Thursday, August 13, 2020

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

When people rank the best to worst Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Gigan always pops up on the lower end of the list. I never believed it was =, because while I'm the type to keep an open mind, their reasons for finding it so    always seemed so convincing. They weren't just pooh-poohing the movie like = cynics, but took issue with such things as overuse of stock footage, and an absolute = of budget, which seemed like irrefutable facts. But recently I saw a video review  that was not only very complementary, but highlighted how =  Since I'm a big fan of Godzilla vs. Megalon, I realised it was hasty of me to think this was a weaker entry in the series. It was anything but!...

Comic book artist Genko has just found a new job working for the mysterious Children's =, a company whose main business is the Children's Land theme park, which they base off of Earth's monsters, and say will bring about total peace. One day Gengo sees a woman desperately tying to escape the = HQ, dropping a tape in the process. Realising that something sinister is going on behind the scenes, Gengo helps this girl and her friend rescue her missing brother and put a stop to the plans = before they spell the end of Monster Island...

Godzilla vs. Gigan is a super fun film! While not perfect, it's got lots to enjoy, and who can hat a movie about alien cockroaches using a theme park to take over the world!

though the film gets a bit carried away. It's not that the film is boring, or that any of these scenes are bad, but for the first half, the movie is almost like a traditional alien invasion story, and then the last half is all monsters all the time. Never to an exhausting degree, but I do wish things had been made a little more even and distributed.

The human characters here are a fun bunch. Gengo has an interesting and relatable job, and it's treated well. He's a proactive protagonist, and takes things in stride. His girlfriend isn't as good at first. She's nice, and funny, but once he meets up with his new friends, she disappears for quite a while. But when she returns, oh boy does she return! What happens is gloriously unexpected!

Tomoko and Shosaku are a great pair. She's a sweet but active girl, setting things into motion all by herself by sneaking into the alien base. Shosaku is a hippie, and the primary comic relief. He's funny, thankfully, and in a good way. He's never really the butt of any jokes. Tomoko's brother doesn't get as much to do, but he's fine. Overall, this is a nice bunch!

Godzilla is a noble force for good here. He can sense something is wrong, so he goes to investigate and suss it out, and despite the military taking the wrong idea and thinking he and Anguirus are behind it, he doesn't hold a grudge, and defends Earth bravely!

He's often shifted sides over the years, starting out as a full-on bad guy. Every now and then the series tries making him a villain again, but it never seems to last. I guess there's only so many ways we can see the same bad guy trashing a city before we get tired, so we wanna see him fighting others, and if he fights others, it stands to reason he's defending us. Sound logic! I prefer him as the giant green St. George he's been described as.

One of the only weaker links here in Godzilla vs. Gigan is Gigan himself. He's great, but doesn't really appear enough to justify half the title. Ghidorah plays just as equal a role, as does Anguirus. As for the inclusion of these others, I think it works well. It's always nice seeing Anguirus, and including Ghidorah, while probably a desperate ploy to get butts in seats, was a wise choice I feel. The way the plot is written, it works better to have two bad monsters. If there was just one, I don't think it would have been the same/worked as well.

A unique touch to this movie is that, depending on the version you watch, the monsters talk! Godzilla and Anguirus either talk in English (sounding really weird in the process!), and/or there are these Kanji speech bubbles, giving a comic book feel. Both are amusing, if unexpected in =.

The aliens are threatening and inhuman enough to be convincingly off, even if they look totally human. We only get a tantalising tease to their true forms, but it's perhaps better that way.  My only gripe with them is that they're very open with Gengo in the movie's first act. I couldn't tell if they knew it was him, or if he'd stumbled into a = and the aliens just assumed he was one of them, and acted accordingly.

Getting onto the effects, I think this can be = to three departments. Firstly, the laser guns, sets, destruction, and other little = all throughout look good.

Secondly is the monsters.   The articulation for them = in flying scenes is a little lacking (Ghidorah's heads don't move at all), the villains proper look fine. Ghidorah is his usual angry self, while Gigan is an interesting new foe. His design is akin to a giant chicken with hooks for hands and a giant/gigantic buzzsaw in his chest, and yes, he uses it! He slices up buildings, and even uses it on his enemy monsters, to cringeworthy effect! It was enjoyable seeing him and Ghidorah fly away in the end. The monsters here never seem to die, always =, and it's a nice touch. Shows that the villains are cowards who choose to run away.

The last is stock footage. Along with Destroy All Monsters/Godzilla's Revenge and Godzilla vs. Megalon, this entry is accused of absolutely plundering the =, with people calling it a piecemeal film. I couldn't disagree more! While with Megalon I honestly couldn't see any reused footage, here there are certainly scenes that could have been lifted from prior entries, but I didn't notice, even after having seen some of them recently (more recently than people in theatres would have!). Also, I feel there's a[n appreciable] difference between using stock footage, and using it badly. Godzilla vs. Gigan falls definitely in the former category.

The film is well directed, with dynamic and = action scenes and = moments with the humans, and the monster fights are very well done! The location work is stellar, with the amusement park lending a unique look to things, while the = are nice. The climax is pretty dimly lit, and with four monsters whacking each-other about it can be a little hard sometimes keeping track of everything, but not =. And each monster looking distinctive helps too.

With the miniscule budget cutting deeply, this film doesn't really have much of its own score, instead reusing many tracks from previous outings. I feel this is a good workaround, as if you've gone to the trouble of composing all these great tunes, it'd be a shame to isolate them all to one film.

The actors here all do fine jobs, from Hiroki Ishikawa as main hero Gengo, Tomoko Umeda as his girlfriend, Yuriko Hishimi and Minoru Takashima as the other pair, etc. And let's not forget the guys in the monster suits, especially Haruo Nakajima, Godzilla in every film since the first, in his last/final appearance.

Godzilla vs. Gigan is great fun, and well worth a watch by all Japanese monster aficionados! You can't go wrong with a movie as bonkers, quirky, and all round enjoyable as this...

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