Category Archives: Science Fiction: Daikaijû

Flicks about REALLY BIG MONSTERS who are REALLY HARD TO KILL! Think more Godzilla and less Kong.

Gojira (1984)

Also Called:
The Return of Godzilla

Godzilla (1985)
Date:
1984
Stars:
Ken Tanaka

Yasuko Sawaguchi

Yôsuke Natsuki

Writers:

Hideichi Nagahara

Director:
Koji Hashimoto
WRC Score:
2.5/4

An erupting volcano brings about the return of  Gojira in this sequel to the 1954 classic.  Or rather the first appearance of a new Godzilla, as the original…

But that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?

This film is truly a product of its age, and I mean that above and beyond the references to the Cold War scattered about the film.  As it comes nine years after the last of the original series of Godzilla films, it marked a step up in special effects and a step away in story telling.  Thus we get a monster with a more mobile face (as well as other nifty touches here and there) abetted by a story that tries to reclaim the seriousness of the first film.

To a degree, it works.  This has the best story in years, the protagonists never become irrelevant to the action, and while there are howlers (the biggest of which being spoilers for the film and thus off-limits here) there is nothing that can’t be cheerfully ignored if you are in the frame of mind to do so.

That said, Gojira really, really should have been better than this.

It’s nice we have scenes where Godzilla snarls and where we can see his chest rise and fall.  Really it is. You know what else would have been nice?  Is if they could have had his eyes look somewhere other than up into space.  Like he was aware of his environment, instead of a movable prop.

There’s continuity issues here and there.  One character starts the film all banged up, only to appear in what seems like merely the next day completely better.  Calls for a city evacuation seem completely unheard.  And so on and so forth.

The really damning thing, though, is that the characters in Gojira are so very, very dull.  The pretty Yasuko Sawaguchi is especially plank like.  Even Godzilla is dull.  There are moments where he just stands there, like he’s waiting for his cue.  The movable prop thing, again.

Right or wrong, I’m inclined to blame director Koji Hashimoto on this.  There really should be something there that’s missing.  Even the worst of the earlier Godzilla had more life-like portrays than on display here.

So with all that’s good and bad here, I’d say Gojira just about ekes out a mediocre level rating (1 point).  I’m not going rush out and rewatch it any time soon (unless I do a Whale review for this site, which is a possibility), but I can’t say I didn’t like what I saw (1.5 point).  Maybe I’m just too easy to please, but I did have fun with this.  And in the end, that’s what counts.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon

Also Called:

War of the Monsters

Gamera v. Barugon

Date:
1966
Voices:
Kôjirô Hongô

Kyôko Enami

Yûzô Hayakawa
Writer:
Niisan Takahashi
Director:
Shigeo Tanaka
WRC Score:
3/4

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon (also known as Gamera v. Barugon as well as a few other titles) recounts Gamera’s return to the world stage as a threat to Humanity (yes, he’s a threat and a bad turtle to boot, damn it.)  This time, however, he has a rival, as a band of treasure hunters disturb an ancient monster known as Barugon.

This, the second in the first series of Gamera flicks, is probably the best of the bunch.  Which isn’t saying much as that means it’s only slightly less silly than the previous flick, and the ones that follow tend towards barrel scrapping.  We’re going to say about a one point on this, and that’s probably being generous.

That said, this is probably my favorite of the first series.  (2 points) There’s a dark streak here that the other films don’t have, and I think it adds a certain gravity to the proceedings.  At least as much as a film featuring a fire-breathing flying turtle can have.

As an added bonus, there are no squeaking kids proclaiming those obvious malign Gamera a “good” Monster.  So it’s got that going for it,

If you have to see one Gamera movie, let me recommend Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  However, if you must see one of these early, shall we say less polished, flicks (and more power to you), bear in mind that this film spoils the ending of Giant Monster Gamera, an ending so goofy that frankly deserves to be seen unspoiled.

Taekoesu Yonggary

Also Called:

Yongary, Monster
from the Deep

Date:
1967
Stars:
Yeong-il Oh

Jeong-im Nam

Sun-jae Lee
Writers:
Ki-duk Kim

Yun-sung Seo
Director:
Ki-duk Kim
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
April 7, 2012

A nuclear test disturbs a mammoth fire breath horror that comes charging into the nearest city and…

Sure. Taekoesu Yonggary is the standard Giant Monster movie deal.  Think more Gamera than Godzilla (despite appearances) and you have a fair grasp of the flick.  Except I find the kid here far less irritating than in Gamera, but that’s an personal preference.

