I had never seen Son of Godzilla before last night. A friend of mine had described it as being… ahem… “a stupid log of bloody shit floating down a river of hate blood shat out of a whores eye hole”. Which is as vivid a description of a film as you could ever ask for. I had always though the film was merely the tipping point where Godzilla films stopped being family sci-fi adventure flicks and became focused on being children’s entertainment. But, you know, everyone has their own interpretation of a film. So, click the link below for mine.
Son of Godzilla follows a team of scientists working on a tiny island with a potentially world changing experiment. They are trying to find out if it will be possible to control the weather. They’re having a tough time of things though as some strange interference is getting in the way of their tests going correctly. Also, there’s a few 9ft tall Praying Mantis things wandering around their camp. A journalist called Goro (Akira Kubo) lands on the island because he “smells a story”. They soon discover a native girl Reiko (Bibari Maeda) who is just hanging about the island. Turns out the interference was caused by psychic cries coming from a giant egg. When one of their tests make the 9ft Mantis become 50ft Mantis the creatures head to break the egg open and kill its contents. Contained within the egg is a baby Godzilla, Minilla (Little Man Machan). Unfortunately (for us) they fail to kill this little hellspawn when it is rescued by Godzilla (Yu Sekida & Seiji Onaka), the King of the Monsters himself. From this point on there’s a load of “hilarious” scenes of Godzilla training Minilla as the scientists, Goro and Riko hide in a cave and try to fix a radio so they can get off the island before the giant spider Kumonga awakes and probably eats them and saves us all from this misery.
I really do not know what to make of this film. As a little adventure film for kids I suppose it’s something they may well enjoy, but it has nothing of anything. There’s no reason to it. Plot holes are everywhere, such as how did Goro survive a night out in the cold or why did the plane that sees where Godzilla is heading at the start not warn anyone on the island? There’s no message to deliver, even Ebirah, Horror of the Deep had that one line about nuclear weapons. I just can’t fathom this film. How did we go from Gojira, which is a deathly serious meditation and damnation of the pursuit of nuclear weapon technology to this, a film where Godzilla is taking part on 60s sitcom father and son activities? There’s still fights with monsters but they suffer from the same issue Ebirah had. They’re just big regular creatures.
Regarding the creatures, why have a reason for the Kamacuras (The Mantis) being made to grow to such a size but have no reason for Kumonga? About half way through the film some of the characters find notes relating to the existence of Kumonga and then a little later he digs his way out of the ground. At least the Kamacuras was created by man and Godzilla had to stop it. Kumonga is just a giant spider. You could say I’m trying to find too much reason in a Godzilla film, but, even in the last film Ebirah was representing the sort of mythological sea creatures spun from many a sailor’s tale. This film has giant bugs. At least the next film is Destroy All Monsters… Which I don’t have. What’s after that? All Monsters Attack, a film which takes place in a child’s dreams. Jesus, what is going on with these films?
The film continues the Hawaiian surfer adventure vibe, with regards to its score, that was started in Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Can’t say its a direction I thought Godzilla themes would take. But this is a brighter and lighter film so, for a comedy kids film, it’s probably about right. Doesn’t excuse the fact they let the films get to this sort of place. The budget has clearly been cut from the last film as there is now even less locations to visit and the largest amount of building destruction comes around halfway through the film when Godzilla knocks over a small hut. If only there was a Stonehenge for Minilla to trample underfoot just to complete the absurdity of this whole film.
Characters have no real direction or goal. They wish to escape the island when their tiny lab is destroyed. They need to do this by repairing the radio. The radio is then repaired because getting the radio repaired didn’t involve any sort of trial or task that needed to be overcome other than setting a transmitter up. Which was done by taking a swim that we don’t see happen. Some of the team come down with a fever too which Reiko informs everyone can be cured by some red water where Godzilla is currently staying. This should involve them having to retrieve the water whilst avoiding being crushed by Godzilla. Instead they sneak through a cave Kumonga is sleeping in and watch Godzilla teach Minilla how to roar and fire atomic breath. Every scene of action or drama involving the human characters just happens as they’re going about some other task. No purposeful obstacles to overcome, just stuff happening when they’re doing things. At least there is some attempt at a dramatic action moment when Kumonga corners Goro and Reiko, but that’s your one moment of drama. Goro and Reiko have some sort of a love story thing but it seems to come across more like he’s the first guy she’s met and so they may as well be friends. No kissing in Godzilla films you see. Well apart from that one in Invasion of the Astro-Monster.
Son of Godzilla is just an odd, mind numbingly childish and direction lacking film. I’ve always made an argument that just because a film is made for a child doesn’t mean it needs to be childish. You can provide something more for children and they will take it in and it will stick with them. Some would argue that the film is made for 5 year olds, but even 5 year olds get a satisfying story from Cars or Toy Story… but not Cars 2. I do not seem to be liking these Jun Fukuda directed Godzilla films. They are without tension. Without purpose. Without anything resembling satisfying action. How did we get here? Apparently it’s down to Toho wanting to mirror the success the Gamera films were having with kids. Sounds like the sort of “me too” marketing choices that are driving the games and film industries into the ground today. So, as mentioned earlier, my next review will be for All Monsters Attack. A film where they couldn’t even get past 70 minutes worth of content despite reusing a lot of footage from previous films. Oh man.