A Look Ahead at 2014


Today is the final day of 2013. It’s time to look ahead at my personal goals for 2014. Specifically, what I plan to watch in the upcoming year. I’ve broken it down into my DVD watch list and then some theatrical movies I’m most anticipating.

Hitchcock2014 will be the year of Hitchcock. I’ve attempted this for the last two years and always get off track. Since I’m starting off the new year with a goal to not only buy less but to also watch less movies, I feel confident I will make it through the Hitchcock film library this year. I have a copy of A Year of Hitchcock: 52 Weeks of Suspense by Jim McDevitt and Eric San Juan ready for my journey. While I won’t cover every single Hitchcock film here, expect to see more than a few pop up from time to time.

Since I finished all of the Godzilla films in 2013, I plan to wrap up the Gamera series along with some random other Japanese monster flicks, including the Daimajin trilogy. While I don’t think I’ll be doing one article per film, I will definitely be sharing my thoughts on them.

More comedy is on the agenda with Abbott & Costello, Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy topping the list. I plan on writing about these occasionally as well since I find most monster kids love these comedies too.

More westerns are also on my list. This is a genre I used to love and, sadly, has been much neglected in recent years. Vince and the gang at the B Movie Cast podcast are covering The Big Gundown (1966) on their first show in 2014, so I must not be alone.

Finally, my never-ending goal of more Akira Kurosawa. With a copy of Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema by Peter Cowie in my possession, this is another goal I hope to see accomplished in 2014.Kurosawa

As for the cinema, there are several movies I’m highly anticipating. I think you can see genre films are topping this list.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
  • Godzilla (May 16)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December 17)

Captain America 2014While it seems like a lot, it really isn’t considering how many movies I watch in a given year. That said, I do plan to watch less in 2014 as I hope to concentrate more on two other neglected passions of mine, reading and old radio shows. I’ve been in a big horror phase for at least 5 years or so but I’ve decided 2014 needs to be more diverse and a little more light-hearted. So there will be fewer horror movies watched in 2014. Therefore, you’ll find other genres being covered more on this blog going forward. But fear not, my love for the monsters and horror will still be the cornerstone of this site. I suspect there may be some book reviews as well as an article or two on other topics.

Don’t worry if a few weeks go by without a post. That just means I am being successful at better balancing my life and personal interests. I will continue to update Facebook with each new Monster Movie Kid blog entry as I find that is the best way to get the word out there whenever I write something new.X Men 2014

However, I must thank B Movie Cast and 1951 Down Place as they are two of the sites where most of my hits originate from besides Facebook. If you aren’t listening to both of those podcasts, do yourself a favor and start now! While I’m on the topic, special thanks to Desmond Reddick at Dread Media, Derek M. Koch at Monster Kid Radio, Terry Frost over at Paleo Cinema and the Martian Drive-In Podcast and award-winning author Stephen D. Sullivan for their ongoing support as well. Be sure to also check out the Horror Etc. podcast and the Facebook pages for all of these supporters and others I know that I am missing.

Thank you for your support in 2013 and I look forward to reading your thoughts, both positive and critical, in 2014!Godzilla 2014

2013: A Year in Review


And so ends 2013. The end of the year is a time to reflect on the previous 12 months and to look ahead at the next. Since 2009, I’ve kept track of every movie I’ve watched, just for fun. It’s been interesting to see patterns, highs and lows, and just what was interesting me that given year. So, let’s take a quick look back at the number of movies watched (in a theater, on DVD, Apple TV, etc.) through today, December 30, as well as what I enjoyed and what I’d prefer to forget.

Action: 14
Animated: 12
Comedy: 35 (not nearly enough classic comedy this year)
Concert: 1
Documentary: 7
Drama: 7
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 172
Suspense/Thriller: 10
Western: 3 (not enough)
Total: 261 (same as 2011, less than 2012 but I watched all of The Three Stooges last year so that number was a bit inflated)

Total numbers of movies watched in a movie theater: 36 (2 more than 2012, 2 less than 2011)

And now for my favorites and least favorites of 2013. Some of you will agree, others may just shake your head. What can I say, some of my favorites are guilty pleasures and subjective to my mood at the time.

