ghidorah, the three-headed monster
or, the one with godzilla’s face turn
i didn’t remember this being a big step down from mothra vs. godzilla but it absolutely is. like, don’t get me wrong: it’s not bad. i mean. it’s a godzilla movie, ffs. and it definitely has two choice moments in the form of ghidorah’s emergence and mothra convincing godzilla and rodan to team up against ghidorah (more on that later). but i didn’t remember the turn from seriousness/gravitas to silliness/slapstickyness being so… complete. later films would actually integrate the two tones and play off both of their strengths much more effectively, but ghidorah, the three-headed monster leaned in hard to silliness.
the beginning of the film is pretty human-heavy and the human stuff is honestly kinda disjointed and stop/starty in ways that make it a little hard to get into the movie. also, i should really probably hate this one because apparently the shifty, comically ineffectual villains that are trying to assassinate the princess are explicitly supposed to be communists? but honestly the entire thing was kinda too silly to take seriously enough to be upset about it.
this is the part where i’m supposed to say that everything gets drastically better once the monsters get involved, and… i guess that’s kinda true since godzilla’s introduction is at least pretty alright, but honestly the monster stuff in this is way more uninspiring than i remember it being. like, godzilla’s fight with rodan has one or two moments (the part where rodan kinda tackles godzilla from behind and then picks him up to drop him from a long way up was pretty cool), but a lot of it is blatant slapstick and that just really isn’t my jam. ymmv.
even godzilla and mothra and rodan vs. ghidorah isn’t a great fight. and like, conceptually i just don’t love the idea that all three of the other monsters are needed to match ghidorah) but it at least has a pretty big redeeming feature in the form of mothra convincing the other two monsters to team up with her against ghidorah. it’s a pretty great character moment for mothra especially, because when reasoning with godzilla and rodan turns out to be a bust, she actually decides “fine, i’m just gonna fight ghidorah myself” and her bravery basically guilts the other two into joining her. mothra ends up coming across as a big fucking hero. and hey, she’s still a larva in this! talk about patience and continuity.
invasion of astro-monster
hi this movie fucking rules.
if you had asked me before my recent rewatch of mothra vs. godzilla catapulted it to the top spot in my rankings, either invasion of astro-monster or godzilla against mechagodzilla woulda been the two main competitors for my favorite kaiju movie of all time, and invasion of astro-monster was my favorite of the shōwa era and it wasn’t particularly close.
apparently there are a lot of complaints about the special effects budget being noticeably smaller in this one, as well as quite a bit of footage from previous films being reused, but i honestly wasn’t even a little bothered? and like, that brief little godzilla and rodan vs ghidorah fight at the end is actually a drastically better fight than the bigger, longer one in ghidorah, the three-headed monster? (on a more personal/thirsty note, there’s a moment in the brief fight on planet x where godzilla just runs full speed at ghidorah, jump-tackles him, and briefly straddles him, and i am so fucking jealous of that three-headed bitch.)
in addition to that pretty worthwhile fight at the end, we get a pretty extended sequence of godzilla, rodan and ghidorah just kinda stomping around destroying buildings and it kinda super works for me. this sequence has a ton of closeups of godzilla destroying things by stepping on them or just carelessly thrashing his tail around if you’re into that kind of thing, not that… not that, uh, i am or anything *nervous laugh* the uh absolute helplessness of the humans’ massive artillery barrages to do anything to even so much as slow the monsters down is… uh… also definitely not a huge turn-on or anything. ok but seriously this sequence definitely doesn’t only work for me because i’m a thirsty bitch (… though it certainly doesn’t hurt), it’s also just pretty effective in spite of the alleged constraints on the special effects budget.
a lot of the joy of this film also comes from the fact that it’s a flying saucer movie and a kaiju movie combined, and honestly i really genuinely enjoyed the xians as the big alien menace. their flying saucers look fantastic (and somewhat archetypal), their costumes are very space agey and awesome-looking. they make grand threats and ultimatums, demand humanity’s submission and obedience (which i’d obviously be inclined to grant)… it’s just everything you would ever want from a flying saucer movie but also there are fucking kaiju in it!! what more could you want?
this film continues the trend of giving godzilla plenty of personality. when the xians’ flying saucer pulls him out of the lake, we get the revelation that he cuddles his fucking tail when he sleeps, that is the most adorable thing ever i just… i don’t even know, guys! and then he’s being flown around by that flying saucer for a while still cuddling his tail and it’s the most adorable thing ever and just asdfgagljakdgh. in the fight scenes, he bounces around like a cocky boxer or professional wrestler or something and idk it just looks so much fun to be him, y’know? i will cop to the fact that i thought the victory jig on planet x was a smidge excessive, but it didn’t “break” the movie or character for me or anything and i am just super not here for people who are excessively bent out of shape about it, y’know? but all the other little things this movie does to give him a little more personality are very welcome imho.
honestly, my only real complaint here is why was my girl left out of the fun? i would have loved a little passing reference to the xians knowing that mothra wouldn’t be as easy to mind control as godzilla or rodan or her being too naturally “good” to be swayed or something like that. but also it’s a little weird the humans didn’t at least consider turning to her for aid. i know the out-of-narrative reason is probably that they just didn’t want to include her in this particular film, but idk, it just felt off to not even mention her given the situation, y’know?
attendant to this was, of course, the fact that what honda was going for was a very optimistic notion of humanity uniting under a banner of science to vanquish the otherwise seemingly insurmountable threats we’re facing. which, for the record, is also the goal of communism. so like. if this sounds like a great idea to you, i can recommend some reading material (and know some people who can recommend much better reading material than i can). just saying.