As is my custom on early Sunday evenings I watch a Toho film of some kind. Tonight's viewing was Godzilla, Mothra And King Ghidorah: All Out Monsters Attack(2001), released to theaters in Japan back in December, 2001 and directed by Shusuke Kaneko.
Before getting into the things I like, and dislike, about this film, I thought I might touch on some things I noticed in this movie, and in other Toho kaiju(and sci-fi) films:
-the apartments and other style abodes(houses)for the human characters in these Toho kaiju films always look small, including the various rooms and even the TVs.
-fish and noodles appear to be mainstays of lunch and dinner fare in Japan for a lot of folks, since they appear often in these movies, being munched on by various human characters all the time
-I have noticed that formality and politeness seem to be a point of emphasis in these film
Things I like about "GMK":
1. (the late) Eisei Amamoto in this film. It was good to see this gentleman in action again, and not playing the bad guy.
2. Chiharu Niiyama(Niyama-?), the most gorgeous Japanese woman I've seen not named Yumiko Shaku
3. the effects used to render Mothra in flight. The creature's movements are fluid and look very realistic to me.
4. the role of Godzilla as an unrelenting villain
5. the absolutely devastating effects of Godzilla's oral beam. Godzilla's primary weapon in this film has dire, and I mean dire consequences for whatever, or whoever it comes in contact with
6. the subtle tributes to older Toho classics, like the opening credits that show the monster's various skins(just like "Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster" in 1964) and the name of the mini-sub, the "Satsuma", no doubt a nod to former Godzilla suit actor Kenpachiro "Ken" Satsuma . Koichi Kawakita and Susumu Kurobe in the scene where the military brass meet to discuss the monsters is also a nice touch
7. the explosions and general pyrotechnic effects look marvelous overall. Some CGI shots(long distance shots) don't always look perfect but they don't detract from my enjoyment in watching this movie.
8. the dark humor in the film, never more evident than in the Bonin Islands sequence, where the fellow attempting to urinate in peace is interrupted by the arrival of Godzilla's foot crashing down on him. Also, the young woman in the hospital with the broken leg...her broken leg soon the least of her worries
9. the fighting spirit of Baragon. Despite this monster being dwarfed by Godzilla, and possessing no special weapon of its own, Baragon took Godzilla on and gave Godzilla a fight, availing itself well, even in defeat and obliteration
10. the transformation scene, in mid air, of a young King Ghidorah into a mature KG. The effects were spectacular. I can imagine they would look especially fantastic on Blu-Ray.
11. the sacrifice of Mothra, taking a hit for King Ghidorah(absorbing Godzilla's oral blast). Mothra gets slammed by a lot of people but this monster always finds a way to make a difference in a kaiju battle
12. comic relief provided by the lone police officer at the jail who decided to discharge his revolver at Baragon, the monster having just blasted up out of the ground and standing menacingly over a partially demolished jail: apparently this policeman felt the revolver would do some good in this situation. Others in this scene, running for their lives, obviously disagreed
Things I didn't like about GMK:
1. the side maquette or "profile" of Godzilla's physique: the monster appeared to have a protruding abdomen
2. Baragon's size in relation to Godzilla: I can roll with Baragon being smaller than Godzilla but in this movie Baragon looked to be less than half the size of Godzilla, too great a disparity in my opinion.
3. Baragon's roar: I liked it okay and the secondary, dog like grunts and snorts of the monster add some realism. Still, the "Showa" era part of me would have preferred hearing Baragon's trademark roar...or at the very least a close rendition of it.
4. the part of the storyline in which Yuri Tachibana buys a bicycle and proceeds to keep up with Godzilla's rampage with the bike. Unless she's a championship caliber cyclist like Lance Armstrong I have a hard time believing this part of the film's plot.
Overall: a marvelous Godzilla film. My favorite Millennium Godzilla movie and also in my top ten personal favorite Godzilla movies.
I hope Shusuke Kaneko is in the director's chair when filming for the next Godzilla film begins.
Here's a short English subtitled trailer for the film: