“Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” (2001)

This film starts off by completely rewriting Godzilla history and lore. Gone is ALL of Godzilla’s story save for the 1954 story and the 1998 American film mentioned as a possible Godzilla incident. All of the rich cannon of Godzilla’s villains is also gone, which makes watching this film something to adapt to for those of us who have soaked in the rich tapestry of his history. With that said, what we have in this film is a fabulous one that repositions Godzilla as the terrible destructive kaiju from the 1954 film that introduced the world to him.

There are many changes in this film. Godzilla is revamped. Gone are the elongated spikes of the previous two Millennial Era films, the ears, double rows of teeth and expressive eyes. Instead this Godzilla has dead white eyes, suitable for this evil, destructive version. His glistening white teeth are long, sharp, and threatening. His toe claws curl down into dangerous points. He is lethal and precise with his atomic breath, using it far more than I ever recall him using it before. His spikes are still long, though less pointy and slightly smaller than in the previous two films. This is not an anti-hero or savior Godzilla, this is a villain one. Nothing communicates his changed status more than the three Guardian Monsters arrayed against him: Mothra, Baragon, and King Ghidorah in a hero mode.

No longer is King Ghidorah the villainous outer space nemesis of Godzilla, here he is the Thousand Year Old Dragon, slumbering guardian of the ancients summoned to protect the people from the terrible evil of Godzilla. Mothra is, as always, beautiful in his powerful beauty and Baragon’s fight with Godzilla exemplifies exactly how vicious our once heroic kaiju is now. I admit, it took me a while to adjust to the new narrative and tone of this one, I was so used to Godzilla as the anti-hero. Even to see Godzilla senselessly destroy Tokyo at the end of “Godzilla 2000” was a bit of a shock. This film seems to be a bit of a one-shot story, a way to revisit Godzilla’s original roots and pay homage to the grand destructive creature he started as. It is a success in what it sets out to achieve. Godzilla films work best when the creature side work the the human element and this film works on all levels.

The tension in the human element of the film is palatable, with the father being in charge of the armed response and the daughter trying to pursue the media element. Admittedly the story of the old man comes across as a bit hokey at the end, and the long haired media guy wears thin in some scenes, but you could nitpick any film like this. What distinguishes this film are the epic kaiju fight sequences, of which this film has many!

Once Godzilla squares off against Baragon the film turns into a kaiju dominated film, either giant monster vs giant monster, kaiju vs armed forces, or kaiju vs both. Whichever way the fight goes down it is exciting, wonderfully choreographed, brilliantly staged, and destructively fantastic. Monsters are where they should be in relation to their environment and each other, movements make sense, there are no illogical gaps or lapses, Godzilla doesn’t suddenly leap up into the air, fly, or raise up. The kaiju all demonstrate abilities within their realm, save Mothra who reveals a new ability, but not one that boggles the mind. After watching the tragically dismal fight choreography and execution in “Godzilla vs. Megaguirus” I was blown away by this film that came out just ONE YEAR LATER.

“Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” definitely earns a top spot as one of the best Godzilla films. It easily honors the legacy of Godzilla exactly how the best films in the franchise should. It was a gutsy move to reposition Godzilla as a villainous monster after so many had already fallen in love with him as the anti-hero savior at this point, but it was a move that definitely paid off and gave us and excellent entry into an franchise filled with good films. Now, onto “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” (2002)


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