Pet Shop of Horrors (1999) – Anime Review

petshop

A four part anime mini-series based on the collection of manga books, Pet Shop of Horrors stars the mysterious, androgynous Count D who runs an equally mysterious pet shop in the heart of L.A.’s Chinatown. It goes without saying that the Count doesn’t really deal in hamsters and goldfish; every creature sold in the store comes with a strict contract and quite often a rather dark secret, introducing Leon, a detective investigating a series of unusual deaths – all of whom seem to have at one point visited this pet shop in Chinatown . Each episode focuses on a different customer of the store, looking at the events leading to them entering the shop and the consequences their pets bring upon them.

Excuse me Sir, you have a “What the fuck is that?” on your shoulder

The individual stories are really interesting – cherry picked from the manga (which I have not read) they are each quite unique but always very dark, looking at deep issues in the featured characters. The imagery the creatures provide to the stories varies from unsettling to beautiful, and occasionally both at once. This, coupled with the neo-gothic design and a dreamlike haze added to many of the scenes makes this a visually powerful series. Sound design is less impressive – the 90’s drum n’ bass soundtrack attempts to be brooding and mysterious but ultimately, no matter how they may have tried to do something unusual the high-tempo drums don’t lend well to the twisted, suspenseful scenes. Plus on a personal level I found it bloody irritating.

Come on now, the music isn’t THAT bad.

The major downfall of the series however, is the overbearing storyline, or lack thereof; for the first few episodes the interaction between Count D & Leon is set up to be quite gripping; the makings of a cat & mouse battle of wits are planted; and it’s clear that there’s much more to learn about The Count himself. It has a slow burn feel to it, so that it’s only really by episode 3 perhaps that I started to get to know the recurring characters and everything points towards it lasting more like 12 episodes. But by the end of the fourth & final episode the loose ends aren’t even slightly tied up. If anything, the final revelation of this episode makes it even more frustrating to see the series end, as the wider implications would make a great story. I don’t know if a lack of budget forced this to be so short, but it feels more like a feature-length trailer for the manga than a standalone anime in its own right which is a great shame. If viewed purely as an anthology for the individual stories and the grotesque & wonderful images they supply however, it’s definitely worth a look. Just don’t expect the main storyline to go anywhere.

5/10

Advertisements

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1974) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This post is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

In 1972 Toho ran a competition for school children to design their own Kaiju; the winner would have their creation seen on the big screen. In a decision that I refuse to accept as truth, the ‘best’ entry was a humanoid robot named Red Alone. The name was changed to Jet Jaguar and his feature film went into development with him facing off a new monster; Megalon. During pre-production however they realised how terrible Jet Jaguar was, so the obvious solution was “Let’s just put Godzilla in it”. Production started immediately, reportedly lasting just three weeks. It’s fairly clear how this is going to go.

“Look, I’ll give you an autograph only if you promise to stay out of my films”

Godzilla vs. Megalon opens with a nuclear test practically destroying Monster Island, upsetting the inhabitants as well as the citizens of Seatopia ; an underwater nation whose presence isn’t questioned or explained, and is portrayed in a manner that can only be described as ‘Greeks in a 1950’s spaceship set’. They’re so angry that they summon their ‘beetle with drills for arms’ God Megalon to wreak havoc on earth who bursts out of a riverbed in a sequence that is actually very effective. I fear the budget may have been blown with this moment though, because many of the monster sequences are painful to watch. This feeling is made all the worse by Jet Jaguar, who is the invention of our earth-based protagonists that manage to get themselves knocked out by goons all too frequently but have a number of entertaining scenes. In a first for the series, this means the human story is actually more bearable than the monster scenes. Light relief comes courtesy of Jet Jaguar’s ridiculous arm gestures that apparently prepare him for flight, and seeing him getting punched repeatedly. The highlight of the film is without question the bizarre, hilarious moment Godzilla discovers a new gravity-defying fighting move.

10/10

This is far from the worst Godzilla film I’ve seen so far, but it does have rather few redeeming features. One great sequence early on (the river draining) and some enjoyable moments in the human storyline aren’t enough to save this film. It manages to make the most fundamental, usually most reliably entertaining part of these films – monsters fighting each other – boring. Ultimately it was clearly made in a hurry, to try and squeeze a bit more money from the commitment to make a Jet Jaguar movie.

