Approved, but shockingly enough, the movie has some language. I was thinking that I could have the kids in the room for when I watched it and, sure enough, there was some language in the subtitles. Sure, even as a guy who --for the most part --doesn't swear, I can see swearing when a giant kaiju comes to smoosh me into goo. There's also the comically outdated carnage that Godzilla unleashes on Japan. Approved.
DIRECTOR: Motoyoshi Oda
Do you know what? I might be starting to get why people like Godzilla movies. I'm not in love with them. Oh golly, no. The one that everyone claims is something marvelous, the first Godzilla movie? That was a movie that bored me to tears. But maybe I was just in the mood for this one. I don't know what would be special about this movie versus another Godzilla pic, but I kind of got on board this movie.
The worst part is that I don't really know what changed in me that made me start to enjoy this movie. It makes it very hard to write a long blog about the film when nothing really contributes to the overall enjoyment of it. If anything, Godzilla Raids Again doubles down on the absurdity of the notion of Godzilla. Apparently, the Jaws franchise took a nod from Godzilla and realized that you are totally allowed to kill off your lead monster if you just named your next monster the same name. You know, the same thing that happened to Landfill? We're just going to call this new creature that looks like the other Godzilla, "Godzilla." The moment that this happens by the way? Precious. They're all discussing how they killed the last Godzilla and why that process is impossible to repeat. Then they just start addressing this new creature as "Godzilla" as if nothing had changed from the first movie. It's not like all lizard creatures that can topple cities will get the same name. They'll eventually name the little one "Godzookie." But just keep that in mind, this franchise was going to plow ahead, with or without an oxygen deprived eponymous creature.
But the movie does do some things that are kind of smart. Despite the first movie having a message about the role of nuclear power and its terrifying effects on the people of post-war Japan, this movie just said to throw another monster at the screen. It's an ankylosaur, by the way. These giant lizards are just old timey dinosaurs brought to life. But adding the second monster somehow makes it more fun. I'm in that sweet spot where Godzilla is a savior to humanity. I don't think I'm going to get on board for that period of Godzilla's history. This is the movie that is smart enough to know that two monsters means double trouble. I'm not going to claim that the dinosaur really matters though. The movie quickly forgets that he was a threat and makes it all about Godzilla, mainly because he's in the title...you know, raiding and whatnot. But I can see the need to design new monsters. It's kind of how we view the Rocky franchise. We know the individual Rocky movies because of who Rocky is fighting. That's the only thing that really determines the difference for us. I have a feeling the future Godzilla movies play out the same way. In those cases, it is more obvious with movies like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. But I'm going to remember this one as the one where he decides to fight an ankylosaur and is still kind of evil.
But part of what makes stuff like Godzilla to me interesting is the human story. I know. Godzilla Raids Again barely has a human element to it. But the part that is there? Man, I like it. It's the same reason that I like the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. I know that it is a bunch of hobbits trying to throw a big birthday party, but I really like that. It makes the consequences of evil all the more dire. With Godzilla Raids Again, there's a teeny-tiny human story. There are pilots who work for a fishing company. Two of these people who work for this fishing industry are all set to be married. They have a goofy friend who keeps joking around about getting married. (Actually, the joke goes on for way too long to the point where I don't know about what is real and what is fake at a certain point.) But that is the most human element, especially juxtaposed against literal monsters ripping apart a city. Sure, the "Mr. Groom" joke just keeps getting beaten in with a stick. But do you know what that stupid joke does as well? It makes that guy's death have some kind of meaning. He did this heroic thing, trying to save Japan from Godzilla (I'm reading that sentence too in my head and pinching my sinuses while that I brought that sentence into creation). Then he dies. He's a lovable goofball who didn't have to die and it becomes all the more tragic.
And this is where it is going to take an overly formal tone. The fact that this kaiju story works is because of the human element. As dark as the following idea is, it kind of works as a form of entertainment. There's a reason that we don't start breaking down at the thought of mass slaughter. I mean, we should and sometimes we do. But empathy doesn't really allow for itself to work on a grand scale without a little help. Knowing that a thousand people died is bad and, intellectually, I can be horrified. But getting to know someone and then finding out that they died, followed by the statistic is far more horrifying. The fact that Mr. Groom was just one dude who worked for a fishing company is sad. Knowing that every single pilot in that squadron is like him gives the film gravitas. I'm really holding an example in my back pocket, but it would take away from the horror of real life to compare this to a monster movie. It's just what made Godzilla Raids Again such a strong movie as opposed to just films that have these grandiose sequences. I think that also might distance me from the newer entries. In the newer movies, we get these personal stories. But these people insert themselves into the central plot. The second that Average Joe and Average Jane start spewing technobabble or exposition, it kind of takes away that they are normal people. With Godzilla Raids Again, these are characters who simply are swept up with the times. It's a little bit like a war film.
Anything I write beyond this point is needless filler, so I'm going to cut this a bit short. Yeah, I bought the absurdly large Godzilla box-set from Criterion, even though I don't really like Godzilla all that much. I'm worried that I'm going to complain about it like I complain about Zatoichi. But so far, I'm learning to come around to the idea that Godzilla movies can be fun.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.