Review Son of Godzilla film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-08-31 13:41:44
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Son of Godzilla, like Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster before it, is an incredibly underrated and unfairly malingned film. Both movies are listed among the worst films in the franchise and are the butt of many jokes about the series. The truth is, both of Jun Fukuda's first two forays into the Godzilla series are excellent films on par with some of Ishiro Honda's classics. Son of Godzilla lacks the great human element of Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, but the acting is strong, the fights are excellent, and the effects are very impressive. Son of Godzilla is one of the most lighthearted films in the Godzilla series and is a very enjoyable viewing experience.
*SPOILERS* United Nations scientists have set up a base on the remote Sollgel Island in the pacific. Their goal is to develop a climate-manipulating device in the hopes that they can make barren regions on the Earth fertile enough to grow food and solve world hunger before the population grows too large for the planet's food sources to feed. The research team is not alone on the island, as giant praying mantises stalk their base at night. One day, a news reporter named Goro Maki parachutes onto the island, explaining he is there to write a story on the project. The project's leaders reluctantly agree to let Maki stay on the island as long as he helps do housework in the research base. Just before the team deploys the first climate-changing balloon, a strange radio frequency interrupts their communications and causes the balloon to detonate prematurely, causing a deadly radiation storm that reduces the island to a scorched wasteland. The radiation storm also mutates the giant mantises into 100-foot-tall creatures Maki calls Kamacuras. Three Kamacuras find a giant egg on the island and proceed to break it open, revealing an infant member of Godzilla's species. The infant's cries attract the real Godzilla to the island, who defends the baby and kills two of the Kamacuras before the third escapes. After saving the baby, named Minilla, Godzilla begins to walk away, while Minilla follows him pitifully. Godzilla reluctantly decides to raise Minilla as if he were his own and lets him ride on his tail. Shortly after, an intruder is spotted in the base when she steals Maki's shirt from a clothesline. Maki recognizes the intruder as a native girl he saw earlier on the island before the radiation storm. The woman introduces herself as Saeko Matsumiya, the daughter of a famous Japanese biologist who resided on Sollgel Island for may years. When members of the research team become stricken with a deadly fever, Saeko declares that she knows of a cure that exists on the island, a type of warm red water. She and Maki set off to go find the water, but discover that it is in Godzilla and Minilla's lair. When Maki and Saeko arrive, they witness Godzilla attempting to educate his newly-adopted son in how to fire atomic breath. Minilla tries to imitate his father, but only is able to fire a small ring of smoke. Godzilla stomps on Minilla's tail, causing him to spit a powerful radioactive beam. Minilla roars excitedly, and Godzilla gives him a pat on the head. Maki and Saeko retrieve the water and head back. Minilla wanders off and is ambushed by the remaining Kamacuras. Minilla attempts to fight back, but is powerless against the larger monster. Minilla and Kamacuras' battle knocks several rocks into a nearby valley, wakening the giant spider Kumonga. Godzilla arrives and drives the Kamacuras off before it can harm Minilla, while Saeko and Maki are attacked by Kumonga on their way back. The two manage to evade the bloodthirsty spider and bring the water to the rest of the team, who are sheltered in Saeko's home, a small cave. There, the leaders of the research project have set up the equipment needed to launch another weather balloon and also send an S.O.S. to request rescue. Suddenly, Kumonga attacks the cave, but is repelled by the team's weapons. Minilla accidentally wanders into Kumonga's web, as does the Kamacuras. Kumonga bites the Kamacuras and kills it and prepares to do the same to Minilla until Godzilla arrives. While Godzilla and Kumonga battle, the team fires another balloon, hoping to freeze the monsters so that they can escape the island safely. Kumonga entangles Godzilla in webbing and prepares to deliver the fatal blow, but is blasted by Minilla's atomic breath. Godzilla recovers and blasts Kumonga repeatedly with atomic breath. The combination of both monsters' beams sets Kumonga on fire and the spider falls on its back, defeated. As snow falls over the island, Godzilla walks away to find shelter for the winter. Minilla runs after him but falls face down in the snow. Godzilla hears Minilla's cries and turns back for him. He huddles over his son to protect him from the cold and the two monsters enter hibernation together. The team along with Saeko and Maki escape the island on a small boat and are rescued by a submarine. They all wish Godzilla and Minilla well and prepare to return to Japan. *END SPOILERS*
Son of Godzilla has very enjoyable human characters that provide some good comic relief from time to time. The plot and human cast are not as strong as in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, but still very strong. There is a good balance between human and monster action, and some interesting interaction between the humans and monsters, something that rarely occured in kaiju films up to this point.