Top 10 Movies I Watched in a Movie Theater:
Django1. Django Unchained – amazing, it had me at the opening theme song
2. Gravity
– sure, it has some scientific flaws but non-stop thrilling
3. Thor: The Dark World
– solid follow-up, perhaps my favorite character of the Avengers universe
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
– just as good, if not better, than the first
5. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
– no explanations needed, I really enjoy Middle Earth
6. Oblivion
– I can still differentiate between Tom Cruise the actor and the real person, but it’s getting tough
7. The Conjuring
– cliché but well-filmed and entertaining
8. Star Trek Into Darkness
– not my Trek but I find enjoyment in this version
9. World War Z
– I never read the book so I didn’t have that to compare it to
10. Last Vegas
– older generation meets the Hangover crowd
Honorable Mentions: Elysium and The Wolverine
Good Bad Ugly

Top 10 Movies I Watched on DVD For The First Time:
1. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)
– yes, this was my first time watching it from beginning to end, I had already seen 99% of it in bits and pieces over the years
2. AM 1200 (2008) – I finally tracked this short film down, well worth it
3. Onibaba (1964) – atmospheric and stunning
4. The Devil’s Backbone (2001) – one of Guillermo del Toro’s best, not sure why it took me this long
5. Solomon Kane (2009) – why this one doesn’t get more love is beyond me
6. Dredd (2012) – non-stop craziness worked for me
7. Despicable Me (2010) – took me long enough to see the Minions
8. The Fountain (2006) – better than it gets credit for
9. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) – my favorite of modern day Godzilla flicks
10. The Night Walker (1964) –soundtrack, atmosphere and Barbara Stanwyck enhanced this one

And now for the worst of the year. Thankfully, this was a very short list. Needless to say, I was a lot pickier about what I chose to watch in 2013.

Worst Movie I Watched in a Movie Theater:
1. A Haunted House
– my kids wanted to see this so I went with them, ‘nuff said

Worst Movies I Watched on DVD For The First Time:
1. Grave Encounters 2 (2012) – horrible and irritating, so derivative of the first
2. Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956) – was misled as to what it was about, not impressed at all

GravitySome of my random accomplishments this year included watching a slew of Dr. Jekyll and Hr. Hyde adaptations in March, finishing the Godzilla series and revisiting all of the Superman franchise. Sadly, plans to watch Alfred Hitchcock never happened but that will be corrected. I did get started on the Our Gang series as well as revisiting Laurel and Hardy but I didn’t get very far. That too will change in 2014. Come back tomorrow as I talk about my film goals for 2014 and the future of the Monster Movie Kid blog.

Countdown to Christmas: Scrooge (1935)


It’s Christmas Eve and as has been my tradition since 1989, I always watch the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, better known as Scrooge. It is my favorite of all of the different ones out there to choose from. Now, I really enjoy the George C. Scott version from 1984 as well Patrick Stewart’s from 1999. However, there is another version that, while not my favorite, I revisit about every five years or so. Let’s take a look at Scrooge, the British 1935 adaptation and first sound version of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic starring Sir Seymour Hicks.Scrooge 1

Sir Seymour Hicks had already played Ebenezer Scrooge once before, some 22 years earlier in Old Scrooge, a 1913 40-minute short that I watched in 2012 for the first time. That version was fun but really just a curiosity as it left out a lot of details due to its truncated running time. By 1935, Hicks was 64 years old and, I think, more suited for the part. He is perhaps one of the most crotchety looking Scrooges ever to grace the screen. He starred in other British films of the 1930s but this was by far his most prominent and memorable role.

Scrooge 2While Hicks doesn’t surpass other actors who have played Scrooge, he is better than Reginald Owen, star of MGMs 1938 adaptation. Owen may have been a better actor but he always seemed too polished for me. Hicks had an edge to his performance that elevated his version of bad Scrooge. However, it also played against him when Scrooge is changed. I don’t quite get the same sense of redemption and renewal that others have displayed. Donald Calthrop is Bob Cratchit and, again, I think better than what we saw in 1938 but not as good as others. He is most remembered for a few other genre films, such as The Phantom Light (1935) and an uncredited role as a derelict alongside Claude Rains in The Clairvoyant (1935). Also look out for Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius of Planet of the Apes) in a small role as a poor man.

