out there!” and they’re like “Nope, don’t care” then he’s like “but she’s hot!” But he didn’t get a picture, so they don’t believe him. So they run the experiment, first cooling the temperatures on the island down, then starting the process to heat it up again. But then that radioactive burst from earlier comes through and it disrupts their equipment so they can’t control it correctly and they kick off a massive heat wave on the island. Supervillains in the making, I swear to God. This has the side effect of making the giant praying mantises even gianter.
Goro and some other guy are exploring the way too hot island for some reason, and they find a bunch of Kamacuras beating up some giant egg. As the egg smashes open, Minilla emerges. In a shocking twist, it turns out the Kamacuras were the heroes all along, as they then try to kill Minilla. However, Godzilla shows up at that exact moment, and takes all the Kamacuras down. As an aside, although I enjoy the brief bit of giant monster action in this film, I’ve always hated fighting giant bugs. Games will have them in constantly, and it’s almost always a low point. They’re gross, and with few exceptions, they’re always lame. I hate doing it. Anyways, I could give you the play-by-play here, but it’s Godzilla vs a bunch of bugs. How did you think that was going to end up?
One of the scientists figures out that the radioactive bursts was Minilla psychicly contacting Godzilla. Who’s a dad now, I guess? There is no indication in this film who Godzilla got it on with to make it happen. In most films, Godzilla’s gender is just an assumption, they refer to him in gender-neutral terms in Japanese, so it’s possible it’s his (her?) egg, but still, there’s a runaway Momzilla or Dadzilla somewhere that owes Big G some child support.
After this, there’s a bunch of scenes where Godzilla tries in vain to teach Minilla not to suck. Minilla can’t breathe fire properly unless Godzilla beats him, Minilla will interrupt any time Godzilla takes a much deserved nap, and Minilla cannot even walk properly at some points without Godzilla dragging him along. Parenting is horrible, and this section drives it in. At one point, that girl Goro thought was hot shows up and tempts Minilla away with some candy, because Minilla has no sense of stranger danger. But then Godzilla shows up so nothing actually happens.
A bunch of dumb stuff happens. The girl steals one of Goro’s shirts based on something that I think is a joke you’d have to know fashion from the late 60’s to get. Goro chases her
to hit her with his teleporting stomp and all the rage of the Shokan because he wants his ugly shirt back, and ends up alone with her in her cave for about as much suggestability you can get in the 60s without making parents mad at you. Lets skip forward a bit. The scientist and the girl all get together and are friends now, girl is the daughter of a scientist that studied the island for apparently no reason and died there and she’s been living there all alone ever since. Also there’s a giant spider named Kumonga on the island because of course there is.
Scientists start getting sick and it almost turns into a Battle Royale situation, except with old nerds instead of Japanese high schoolers or Player Unknown. The girl knows of some red water that can cure the disease and surely isn’t going going to give them like Bear AIDS or something. But Kumonga is sleeping on the way there. So Goro and girl go to go get it, and surprisingly don’t accidentally wake up Kumonga. I was shocked at that development. That runs against every single other time that plot is set up. So the scientists are all cured, but then the Kamacuras attack and Minilla shows up and wakes up Kumonga anyways and THANKS A LOT FOR SCREWING EVERYTHING UP MINILLA. So, this giant gross spider has them trapped in the girl’s cave but then everything starts happening all at once. The scientists get connected with their home base who drop them some stuff to get out of there, they use their supervillain device to set off an ice age on the island, Godzilla shows up and scares all the Kamacuras away, then it’s Godzilla vs. A Giant Spider. Spiders count as bugs, I don’t care what anyone says, and I hate the giant ones just as much. Kumonga gets bodied, Minilla falls down into the snow and can’t get up, so Godzilla and Minilla just freeze. But the scientists say they’ll be fine. That’s the end.
Watching this film right after Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is a bit of an odd experience. Lots of deja vu coming off of Jun Fukuda’s previous effort. We’ve got a jungle island that’s home to giant sized versions of normal creatures through which a group of random schmucks clumsily stomp around until they find an outsider primitive babe and accidentally woke up a sleeping kaiju. If you take away the terrorists and add Minilla, there’s so much that’s similar. It probably wouldn’t seem like that much an issue if there was some more space between the two films, but coming run right after another, the novelty of Island Godzilla has worn off and it just seems blase now. Makes me wonder if the cast and crew just really needed a good long vacation, so they got Toho to finance a trip to some island resorts for them.
