GMK: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK
Directed By: Shusuke Kaneko
Written By: Keiichi Hasengawa, Masahiro Yokotani, Shusuke Kaneko
American Distribution By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Out of the many, many Godzilla films to have come out over the years, this is one that to this day I still cannot comprehend a reason as to why it didn’t get a shorter name than Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Admittedly, I can’t think of a better name myself at the moment but the point remains that when a film’s name consists of nine words in total, it’s far too long for casual conversation.
Inconvenient naming aside, GMK is arguably the most distinctive of the Godzilla films as it is the only one to be categorized under the Fantasy genre of films, at least amongst fans. It is also the film that solidified the concept of division amongst the Millennium series films in that it, along with a few that followed and its precursor Godzilla: 2000, all are “sequels” to the first Godzilla movie. Not a bad idea in the long run as it does make sense to start fresh but it was rather frustrating to not have a continuation for some of the stories involved.
Still, on its own merit, GMK is truly one of the better “sequel” films to the original Godzilla if only on the idea of making Godzilla a truly villainous force rather than another victim of nuclear power. Though, in hindsight, one could say that Godzilla is even more of a victim in this film than ever before, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
The human side of the film focuses heavily upon the father and daughter pair of Admiral Taizo Tachibana, commander of the Self Defense Force in Japan, and his daughter Yuri who is… something of a reporter.
I say something of as, initially, she is introduced to us by way of her filming a fictional documentary before she, inadvertently, becomes swept up with a prophecy told to her by a crazy old man who warns her not only of Godzilla’s return but of the force slowly arising to face the creature head on. For this time, mortal hands alone cannot defeat the monstrosity that once plagued Japan so long ago.
Do you remember my dear readers how I mentioned that this film’s Godzilla differentiates itself from its predecessors and successors? It does so with one key fact.
This Godzilla is a walking corpse.
No, you read correctly dear readers. Godzilla was indeed slain all those years ago by a specialized chemical reaction that none had been able to duplicate or uncover since. Though the body had slowly regenerated in the decades, the soul within it had moved on, leaving the living corpse open for something else to move in.
Specifically, the lost souls of World War II soldiers whom perished at sea and whose spirits were never put to rest and whose sacrifice and honor had become forgotten in this modern era. The cabal of souls entered the body of Godzilla and together made it walk the earth once more but whereas before, Godzilla attacked out of instincts, this was a rampage of true destruction and death.
In this film, Godzilla purposefully attacks and destroys everything and anyone in his path but if a few examples are necessary… There is a moment where Godzilla stomps past a hospital where we see a recovering young girl freak out at the creature’s approach and breathe a large sigh of relief as it apparently moves on only for the monster’s tail to come swinging in and destroying the hospital in a single blow.
A more telling moment though occurs a bit later when Godzilla actually stops and looks back down at a crowd of people that are, for once, fleeing in a direction that he’s not heading towards before obliterating them via a blast of his nuclear flame.
No incarnation of Godzilla has ever done such a thing before or since. Sure, he will doggedly pursue any and all attempts made at harming him but he does so because he feels that any such attack is an attack on his authority as King and will continue to advance until either the threat is vanquished or he gets what he has come for.
Of course, with Godzilla’s presence comes those who dare to stand against him, the very Guardian Monsters that the supposedly crazy old man told Yui of: Baragon of the Earth, Mothra of the Water, and Ghidorah of the Sky.
Now, here’s an interesting point I want to bring up. Originally, while Baragon was left unchanged, Mothra and Ghidorah replaced the original choice of Anguirus and Varan respectively for the beastly representative of the Water and the Sky. This was done against the director’s wishes because it was thought that with the marquee value to their names, the film would draw higher revenue. Frankly, it is both disappointing and silly because while Ghidorah is a clear choice for the sky, it makes no sense that Mothra, a BUTTERFLY, would represent water in any fashion.
Still, the fights between the Guardian Monsters and Godzilla are amazing to behold. This is one of the few, and I emphasize few, Godzilla films where the monsters, Godzilla and Baragon in particular, actually have something close to actual facial expressions. Godzilla in particularly reads as being quite human in its ferocity and its nonchalance towards the Guardian Monsters whom are all, and yes that’s including Ghidorah, smaller and weaker than it.
Even so, the Guardian Monsters proved to be Godzilla’s undoing even in their demise as they own souls entered Godzilla’s body to try and overcome those of the perished soldiers. For whatever reason, this caused Godzilla to lose buoyancy and start to sink before ultimately meeting its end by way of Admiral Tachibana by way of…
Actually… I think I’ll refrain from saying anything on that regard. Frankly, it was such a surprising twist of events that even now I can’t help but still be amazed that it actually worked!
The human side of the film is surprisingly strong, being a pivotal plot point throughout the entirety of the movie in far too many ways. In the general populace, we see an almost justified reason for Godzilla’s resurrection and assault. The people have not only forgotten of the soldiers’ sacrifice but most call Godzilla nothing more than a legend.
This might just be me but if there is documented evidence of a freaking radioactive monster laying waste to the heart of my country, I sure as heck wouldn’t brush it aside as an overinflated myth. Especially when that myth comes stomping into town with an unholy vengeance born from the thousands of lost souls of one of the greatest and most terrible wars this world has ever seen!
For pity’s sake, they actually think that Baragon is Godzilla at first! Baragon who is dog-sized compared to Godzilla never mind possessing none of his most famous traits or abilities! The worst part though, and I don’t say worst as in the scene itself being bad it was in actuality quite funny but made me want to smack some people upside the heads and I’m rambling—
The worst part that really paints the modern people in a really pathetic light is that some tourists who happen to spot Baragon heading their way as their tour a mountain trail, actually stop to try and take pictures of him and of themselves before evacuating. True, he’s a ways off but for crying out loud people! It’s not like the Earth Guardian was actually taking his sweet time!
Though I’ll give credit where credit is due. During a debriefing/lesson in the Self Defense Force, a couple of soldiers are heard muttering to each other about how there had been a reported incident in America of an attack by a large reptile that they claim was Godzilla. The retort is, and I quote, “that’s what the Americans say but not here in Japan.”
I laughed myself sick when I first heard that line.
As to the main characters of Admiral Tachibana and his daughter Yuri… in the case of the admiral, he is a man who understands the threat that Godzilla possesses because he has seen firsthand what the end result of the monster’s rampage leaves. It left him an orphan, without a home, and in some serious need of therapy I’m sure. As to his daughter Yuri, she’s a reporter but one that actually has the rare and elusive ability that most reporters seem to lack.
Not common sense but honesty. She knows the risks she takes in trying to document the Guardian Monsters’ attempts at stopping Godzilla, going so far that it even attracts Godzilla’s attention and fury upon her in the film’s climax, but she does so anyway. That’s a dedication to the job, and the world, that I can appreciate.
Overall, I say give this film a watch. Even if you’re not a true-blue Godzilla fan, I think you’ll find some enjoyment in a film that tells the King of Monsters in a more fantastical light.