The plot of the film is as to be expected but there are some odd choices made by director Henry Edwards. For starters, we never actually see the Ghost of Christmas Past outside of a brief appearance on the door knocker. Budgetary concerns may have a played a part but it is disappointing. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is also barely seen, but no different than has been presented in other adaptations. Some aspects are cut out, such as Scrooge’s sister Fan and Fezziwig. Bad decisions in my opinion. There was also the odd choice to have Hicks play the younger Scrooge. He was far too old to do so convincingly by 1935.Scrooge 3

Despite some of these deterring points, I find that I do enjoy this version. Now, this movie has fallen into the public domain, so it is perhaps the easiest of versions to watch. There are countless DVD releases in addition to its availability on the Internet Archive and YouTube. One thing to be careful of is the running time. It runs 78 minutes but there is an edited 63 minute version still circulating out there. The easiest way to tell the difference is by the credits. The full version starts off with a bookshelf and a hand turning the pages to reveal the credits. All of the versions are a bit rough as a fully restored edition has yet to be released, nor is it likely to be. Sit down and enjoy it for a change of pace. It’s definitely worth the time to discover and judge for yourself.

This is my last regular post of 2013 outside of my yearly recap. So, may I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas) and a Happy New Year! Now, I have to get my eggnog and cookies ready for tonight!

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966)


Christmas That Almost Wasnt 1Today, I’m taking a look at a movie from my childhood that I only recently rediscovered a few years back. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) made the rounds as a kiddie matinee flick in the 1970s before becoming a staple during the Christmas season on HBO through the early 1980s. In fact, I have memories of not only seeing this on HBO but also at the Fox Theater in Newton, KS one Saturday afternoon in the early 70s.

I think we’ve all seen the plot of this movie in one form or another over the years. An evil man threatens to cancel Christmas. Here, the evil man is Phineas T. Prune, a penny pinching grouch right out of the mold of Ebenezer Scrooge, complete with top hat and swirling moustache. He owns the deed to the North Pole and Santa is running behind on his rent. Unless Santa Claus can pay the back rent, he, Mrs. Claus and all of the elves will be evicted while Prune keeps all of the Christmas toys. Santa Claus is played by Alberto Rabagliati, who certainly looks and acts the part quite well. Rabagliati might be remembered for a role in The Barefoot Contessa (1954) but, as this was his last role before his death in 1974, he has been forgotten by most of today’s American audience.Christmas That Almost Wasnt 2

Santa visits attorney Sam Whipple for his help. As a child, Sam actually wrote Santa a thank you letter, offering to pay Santa back whenever he needed help. So now Santa is calling in that offer. Whipple is played by Paul Tripp, a well-rounded performer who also was a producer and director in addition to actually writing the children’s book that this movie is based on. The evil Prune is played by Rossano Brazzi (The Barefoot Contessa), who also made his directorial debut with this film. Rossano’s wife Lydia is Mrs. Claus and sharp eyes may also recognize Mischa Auer (Hold That Ghost, Destry Rides Again) as the elf foreman. The rest of the plot is simple as Whipple and Santa get jobs at a toy store while the elves look for a reason to disprove Prune’s claim that he was never a child. In the end, it’s the children of the world who save the day and the reason for Prune’s behavior is finally discovered.

Christmas That Almost Wasnt 3In my opinion, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t is very charming and a lost classic. Perhaps it is the European feel of the film that adds to the charm. It is a little out there at times, which reminded me of such films as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you or your children enjoy those films, this is one to add to your Christmas wish list. The movie was impossible to find for many years outside of a HBO Home Video VHS release in 1990. It was released on DVD in 2003 but is often out-of-stock. There are a few different uploads on YouTube but they all appear a little fuzzy. Thankfully, it has been made available for streaming on both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. So, sit the family down for something fun and different this Christmas. You won’t be disappointed. And I challenge you not to be humming the opening theme song days after the Christmas lights are turned off.  

Countdown to Christmas: Old Time Radio Classics


Last year, I reviewed several classic and not-so-classic holiday films as part of my “Countdown to Christmas”. Well, a shorter holiday season and a busier schedule this year has put me behind on my movie watching. That said, the Countdown is on, if not a little shorter. First up, I want to do something a little different and offer up some suggestions on old time radio programs perfect for the Christmas season.

