Review Godzilla vs. Gigan film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-10-03 17:49:53
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Godzilla vs. Gigan is a film about which I have conflicting feelings. On one hand, monsters are handled excellently, especially the new monster Gigan and the returning fan-favorites Anguirus and King Ghidorah. On the other hand, the plot is pretty hairbrained, the acting isn't exactly stellar, and there is way too much stock footage used. I love this movie, as do many other fans, but I cannot deny that it is incredibly flawed and very far from a masterpiece of the kaiju genre.
*SPOILERS* Struggling comic book artist Gengo Kotaka is approached by a man named Kubota, who represents a company called the World Children's Land Fund. Kubota explains to Gengo that his company wishes to construct a theme park to educate children about peace and how to achieve it. The centerpiece of the park is a giant tower in the shape of Godzilla. When Gengo asks about the park's inspiration from monsters, Kubota states that the monsters are enemies of peace and that his company hopes to one day wipe out the monsters on Monster Island. Kubota introduces Gengo to his boss, the Chairman, who is actually just a boy with an incredible knowledge of computers. Kubota tells Gengo that his company wishes to hire him to design monsters for the park, a job offer he gladly accepts. While walking to the company one day, Gengo bumps into a woman running away from security, who drops a tape which he picks up. When Gengo asks who the woman is, Kubota only says that she is an enemy of peace. Gengo later encounters the woman, Machiko Shima, and her friend Shosaku Takasugi. Machiko explains that her brother Takashi was a computer programmer working for the World Children's Land Fund who mysteriously disappeared there one day. Machiko says that in his journal, Takashi wrote that the company was not working for peace, but instead evil acts of destruction. The three do background research on Kubota and the Chairman, whose real name is Fumio Sudo. Fumio's family tell them that Fumio and his teacher Kubota died while hiking years before. Confused by this information, Gengo decides to investigate the Godzilla Tower himself. There, he is caught by Kubota, who seems to ignore his trespassing and offers him a pack of cigarettes. Gengo returns to Machiko's house, but is followed by Kubota and a group of armed men. Kubota mocks Gengo and reveals that the cigarettes contained tracking devices. Kubota orders the men to kill the three, but Gengo's girlfriend Tomoko thankfully arrives and fights them off using her martial arts skills. Gengo, Machiko, Tomoko, and Shosaku go to the police station to report the incident, but are interrupted by the news that Godzilla and Anguirus have escaped from Monster Island and are heading for Japan. Meanwhile, Kubota and the Chairman activate a signal and summon the monsters Gigan and King Ghidorah to Earth. Soon, Gengo and Tomoko break into Godzilla Tower to rescue Takashi while Machiko and Shosaku keep watch outside. Gengo and Tomoko manage to free Takashi, but are captured at gunpoint by armed men and taken to Kubota and the Chairman. They explain that they are actually giant cockroaches from the Space Hunter Nebula M that have come to conquer Earth for their kind after the home world was destroyed by pollution created by a humanoid race. To complete this conquest, the Nebulans have summoned King Ghidorah, the evil space hydra, and Gigan, a deadly cybernetic monster. Both monsters arrive in Tokyo, destroying the city and annihilating any resistance that comes their way. While the space monsters rampage, Godzilla and Anguirus arrive and challenge them to battle. The monsters slowly begin to bring the battle away from Tokyo and towards the World Children's Land. Gigan uses his deadly hook hands and abdominal buzzsaw to draw blood from Godzilla, while Ghidorah blasts Anguirus mercilessly with his gravity beams. While the battle rages, Gengo, Tomoko, and Takashi manage to escape the tower and report the situation to the Self-Defense Forces. Together, they form a daring plan and place dynamite in the elevator of the Godzilla Tower, then cover it with a piece of paper with a drawing of Gengo, Tomoko, Shosaku, Machiko, and Takashi. Meanwhile, the weakened Godzilla is blasted by a laser from the Godzilla Tower and falls to the ground helplessly. The Nebulans are alerted to the elevator being activated and send a firing squad to shoot the humans in the elevator. When the door opens, the men open fire, setting off the explosives and destroying Godzilla tower and the Nebulans.With their source of mind control broken, Gigan and King Ghidorah look around in confusion. Godzilla and Anguirus seize the opportunity and attack them both. With the tide of battle turned, Gigan retreats, with King Ghidorah following suit shortly afterward. Godzilla and Anguirus return to the sea victorious and head for Monster Island, while their human alies wave goodbye. *END SPOILERS*
This movie is paced in a way similar to Destroy All Monsters, with the majority of the film focusing on the humans and an epic monster battle at the end. In this movie however, the final battle lasts considerably longer and is mixed in with some of the human action, which in my opinion works very effectively. The human scenes early on aren't particularly exciting, but the characters are fun enough to go along with for the ride.