3/10

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

Two years after Godzilla vs. Hedorah made reasonable steps in trying to drop the goofy, childish tone that the franchise had slowly erred into, Godzilla vs. Gigan pushes this further. It’s a more violent entry that continues the reinvention of the famous lizard as Earth’s eco-saviour, saving us from the evils of our own creation, but this time with no child protagonist in sight, leaving the adults to carry the story along. Or at least try to…

Godzilla: “GEEZ YER LUNCH MONEY OR ELSE” – Anguirus: “Yeeah… or else”

After some pretty cool laser effect opening titles, Godzilla vs. Gigan follows a simple graphic designer as he tries to sell his Kaiju stories to various comic book publishers with no success. Eventually he gets a lot of interest from the operators of the incomplete World Children’s Land, centred around the life-size Godzilla Tower. Finding himself working alongside the shady businessmen who claim to be working towards world peace, he is accosted by another group of people claiming the same thing. Somewhere in this un-gripping but reasonably fast-paced plot there are illegible audio tapes that somehow are heard and understood by Godzilla and Anguirus on Monster Island. There are a few too many forced attempts at humour from these characters, and when they don’t really offer much else beyond simply forwarding the plot it makes them a bit annoying. At other times the tone of the film is trying to be more serious than the content; a certain big reveal mid-way through is laughably awful, lifted straight from the cheesiest B-Movies of the 50’s, but it’s played straight-faced, as are many of the moments in this film that would have benefitted from the sort of campy tone that made Invasion of the Astro-Monster so great.

SKWAAWK!

Thankfully this film affords the monsters a good portion of the runtime, including a brilliant extended introduction to King Ghidorah’s new ally; the scythe-armed, bandsaw-bellied space-parrot called Gigan. This is probably the best-looking monster rampage of the franchise so far, with explosions and fire aplenty providing much of the lighting for the night-based sequence, and some brilliant shots showing off the monsters. Later battles are almost as good, with some fun tag-team style moves and a surprising amount of blood shed by the monsters. As seen once or twice before, the monsters occasionally “talk”. But with no translators, and with the film not taking place in a child’s dream, inspired moments show comic-book speech bubbles appearing on the screen; a hint of the tone that could have made the main plot of this film so much more entertaining.

I can’t print the translation to that. Godzilla, you foul-mouthed monster!

Confidently proving that vs. Hedorah wasn’t a flukey step in the right direction, this film casts aside the childish elements that were fast running the franchise into the ground, but doesn’t offer much to replace them leaving the human story very bare and unsatisfying, with some themes plastered in that cross the line of feeling almost preachy at times. The monsters once again do their best to rescue not only Tokyo, but the film itself.
6/10

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

After the abomination that was All Monsters Attack I found it a bit wearisome to see how many Godzilla films I had left. Encouraging is the general consensus that it is the worst one of the lot, so onwards and upwards hopefully, onto 1971’s offering; Godzilla vs. Hedorah.

Awesome.

The general tone of this entry casts aside the children’s matinee feeling that had the last few films slowly nudged the franchise into, this is an evasive eco-awareness story, opening with a cheerful-sounding song typical of the era. The subtitles alert us however to the fact that the lyrics paint a brutal image of pollution to the sea and air eventually causing the demise of mankind, with the refrain being a desperate plea for the sun to return to earth. A pretty sombre message considering the previous film was about a little boy running around with a talking mini-Manilla (I’ll try to eventually stop moaning about All Monsters Attack). Continuing the theme, the titular monster, while looking actually pretty awesome, is basically an enormous pile of sulfur-exuding, smog-inhaling sludge that literally represents the effects of pollution on the earth. Godzilla here turns eco-warrior, not only setting upon Hedorah as the title hints at, but getting pretty miffed at the nasty piles of junk and muck floating around the Japanese coastline. Theme tune aside the message doesn’t feel like it’s being mashed into the film forcefully, it’s more clever than that, making “pollution is bad” an integral part of the story. The monster scenes are considerably slower-paced, with more time featuring them facing off, building up to the fights, and letting us see a much more intelligent Godzilla as he measures up his foe and eventually employing tools to defeat him.

Mmmm… cars.