OTR 1I first discovered old time radio in the late 1970s when my dad bought me a Radio Reruns cassette tape of The Abbott and Costello Show, which featured the classic “Who’s on First” routine. It wasn’t long before I was listening to a wide assortment of programs. And, as any OTR fan will tell you, some of the very best are the Christmas episodes. Every year, I choose from a long list of classic comedies like The Jack Benny Show and Fibber McGee and Molly. However, comedy isn’t the only genre that got into the season. There are plenty of mysteries and crime dramas that also got into the spirit. So here are a few suggestions that will help you relive the days of yesteryear or, if you are lucky, introduce you to a whole new world from the past.

Suspense ran for some 20 years, which gave it plenty of time to present some great Christmas tales. Here are some of the best:

  • “Christmas for Carole” (12-21-50) starring Dennis Day (of Jack Benny fame) as a man desperate to help his dying wife, even if it means becoming a criminal
  • “Out for Christmas” (12-21-58) starring Raymond Burr as a man released from prison with nothing but revenge on his mind
  • “A Korean Christmas Carol” (12-20-59) is an odd tale about a doomed patrol in Korea (available on iTunes on the Boxcars711 podcast)
  • “Twas The Night Before Christmas” (12-21-53) starring Greer Garson as a housekeeper trying to hide the news from a child that her parents are missing on Christmas Eve

The crime drama Dragnet, starring Jack Webb, presented two tales that I always enjoy. One really hits home just as much today as it did then.

  • “22 Rifle for Christmas” (12-22-49) is a tale about two missing boys and a rifle, not only was this done for radio but for television as well
  • “The Big Little Jesus” (12-22-53) is about a stolen infant Jesus statue, not quite as grim but just as enjoyable, also available in radio and television versions

Escape is another anthology show that couldn’t let the holidays go by without some murder.

OTR 2The Shadow is one of my all-time favorites. Just as sure as crime doesn’t pay, it didn’t take the holidays off either. Here are two great Christmas tales, both starring Bill Johnstone.

And what Christmas season is complete without listening to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Lionel Barrymore played Scrooge on the radio for years but his 1939 appearance on Campbell Playhouse alongside Orson Welles was his best. I first discovered this in 1989 while living in Paris, Texas. A local radio station played it on Christmas Eve as part of a sponsorship from the local Campbells factory. It is amazing and highly recommended. OTR 3

I’ll be back tomorrow as we turn off the radio and fire up the DVD player for The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t.

Back on Monster Kid Radio for The Classic Five


MKRIf you are just dying to hear my voice once again, I’m back on one of the latest episodes of Monster Kid Radio. Derek put me through the Classic Five, a rapid fire question and answer segment. Check out episode 54 of the Monster Kid Radio podcast. And if you still haven’t added Derek’s show to your weekly podcast rotation, why haven’t you yet? It’s a fun show offered up twice a week with content every monster movie kid will love. And, if you take the time to go to iTunes and post a review, Derek has another podcast in mind that he promises we’re sure to enjoy!

Final Thoughts on Godzilla


Faces of GodzillaThe long journey is over. I have finally watched all 28 films in the Godzilla franchise. While I had seen almost every movie in the Showa series (1954-1975), most of the Heisei series (1984-1995) and all of the Millennium series (1999-2004) were first time viewings. Now, there are still some Toho and Kaiju flicks waiting for me to discover them, such as the last 2/3 of the Gamera series (which is on my plan for 2014). Before I offer up some final thoughts, I did take the plunge and revisited the 1998 disaster called Godzilla. I had no desire to give a full review on this movie, especially until I had finished with the real Godzilla series, but I felt it was worth a paragraph.

