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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Son of Godzilla Review

It's very interesting took at the evolution of these films. Like, if you watch the original 54 film, this light-hearted film would appear to be the complete opposite of that. Gojira was a moody, depressing film. Son of Godzilla is a light-hearted adventure about the King of the Monsters teaching his son Minya the ropes of being a Godzilla. It's interesting how a series evolves over time. Son of Godzilla is a 1967 film famous for one thing: the first appearance of the infamous Minya, who would go one to appear in three more films. Son of Godzilla is a different kind of Godzilla film, even for the Showa era. It has a lot of heart, and deepens Godzilla's character.

Official description from Sony TriStar:

On an uninhabited island, United Nations scientists experiment with changing the climate, cooling desert temperatures to provide more fertile land for growing crops. Unfortunately, the experiment takes an accidental tragic turn when a radioactive burst emits a thunderstorm of fire. Huge native praying mantises suddenly grow to 160 feet, tearing the island apartuntil they uncover a monstrous-sized egg. The egg hatches and the shocked scientists are confronted by a baby Godzilla. The infant's screams bring his father to the rescue and now the original Godzilla and his son want revenge. What will it take to stop them?

This film is a lot less cheesy than it sounds. Sure, it has some silly moments, (Minya tripping over a rock, him tripping on Godzilla's tail, him tripping....) but has a pretty interesting story. As you read in the description, it's about a bunch of people conducting an experiment that will 'change mankind.' Sogell Island is inhabited by a bunch of giant praying mantises known as Kamacuras. (Dubbed Gimantis in the American version.) Also inhabiting is the giant spider known as Kumonga. (Dubbed Spiega in the American version.) So as you can see, we have giant insects this time around. (Give me them over a lobster anyday.) First of all, the setting is drastically different than most G films, it takes place completely on Sogell Island. So no buildings getting blown up this time. We also get something you never thought you'd see in a giant monster film.....Godzilla being a father and 'training' his son. More on that soon, but let's talk about the cast.

The main character would be a news journalist in the form of Goro Maki. A bit too over-the-top at beginning. (I'm not going anywhere! *Then sits down with his arms crossed.*) As the film goes on, he proves to be an interesting focus, which is good, cause he's surrouded by a bunch of dull and uninteresting characters. Dr. Kusumi proves to be a ggod leader, but the rest of his men are just one-shots. Only one of them gets some development, he goes insane, which would have been interesting if handled better. The focus is also on an inslander girl in the form Riko Matsumiya. Definitely one of the better characters in the story, she felt the most 'real.' The humans in this film are just really mixed. They aren't as sleep-inducxing as some of the Heisei films, but pale, and I mean pale to a lot of the Showa flicks. (Monster Zero puts this film to shame in that aspect.)

One of the infamous things about this film is the Godzilla suit. It's pretty ugly, right? It could possibly be the worst Godzilla suit ever. That aside, we get to see G acting as a parent, which is worth the watch in itself. Seriously, the Godzilla movies are the only things you'll find monsters with such deep character. You'll be having good laughs watching G train Minya. (He threatens to slap him if he doesn't attempt to shoot a blast of atomic radiation.) But don't think G's gone soft, he still fights with everything. (Love the scene where he keeps slamming Kamacurus to the ground.) Minya is one ugly looking thing, I personally don't see much of a resemblance between him and G, looks more like a frog. It's cute....but man, it's also one ugly-looking suit. Let's talk Kamacurus. Now this may be hard to believe, but films were actually done back then without CGI at all. (Imagine that!) So it's just props/practical effects here for the inscent. And my goodness, it looks fantastic. The prop looks extremely realistic, not bad for a film from over 40 years ago. Then there's the final boss, giant spider Kumonga. Once again, the prop is excellent, one of the best props I've ever seen. There's a very nice build-up to the final battle with it. Think it's just an over-sized spider? Think again, this thing is a sadistic beast, as seen when he shows Minya his stinger before he goes to completely poison him. Godzilla and Minya both look pretty ugly, but both Kamacurus and Kumonga are fantastic.

The soundtrack is different and more light in tone. It fits the mood, but isn't too spectacular. The opening theme with Godzilla, and the battle with Kumonga had some nice tunes, but the soundtrack isn't THAT great. I think the film would have been better if there were more scenes with the monsters. Now I would usually say that, but the film does feel like it drags on sometimes. When you don't have a city as a backdrop, you need really engaging characters, but this film doesn't have too much if that. The monster scenes, however, are really entertaining and just plain fun. They're colorful and just a blast to watch. Godzilla's entrance to save Minya was great, who doesn't love seeing G beating the heck out of these insects? I think the final battle could have been longer, but it was still well-done. Very different than a lot of the final battles in these films. The part where Godzilla and Kumonga wrestle to the ground was a pretty awesome sight to behold. Also one must mention the ending, it's one of the most emotional ending I've ever seen, not just in Godzilla films, ALL films.

Overall, Son of Godzilla is an underrated film in many ways. It had a 'different' story, plus very colorful monsters. The human characters needed a bit working however. It was also great to see Godzilla get character development of being a father to Minya, some really great (and humorous) moments here. The fights are fun, and the effects are great. (Well, Godzilla and Minya aren't exactly the best though.) Son of Godzilla is a fun little gem, it will always be known as the first film to feature Minya, but it's a lot more than that.


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