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Siddon gets ready for Godzilla vs Kong

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So Kaiju films have always been a bit of a blank spot for me and Godzilla vs Kong is coming out at the end of next month. So I figure why not dig deep into the Kaiju verse and see if I can find anything I like.





Gorjia (1954)


So I decided to bust out the Criterion collection 100 supersize version of this. I had watched Godzilla when I was in high school but didn't feel the need to revisit it. I suppose most people immediately declare the first film a classic and therefore write off it's flaws.

The film starts off with a series of boats getting destroyed outside of Odo Island. One of the things that I really dug about this one is the atmosphere that the director Ishiro Honda creates in these scenes. The forbidding elements of the film really carry it over some of the weaker points of the story and technical limitations.

When we first see Godzilla my first instinct is...man he's got a thin neck. It's funny how in the 70 years later they overcompensate that issue. The human characters are not have bad, we get a pair of scientists one of which has an eye patch which gives off a certain Ahab quality to him. The couple who drive the plot are standard but they have good enough chemistry which makes up for the lack of discernible personalities.

The first Tokyo rampage scene is pure cinematic brilliance. I love how we get obstacles with Godzilla and he has to work his way through the electrical wires and tanks. By taking their time it gives off a sense that the monster isn't just a force of nature but an actual reckoning of the atomic age.

My only criticism of the film is that the third act drags a bit. The post Tokyo scenes are so well constructed and then we get this oxygen destroyer mcguffin scene that goes on for a bit to long. Serizawa is a great character and should have had a larger role in the film based on the ending but at the end of the day...this was a solid film







Rodan (1956)

Death comes from above as a Giant Pterodactyl torments the citizens in Japan. I never bothered with Rodan growing up because really why would I think this would be good. Rodan always looked stupid in covers...well boy is this a film that you can't judge a film by it's art style. This was really good and a huge technical step up from Godzilla.

Shot in color, and given a better sense of production design we go from a great mining setpiece to a honeymoon villa to a dog fight all of which look great. My only criticism you do find yourself looking at wires at certain points...I wish Criterion could have editing those out.

This is very much an atomic age horror film, it feels more like Them! or Tarantula than the original Godzilla but done in color with great use of creative storytelling. One of the things that really stood out to me was the pacing, I didn't feel like the film had any padding to get to the 90 minutes.

I think part of what makes the film flyby is that the insect larvae monsters take up the first act and they are just adorable and terrifying at the same time. I don't know if this is the first use of the Kaiju underboss but it was effective. Personally I would have liked for Rodan to stay in the air for 90% of film and save his destruction till the end. But really this was A+ work




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One thing about Godzilla that surprised me was learning that it means a Whale Gorilla. I always thought it meant a God lizard/dinosaur. It still makes more sense that way, but what the hell do I know?


So really, Godzilla vs. King Kong is a movie with two different types of gorillas.





Gorjia (1954)


So I decided to bust out the Criterion collection 100 supersize version of this. I had watched Godzilla when I was in high school but didn't feel the need to revisit it. I suppose most people immediately declare the first film a classic and therefore write off it's flaws.

The film starts off with a series of boats getting destroyed outside of Odo Island. One of the things that I really dug about this one is the atmosphere that the director Ishiro Honda creates in these scenes. The forbidding elements of the film really carry it over some of the weaker points of the story and technical limitations.

When we first see Godzilla my first instinct is...man he's got a thin neck. It's funny how in the 70 years later they overcompensate that issue. The human characters are not have bad, we get a pair of scientists one of which has an eye patch which gives off a certain Ahab quality to him. The couple who drive the plot are standard but they have good enough chemistry which makes up for the lack of discernible personalities.

The first Tokyo rampage scene is pure cinematic brilliance. I love how we get obstacles with Godzilla and he has to work his way through the electrical wires and tanks. By taking their time it gives off a sense that the monster isn't just a force of nature but an actual reckoning of the atomic age.

My only criticism of the film is that the third act drags a bit. The post Tokyo scenes are so well constructed and then we get this oxygen destroyer mcguffin scene that goes on for a bit to long. Serizawa is a great character and should have had a larger role in the film based on the ending but at the end of the day...this was a solid film


I don't really care much for monster movies, but I watched Godzilla for the 1950s movies countdown, and I was surprised that I actually liked it. I might even rewatch it for the upcoming foreign movies countdown.
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Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

First sequels are always tricky, but they really shouldn't be as bad as this one. Godzilla Raids Again isn't really about Godzilla facing off against another dinosaur it's more about Godzilla about a squadron of pilots. Now that's a good idea make it the story of the fighters who in the planes trying to kill the monster. The problem is we only get two pilots when really the film should try and develop a group of flyers so when they die fighting Godzilla we get attached to them. It's just poor lazy writing.

