GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)
posted 00/00/2010

Directed by:
Motoyoshi Oda

Starring:
Hiroshi Koizumi ... Shoichi Tsukioka
Setsuko Wakayama ... Hidemi Yamaji
Minoru Chiaki ... Kôji Kobayashi
Takashi Shimura ... Kyohei Yamane-hakase

Country: Japan
Runtime: 82 min
Original title: Gojira no gyakushû
AKA: Gigantis the Fire Monster
         
         

Here lies the first of many, many Godzilla sequels. Yes, my dear blood-splattered compatriots, put away your chainsaws and other implements of violence because today we are discussing Godzilla part 2! Some of you may know it as Gigantis the Fire Monster, the American re-titling that almost completely re-edited the picture, but I assure you that this review will be based on the original Japanese masterpiece in all of its uncut black and white glory.

Two pilots, Tsukioka and Kobayashi, crash land on deserted Iwato island and glimpse what appears to be Godzilla fighting with another giant monster. Godzilla was melted to the bone at the end of the first movie, but he looks quite healthy at the start of this film. Is he another Godzilla-type dinosaur? I guess he'd have to be. Anyway the two titans fall into the sea and disappear. The men return to Japan and report what they saw. The scientists make them look through a book of dinosaur pictures and they pick out the second creature, Anguirus. The military and the science community start preparing for the arrival of the monsters, but the problem is they have no idea how to kill Godzilla, much less the new guy! The Oxygen Destroyer and Dr. Serizawa, who built it, are both gone and it looks like all they can do is minimize the damage as much as possible by evacuating possible entry points along the coast. Soon, word spreads that Godzilla is making landfall in Osaka where all of our cast is located (convenient, I say). The military is mobilized and when Godzilla (who I am going to refer to as GZ from now for the sake of brevity) shows up they distract him with flares and it seems to work, leading him away from Osaka Bay. Everything will be okay if Osaka stays in a blackout, but it just so happens that a bunch of prisoners decide to escape their transport and the ensuing chase ends in a giant explosion at a nearby chemical plant that sets the bay on fire. This draws Godzilla back and the military responds the only way they know how. It does no good, because Godzilla is indestructible and he just strolls on past.

Anguirus shows up then and the military's attention is divided as the two monsters start wrestling. Sometimes they are men in suits and sometimes they are ridiculous hand puppets, but it is always entertaining. The giants battle it out amidst the rubble of the city, kicking, clawing and bitting each other. All the while, the townspeople and the police flee the area before they become part of the scenery too. GZ eventually gets the upper hand and bites down on Anguirus's neck, killing the creature. GZ sets him on fire and calmly walks back out to sea. Everything returns to normal as the clean up begins. Kobayashi and Tsukioka return to work as the fishing industry tries to repair the damage done to them by GZ's appetite. Soon enough a ship is capsized and the boys are sent out in scout planes to look for signs of GZ. While Tsukioka stubbornly refuses to stay within the searching grid, Kobayashi gets advice from Tsukioka's girlfriend on what girls like and what he should get them. Apparently, women love handbags, watches and stockings so any of you guys trying to woo a girl just go out and buy her some socks.

Tsukioka manages to spot GZ but is running low on fuel so Kobayashi relieves him with his plane and is joined by the military. With Anguirus dead, GZ has nothing to do but return to the island where we first saw him and wander around. Here he meets the bombs of the Japanese military yet again. Getting antsy at the fact that none of the bombs are having any affect, Kobayashi tries to dive past him to distract GZ but crashes into the side of a mountain and causes a mini-avalanche. The military sees this and gets the bright idea to bury GZ in an avalanche. Half the squad returns to base to load "rocket missiles" and finish GZ off once and for all. Tsukioka asks to join the squad to avenge his friend and the last 20 minutes of movie is basically GZ being bombarded by missiles and slowly being buried in the snow. Kobayashi is avenged, but he still died without ever having a girlfriend, and GZ is under a hundred feet of ice and done away with...until the next movie that is.

This is GZ's first smack-down movie and the spiny Anguirus, who manages to appear a dozen more times in the series, does a fine job of being the foe. The difference between the first and second is that GZ is not the main antagonist. He is still very much a threat, but Anguirus shares the blame, even if for just a little while. This is also the most Air-force heavy of the films, since most of the attacks on GZ happen by planes and the main characters spend a good chunk of time in their planes looking for GZ. This is a sequel that gets it right. It is different enough but just similar enough to Gojira that it captures the spirit of the original yet takes the story to a new and interesting place. Out is science as the savior and in is massive firepower as the answer. And just like in the original, GZ's got a dopey face that is just perfect. He will eventually be redesigned to look more badass, but here he looks kind of cuddly. The film is old and black and white, but before you groan I must say that the film holds up very well and is actually one of the better sequels because it never bores and it never drags the monster fights ridiculously long. This is a fun film and it carries my strongest recommendation.

- Jose Prendes

 

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