In many ways, I feel Son of Godzilla has the opposite problem as Ebirah’s opening act. Ebirah was rapid fire shoving things in front of you then getting them out of the way until it got to the plot it was actually wanting to tell, whereas Son of Godzilla plods along a bit more. Which is probably a step in the right direction, in all. Godzilla films tend to work best when they’re a bit more deliberately paced, creating a slow build of tension that then gets capitalized on with lots of destruction and kaiju fights. So, good on this film for that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have a lot of the other elements that make that deliberate pace work. Until the final act when Kumonga is directly after them, it’s pretty clear that the scientists could just call for help if they needed to, so if things get too hot for them, they can just leave, so any tension coming from danger to them is going to be from rather short term dangers, rather than the longer term build up of things happening beyond their scope. There’s not really much in the way of conflict between the humans, either, so it doesn’t feel like their actions are really resolving anything until the end. The only other real source of tension is the danger Minilla finds himself in, but he can always psychically call Godzilla who can beat up everyone else, so he gets quick releases there, and well, obviously I don’t emphasize with Minilla enough to really get the sense of danger crossing the screen. Godzilla shows up early, and the Kamacuras don’t stand a chance up to him. Until Kumonga wakes up, there’s nothing that’s really threatening to any of the characters we’re supposed to empathize with. Kumonga does pose a unique threat, in that she’ll go after the humans directly whereas most kaiju will only harm them as collateral damage, and there are some neat conflicts there where science team needs to figure out how to get their equipment to work from inside a cave, but even that is only in the last bit of the film. And once Kumonga and Godzilla meet, the fight isn’t exactly the most thrilling. The action choreography is kind of middling as far as Godzilla films go, it’s not bad, but with the monsters we’re working with here, they don’t quite have the best material to be working with. Some of the fightstuffs is a bit bizzare. Godzilla, for the most part, wasn’t played by his longtime actor Haruo Nakajima, the producers opting to have someone taller don the suit to better have him tower over Minilla. For the most part, the new actor does pretty well, but there’s a sense of aggression that’s missing in the fight scenes. Godzilla’s not quite carrying the same presence in a fight that he usually does.
Also, being a uninhabitated island, there’s not really a whole lot of destruction to be done here. I’m not going to say that you can’t do Godzilla movies without having him blow up a lot of buildings. That’d be needlessly restrictive, in kind of a dumb way. But I am saying I miss watching Godzilla blow up a lot of buildings. At least the previous film still had him juggernauting through a terrorist base.
Special effects in this film are generally pretty poor. Some of the weather changing effects were pretty cool, considering the time it was made, and Kumonga actually looks pretty cool, for a stupid ugly giant spider. The Kamacuras, however, look pretty bland, Minilla is an abomination unto God as previously discussed, all the scenes with the humans and the giant Kumonga leg looked comically goofy, and what the hell is up with the new Godzilla suit?
Does… does he have googly eyes now? And a derpface? This suit was made for this movie. They don’t even have the excuse of using a suit that got beat up in a previous film. And that Dadbod. You’ve got lay off those hotdogs, big guy. I don’t know what was going on with the budget of this film, but I would guess it’s not that great. A lot of the science building shots they use are obviously actual buildings from a not-Japanese country. Things look so bad here, it makes the rest of it seem sloppy.
And that’s about what I’ve got to say about this film. This is my least favorite Godzilla out of all that I’ve reviewed so far. Will it maintain it’s record in the coming films? Stay tuned to find out. Also, we’re more than halfway through the Showa era of Godzilla movies, now, so every film from here, we’ll be one step closer to reaching a continuity in which Minilla never existed. We’ve got that to look forward to.
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Bob Chipman gave this film a good review. And *I’m* the one in prison!
Er, anyway, yeah, I have heard many things about this film – none of them are good. Even a friend of mine at work, a diehard Godzilla fan, didn’t even come close to defending it – quite the opposite, in fact. Just looking at the Minilla’s model, I have to wonder exactly what the staff was thinking – the design is most definitely not cute. I used to think the idea that there are some Japanese entries worse than the 1998 Roland Emmerich one was ludicrous, but this film along with All Monsters Attack seem to suggest that is indeed true. It’s the worst film to bear the monster’s name I personally have seen, and that may not be such a bad thing after all.
And I too heard that Godzilla Jr. was basically everything Minilla tried and failed to be. Why isn’t he in this film? Yeah, he wasn’t created yet, but still.
I’m not one to begrudge anyone for enjoying something I don’t, but it is strange to me how this film gets better reviews, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, than a lot of the other Godzilla films I like a lot better. And yeah, the 1998 Godzilla movie is really really bad. But I would watch it over this one any day.
At least Minilla sets the expectations low, so that Godzilla Jr. can come back and blow them away later. That’s a point in his favor, I guess.
Yeah, you’re right; that was overboard. I wasn’t being serious, but I really should’ve known better. Sorry.
Rotten Tomatoes seems to aggregate more reviews for recently released films from people who are still active. It’s a little wonky when it comes to films that predate the site; in this case, I think the fact that few reviews are written about it cause the numbers to get skewed unnaturally. Had all currently site-approved critics seen it, the number would probably be much lower.
Nothing to be sorry about! I thought you were just making a joke there, my “begrudging” comment was more related to the overall rotten tomatoes consensus. Sorry, I could have phrased that better, that wasn’t directed at you at all. Besides, I don’t mind throwing people’s on intolerances of diverse opinions back in their face, and MovieBob is absolutely guilty of that. Your reference was absolutely tame
And yeah, you’re right about Rotten Tomatoes. It has a far smaller pool of reference for older films, which is going to lead to significant skew. I don’t really take film critics all that seriously in the first place, and a small group in amalgam should he no different.