Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

Tsukioka and Kobayashi are two pilot buddies, who are forced to make a crash landing after engine troubles. On an isolated island, they witness the shock of their lives-Godzilla, fighting another dinosaur. They are able to escape, and report their finding to the outside world, which is placed on high alert. But can Japan's precautions do much to stop the rampage of Godzilla?...

Coming only one year after the film that started it all, Godzilla Raids Again is a direct sequel. It brings back the monster we all know and love, and finds an excuse for him to trash a few more buildings, before he's defeated again.

The grim tone of the first film, and its thoughtful themes are all gone, in favour of a simpler adventure. This could be a disappointment for some. It really depends on the viewer, or how you watch it. If you come immediately after the original, you're bound to be disappointed, but if viewed in isolation, Godzilla Raids Again is pretty decent. It won't reinvent the wheel, but it's hardly the worst kaiju film (even if some might accuse it of being one of the most boring).

The plot itself is fairly simple, and can be described very quickly. It's paced well though so this is never a problem.

Raids Again's biggest problem isn't in anything it egregiously does or doesn't do, it's just that it's more of the same. Delivered in a decent way, but coming out so quickly, it doesn't have a lot of room to really give us something new.

The most original thing the film does is have a heavy focus on aviation. Two pilots are the lead, and we're enmeshed in their company and lifestyle.

It also focuses on the Japanese nightlife, and shows how life (and business) goes on in the face of a disaster. It's not given much detail, but enough focus to be interesting. When countries are at war for example, life doesn't just grind to a halt for 5 years till its over.

The Godzilla introduced here is the one who would star in every entry until the end of the Showa era. Interestingly enough he's not the original G! That Godzilla, totally malevolent, was destroyed for good at the end of that film, and bringing him back would cheapen that movie's impact. Instead we were left with a portent that it may not have been the only one of his kind if nuclear testing continues, and this theory is proven correct when another Godzilla pops up. He's just as destructive, though less directly evil. Most of the damage he causes is in a monster brawl.

Whether or not you count Raids Again or vs. King Kong as the beginning of Godzilla's monster battles each movie is up for debate, but this film is the first to introduce another kaiju-Spiny underdog Anguirus. He's a good co-star, though is out of the film a bit too early.

The effects are quite good. The two monsters look neat (albeit goofy at times), and their battle is well handled, if a bit short. Godzilla's atomic breath does kind of look like a water hose though. The miniatures are a highlight, looking great! The black and white photography definitely hides some of the cheesiness the movie could've had if in colour.

The music is pretty much recycled from the first movie, and gets away with this fairly well. The acting is alright, though a bit unremarkable. No-one is really able to shine like in other entries.

The direction here is pretty standard, with quite a few neat shots. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's masterful, but it gets the job done. One standout moment is when a character sees the destruction on the TV, then looks out the window to see that same fire only a few miles away.

While Toho may have wasted no time pushing Godzilla Raids Again into production, it would take another 7 years before the big G would return. They kept busy in the interim, and this break would prove to be a wise decision, and helped their famous monster survive...

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