What do Mathew Broderick, Hank Azaria, Jean Reno, Roland Emmerich, Dean
Devlin and some blonde with no acting skills whatsoever have in common? In the
summer of 1998, this cadre of Hollywood types took Godzilla, arguably the
greatest movie monster of all time, tied him to a tree and bashed him with a
shovel. Watching that disaster of an American big budget summer movie very
seriously killed a little part of me; the part that sat in awe in a friend's
basement years previous and saw a Godzilla movie for the first time. Though I
was much younger then, I still couldn't believe that there were movies out there
that entered around giant dinosaurs fighting and breaking stuff. Why wasn't I
It's been a few years since Hollywood failed to capture Godzilla's magic, and
even longer since I'd sat down with the big angry lizard himself. Thanks to the
recent release of some of the more popular (and not-so-popular) Godzilla
classics, I had the chance to do just that. Toho and Classic Media Inc. have
taken six of the classic Godzilla films, remastered them and released a
fantastic set that will please both longtime fans and newcomers to the world
where Tokyo just doesn't stand a chance.
I was sent two of the films from this set, Godzilla Raids Again and Mothra
Vs. Godzilla, for review but I immediately ordered the entire set for myself.
Why? While five of the films, the previously mentioned two, along with the
original, Gojira, Invasion of the Astro Monster and Ghidorah: The Three Headed
Monster, are available by themselves, two other remastered films, All Monsters
Attack and Terror of Mechagodzilla, are only available as part of the set. Being
that Terror of Mechagodzilla is my favorite Godzilla film, I had to have the
set. And what a set it is.
For this article, though, I'll concentrate on the two films I was actually
meant to review, rather than the entire set of seven. Godzilla Raids Again is
the weaker of the two films. It, like the original, is entirely in black and
white and your personal enjoyment of the film will come from whether you choose
to watch the quality Japanese version or the ass-backward stupidity of the
American dubbed version. The Japanese version is pretty much a rehash of the
first Godzilla movie, with the allusions to the dangers of nuclear power and a
somewhat compelling story of a pilot and his girlfriend/air traffic controller
who get caught up in Godzilla's wake of destruction.
Since the redubbed American version of the film is so awful, I won't even do
it the service of mentioning it. The Japanese version of Godzilla Raids Again is
pretty much straight up 50's monster movie nonsense, but it did mark the first
appearance of Anguris, one of what would end up being dozens of monsters that
constantly get in Godzilla's way. He's no Rodan or Titanosaurus, but the spiny
hedgehog/turtle is still pretty cool and paves the way for some of Godzilla's
more memorable foes.
The real bright spot, and the third best film in the entire set (the first
and second being the original Gojira and Terror of Mechagodzilla) is Mothra vs.
Godzilla. Everyone and their sister knows that Mothra is a giant radioactive
moth with electric/toxic/bad breath (or something), but for every 100 people who
know his name, probably one knows where he came from or has seen him in action.
In this film, there are two tiny pixies, a businessman who has come across
Mothra's egg, Mothra himself and Godzilla, who is bent on having a Mothra Denver
omelet along with his usual breakfast of power lines, trains and other assorted
parts of Tokyo. Sure, its extremely bizarre and often hard to follow, but if you
sit back and watch it for what it is, you'll end up loving Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Each of the films in the set is great in its own way. Some have the Godzilla
who defends Tokyo, some have the evil Godzilla who just wants to break
everything and every one has plenty of awesome giant monster action. The two
mentioned in the review, Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again, are
pretty good on their own, but the set is probably what you'll be interested in
especially because of the two remastered films that are only available as part
of the whole. If you're a Godzilla fan, you'll most definitely want these movies
under your tree. If you aren't, try to forget the atrocity of the most recent
Godzilla video games and check out these movies to see the big green monster at
his very best.