Monday, April 22, 2013

#Gozilla2013 Entry #11: GODZILLA'S REVENGE

Directed by: Ishirô Honda
Written by: Shin'ichi Sekizawa
Starring: Tomonori Yazaki, Hideyo Anamoto, Kenji Sahara, Haruo Nakajima , Yû Sekida, "Little Man" Machan
Synopsis: A young boy can't handle a bleak reality where he is bullied, so he retreats into the imaginary world of a pop culture series that he is obsessed with to deal with it. Remind you of anyone you know?

Young whippersnappers nowadays are always complaining about remakes and reboots of their favorite nostalgic childhood properties. But these kids, they have it good nowadays. Back in the day of GODZILLA'S REVENGE, they  didn't bother remaking or rebooting movies. They actually ended up making a movie version of a clip show, selling the audience an entire movie with footage they'd just seen a few years back.

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is the goofiest thing I have seen in the series so far, and I can't say whether I love its insanity or if it's just a ridiculous disposable mess. To set up the story, this is one of those "meta" movies, which very obviously influenced Charlie Kauffman, so we probably have SYNCHDOCHE, NEW YORK and subsequently COMMUNITY as the spiritual descendants of this movie. In this world, Godzilla is not real, but he's a character from the movie and our young protagonist, Ichiro, loves him and his adventures. But poor Ichiro has a problem...he keeps on getting bullied and doesn't know what to do. I guess Japanese school teachers and parents are pretty OK about this. This actually causes the kid to retreat to Monster Island in his dreams.

There he gets to chill with Minya (Minilla or whatever you want to call him). In this particular iteration, he happens to be the size of a small child, and unlike his previous height of 18 mm, this means that he can hang out with Ichiro and gets to teach him about his struggles against a bigger kaiju calle, Gabara, who was featured in the last movie briefly. Gabara is always beating up poor Minya, and Godzilla, as the ever caring parent, tells Minya to just go deal with it himself and stand up to him.

Of course, all of the time that Ichiro spends in Monster Island is a metaphor for the issues that Ichiro has with the various bullies in his real life. You know by the end of the movie he will overcome his bullies, and that makes the story so boring. But the in between is what makes this amazing in an almost ironic hipster way. Let me preface by saying that I didn't care for the movie, especially coming off the comparatively strong ALL MONSTERS ATTACK. Not only that, but this features my least favorite Godzilla suit, the one that has the more "human proportions." Something about the quality of the suits made me feel for the first time in the series that these were guys in a suit.

But what makes this movie slightly amazing is the all of the crazy stuff in between. For one, the movie is a good 1/4 totally recycled and unedited footage from previous movies. Godzilla inexplicably fights Ebirah, from GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTERS, thus recreatuit. Although, Gabara did have awesome shock powers.

So far in the series, big G is still be the main kaiju, but this is the first time that Godzilla has taken a backseat to any other monster character. In this case, Minya takes center stage along with Ichiro. This film is obviously not in the same continuity as the "real" Godzilla movies because Godzilla is a fictional character with movies in this film. So I guess it's completely and totally plausible that Minya is suddenly able to speak Japanese and also shape shift numerous times. Equally strange is that Minya is unable to speak Japanese when he gets bigger. So I guess it's a compromise of verbal communication or size?
What I found interesting is the use of Godzilla as a symbol and an empowering metaphor. Given how he began life as a symbol for the nuclear fear in the aftermath of WWII, it's only fitting that the allegorical use of Godzilla would change. I just never figured that it would be as a allegory for empowering against forces bigger and badder than one. I should've looked at the political climate of the late 70's of Japan at the time, but at least it would seem that instead of fearing the power of nuclear weapons, Japan or other countries have begun to embrace them.

This film is not as bad as the island movies, but it's not a good movie to come off after the greatest of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. The most redeeming quality of the movie is just the super nutty scenes with a size-changing Minya, and Gabara chasing Ichiro throughout the island. So it didn't make it a total waste of time.

DESTROYED JAPANESE CASTLE COUNTER: 5 (At this point, I think I'll drop the counter until there's an actual Japanese castle being destroyed in the movie.)

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