Monday, December 17, 2018

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

In honor of the release of the new trailer for the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters (which is not to be confused with the Americanized version of the original film -- from 1954 --  which was also called Godzilla: King of the Monsters) I decided to write up a recently purchased Godzilla film that I had previously not seen.  The winner being the 5th film in Toho's "Millennium" series (1999-2004) called Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. which was preceded by Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and followed by Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).  This film is a direct sequel to Mechagodzilla and even, unlike a lot of these films, maintains continuity with original films in, and apart from, Godzilla.  In this case, 1961's Mothra, which doesn't even feature Godzilla.  In that one, Mothra goes on a rampage  and destroys Tokyo because two fairies that are her keeper (or she is theirs?) are stolen by some villainous type.  I don't know, it's been a while since I've seen that one.  Also, not a fan of Mothra.

Anyway, it's the aftermath of the previous film.  Mechagodzilla is being refurbished and Godzilla is out to sea.  Holy shit, the pacing at the beginning of this thing, the first 5 minutes really, is just incredible.  We get location after location (Mecha's service station; deep sea, Pacific, the Caroline Islands, US Pacific Air Base, Hawaii, Japan Air Defense Center or whatever, etc) before finally settling on news of a "UFO heading for Hawaii".  Terrific scenes of Mothra, jutting in and out of cloud cover while being pursued by F-15s.  One of the pilots breaks the tension with "singing...I hear singing."  More dive bombing through the clouds and eventually the TITLE is amazingly slapped onto the screen.  I was jarred awake.

With Mothra active, Godzilla stirs, and the race is on to get Mechagodzilla operational in time.  Essentially, in these films, we get two types of Godzillas.  Destroyer of Tokyo or protector of Tokyo.  This is the former.  Mothra, after her first film, has typically been on the defender spectrum although there is some question here.  Her twin fairies, quite annoyingly, make an appearance and implore the Japanese to not use Mechagodzilla because it's a super weapon created from the bones of Godzilla or some shit like that.  Mothra doesn't like that and, through the twin fairies, threatens to, once again, level Tokyo if they don't deactivate Mecha G.  So, we've got quite the human conundrum here.  1) they can say "fuck it" and put all their eggs in the Mothra basket which is weird, because admittedly, while looking very cool here,

Mothra is still just a fucking moth.  Or, 2) "Fuck you, Mothra, we're fixing Mecha G and when we're finished with Godzilla we'll hurl giant moth balls at you or whatever, you bitch."  They choose "2" (spoiler) and I guess Mothra's threat was mostly empty cause that shit barely comes up again.

Similar to most Godzilla pictures, we get a few slight human type characters in here.  The only ones that affected me in any way were Chujo (mechanic on Mecha G), grandpa (he and Mothra apparently go way back according to the black and white flashback) and pilot, Lt. Asuza, who has a non-sexual love interest thing going on with Chujo.  Also, there's Chujo's nephew, Shun.  The human characters live, they learn, they love, they yearn, some die (not the ones listed above, but I'd imagine some do).

Full disclosure, I've never been a big fan of Mechagodzilla or Mothra.  Mecha G always just seemed like a way to get the human characters to be more involved in the actual monster battles, as opposed to simply observing and fleeing.  I'm fine with that, in theory, but I've always preferred kaiju (Japanese for giant monster) on kaiju fighting.  Mecha G always seemed like a bit of a stiff to me.  As for Mothra, she was just always too kitschy.  She never appeared formidable though she does have a a weapon or two at her disposal (the key weapon here being the ability to shoot her scales which I guess works to immobilize Godzilla -- of course that particular weapon is considered a "last resort" and only used when Mothra knows she's finished).  And then there are the twins.

A couple of mini faeries that, as previously mentioned, take care of Mothra (or vice versa).  I don't know, this shit is too cute (also kitschy), delves too far into fantasy land.   Whatever, I dealt with it well enough.   Finally, we also have Mothra's children...a couple of fucking larvae that swim from Mothra's home island after hatching, mid movie, to come and join the fight against Godzilla.  Their weapon of choice is the ability to spew webbing at Godzilla, again the power of immobilization.  Neither they, nor their mother, have a weapon that could be considered a kill shot.  They're lovers, not fighters, I guess, except when it comes to Tokyo back in 1961.  Here they are swimming.  They leave mid-battle and arrive just in time to help Mothra.  These god damned things should be in the Olympics.

Again, I'm in a truth telling mood.  This is not my favorite Godzilla picture (and certainly not my favorite of the Millennium series -- that would be Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah!  Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, which is probably a top 2 or 3 Godzilla picture.  It's incredible).  The main issue I have, besides Godzilla's opponents, is just that Godzilla is not very interesting.  A lot of these movies don't do a lot with the guy as far as personality but, when they do, the material is elevated astronomically.  Here Godzilla wakes, he makes his way to a city, he destroys the city, he fights his opponent(s), and then he usually gets tired, let's them immobilize him and gets carried out to sea.  Shit, I guess he was fine.  This movie was fine.  I think I just prefer Godzilla as savior which is why I tend to enjoy when the monsters he fights are on his level.  Mothra and a couple of babies doesn't really cut it (though she does get an incredibly moving death scene -- sorry for the spoiler).

Regarding, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):  TAKE MY MONEY, NOW PLEASE.

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