Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Godzilla Raids Again (1955) *½

NR, 78 min.
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Writers: Shigeaki Hidaka, Takeo Murata, Shigeru Kayama (novel “Gojira”)
Starring: Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama, Minoru Chiaki, Takashi Shimura, Masao Shimizu, Seijirô Onda, Sonosuke Sawamura

“Godzilla” has surprisingly become the 2014 movie I can’t wait to see. The first teaser didn’t really convince me that another American attempt at Godzilla would be worth it. The last one was rather disappointing. Gareth Edwards—who masterfully crafted the low budget “Monsters”—at the helm and the fact that the script attracted stars with fairly good taste, like Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen, suggest that it may not be a wasted effort. Plus, the most recent trailers do a good job selling the classic summer blockbuster feel of the new movie.

I’ve been watching Godzilla movies since I was very young. I might’ve seen all of them on the Saturday afternoon creature feature at one time or another, although I hardly remember them now. I used to go over to a friend’s house to watch them. We had the large action figures. I only had Godzilla, with the fist that shot off and a pretty lame vinyl flame that stuck out of his mouth, but my friend had Rodan and Ghidorah. I was jealous.

“Godzilla Raids Again” was the first sequel to the original 1954 “Gojira”. It introduced the notion of Godzilla fighting other monsters to the series. It’s also a little odd in terms of story structure. I sense the filmmakers really had no idea how to go about making a sequel of any kind.

It begins with the discovery of Godzilla and another monster fighting each other on an island. The two beasts move their fight to Osaka and proceed to destroy the city. Godzilla wins the battle and takes off. Then the movie goes into some character stories as the people we’ve been introduced to kind of go off and have a life almost unrelated to what has happened in Osaka. There’s a reason they’ve moved on, but it all seems very strange.

Eventually they find Godzilla again. They develop and implement a plan to trap him on a remote island. The End. Strange, strange stuff.

Note: The original U.S. release of this film was titled "Gigantis: The Fire Monster".

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