Destroy All Monsters!


General Culture

I’m a big fan of Godzilla movies. As far as entertainment value goes, they’re hard to beat. So what’s so good about a Godzilla movie?

First of all, forget about the Emmerich Godzilla. That’s rubbish. What you want to watch are the Japanese Godzilla movies, and you want to watch the unedited, undubbed versions, since both the editing for the Western releases and their dubbing are usually quite horrible.

Here’s what you typically get. Some people do something (it doesn’t really matter), which makes some monster (could be Godzilla, could be some other monster[s]) appear. Curiously enough, the monster always decide to attack Japan, and curiously enough, authorities in Tokyo always know the names of the monsters. Some scientists get involved, as gets the military - they’re all useless, btw, since everything will always be solved by the main characters, often reporters. So the monster makes its way to Tokyo, and you get to see about ten mind-numbing minutes of people fleeing. Always the same. Then the monster arrives in Tokyo and trashes Tokyo. I don’t know how they manage to re-build Tokyo so quickly for the yearly monster, but somehow they pull it off. Well, turns out Tokyo is really just a pretty cheaply made set of models, and the monster is an actor in a rubber suit. And this is one reason why these movies are great. You know that it’s an actor in a rubber suit, and that’s why it’s fun. There’s no attempt to make it extra-realistic (Get that Hollywood? Don’t try so hard - it simply doesn’t work!). Anyway, the army attacks the monster, quite unsuccessfully so (as always - lots of shots of tanks, rockets, fighter jets, and mysterious laser weapons). Now it branches a little. If it’s Godzilla attacking Tokyo, they find some way to make it go away. The End. It’s more fun if it’s some other monster attacking Tokyo, because usually they then hope that Godzilla will come (yes the same Godzilla which trashed Tokyo before) to save the day. And of course, that always happens. So you get two (or maybe even more) monsters trashing the city while fighting with each other. This then is like Mexican wrestling, except that the wrestlers wear rubber suits and do the wrestling in a cheap set that might or might not look like a city. Apparently, in Japan they store lots of explosives in apartment buildings. Oh, I’m digressing. Godzilla inevitably takes a hit and is somehow injured, so the humans have to help out a little. They try all kinds of things (remember how I said the army and scientists are useless?), until the reporter guy and his female sidekick (plus the goofball who always sticks around) find the solution. Godzilla gets up, some more Mexican wrestling, the other monster is defeated, Godzilla goes back to Monster Island. The main actors wave goodbye to Godzilla and utter some wisdom that makes fortune cookies sound like the Encyclopedia Britannica. The End.

If you want some recommendations, here are some of my favourite Godzilla movies. There’s Godzilla vs. Gigan, which involves four monsters (but Godzilla’s sidekick monster is quite useless) and a bunch of space cockroaches (who disguise as humans) that are trying to take over the world (aka Japan). The goofball character looks like the guy in Pizzicato Five btw. That’s a good one, especially since one of the evil monsters comes equipped with a saw, so while its companion is shooting deadly laser rays, you get to see it saw a building in half. And then there’s Godzilla Vs Hedorah (aka the Smog Monster), where Tokyo is attacked by a monster created by environmental pollution. The first, original Godzilla, which you really want to see in its original version (since the US version is heavily edited and outright stupid) is a bit different btw. Made less than ten years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it starts out with what looks like outright footage from the nuclear destruction of those cities.