Review Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-08-20 15:07:20
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Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, more popularly known as Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, is a tragically overlooked and unfairly maligned entry in the Godzilla series. Fans often list this film as one of the worst in the series, while in my opinion it is one of the better films. True, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster diverges heavily from the establish formula used in most of the series, and this is part of the reason it is so heavily underrated. But what Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster lacks in monster action, it makes up for with an enjoyable story, likable characters, and an intricate South Seas island setting.
*SPOILERS* Ryota's brother Yata has been missing for months after his ship went missing in the South Seas. Despite the search for Yata being called off, Ryota refuses to believe he is dead. Ryota encounters two men, Ichino and Nita, and convinces them to help him find a boat. The three discover a docked yacht, the Yahlen, that is owned by an American businessman. When they enter the yacht, they encounter the thief Yoshimura, who is hiding from law enforcement. Yoshimura allows the men to stay on the boat for the night, but tells them they must leave in the morning. While the others are sleeping, Ryota takes command of the boat and sets sail in search of his brother. After several days at sea, a large storm rolls in above the Yahlen, sending it off course and into a typhoon. Suddenly, the ship is broken in half by a gigantic claw that emerges from the sea. When the four come to, they find themselves ashore on Devil's Island. The men trek through the forest in search of civilization and discover a sword, meaning that other humans must be on the island. After further exploration, they see a ship drop off slaves from Infant Island that are escorted away by armed men. A few of the slaves attempt to escape. Most of them are gunned down, but two manage to get onto a boat. Before they can escape the island, their ship is destroyed by the same giant claw that destroyed the Yahlen. The source of the claw is revealed to be Ebirah, a gigantic lobster that guards the island. Ebirah then impales and kills the two escaped slaves with his hand and goes back underwater. During the confusion a slave, Daiyo, escapes into the jungle, where she encounters Ryota, Ichino, Nita, and Yoshimura. She joins the party and helps them infiltrate the headquarters of the armed men, who are part of a terrorist organization called the Red Bamboo. When inside the base, the party discovers that the Red Bamboo is creating an arsenal of nuclear weapons. A patrol spots the intruders and chases them to a cave on the side of a cliff. Inside the cave, the group discovers that Godzilla is sleeping there. Daiyo prays to Mothra, hoping that she will awaken and come to save her people from the Red Bamboo, but Mothra does not wake up. With no way to escape the island, the party returns to infiltrate the Red Bamboo's headquarters. Machine gunners spot them and open fire. Yoshimura, Daiyo, and Ichino get away safely, but Ryota becomes ensnared in a baloon and floats off into the sky, while Nita is taken prisoner by the Red Bamboo. The three remaining members of the group return to the cave and come up with a bold plan: wake up Godzilla and hope that he destroys the Red Bamboo. Using the sword as a lightning rod and attaching it to conductive wire, the group waits for a lightning storm. Lightning strikes the sword and the electricity is transferred to Godzilla, awakening him from his slumber. Godzilla emerges from the cliffside and walks towards the ocean, where he is attacked by Ebirah. The two monsters throw rocks back and forth at each other, and Ebirah drags Godzilla underwater. After a brief battle, Ebirah swims away and Godzilla turns back to the island. Meanwhile, Ryota is conveniently carried by the balloon to Infant Island, where he discovers his brother Yata. Their reunion is cut short when the Shobijin inform the two of the Red Bamboo's continuing raids of their island to capture slaves. Yata tells the Shobijin he wants to help, and they form a plan to have Mothra rescue the Infant Islanders. Yata and Ryota return to Devil's Island in a boat, but are attacked by Ebirah when they near the island. Meanwhile, Nita learns that the slaves are being forced to produce a juice that wards off Ebirah so that Red Bamboo ships can enter and leave the island. Nita tells the slaves to create a false juice instead. After defeating the Giant Condor, another giant monster that the Red Bamboo employ to guard the island, Godzilla attacks and destroys the Red Bamboo's base, prompting the organization's leaders to escape by boat. The leaders order the island to be destroyed by arming a nuclear device, and take the juice from the slaves, leaving them all for dead. As the leaders try to escape, the false juice fails to hold off Ebirah and he destroys the ship, killing the Red Bamboo's leaders. Yata and Ryota, having survived their encounter with Ebirah, free Nita and the slaves and reunite with Daiyo and the others. While Godzilla and Ebirah battle for a second time, the group constructs a massive net and waits for Mothra's arrival. Godzilla manages to tear off both of Ebirah's claws, forcing the giant lobster to retreat. Mothra and the Shobijin fly above the island, but Godzilla attempts to battle Mothra. Mothra knocks Godzilla over and grabs the net, which is filled with all of the survivors. As Mothra flies away with the group, they look back at Godzilla, yelling to him to leave the island before it explodes. Godzilla jumps into the ocean just as Devil's Island is wiped from existence by a huge nuclear explosion. Ryota and the others all wave goodbye to Godzilla as Mothra flies them all back to Infant Island. *END SPOILERS*
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster benefits from having an excellent human story, which keeps the viewer entertained when the monsters are not on screen. In fact, the monsters take a backseat to the human plot, which I actually attribute this as a positive, as the monster scenes aren't especially well-done. The human element is reminiscent of a James Bond film and is the best part of the movie. The island atmosphere is beautiful, the characters are all entertaining, and the story is engaging.