The 1998 movie called Godzilla is not really a Godzilla movie. It is a movie about a giant monster terrorizing New York City. Go into with that frame of mind and you’ll be okay. Leaving the name Godzilla out of it, you might actually have some fun with the movie. However, that is almost impossible to do. The movie requires some pretty big leaps of faith and suspension of reality, even for a Godzilla movie. I usually enjoy Matthew Broderick but he was quite wrong for this movie. In fact, the casting and script make this seem more like a comedy at times. And why didn’t they stick with Stan Winston’s design? Needless to say, this movie does not feature Godzilla. Okay, enough said about that.Gojira 1954

I thoroughly enjoy watching a Godzilla movie. Yes, after 28 movies, the plots and action are often very repetitive. The supporting storylines are almost always secondary to Godzilla and the battles he has with the monster of the day. As the Showa series wore on, Godzilla turned more cartoonish in both appearance and actions. With his return in 1984 in the Heisei series, there was some promise of darker days ahead. However, I could never get into the Heisei films. The special effects now seem very dated rather than nostalgic (as they feel in the Showa series) and some of the themes and characters were just too annoying. I enjoyed them but doubt I’ll revisit them anytime soon. I went into the Millennium series cautiously and was pleasantly surprised. Despite the occasional low, it was an incredibly fun journey.

King Ghidorah 64Now, for fun and per request, here are my top 3 and my bottom 3 Godzilla movies. As with any list, it could change tomorrow but here is how I feel today:

1. Gojira (1954) – the big guy is never more menacing than he is here, in glorious black and white
2. Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) – many fond memories of discovering this one as a kid, Ghidorah is my favorite of all Godzilla adversaries
3. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) – just a fun movie with some great battle sequences

Least Favorites:
1. All Monsters Attack aka Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) – this one is just painful as I cannot stand the story and Minilla really annoys me
2. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) – the Futurians really bothered me, poor special effects with the running robot were painful to watch
3. Godzila vs. The Sea Monster (1967) aka Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) – jazz soundtrack, giant shrimp, Godzilla not acting like Godzilla (granted, it originally wasn’t intended for Godzilla), ‘nuff said

And there you go! This has been fun but the journey really isn’t over. On May 14, Legendary Pictures brings us Godzilla. For better or worse, I plan on going opening weekend and I’ll be reviewing it here. It can’t be as bad the 1998 flick…can it? Actually, if the trailer is any indication, we could be in for some fun. It looks to be a serious effort and, best of all, Godzilla looks like Godzilla. Until then, I’ll be concentrating on other movies but I do plan on checking out the rest of the Gamera series. So don’t be surprised if I offer up some thoughts on that series from time to time. Until then, we’ll see you at the box office.Godzilla 2014 Teaser Poster

Toho Puts The Big Guy In Mothballs With Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)


Godzilla Final Wars 1In 2004, Toho released the 28th and, to date, final film in the Godzilla series, Godzilla: Final Wars. Like most of the rest of the Millennium series, it stands on its own as a separate entity. Again, it really only follows the original Gojira (1954) and even that is vague. Being released in the 50th anniversary year of Godzilla, it served to not only wrap up the Godzilla series (for now at least) but also to pay homage to 50 years of Godzilla history. The end result is definitely mixed.

The movie begins in 2004 and the Earth Defense Force (EDF) has been created to protect Earth. Mutants are now among us, possessing speed and strength as they were born to fight. A final showdown between the EDF’s ship Gotengo and Godzilla is occurring at the South Pole. The images are stunning as we see Godzilla buried alive under the ice and snow. Enjoy it because it will be another hour before Godzilla shows up again. We jump ahead 40 years as we witness the Gotengo, under the command of Col. Doug Gordon (MMA fighter and professional wrestler Don Frye, no Academy Award performance here), engaged in a thrilling undersea battle with Manda (it’s best appearance to date, in my opinion). Manda is destroyed but the Gotengo is greatly damaged and Col. Gordon is court martialed and jailed. We are then introduced to Shinichi Ozaki (Masahiro Matsuoka), one of the mutants who doesn’t have a desire to fight. He is assigned as a bodyguard for Miyuki Otonashi (Rei Kikikawa), a biologist investigating a mummified creature. It’s time for the Shobjin fairies to appear and warn them that the creature is really Gigan. Mothra barely defeated once and now, a major conflict is right around the corner.Manda

