Review All Monsters Attack film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-09-26 11:44:03
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All Monsters Attack is the most universally despised and lowest regarded film in the Godzilla franchise. This movie is looked down upon by fans for many reasons: the childish and relatively boring plot, the heavy reliance on stock footage, and of course the film's portrayal of Minilla. The movie has some bright spots too. The new monster footage is well done and very entertaining, the characters are interesting and entertaining if you are willing to actually pay attention to them, the music is excellent, and it is one of the few Godzilla films appropriate for very young children. The first time I saw All Monsters Attack, I was bitterly disappointed and thought the film was a cheap ripoff. Over time I have garnered a better understanding and appreciation for the movie, but I can't deny it is arguably the low point of the series.
*SPOILERS* Ichiro Miki is a young boy living in urban Tokyo. His parents work constantly, leaving him to often fend for himself. Ichiro is often tormented by a group of bullies, led by a particularly mean kid Ichiro refers to as "Gabara." One day after a run-in with the bullies, Ichiro returns home to discover that his mother will be working late, leaving him home alone. To escape reality, Ichiro imagines himself on Monster Island, the home of Godzilla, his son Minilla, and sevaral other monsters. After arriving on the island, Ichiro witnesses Godzilla doing battle with three Kamacuras. After Godzilla kills two of the mantises, the surviving one chases after Ichiro. While running, Ichiro trips and falls into a deep pit. Suddenly, Ichiro is rescued by a vine that is dropped into the hole. After being pulled to the surface, Ichiro comes face-to-face with Minilla, who is human-sized and capable of speech. Minilla confides in Ichiro that he is being tormented by a bully monster named Gabara. Minilla is afraid to fight him, but Godzilla tells Minilla he won't fight his battles for him. Meanwhile in reality, Ichiro wanders through his neighborhood and curiously enters an abandoned warehouse. Ichiro finds a wallet and leaves the warehouse, unaware that two bank robbers are hiding out in the building, one of whose wallet Ichiro just took. When Ichiro returns home, he re-enters his dream. There, he is chased by Gabara. Ichiro manages to escape the monster and encouners Minilla, who is watching Godzilla do battle with the giant lobster Ebirah offshore. Godzilla defeats Ebirah and walks back onto the island, only to be attacked by Kumonga, the giant spider. Godzilla manages to defeat Kumonga, but at the same time Ichiro and Minilla are attacked by Gabara. Minilla grows giant and tries to fight Gabara off, but is beaten humiliatingly and retreats. Meanwhile, Godzilla is attacked by a group of fighter jets, but manages to destroy them all. Godzilla then beckons to Minilla, who comes toward his father. Godzilla attempts to train Minilla to fire atomic breath, but Minilla is only able to produce pitiful smoke rings. Godzilla finally steps on Minilla's tail, causing him to fire a powerful blast of atomic breath. While Godzilla congratulates his son, Ichiro snaps back to reality as he is abducted by the two bank robbers who are searching for the wallet. Ichiro is taken to their hideout and tied up while the robbers decide what to do next. Ichiro retreats back to his dream, where Minilla is fighting Gabara. With Minilla on the brink of defeat, Ichiro knocks a massive boulder onto his tail, causing him for fire a blast of ataomic breath at Gabara's face. Minilla then shrinks and runs to Ichiro, where they devise another plan. As Gabara walks onto a giant teeter-totter-like plank, Minilla dives off a hill and onto the plank, growing in midair. His weight launches Gabara into the air. Enraged, Gabara attacks Minilla viciously. Minilla runs to Godzilla for help, but Godzilla pushes his son back towards his opponent. Minilla fights back fiercely, and manages to hurt his tormentor. As Minilla celebrates his apparent victory, Gabara attacks Godzilla from behind. Infuriated by the attack, Godzilla battles Gabara, eventually tossing the monster over his head by the arm. Gabara retreats in terror, no longer wanting to invoke the wrath of Godzilla or his son. As Ichiro celebrates, he awakens from his dream to find himself still captured by the robbers. Ichiro gets free from his bindings and, inspired by Minilla's bravery against Gabara, manages to fight back against the robbers, knocking one out cold by luring him into a trap, and getting the other arrested by luring him outside where the police are assembled. The next day while walking to school, Ichiro is confronted by the real-life Gabara and his gang again. Ichiro bravely fights back and manages to beat Gabara. He then pulls a daring prank on a nearby billboard painter, proving his newfound bravery. After seeing this, the bullies give up their harrassment of Ichiro and walk with him to school. *END SPOILERS*
All Monsters Attack has a unique plot. It is very narrow in scope and focuses on only a few characters, mainly Ichiro. The film's monster plot is simply a symbolic reflection of the human plot. Minilla represents Ichiro, Godzilla represents Ichiro's loving but often unavailable father, and the monster Gabara represents the real-life bully Gabara. For a movie often criticized as dumb and juvenile, All Monsters Attack does a remarkable job of developing its characters in such short screentime and presenting symbolic parallels to their lives.