The acting is a plus in this film. Akira Kubo plays the male lead, charismatic reporter Goro Maki. Kubo does a good job making Maki both an uncompromising stubborn reporter, and also a caring human being. Bibari Maeda plays Saeko, and though she is not as famous of a female lead actress as Kumi Mizuno, Maeda makes Saeko a fun and likable character. Tadao Takashima plays the authoritarian Dr. Kusumi, the leader of the scientific team and gives his character an air of wisdom, authority, and witty humor. Akihiko Hirata plays Dr. Fujisaki, the second in command of the team, and is as always a great actor. Hirata gives his character personality and humor, though he is given little development in this film. The other members of the expedition are given minimal character development, but do a good job with what they are given.
The monsters are rarely given the type of personality they show in this movie. They are as much characters as the humans themselves. Godzilla, portrayed this time not by Haruo Nakajima but by Hiroshi Sekita, appears very ugly due to the suit. This suit looks more realitsic than the suit used in the previous two films, but it's just so damn ugly looking. Still, Godzilla is acted very well and shows a gradual change in demeanor from gruff angry destructive monster to a gentle and caring father figure. Safe to say, Godzilla has more character development in this movie than in any other movie save for maybe Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Minilla looks kind of derpy and ugly, but the way he acts is adorable and his interactions with Godzilla are priceless. The Kamacuras look impressive and are portrayed through puppets. They look and move like real insects and their fights with Godzilla and Minilla are well done. Kumonga looks equally impressive, but the way its legs hover over the ground take away some of the realism. Kumonga's web, for some reason spit from its mouth, looks even better than the Mothra larva's silk spray from previous movies. One thing I must mention is the ending sequence of the film. To me, it is downright touching. It fully illustrates Godzilla's transition in character. He only wanted to ensure the survival of his kind and just protect Minilla and train him to grow up as his successor. But now, he can't bear to see the creature he has come to know as his son laying helplessly in the snow and he turns back to embrace him. This scene makes me shed a man-tear every time I see it, and it is definitely the high-point of the movie.
Masaru Sato improves over his solid score for Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and delivers a very memorable score for this film. The opening theme is very fitting for the movie with its lighthearted tone, while the "Godzilla vs. Kumonga" theme provides a great sense of action and urgency. The best theme in the movie in my opinion has to be the ending theme that plays when Godzilla and Minilla embrace in the snow. It starts out sounding sad and quiet, but gradually becomes blaring and triumphant. It truly is a beautiful piece, and compliments this touching scene flawlessly.
Son of Godzilla probably deserves a 3.5 more than a 4.0, but I feel I have to give it a 4.0 because other reviewers will undoubtedly give it ones and twos out of five. It's not as good as its predecessor as a film in general, but it has a stronger monster element than Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. People misinterpret this movie as a childish demeaning film to the King of the Monsters that features ugly suits and boring fights. But these people fail to appreciate all of the things Son of Godzilla does well, all of which it does substantially well. The god-awful All Monsters Attack, which builds off of elements introduced in this film, is probably one thing that contributes to the poor reception of this movie. All in all, Son of Godzilla is a very good Godzilla movie and one of the most fun and lighthearted entries in the series. It is a nice departure from Honda's formula and has many very positive qualities. Trust me, don't take anyone else's word on this movie, watch it for yourself and form your own honest opinion of it. I for one think it is one of the better movies in the Showa series and I would recommend it to fans of less serious kaiju movies who enjoy fun monster action .