At the beginning of Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Godzilla has been absent from the Tokyo-leveling scene for something like fifty years. Judging by his appearance, he wasn’t hibernating during that time, but instead pursued a strict regimen of eating donuts and drinking beer. Seen in profile stomping through the wreckage of a burning city, all Godzilla needs is a wife-beater t-shirt, and you’ve got a giant reptilian Jake Lamotta, gone to seed and lashing out at everything around him.
The first in a trio of monsters to go up against Godzilla is Baragona, a ridiculous-looking creature with floppy ears and a horn for a nose. Apart from the ability to burrow underground there’s not much that separates him from any other giant monster. Playing Joey Lamotta to Godzilla’s Jake, Baragon gets the crap beaten out of him and disappears from the film, never to be seen again.
King Ghidorah, on the other hand, is a monster of legendary proportions. His terrible wrath is recorded in ancient lore and his return foreseen in prophecies of doom. Just the same, when Ghidorah finally makes his big entrance, he finds himself in the tricky position of having to live up to a possibly over-hyped reputation.
Still, there’s no denying that Ghidorah is gigantic! And can fly! And has three heads! Energy bolts crackling from each mouth!
And he’s a Guardian Monster! Not every behemoth can lay claim to that title. Actually, only three monsters come to mind. And now that I think about it, Baragon and Mothra are the other two.
Maybe it isn’t such a big deal after all. Forget I mentioned it.
Preoccupied with thoughts like “Just what is Ghidorah the King of, anyway?” and trying to decide whether the over-hyped monster is a has-been or a never-was, it comes as something of a shock to realize the three-headed flash in the pan is dead. Killed by Godzilla.
Next up is Mothra, and guess what–Godzilla also kills Mothra, kind of leaving the story with nowhere to go. Unaccountably, the expiring moth explodes in a Disney-esque burst of shimmering lights, and his sparkling, iridescent life force envelops Ghidorah, bringing the fallen Guardian back to life.
And Godzilla kills him.
At this point, the film comes dangerously close to jumping genres and turning into Groundhog Day for giant monsters. Ghidorah is resurrected one more time by the thousands of souls contained in an ancient piece of crockery, and, yet again, he is killed. Fortunately for all concerned, the third time is indeed a charm and Ghidorah remains dead, or at least has the good sense to play possum.
This movie has many problems, and predictable, one-sided monster face-offs are only the beginning. There’s also a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about Godzilla being the personification of the pain and death caused by Japan in the Pacific during WWII. Trust me, this film doesn’t have enough going for it to worry about a second overlay of meaning; First take care of business and stage fun, surprising monster battles before dragging in a bunch of high falutin’ metaphors.
Finally, the special effects are an uneasy hybrid of guys in monster suits and CGI. Towards the end of this final series of Godzilla films, the mix between miniature sets, rubber monsters, and CGI gets pretty good, but here, instead of creating it’s own oddball reality, it just comes off as too ambitious at best, and cheesy at worst.
Make no mistake about it, Godzilla is definitely kicking monster butt in this film, but as it turns out (and who could have guessed this?) you need more than that. I ‘m out!