All this seems very dark, serious and almost adult again, and a number of scenes showing Hedorah’s effect on people are pretty unpleasant, but somehow we once again have a small child as a main character who inexplicably knows what Godzilla’s up to & comes up with all the answers the scientists can’t figure out. It’s a complete contradiction of my previous comment that it chucks out the child’s matinee tone, and that’s the biggest issue with this film; it is in itself a constant contradiction. It flips between dark and grim, to childish and almost whimsical. And that’s before I begin to mention the weird moments that sit in a tone of their own such as the few brief animated sequences. Or the subplot where, basically, a group of hippies have a party in the middle of nowhere for no reason (complete with electric guitars and keyboards somehow). Or the new hidden talent that Godzilla reveals very near the end…

Wait, what?

It’s largely a decent return to form for the Godzilla franchise, with a strong purpose, some great scenes of devastation & monster mayhem and some awesome “hero” shots of the lizard. Hedorah’s design is fantastic, somehow making a monster suit that both actually looks like a gloopy pile of sludge, and is quite a horrific sight for the right reasons.  However, the enjoyment and involvement is frequently broken by odd events that make you wonder what you’re actually watching, and shifts in tone that suggest they couldn’t quite commit to a return to a more adult film. Despite it’s issues, it represents a massive step back in the right direction, and certianly enough to rekindle my interest.

6/10

Destroy All Monsters (1968) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This post is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

By the late 1960’s the Godzilla franchise had become an extremely big deal internationally, and this film seems to be a celebration of the previous entries, reuniting practically every monster from the series plus some from other Toho series’, currently living captive on “Monster Island” . Unfortunately though, aliens take a liking to Earth and remotely take control of the monsters’ brains, making them wreak havoc until the human race bow to their command.

No expense was spared on the aliens’ costumes

It goes without saying that this goes back to the Sci-Fi B-Movie feel of Invasion of Astro-Monster, and it re-introduces King Ghidorah as the adversary. Despite this, it doesn’t feel like a re-hash. For the most part the human story is engrossing; even if characters are under-developed to the point of being practically non-existent, and the plot makes only a little bit of sense, it all feels very involving. I wasn’t too sure what needed to happen and why, nor cared what happened to the characters, but I was nonetheless gripped by the sense that the makers did actually care. There’s no escaping the  fact that the spaceships look… plasticy, but there are some really nice shots, with a strong use of lens flare before J.J. Abrams was even able to lift a Super-8 Camcorder. It doesn’t have the humor or lightness of Astro-Monster either, which works in giving the film it’s own identity, but none of these points manage to keep the human story particularly interesting through to the end; it becomes a bit of a drag eventually.

“Ooh la-la!” etc.

As is always the case, the monster scenes are the point of this film. While it surprises me that, given such a large number of monsters, the human story takes up so much of the runtime, the monster scenes we do have are indeed very good. There are brief scenes of destruction in different countries around the world, giving the threat a much more global feel, quite important when trying to convince us whole world is at stake. It reaches a climax when all the monsters have to team up against the incredibly powerful King Ghidorah for an extended fight scene. Despite Minilla’s presence, and the film following Son of Godzilla’s attempt to push towards a child-friendly tone, this is pretty brutal in places. Monsters coughing up blood, people getting shot in the head, brief surgery scenes and so on – it’s not exactly A Serbian Film but it’s an interestingly sudden shift in tone for the time it was made.

This image overrules the entire review. 10/10.

This is a difficult film to  judge. Given the multi-monster set-up and the apparent effort that went into the making it suffers from weak writing, resulting in a film that is nowhere near as good as it ought to have been. It remains entertaining most of the time however, and with monster scenes that are some of the strongest in the series so far.

7/10

Son of Godzilla (1967) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This Post is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

Following from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Godzilla has really been pushed towards Saturday Matinee-style movies, with a stronger appeal to children. Here this trend is compounded by Godzilla’s son Minilla being introduced. It’s an enjoyable film, but far removed from how Godzilla has been portrayed up until now.