Soon, we get a battle royale of monsters popping up around the world. Anguiris, Rodan (looking awesome), King Caesar (looking goofy as ever), Kumonga, Hedorah, Ebirah (finally returning from his Toho exile) and even a kaiju named Zilla (resembling the Americanized 1998 Godzilla). As the planet is under siege, an alien spacecraft arrives with the Xiliens (looking a lot like the aliens from Invasion of the Astro-Monster). They warn Earth of an impending collision with an planetoid called Gorath. The United Nations Secretary-General welcomes the Xiliens with open arms and disbands the United Nations, forming the new Space Nations. However, Shinichi and Rei are suspicious and, with help from Rei’s news reporter sister Anna (Maki Mizuno), their real plan is soon revealed. The Xiliens can take over human form, only being identified by their inability to blink. They have taken over the bodies of key figures, such as the United Nations Secretary-General. They view humans as cattle and, once they are revealed to humanity, a young upstart kills the Xilien leader so he can wage full war and destruction on Earth. He releases all of the monsters, leaving little hope for humanity.

Godzilla Final Wars 2Col. Gordon is released from prison since they know he is real and not a Xilien. Assuming command of the Gotango, he decides to release Godzilla from his icy grave in hopes that Godzilla defends Earth against the onslaught of monsters. However, Gigan is now loose and a confrontation with Godzilla is on. With Godzilla eventually killing Gigan and the humans boarding the alien mothership, Godzilla battles a new creature, Monster X, which soon evolves into King Ghidorah.

Godzilla: Final Wars has a tremendous amount of action and plot going on. The synopsis above doesn’t do the film justice. There are a lot of moments that will make any Godzilla fan happy. However, there are also elements that, quite frankly, I could have done without. First, I felt like I was watching a Power Rangers episode at times. I really didn’t care for the mutants storyline and the special effects made the film seem like it was taking a step back from some of the previous entries. The soundtrack didn’t impress me as much as the previous films either. It seemed to lack a powerful punch that was needed for the final Godzilla film. Outside of a brief moment at the beginning of the film, Akira Ifukube’s original score is sorely missing, a bad decision in my opinion. And the return of Minilla…I’m sorry but I’ve never really liked Minilla and his appearance here, while kept to a minimum, definitely wasn’t one of the film’s finer moments. On the other hand, seeing all of the great monsters return and the destruction happening all over the world was, well, awesome. Granted, some of the American scenes were pretty painful to watch. And poor Zilla didn’t fair too well did it? Toho’s moment of redemption made me smile.Godzilla Final Wars 3

All things considered, I did enjoy Godzilla: Final Wars. No, it isn’t going down as one of my favorites but it certainly had some fun moments. Unfortunately, it also had quite a few moments that it went off course. Godzilla looked great and some of the monsters, especially Rodan and Manda, never looked better. Director Ryuhei Kitamura tried to recapture the feel of Godzilla from the Showa era but the result is a little off as it has a chaotic and unfinished quality at times. Audiences were less than enthused with the effort and Godzilla: Final Wars was the least attended film in the series since 1975.

This was announced as Toho’s final Godzilla film for at least 10 years. They felt the franchise needed a rest and even went as far as to destroy the pool used for decades in filming the battle sequences. After watching it, I agree that a rest was in order.

Check out the trailer and yes, the DVD should be added to your collection for some of the battle sequences alone. For now, my Godzilla journey has ended. Come back tomorrow for a final wrap-up and maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll share some thoughts on 1998’s Godzilla.Godzilla Final Wars Final Scene

Mechagodzilla Saga Continues in Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)


For the first time in the Millennium series, there is a direct sequel to a previous entry within the same series. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) is the 27th entry in the long-running series and follows up after the events in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). Godzilla has been wounded and last seen heading out to sea. Mechagodzilla aka Kiryu is badly damaged and the Absolute Zero cannon is destroyed. Everyone knows that Godzilla will return, so the plan is to quickly repair Mechagodzilla and be prepared.Godzilla Tokyo SOS 1

Yumiko Shaku returns briefly as Akane Yashiro, adding some continuity prior to her character’s departure to the United States. Akira Nakao also returns as Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi. Repairs on Mechagodzilla are moving along slowly. The project is being rushed and some are fearful that it will be sent into battle unprepared. The Shobjin twin fairies appear to Professor Chujo (played by Hiroshi Koizumi, nicely reprising his role from the original Mothra in 1961) and warn him that Godzilla will return because of the bones inside Mechagodzilla. Mothra will defend Japan but only if the bones are returned to sea and laid to rest. Otherwise, Mothra will join the new Godzilla and destroy Japan. When Kamoebas (a giant turtle from Space Amoeba) is found washed ashore on a beach with claw marks, it’s determined that Godzilla is returning. Soon, Godzilla does just that and Mothra is there to stop Godzilla for now. Soon, the repaired Mechagodzilla  joins the action but Godzilla reigns supreme in the first battle.

