Director: Shunsuke Kaneko
Starring: Chiharu Niiyama, Ryudo Uzaki, Masahiro Kobayashi, Shiro Sano
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, or simply GMK, is set in the continuity of the original film and follows the return of Godzilla nearly 50 years after he was defeated by the Japanese Self Defense Forces. When a series of earthquakes and giant monsters has stirred up panic in Japan, a single reporter, Yuri Tachibana (Chiharu Niiyama) is convinced that the monsters’ appearance is linked to a newly revived Godzilla. Believing that the creatures are meant to protect Japan from the threat of Godzilla, Yuri attempts to convince her father (Uzaki Ryudo), commander in the JDSF, and the public at large that these guardian monsters are to be supported as our best hope to survive the new, more powerful Godzilla, now en route to Tokyo. As the stage is set, will the three guardian kaiju be able to repel the King of Monsters?
Helmed by Gamera director Shunsuke Kaneko, GMK is not only a terrific monster movie, but a great disaster film. Offering a look at the effects of such a calamity, should it befall a modern populace, it is an effective look at social climate and human mentality. Unique among many Japanese films, this picture articulates a historical ‘shame’ of sorts, personified in Godzilla. Providing a reason for the continuous attacks on Japan, it is suggested that not only is the dawn of the nuclear age responsible for the birth of Godzilla, but the atrocities committed in the name of war by Japan helped create the legendary monster. It’s an interesting take and resonates much more soundly in an international sense than probably any other kaiju film.
Besides the subtext residing in the picture, genre fans will be happy to note that GMK boasts some of best rubber suited action in the character’s history. Godzilla is back as the villain and he is without a doubt, formidable. His strength and abilities provide many ‘wow’ moments in both his encounters with other monsters and against human defenders. Battles are sprawling and epic, providing some surprising investment and a high casualty rate.
The humans do a decent job as well selling the events on screen. It’s taken for entertainment and there are numerous entertaining interludes where people discover the monsters, get caught in the way, or provide the odd moment of cultural memory. In particular a scene featuring a teacher preparing her students to evacuate when the effects of Godzilla’s trademarked breath attack are seen in the distance as a mushroom cloud. As the only country to ever be victims of nuclear bombs, the cultural fear of nuclear weapons is quite brilliantly shot in this scene. It’s effective and actually delivers a bit of a gut shot every time I see it.
While there have been dozens of giant monster films released over the years, I have never had as good a time in any of them as I do with GMK. It is terrific movie-going and a great example of how great storytelling and conscious filmmaking can truly transcend a genre that had become to many, childish and hokey. GMK is blockbuster filmmaking of the best kind; interesting, mature, and more entertaining than it had any right to be.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Gojira or Attack of Legion