In reality this woman would be headless in 2 seconds

Perhaps lazily, with many of the same people people working on both films, the set-up is somewhat similar to Ebirah here, with everything taking place on an island where scientific experiments are being carried out, unfortunately in the vicinity of some large monsters. Unlike Ebirah though, Godzilla is very much the star, featured in the opening scene. The creatures Godzilla and Minilla encounter are large insects rather than unique monsters. It’s another factor that makes this feel like a completely different film to the previous ones despite the similarities in the plot. On a personal note, I’m incredibly unkeen on insects so the images of enormous spiders and mantises were actually rather unpleasant for me even though this is essentially a children’s film…

My reaction would be the same as Minilla’s in fairness

Though it’s totally unclear as to where the egg came from (Is Godzilla actually female? Is there a female somewhere else? Is Godzilla basically a seahorse like in Emmerich’s version?), Minilla’s hatching proves to be the turning point of this film as Godzilla raising him becomes the main focus. It’s easy to be resistant to these scenes as a fan of Godzilla being a terrifying force of destruction, but I let go of that and came to see them as they are: they’re genuinely funny, giving a surprising amount of character to both creatures. Minilla especially, as it’s undeniably funny to see a baby giant monster having a tantrum when Godzilla tells it to go home. I’ll be glad to see Godzilla return to how he should be, but hoping this is a one-off for a while I see it as nothing more than a bit of light relief in the series.

“That’s enough: we’re leaving”

The human story is fine. It’s largely predictable, ultimately serving little more purpose than building up setpieces for the monsters, most impressively the final fight which takes place in a blizzard, but never drags, moving along at a reasonable pace. The interaction between humans and the monsters is improved again; a few of the composite shots are very impressive in making a man in a suit look enormous! In all, this is definitely unlike any of the previous films, but as long as the attempts to cutesify Godzilla aren’t continued too much in future installments this is a silly but enjoyable twist on the Godzilla mythos, I choose to see it as an entertaining spin-off rather than a ‘proper’ part of the series.

7/10

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This post is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

After the series vastly improved with Mothra vs. Godzilla, I was enthusiastic about going further into the series. However, on seeing that Ghidorah was produced immediately after it, completing in the same year, I did wonder if it may be a rushed effort. Unfortunately it does seem so. While Mothra vs. was completely baffling in an enjoyable, loony way, this film simply makes no sense for the most part. Opening on a UFO Society, they’re spotting UFOs while chastising the non-believers as their brain waves will prevent the aliens from showing themselves. They spot some UFOs but they turn out to be meteors which some other characters spend about a fifth of the movie pointing three different scientific instruments at. Meanwhile, Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (say that quickly ten times) is visiting Japan for some reason, where a policeman is put in charge of protecting her from ‘the opposition’ who are plotting to assassinate her. Incidentally, the inhabitants of this made-up nation look like a really bad Shakespeare society. Her plane is blown up half way, but she is saved by some mysterious voice telling her to jump off the plane. When she finally makes it to Tokyo, however, she has no recollection of Selgina and believes herself to be sent from Venus to inform us of the impending doom the Earth faces – probably something to do with the meteors that landed earlier.

Those tiny twins are back as well, with even less explanation than before

That isn’t actually a particularly spoilerific paragraph – I’ve summed up the first 20 minutes or so. There’s never any explanation about these events; everything is taken at face value and we’re expected to simply accept it, so while so much happens in the time, it makes such little sense that it really drags. If the film ever veers close to being coherent it’s saved by something bizarre, such as one or two songs from The Peanuts that seems to last 15 minutes and have no bearing on absolutely anything. It goes without saying that Godzilla shows up before too long, and Rodan also makes an appearance, as predicted by the Venusian Prohpet/Selginan Princess rising from the ashes of Mt. Aso. It goes further without saying that each creature is none too pleased at one another’s presence, but whenever a fight starts to break out it frustratingly cuts back to the increasingly convoluted plot.

Rodan was particularly displeased

Despite the complicated plot, unexplained events and brief moments of relatively unpleasant violence this feels like an really cheap children’s TV special rather than a “proper” film. Production values are at rock bottom and the lack of refinement to the script doesn’t help. I can’t find a figure for the budget but when the titular (King) Ghidorah eventually appears it does seem apparent where the money went. A brilliant ‘birth’ sequence reveals the awesome creature design as the golden, lightning-spitting, three-headed dragon wreaks havoc.

Too powerful for any one of the monsters to overcome, The Peanuts request Mothra try to reason with Godzilla and Rodan to team up to defeat Ghidorah before it destroys the world. Re-read that sentence if you want. The conversation between the three monsters is hilarious; seeing the monsters’ personalities is at once bizarre and brilliant. The final act is clearly what the film is all about as we see Godzilla become the good guy for the first time, with all the complicated plot threads buzzing around actually having little to no impact on this outcome.

Unimportant. Look at the monsters fight!