Godzilla Raids Again isn't just bad on that front, Ishiro Honda is replaced by Motoyoshi Odo...which I guess in Japan would be The Russo brothers replaced by Zach Snyder. Odo really doesn't understand how to make Godzilla move so it feels like a guy in a plastic suit. Odo also doesn't understand how to blend the FX so everything looks and feels incredibly fake. We still have the same janky Godzilla but the more we see him the worse he looks.

Also you have a series of weird disconnected scenes early on in the film that have no place in a Godzilla movie. The menacing score is gone, music is very important in monster movies. They have a scene with miniatures that I don't think you really needed to do with miniatures and then characters should have died seemed to have survived only to die again...it was just weird This was a hard pass for me.






Mothra (1961)


Ishiro Honda is back again with the same formula with Rodan and Godzilla in Mothra. This time our protagonist is a chubby journalist and his photographer, moving away from scientist/soldiers. Mothra also is a departure from genre as it's not really a horror film more of a science fiction fantasy family film. This is almost Disney level storytelling as it involves a bunch of scientists who steal a pair of fairies from a jungle island. Somehow the fairies end up part of a stage show (obviously drawing strong ties to King Kong) where their song ends up awakening Mothra.


Honda's messaging is on point, the film has a very strong theme and it once again looks good. In Mothra we get an expansion of the world it's no longer just a Japanese production. Moving away from the isolation clearly helps move the story along. The film looks great you don't see the wires like you did with Rodan.


My biggest qualm with the film is it's pacing it's 100 minute movie but it's really a 70 minute story. I also don't care for the recycling of Takashi Shimura who was in Godzilla and plays a different role (but really the same part). Shimura was the lead in Ikiru so he's always going to stand out having him play a different character in the same universe is silly.





i be seeing it on the first day of the release
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King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)

Ishiro Honda returns with a somewhat biting satire of the media in King Kong vs Godzilla. If you are saying to yourself...man Kong looks bad...yeah he does, but is the film still worth it?

Well the movie revolves around a pharmaceutical company who in an effort to gain publicity. The film is constantly cutting to scenes with news anchors speaking (in glorious deadpan english). The story involves a berry that gives the drinker a high...this is a kids movie. We also get a bunch of Japanese actors in blackface as the Kong portion of the story involves a fight with a decent looking octopus. It's a really weird contrast between the good FX of the slimy destroying creature and the cheap Kong mask.

Anyways the film redoes the Kong classics (which isn't needed) and we get the fight which feels like a wrestling event (which is on purpose). We're told early on that Kong is smarter than Godzilla but we don't get that in the fight(which is a pity). The actual fight is decent, Godzilla's fight style has come a long way since the last one though it still feels like two guys wrestling.

The biggest advantage the film has is it's humor...it's a funny film and aside from Kong a number of set pieces look good.

(closer to 2.75)







Mothra vs Godzilla (1964)


Mothra vs Godzilla is the last film of the Godzilla villain era of the Toho studios and in a lot of ways this should/could be the last Godzilla(or really first) film to watch. What I love about Hondo is you see improvements in his visual style every-time he comes out. When Godzilla shows up he's often framed like that far away where the miniatures look real and you feel like you could see Godzilla wrecking havoc on your town.


Mothra vs Godzilla tells the story of a typhoon which causes a giant egg to land on a beach, and evil business man takes the egg and the fairies try and convince evil business man to release said egg. Godzilla is also awoken from his sandy grave and launches his attack on the countryside.


Mothra really shines in this film as a sympathetic character, she just wants to protect her egg. What I think really works for this story is that you have a clear set of stakes...it's no longer stop the monster but now it's keep your damn lizard hands off my egg. The big battle between the characters is somewhat moving. Unlike other matches with Godzilla the fight is choreographed well ultimately you care.







Gidorrah, The Three Headed Monster (1964)


On one hand Hondu consistently impresses me with the genre shifts and attempts at continuity...on the other hand they don't always work. Hondu decides to tackle politics in this one. The plot was very hard to follow we had a coup attempt where the Princess of a foreign nation gets taken over by a ghost which should be cool but it really wasn't. The Mothra faeries show up and are in this movie more than the big bad.


Godzilla is a bit of an inbetweener in this one and we get Rodan vs Godzilla fight. I loved Rodan the movie but this match was just shaky cam. The big battle at the end was good, the costume and now animations look better but I just found the film to be lacking.