Godzilla vs. Gigan doesn't feature many familiar faces from the franchise and elects to go with some lesser-known Toho actors. Hiroshi Ishikawa plays the lead Gengo Kotaka and does a good job playing the bumbling and clumsy artist who ultimately must play a role in saving the world from an alien invasion. Toshiaki Nishizawa and Zan Fujita play the human villains Kubota and the Chairman, respectively. Nishizawa gives a good air of conceitedness and eerie calm to the character of Kubota, but Fujita isn't overly convincing as the Chairman. Yuriko Hishimi is awesome as Gengo's butt-kicking black belt girlfriend Tomoko Tomoe that obviously wears the pants in their relationship. Tomoko Ueda plays Machiko Shima, who seems like a legitimately concerned sister. And of course there's Minoru Takashima as the corn cob-wielding hippy Shosaku Takasugi, whose inclusion in the film in the first place is a mystery to me. Still, he's pretty funny in the role anyway.
Toho's budget at this point was declining, and sadly this is sometimes very obvious in the special effects. The flying Gigan and King Ghidorah props look like stiff toys, which they most likely are. Additionally, an excessive amount of stock footage is employed in the movie, ranging from films like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of the Astro-Monster to War of the Gargantuas and The Last War. The worst part of this stock footage is the fact that some monsters make unintentional cameos through it, including Rodan, Mothra, and even Gaira. As for the actual new monster footage in the film, it is mostly impressive. Anguirus looks just as amazing as he did four years before and his suit is still in excellent condition. Gigan looks both weird and incredible and his suit is an impressive achievement. His abdominal buzzsaw is the most impressive feature of the suit. Godzilla and King Ghidorah do not fare quite as well. The Godzilla suit is falling apart from overuse, in fact it looks like his skin is falling off in some scenes. The suit went through so much damage in the previous film that it looks like they just hastily repaired it and threw it back out there for the next movie. As a side note, this would be the last time that Haruo Nakajima plays Godzilla. The King Ghidorah suit, which was eight years old at the time, is also starting to look a little raggedy, as the scales are flaking off in some areas. The heads look to have either been replaced or heavily deteriorated and/or modified, as the face looks goofy and the hair on the manes is messy. The tag-team battle between the four monsters takes up the entirety of the film's third act and is a great payoff for the movie, heavy use of stock footage aside. Sometimes Ghidorah seems to just stand still and watch the battle for some reason, but not to the point that it ruins the fight. The battle is interesting in that it manages to be incredibly drawn-out but never gets boring.
The music in Godzilla vs. Gigan is all stock music by Akira Ifukube from films like The Big Boss, Battle in Outer Space, and of course Ifukube's scores for the Godzilla movies. He also includes music from the Mitsubishi Pavilion, a recent expo held by Toho for which Ifukube provided musical accompaniment. The only new piece in the movie is a song entitled "Godzilla March" that plays during the end credits. The song is composed by Kunio Miyauchi, who provided a solid score for All Monsters Attack three years earlier. The song, while a bit cheesy and aimed towards children, is nonetheless well-composed and fun to listen to.
Godzilla vs. Gigan is not one of the better Godzilla movies, but it manages to avoid being counted among the worst. Many fans will cite this movie as one of their favorites and despite its low quality it is an entertaining and fun Godzilla movie. It may not be the best Godzilla film released in the 1970's, but it is still a step above the next year's Godzilla vs. Megalon. I love Godzilla vs. Gigan, and its final battle is one of my favorite battles in the series. I can't with a clean conscience give this movie a score higher than 3, but do not mistake this score for an indication of mediocrity. Godzilla vs. Gigan is a fun movie with many loving fans and is by no means a bad movie, it just simply isn't much of a very good movie.