As a whole, this doesn’t come close to Mothra vs. Godzilla but it is oddly entertaining for the most part (perhaps not intentionally), due to the human plots being almost impossible to follow and shockingly poor production values. I’d recommend anyone but the most determined to skip through to any scenes featuring the monsters as these hilarious sequences are all I’ll remember this entry for.

5/10

For clarity, before the final act I was thinking I’d be giving it more like 2 or 3 out of 10…

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This post is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

I’ll be completely honest. After Godzilla Raids Again King Kong vs. Godzilla I was beginning to fear for my precious remaining sanity at the thought of having to get through another 20-odd Godzilla movies. Next up however was Mothra vs. Godzilla which changed everything. The franchise has left Gojira’s realism behind, this much is apparent, but not yet have the sequels seemed to commit to a new tone. This film finally feels confident in being a mix of comedy and awesome monster movie, and throws in being completely mental for good measure.

It’s just a really big butterfly. “IT’S A MOTH! AS IN MOTH-RA!!! GET IT?”

Mothra’s egg floats up on a small village’s shore very early in the film and a greedy businessman purchases it, to make it the centre of a theme park. Having not seen Mothra I was unaware of this monster’s origins but this film seems to be fairly standalone in that sense. That doesn’t mean everything has to make sense though,especially true with the introduction of Mothra’s guardians of sorts; twin ladies who are about 9 inches high and constantly speak at the same time. The question “Why?” is never really answered for their existence or actions, but they communicate to Mothra via some catchy, yet almost creepy songs, and follow the heroes around for much of the film, prompting some really neat visual effects showcasing their tiny size. The funniest moments of this film come simply because it is so unashamedly ridiculous; the script for example has lines every few minutes that are logically unfounded. Some allowance must be made for things being lost in translation, but the explanation for the businessman paying precisely 1,224,560 Yen for Mothra’s egg is laugh-out-loud insane, and there are no end of moments that can only be knowingly stupid, finally allowing the franchise to dive head-first into the B-Movie tone.

Mostly creepy.

Not too long after, Godzilla appears in a scene that is at once extremely cool, but also manages to reinstate some of the sense of terror from the first movie. I couldn’t say there’s ever any illusion that it’s not a man in a suit (except for in the brief stop-motion shots, pedants), but the rampage he goes on is pretty extreme and they’ve made the nice addition of superimposing him in some ‘real’ city shots, giving it a bit more credibility than the all-cardboard cityscapes featured in the previous disappointing installments.

Atomic breath. Check.

While the set-up is greatly entertaining, the final battle is what matters. Here the showdown lasts most of the last half hour, giving us plenty of time to try to come to terms with the image of Godzilla fighting an enormous moth and equally enormous brown caterpillars. It’s all totally ridiculous, and occasionally impossible to comprehend, but never anything less than entertaining and the 90 minutes go by quicker than 20 minutes in either of the previous two sequels. There is a revelation in this movie, half a century before Michael Bay patented the formula, that more explosions = better movie, in lieu of any reasonable plot or logic. This film marks the franchise finding its footing in the barmy-yet-incredibly-entertaining tone it has become known for, and I’m more excited than ever to see what lies ahead.

7/10

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

There was a bit of a break in these Godzilla reviews as I tried to find a DVD containing the Japanese version of this film – unfortunately it’s practically impossible to find with English subtitles so I had to settle for watching and reviewing the American version.

This review is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

After Toho rushed Godzilla Raids Again through to make a quick Yen after the wild international success of Gojira, the franchise was all but abandoned for 6 years before various Japanese studios decided they wanted to make a King Kong vs… movie. After trying and failing to wrangle rights for Frankenstein they made the logical step that he should instead face off with Godzilla. Early wishes to have full stop-motion effects were soon eschewed in favour of the cheaper, Toho trademarked suitmation, and so King Kong vs. Godzilla emerged.