Godzilla Tokyo SOS 2After Mothra is killed, larvae arrive from Infant Island and, after Mechagodzilla is repaired, round two is under way. After Mechagodzilla spears Godzilla’s chest with a drill, the larvae wrap him up in a cocoon. Mechagodzilla grabs the cocooned Godzilla and heads out to sea. The Prime Minister wants Godzilla destroyed but this is viewed as a compromise. With both at the bottom of the sea, Godzilla is apparently destroyed but so is Mechagodzilla. As has become customary in the Millenium series, a post-credit gives an indication that Godzilla may return. This time, we see a container marked as Kaiju DNA and an experiment is underway. Could we be seeing the birth of yet another Godzilla?

As stated previously, Mechagodzilla has never been one of my favorite characters. However, as presented in the Millennium series, I actually enjoy it and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. serves as a great sequel. With the same director, Masaaki Tezuka, and producer, Shogo Tomiyama, the two movies feel like one long adventure. The great sound track of Michiru Oshima is present in both as well, adding to the continuity. These two movies further my opinion that the Millennium series is much more enjoyable than the previous Heisei series. Godzilla has a great look and mobility and Mothra has never looked better.Godzilla Tokyo SOS 3

Check out the trailer and buy the DVD, which is available for less than $10. Next time, we finish up the series with Godzilla: Final Wars. Can the trend of Godzilla greatness continue?

The Machine Dragon Returns in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)


Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 1After the incredibly fun Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), the bar was set pretty high for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). The end result was a fun flick that, while not quite as entertaining as its predecessor, did offer up some continuity to other films in the Toho library.

The movie begins in 1999 and acknowledges Gojira (1954). Another Godzilla is attacking Tokyo and a young soldier, Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku), makes a key mistake during the combat. Godzilla survives but many others are killed. She is blamed for the failure and is moved to a desk job. After the combat, it was determined that a new weapon was needed should Godzilla return.  A robotic Godzilla is created using the skeleton of the original Godzilla. It is named Mechagodzilla but goes mostly by the nickname of Kiryu. Akane is named one of the pilots of this new weapon but many still blame her for the losses in 1999. Akane struggles with her self-worth as she becomes dedicated to vindicating herself in battle with Godzilla again.

Soon, Godzilla returns and Mechagodzilla is placed into battle. However, the spirit within the bones of the original Godzilla takes control and, after Godzilla returns to the sea, Mechagodzilla proceeds to destroy everything in sight. It eventually runs out of energy and they must go back to the drawing board. The inevitable rematch happens, this time with Mechagodzilla in control. The key weapon is known as the Absolute Zero (a big disintegrator ray) but it becomes useless when Mechagodzilla is damaged. Akane must board it herself to run it manually. A final showdown follows that ends in a standoff. Godzilla suffers a deadly blow to the chest but survives. As it returns slowly out to sea, Mechagodzilla is badly damaged with the Absolute Zero destroyed. The story isn’t finished yet as a return match is clearly set up for the sequel.Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 2

This was the first film in the Millennium series to acknowledge previously Toho entries. In addition to being a sequel to Gojira (1954), it also made reference to Mothra (1964), War of the Gargantuas (1966) and Space Amoeba (1970). While including Mechagodzilla, it made no reference to the previous Mechagodzilla films. That’s why it is mostly referred to as “Kiryu” or “machine dragon”.  The movie went on to great success, being the second biggest hit of the Millennium series. It should come as no surprise that it was the first in the Millennium series to have a sequel in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003).

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Mechagodzilla character. That said, of all the films using Mechagodzilla to date, this was my favorite. The special effects and soundtrack were top-notch and the story was engaging, while the battle sequences really stand out. As it also centers a lot on the character of Akane, along with the sub-plot of a scientist and his daughter, it adds some depth and really is a solid entry in this series.  Check out the trailer and add the movie to your collection.  At less than $15, it is well worth the investment.