A rare toe dip into the sub-genre by South Korea, Taekoesu Yonggary doesn’t quite make the grade.  It has F/X that range from adequate compared its contemporaries to the downright embarrassing.  The script, too, doesn’t do it any favors.  All in all, I’m afraid it’s a bad film (0.5 points).

That said, I adore this movie.  Super fun.  I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.  (2 points)  Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of giant monsters or bad movies in general.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

Also Called:

King Kong v. Godzilla

Date:
1962
Stars:
Tadao Takashima

Kenji Shara

Yû Fujiki
Writers:
Shin’ichi Sekizawa

[American Version]

Bruce Howard

Paul Masob
Director:
Ishirô Honda
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on August 19, 2009

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (also known as King Kong v. Godzilla) tells the tale of a pharmaceutical company out in search of a monster to help promote their product.  As they do so, a giant radioactive dinosaur you’ve probably never heard of before frees himself from his icy tomb and begins strolling across scenic Japan.  Are these two plots related?

It’s a distinct possibility.

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is a step up from the previous installment, which isn’t saying too much.  This, though, is where the Godzilla series began its slide into silliness, with “comical” characters and the monsters behaving less like apocalyptic threats and more like clownish wrestlers.

I say this like it’s a bad thing.  It isn’t.  When the series hits its stride, such little details are quite entertaining.

That stride, sadly, begins in the next flick.  It’s not boring, it’s just a little mediocre bordering on bad film (1 point).

That doesn’t keep me from loving it to death (2 points). Kong!  Godzilla!  In a battle to the death!  Or until the film budget conks out.

While everyone should see at least one Godzilla flick (they’re good for you!) I’m not sure Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is one to recommend. Still, you could do much, much worse than this.

Overall Score: 3 points out of a possible 4

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Daikaijû Gamera

Opening Thoughts

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera is one of a whole slew of movies cashing in on the success of Gojira/Godzilla (1953). Like its fellow cash-ins. it really doesn’t hold a candle to what it copies.  That said, Gamera is the only Daikaijû to have a successful series of films, thus making him Big G’s only real rival.

The giant turtle has done well by himself in recent years, what with an excellent trilogy in the Nineties and the potential new series being tossed around in the wake of, again, Godzilla’s success.

While I can’t say I enjoy Gamera movies the same way I enjoy Godzilla movies, it’s always good to see him still in action.  Which sort of surprises me that I’m so down on this movie.  Oh, I don’t hate it, don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t really care if I see it again.

Perhaps the rest of this review might shed some light on this.  Or not, as the case might be.

First things first.  This write-up assumes a basic knowledge of Daikaijû Eiga. If you don’t have one (and asking what the hell Daikaijû Eiga is a good sign you don’t), a basic knowledge can be provided by headed over to my little essay on the subject. We won’t gossip about you while you’re there.

Well, not too much, any way.

Also, I wrote the following review based on watching the subtitled Japanese version of Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera. Specifically the translation released by a company called Neptune Media. Since that time another company picked up the title; thus there might be a difference in subtitles and overall flow of the story. This I mention only as a heads up; the differences should be minor.

On the next page we begin looking back at the so-called friend to children everywhere. Just how friendly was he, really?

Daikaijû Gamera

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

2016-link box-001

Daikaijû Gamera (also known as Gammera the Invincible and Giant Monster Gamera ) tells the story of a giant monster turtle trying to make his way in the modern age.  This involves smashing down buildings and generally making a pest of himself.  Just like any monster would, when you think about it.

Of the Giant Monster set, only Gamera rivals Godzilla in terms of popularity.  This is no doubt due to it’s slouching over into kiddie territory almost from the get go.  That he is a rather unique looking creature didn’t hurt, either.

The trouble is that this flick is little more than a bad Godzilla clone (.5 points).  Too many plot contrivances happen for it own good.  The worst of which happen during the climax, though Gamera’s “final’ fate might be worth seeing just for the sheer mind blowing ludicrousness of it all.

Now as a rule, I’m the perfect audience for this type of flick.  From childhood on this have been one of my favorite subgenres.  And Gamera rated high back then.  Neck and neck with Godzilla.

With this film, though, I’m at a loss.  I don’t hate it–don’t get me wrong–but I don’t like it, either (1 point).  I can’t get my groove on with it.  I can’t flip that little switch in my head and just believe the way I can sometimes do with the older Godzilla films.  Sad to have lost that with such an old friend, but what can you do?

In the end, if you have nothing better to watch, this isn’t bad time killer. If, however, you can watch any Godzilla film, or, better still, the remake series starting with Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen/Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, do that instead.

Overall Score: 1.5 total points out of a possible 4

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