The film does quite well in introducing the two monsters with their own storylines – Godzilla rises from the ocean, once again helbent on destroying Tokyo. Meanwhile a band of explorers are travelling to an unexplored island where the natives reportedly worship a giant god. It’s quite quickly apparent that this film takes itself much less seriously, with a number of main characters being nothing more than comic relief. However, in this version of the movie the events are frequently interjected by soulless ‘United Nation Broadcasts’, where American reporters blankly inform us about what is happening and why, in the laziest and cheapest exposition imaginable. The original sections of the movie are depicted as live coverage from their ‘communications satellite’ which makes absolutely no sense and is the stupidest thing ever.
With Godzilla having second billing in the title, he is almost the secondary monster in this movie. So much of the first half takes place on this mysterious island, inhabited by what I think may be the least racially sensitive depiction of “natives” – it is simply lots of Japanese people painted brown, wearing grass skirts. The paint doesn’t always cover them completely, so not only do these scenes provide a moral quandary but they are nearly unwatchable anyway. The explorers bring gifts, but upon discovering they forgot sweets for the children, cigarettes somehow serve as a suitable alternative. Thankfully a monster soon appears to crush the majority of the chracters, improbably and unexplainedly a giant octopus. Effects are startlingly realistic, largely because it is a real octopus (4 were used, one of which the director ate that night). Some inserts of stop motion and absolutely dreadful composites of people break the illusion somewhat, but this is a decent sequence before King Kong arrives to single-handedly save the day and ruin the film.

NEXT.

All that portraying King Kong required was a gorilla suit, a really straight forward task I’d imagine. But for some reason here we have a gorilla suit that looks nothing like a gorilla. Perhaps if a gorilla had been put through a mangle the result may be similar to what appears on screen here, but I can’t say I’ve witnessed this for myself (sorry, Peta, put the pitchforks away). As the film progresses, the plot becomes less and less important as the makers clearly acknowledge that all that matters is the final fight. Disappointingly, the setpieces therein don’t come close to those of Godzilla Raids Again, but the fights themselves are marvellously ridiculous. Apparently the suit actors were given reign to improvise their moves and it certainly shows; the monsters tumble around, throw scenery at each other & throw each other around. This is the first glimpse of what I originally considered Godzilla to be about; it’s a long shot from the original film’s brilliant realism and meaning, but it’s wildly entertaining regardless.

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…

The tacked-on American segments manage only to make the movie feel horribly uneven, but what is visible of the original Japanese version still seems like no masterpiece. While the comedy element is actually a lot more bearable than it could have been, the bad definitely outweighs the good but the main event – the face-off promised by the title – certainly doesn’t disappoint, just as long as you aren’t expecting anything that makes any sense.

4/10

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) – Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

This review is part of my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge

After the massively successful Gojira this sequel was rushed into production and released only a year after the first. In my review of Gojira I mentioned that it would be interesting to see how the transition was made from a powerful atom-bomb allegory to the stereotypical Godzilla that fights a seemingly unlimited onslaught of beasts. It turns out that the transition was rather sudden, as Godzilla Raids Again introduces Anguirus; a dinosaur awoken by the same atomic bomb tests that awake Godzilla who, we are told through some painfully blatant & unexplained exposition, is extremely aggressive towards other similarly sized reptiles.

I’d be annoyed if an atomic bomb woke me up too

This film, probably due to its hurried production, has nothing like the careful, restrained effects of the first; fights between Godzilla and Anguirus are occasionally reasonable but the majority of the time less than good. Some sequences are sped up making them look nothing less than laughable, and the quality of the suits really doesn’t allow the fully-lit, long shots that make up these sequences. Inbetween these sequences are various human stories. The main plot is about two pilots who first discover Godzilla and end up in the teams trying to stop him. This is a pretty straight forward plot, with a Saturday matinee mix of light comedy and light romance, with a few brief but intriguing moments thrown in that seem to challenge some misogynistic ideals of the era. One or two other plots appear without warning that on one hand give the film a wider scope, showing some different perspectives on the city’s destruction, but on the other hand make very little sense in context, meandering along for 5 or 10 minutes without a clear purpose before disappearing from the movie, having created a setpiece for more key characters to be involved in. It’s an interesting way of telling the story but the way it’s pulled off here feels very disjointed and setpieces feel quite forced rather than organically forming as this style could have allowed. That said, regardless of how they’re created, the setpieces in this film have a great sense of spectacle that foreshadows the very visually-charged stylings of more recent Japanese films (not just Kaiju films).

“We need a sequel written by the end of week”

While I was completely aware that my expectation had to be held back as I moved on from the brilliant first movie, I was still disappointed to find this film sitting uncomfortably between the darker, more realistic tone of Gojira and the spectacular, outlandish tone the latter movies are known for, never willing to commit to one or the other. In the context of the series it serves as an interesting transition, but as a standalone movie I had difficulty finding much to enjoy, ultimately being glad of the relatively short 80 minute runtime.

4/10