The acting is very good in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. Toru Watanabe plays Ryota, the male lead. He does a good job portraying the optimistic Ryota, and does a good job with expressing emotion. Kumi Mizuno portrays the beautiful Infant Island native Daiyo. Mizuno is as always a great actress, and is great at portraying the determined, fearless, and at times absent-minded Daiyo. Akira Takarada turns in one of my favorite of his performances as the charismatic thief Yoshimura. He is a greedy scoundrel that is thrown into the role of a hero and Takarada brings a great mix of humor and personality to the character. Chotaro Togin and Hideo Sunazuka as Ichino and Nita mostly bring comic relief, but act well anyway. Jun Tazaki is still an authoritarian figure as the Red Bamboo commander, but a villainous character this time. Tazaki shines as a stern, diabolical terrorist leader and as always brings an air of power to his performance. Akihiko Hirata plays the second-in-command of the Red Bamboo, Captain Ryuii. Hirata's character is one-dimensional and dry, so he can't really do much. Still, there is a hilarious inside joke relating to Hirata's character. Ryuii wears an eyepatch on his left eye, while the character Hirata played in the original Godzilla, Daisuke Serizawa, wore an eyepatch on his right eye. When Ryuii accidentally lets the group escape from the base, his commander angrily asks him "Are you blind?" The Shobijin are played for the first and only time by Pair Bambi, who have little screen time but act and sing very well, just not to the quality of the Peanuts in the previous three films featuring Mothra.
The special effects are decent in this movie, mostly the miniatures and pyrotechnics. The monsters are one of the weaker aspects of the film. The Godzilla suit is the same suit used in the previous film, and retains the same problems it had before. This time though, the suit appears to have deteriorated slightly and undergone minor appearance changes that only make it look worse. The suit is far too baggy looking, and the face resembles Cookie Monster. Ebirah is the triumph of the film, and looks like a real lobster. The way he swims and fights looks realistic and it's a shame the Ebirah suit was not used in any future films. The Mothra puppet is the same one used since Mothra (1961), and the age and wear on the puppet are visible. The wings are stiff and the colors are dulled, but the puppet still looks good, a credit to how well-designed it was years before. The Giant Condor looks weird to say the least, and it's hard to give an honest opinion of it since all of the creature's scenes are too fast-moving to get a good view. The monster fights vary in quality. Godzilla's battles with Ebirah are well-done, and the footage of them fighting underwater is a nice touch. The battle with the Giant Condor is nauseating because it moves too quickly and is resolved once Godzilla incinerates it with a single blast of atomic breath. Godzilla and Mothra's encounter can hardly be called a fight, since it only consists of Mothra knocking Godzilla over then flying away.
Masaru Sato delivers his second musical score for the Godzilla series, and it is a definite improvement over his score for Godzilla Raids Again. It has a serene tropical feel to it, and it adds to the island atmosphere perfectly. Sato also creates his own version of Mothra's song, and though it is not as memorable as Yuji Koseki's version, it is very good nonetheless.
I've never understood why people dislike Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster so much, though now I believe it may be because Godzilla does not take center stage. Godzilla also seems a bit out of character in this film, which is because his role was originally written for King Kong. Still, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster has one of the best human casts of any Godzilla film, an exciting story, and a great setting. This film does not deserve near the amount of criticism it receives, and instead deserves praise for its originality. It's not the best film in the series, but it deserves mention among films like Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and The Return of Godzilla.