Friday, January 6, 2017
Godzilla Watch: Tokyo SOS
It's not often I watch a whole Godzilla movie. I probably watched 3/4ths of about 3 or 4 of them last year, but they never showed up on my movie-list as I don't watch them from beginning to end. Usually I stumble in 1/4 of the way in, have no idea what's happening, and just keep on watching.
And that's kinda too bad.
I never quite recovered from missing Shin Godzilla in the theater this year (twice I had tickets! TWICE!), but over Christmas, the El Rey network celebrated the holiday with "Kaiju Christmas", which was something like 36 hours of Godzilla movies. In fact, I wrapped up Christmas Day night watching the second half of Godzilla vs. Destroyah.
I'd never seen Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), but heard it was a fun one, and, indeed it was.
The movie bears a few structural components of Godzilla vs Mothra or Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster which I have seen (and liked), including the appearance of twin Mothra larva as regular-issue Mothra dies in battle with Godzilla. Overall, though, the storyline is a bit different, as this movie centers around the ethics of MechaGodzilla rather than, you know, Ghidorah.
A challenge for me is that I almost always watch Godzilla movies as theys how up on TV, so I've only seen maybe the first five in order, and after that, I couldn't tell you. Or how many I've seen. Plus, they sort of remade a few of them, so you may be seeing King Ghidorah reintroduced like a totally new concept a dozen or so movies after he first was introduced.
This one takes place after Godzilla v.s MechaGodzilla from 1999, which I guess sets up that MechaGodzilla is created from a merging of technology and the bones from the 1954 Godzilla who perishes at the end of that film (spoilers). Godzilla is coming back to Tokyo to try to retrieve the bones of the first Godzilla (so say the Fairies), so the people need to put those bones back in the ocean. Of course, with frequent Godzilla attacks, getting rid of MechaGodzilla is seen as suicidal, so while Mothra wants to help out, the people aren't helping themselves.
Our lead is an overly enthusiastic member of the MechaG Support crew who can't seem to notice the cute pilot throwing herself at him, but he really loves working on the MechaG, so when The Fairies from Mothra return to tell his Uncle about how Mothra wants them bones in the ocean and not all tricked out into a monstrous weapon, he's a bit torn. He has his duty, he likes his job, but, hey, Mothra and/ or Godzilla might destroy Japan if they don't get the bones back.
Of course, Godzilla shows up in Tokyo and everyone fights. We learn IT support is what saves the day in the 21st Century, and some lessons are learned. Also - your giant cyborg Godzilla will be haunted.
I'm not sure if the movie was cut for time or if we lost something but I think more was supposed to be going on with our technician and the pilot than what I saw. Or else the Japanese like to be super elliptical about romance even in a kids' movie about giant moths and lizards.
The FX are a great mix of standard man-in-suit action and okay-ish 2000-era CGI, including some flying scenes with Mothra and Godzilla's atomic breath. Speaking of - I thought they nailed the atomic breath, including the lighting up of the his dorsal spikes, a sort of ball appearing along with a sort of sparking sound and then - fwoosh! Our friends over at Legendary could stand to review how well that worked (although the atomic breath sequence in the 2014 American film was the best part of the movie).
The moral of the story was either: (a) you only have the time that nature allows, or (b) don't make a weaponized vehicle - no matter how awesome - out of the bones of a radioactive monster. I think something was lost in the translation there, and I suspect they meant something like - we can't keep trying to live in the past, we have to be willing to let go and move to the future - or something. I don't know.
But all in all, a fun Godzilla movie.