Monday, April 28, 2014

Movie Monday: Godzilla Raids Again

Hello Everyone, 

Here is the next installment of the Godzilla Movie Reviews by Phillhp Ray. He takes an in-depth look at the sequel to Godzilla. Check out his thoughts and leave your thoughts in the comments. 

“Godzilla Raids Again” from 1955, is a direct sequel to “Godzilla King of The Monsters” and in many ways it´s a little more fun to watch.  Where the first movie was a dark social commentary, this one doesn´t hide the fact that it´s about big monsters destroying things.  Yet, it is able to stay in a realm of realism which some later Godzilla movies would miss due to the sharp acting and clean and crisp camera work.  This movie also introduces what would be a staple in future Godzilla films, a battle with another kaiju (giant monster.)  In this case it´s a giant Ankylosaurus, named Angila, which frankly doesn´t put up much of a fight.

The film shifts from Tokyo to Osaka and begins when two pilots, Kobayashi and Tsukioka, end up on a small island after one is sent to help the other recover from a crash landing.  While on the island they are witness to a fight between two giant lizard creatures.  Frightened, they leave and report what they have found to proper authorities.  It´s not soon after that it´s understood that these creatures are a product of the effect of atomic testing and are of the same family as the infamous Godzilla who had destroyed Tokyo a few years prior.

Soon the military is put into action to stop the creatures before they come onto the shores of Osaka.  Their first attempt is successful, as they use light bombs to frighten the new Godzilla away as they did with the first one.  Later in the film, though, some escaped convicts mistakenly set fire to a refinery when they crash their tanker getaway truck.  The flames attract Godzilla´s attention and he comes to do what he does best – step on small things and breathe fire on the things he can´t step on.

Osaka is only saved from total ruin by the arrival of Angila, who is thirsty for a fight.  This early fight sequence is not very well choreographed, but as I mentioned, it was the first of many to come.  It´s a down and dirty thug match with a lot of shoving.  Godzilla is the victor of course and breathes some heavy atomic fire breath on parts of Osaka as a sign of self-praise before going off again.  Desperate for an answer, the army concoct a plan to stop Godzilla and puts it into effect immediately.  But not after a lot of loss of life and personal sacrifice.

“Godzilla Raids Again” is certainly the more family oriented of the first two Godzilla films.  It´s as if Toho (the film´s production company) wanted to pander more to the international audience – especially the United States, which was in their own monster movie craze.  The movie looks fresher and even Godzilla isn´t really the same monster from the first movie – which they left dead.  It´s a new start.  The narrative style is easier to follow, even if it does includes a rather annoying voice over.  This takes away a little from the emotional impact that the first movie had, as we are told what it is that we should feel at particular points in the movie. The camerawork and lighting is also much higher quality and we can really see the monsters and the destruction in much greater detail.

Although there were obvious improvements, the film does have it´s weak moments where it lags a bit; focusing too much on human characters that aren´t that interesting.  Later Godzilla movies tend to understand that although it´s important to have fun and well written human characters, they don´t always have to be that fleshed out for the movie to work.  There were sections of the film that definitely gave me the “fast forward” impulse, but I stayed with it.

I do recommend this movie though, especially if you want to watch an early Godzilla movie with the kids.     It´s in black and white (the last of this type) but I think it´s much more accessible than the first film.  But I do believe that after having watched the first installment, as an adult, you may feel like part two misses some of the gravitas.

Post by Phillihp Ray

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