May 6, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla Raids Again (1959)

Following the success of Gojira, Toho immediately put the production of a sequel into motion. Six months later, Godzilla Raids Again arrived on the big screen proving that Hollywood isn't the only place where sequels get rushed to theaters. The first misstep was when they did not wait for Ishiro Honda's schedule to free up for it, instead they turned to Motoyoshi Oda to take the reigns. The end result is sort of entertaining, but falls short of the horror of the original and only hints at the camp that would come through the 1960s.

Godzilla Raids Again is one of the lesser films of the series, and the rushed production did it no favors. It is notable for introducing the Godzilla vs. (insert monster here) formula that would work throughout the majority of the series. In this case it is Anguirus, the Ankylosaurus derived creature. While bringing us the familiar format, it failed to deliver any real human drama. The human characters just seemed to be biding their time waiting for the monster stuff to be over as their stories are interrupted.

The American recut version appeared theaters in 1959, four years after it was made and released in Japan. This version was altered so much as they tried to disguise the fact it was a Godzilla movie. The chopped version was retitled Gigantis, the Fire Monster. They do acknowledge the fist film, claiming Gigantis is of he same species as Godzilla and was awakened, with Anguirus, at the same time.

The heroes are a pair of pilots who work for a fishing company. One day while out searching for tuna, one is forced to make an emergency landing, after which they stumble upon a pair of monsters fighting on the island before falling into the ocean. The creatures being Godzilla and Anguirus. The two get back to their base and report their findings. There are then talks of what to do about these things which are surely heading for Japan.

Soon enough Godzilla makes landfall with Anguirus on his tail. They battle through Osaka, destroying everything in sight while the military throws everything they have at them. The battle is a vicious one which leaves Anguirus at the bottom of the bay and the military still wondering what they can do about Godzilla. While the battle is vicious, it is clear this movie cold have been called Godzilla Beats the Snot out of Anguirus.

The movie's tale is primarily told through voice over by one of the pilots. It gets a little annoying after awhile. In addition to the narration, the American version is saddled with tons of stock music replacing the original score, as well as some really poor quality stock footage. The dubbing is poorly done, it seems the script was rewritten with words aimed at matching the actors mouth movements rather than for content, oftentimes the monsters names were flipped and switched around, making keeping them straight something of a chore. In addition to that, Godzilla's, sorry, Gigantis' roar was different everytime. There were only a couple of times where the classic Godzilla roar can be heard, but most of the time is much more like Anguirus's roar.

I don't know... Godzilla Raids Again is not all that great of a movie, but at the same time, we do get a fun fight between a couple of monsters, and it showed that there was interest in giving audiences more of the big guy, even if this specimen outing almost killed the future. It cannot be considered a highlight of the series, but still is strangely watchable, despite the atrocious dubbing and story that almost treats the masters as secondary figures. Skip it and you won't miss much, but if you like Godzilla, you need this to complete the tale.

Mildly Recommended.

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