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Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
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by Mel Valentin

"Not quite as much fun for kaiju fans as the title implies, but close."
3 stars

"Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" (GMAOA), the 25th film Godzilla film released by Toho Studios. GMAOA was released as part of Toho Studios Millennium Series (the Godzilla films are roughly broken down into three series, the Showa Series, roughly 1954 through 1975, the Versus Series from 1984 through 1995 and the Millennium Series, from 1999 through 2004, with each series having only the original 1954 film in common). After the disappointing box-office returns of the 1998 American remake (not to mention the opprobrium Godzilla fans showered on the redesign that had little in common with the original), Toho Studios decided, once again, to restart the franchise and return to old-school form: head-to-head giant monster battles ranging across miniature city sets. Obviously playing it safe, Toho Studios decided to feature some of the most popular and well-known monsters from the Godzilla universe.

In GMAOA, Godzilla has been dormant for fifty years, and the Japanese have lived peacefully during that time without suffering from attacks from other giant monsters. The "new" Big G is still on the portly side (although his snout has been redesigned for a more squared off appearance), but still full of malevolent, city-stomping rage. One character explains Godzilla's rage, not just as the incidental creation of atomic testing, but as the living personification of the millions of victims of the Second World War (the Pacific War to the Japanese). As you can imagine, once the Big G has been released from his dormant state, he's pissed and ready to wreck havoc, tearing through (miniature) cities until he reaches Tokyo (it's almost always Tokyo). Up against him this time are three Guardian Monsters, Baragon (who oddly isn't mentioned in the film's title; understandable, however, once you get a look at him, as he's singularly unimpressive), Mothra (first in larvae form, and later, the giant moth most viewers have come to know and love since its debut in 1961), and King Ghidorah, a winged, three-headed space dragon (this time a hero monster instead of a movie villain, as in previous incarnations).

The at times flaccid storyline follows an intrepid young reporter, out to make a name for herself by covering Godzilla's devastating rampage, and her father, a high-ranking military officer in the Self-Defense Forces. Of course, the reporter and her father clash: he wants her safe, away from danger, and she wants to get her story and, in the process, acquire fame and, presumably, financial remuneration. A moving storyline with a dramatic payoff? Not quite. In general, secondary characters are introduced only to be dispatched in the same or next scene. It's all filler, though, until we get to the first giant monster battle promised by the movie's title, a good forty-five minutes into GMAOA's running time, Godzilla versus Baragon, inaccurately described via subtitle as the "Red Godzilla" (trust this reviewer, Godzilla and Baragon look nothing alike). Alas, Baragon proves to be one of Godzilla's least inspired opponents. He's quickly dispatched to make way for the better known monsters. Next up, the obligatory Godzilla versus the military, as ineffectual jet fighters learn the hard way not to fly too closely to Godzilla's sweeping radioactive breath (why the military didn't learn this potentially life-saving fact back in 1954 was obviously beyond the screenwriters' imaginations). Not to be outdone, the once larval Mothra emerges from its cocoon as a giant moth (a familiar scene to even casual Godzilla fans), ready and willing to do battle with the Big G and save the human race one more time. As expected, King Ghidorah does battle against Godzilla as well. From there, GMAOA is an extended battle scene on land and water between Godzilla and his two opponents.

What's left to describe? Suitmation (a.k.a. man in a rubber suit)? Check. Toho Studios has attempted to remove all elements of camp or humor from the fight scenes (no kung fu kicks or wrestling moves are in evidence). CGI? Passable in some scenes (especially in the nighttime scene when Godzilla and Mothra first square off), and awful in others (some scenes have that stitched together, low-budget look), although we do get a digital Godzilla swimming underwater, which can't be all bad. There's even a jaw-dropping homage (or, if you prefer, blatant rip-off) to the central idea behind Fantastic Voyage. Oddly, Godzilla and the Guardian Monsters repeatedly, indiscriminately trample wayward teenagers throughout the film. Japanese teenagers are uniformly presented as rebellious and anti-authoritarian (one group is seen breaking into a grocery store moments before one of Guardian Monsters emerges from a lake, another motorcycle-riding group meets their untimely fate in a collapsing highway tunnel).

Overall, "Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" is good, if not great, fun for kaiju fans, but itís partially undermined by the cruel treatment meted out to the unsuspecting teenage characters and the semi-successful attempt to make Godzilla less campy and more frightening in line with the 1954 original, but audiences were far less sophisticated back then, willing to suspend their disbelief for a man-in-a-suit rampaging through miniature city sets (that was then, this is now, and special effects have come a long, long way, even if Toho Studios and the legions of kaiju fans like to think otherwise).

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9023&reviewer=402
originally posted: 01/15/06 03:32:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Horror Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Horror Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/06/10 Sugarfoot Exciting and action packed entry that is an actual good movie. 4 stars
11/24/08 Craig D. Overrated. Boring, talky drama about a reporter, featuring Godzilla in a supporting role. 3 stars
7/29/07 SMG Valentin's reviews reeks of uncharitable superficiality 5 stars
6/06/07 Max The best Godzilla film yet made 5 stars
5/08/07 David Pollastrini Just OK 3 stars
6/07/05 Mark Radburn A memorable Monster-Movie Flick 5 stars
8/05/04 Pat The best G movie since the original! 5 stars
6/16/04 franknutz great no crap dubbing either 5 stars
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  DVD: 19-Oct-2004



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