The acting is decent in this movie. Tomonori Yazaki is good as the innocent, shy, Godzilla-obsessed Ichiro Miki. He's just a child, so he can't be expected to act like Akira Takarada, but he is nonetheless convincing in his role. Toho great Kenji Sahara plays Ichiro's father, who is likeable and convincing in a very small role. The best performance is by far Eisei Amamoto as the kindly inventor Shenpei Inami. Amamoto is mostly known for playing the villainous Dr. Hu in King Kong Escapes and the prophet Isayama in Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, as well as numerous bit roles in other Toho kaiju movies. Here, Amamoto as Shinpei is Ichiro's only real friend in the absence of his parents and comes across as a very caring and friendly character. Sachio Sakai and Kazuo Suzuki as the bumbling bank robbers are mostly just comic relief and do well enough with what they are given.
The most criticized aspect of the movie is no doubt the handling of the monsters. Most of the fight scenes are stock footage culled from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, with a few scenes from Destroy All Monsters thrown in. There is some new footage of the monsters, a lot of it consisting of Minilla's interaction with Ichiro. In the Japanese version, Minilla is given a female voice, while in the American version he is dubbed in a goofy male voice. Minilla can somehow talk and change size in this movie, which is sure to displease a lot of fans. The new monster, Gabara, looks like an ogre crossed with a hyena. He is probably the most disliked monster in the series, but his suit looks pretty good and his electrical-charge attack is well-animated. Godzilla is portrayed using the same suit from the previous film, which is still in very good condition. Godzilla appears in very little new footage, only a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from Son of Godzilla and a brief skirmish with Gabara. Every other scene he appears in is stock footage from previous films. Overall, the monster scenes rely too heavily on stock footage, but the new footage helps to make up for it.
The music is one very redeeming quality of this movie. Kunio Miyauchi, who would contribute to one track in Godzilla vs. Gigan as well as compose music for several other Tokusatsu series, scores this film. His music is very jazzy like Masaru Sato's music and features a lot of energy and excitement. The main theme appears in the opening as a ridiculous song titled "Monster March," but reccurs throughout the battle scenes in the movie as an instrumental piece. It is a very unique and enjoyable score that differs greatly from Ifukube's traditional music.
All Monsters Attack probably deserves a lot of the animosity it receives among fans. Following the epic all-out monster brawl in Destroy All Monsters, Ichiro Honda delivered a stock footage-heavy film aimed toward children. A lot of this can be attributed to Toho's low budget at the time, due to both the extravagant cost of the previous film and the steady decline of the Japanese film industry. All Monsters Attack is a cute film with some very redeeming qualities, but for those who do enjoy it it is often little more than a guilty pleasure. Is it the worst Godzilla movie? Possibly. In terms of quality it is probably on par with Godzilla vs. Megalon, though I enjoy it more than films like Godzilla Raids Again and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. I can say one thing though, after watching the 1980 abomination Gamera: Super Monster, All Monsters Attack looks like a masterpiece. All Monsters Attack is near the bottom of the pile as far as Godzilla movies go, but it is by no means a horrible movie. It deserves critiscism and dislike, but it is justified in having fans as well. I rarely watch All Monsters Attack, but every time I watch it I find it more enjoyable and less deeply flawed, while I seem to find more flaws each time I watch some of my favorite movies. It's a good movie to introduce very young franchise, but adults may be able to better appreciate the nuances and themes it contains.