Saturday, May 12, 2012

“It's too bad Mothra has no alarm clock.”

1966. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster AKA Gojira, Ebirâ, Mosura: Nankai no daiketto. Godzilla fights a giant prawn on an island owned by spy movie villains.

So, we open with a ship getting sunk by…something. Next, the brother of one of the missing sailors wants to go search for him. He and his generic, interchangeable buddies sneak onboard a fancy yacht and run into a shady fellow who doesn’t admit to being, but pretty clearly is, a famous jewel thief. They wake up the next morning out at sea since the brother decided to take the boat looking for his missing brother and they reach an island ruled by the terrorist group Red Bamboo. The island also has a giant prawn named Ebirah that sinks ships when they come close. Our heroes get stuck on the island but hook up with a slave resistance movement. And for some reason Godzilla is asleep on the island. The big guy wakes up eventually and fights the sea monster, the island, which is volcanic, becomes unstable and the giant moth Mothra shows up because the good guys need some kind of way to leave the island.

Directed by Jun Fukuda. There’s not really much to recommend this movie. Godzilla vs. Megalon has better production values. Ebirah isn’t exactly A-Class when it comes to Godzilla foes because, let’s face it, there’s little intimidation to be had from a giant, delicious-looking prawn. And then we get Mothra, one of the other Major kaiju, but she just kind of feels tacked on as a deus ex machina to get the humans to safety. The monster fights are also fairly dull, with Godzilla and Ebirah tossing a rock back and forth at one point.  I’ve read that originally this was supposed to be a King Kong movie, so a shift in the production of the film probably didn’t help either.

Written by Shinichi Sekizawa and there’s quite a few dashes of James Bond in this movie. Secret island stronghold run by a terrorist organization? I’d say it qualifies. Easily the most interesting character is the jewel thief, because he’s a competent crook who gets thrust into a position of leadership and ends up rising to the challenge. It’s rather neat and he is essentially the only character to get some actual characterization. The rest of the movie though…rather forgettable and rather random. Mothra’s presence? Random. Godzilla’s presence on the island? Also random. Godzilla fighting a giant condor? Very random. Godzilla kind of taking a fondness to one of the main females? Random and creepy.

Original music by Masaru Satô (who worked with Akira Kurosawa on, lets be honest, much better films than this). The music channels the James Bond vibe, which is actually kind of cool hearing a groovy spy-sound in a Godzilla movie.

The few interesting moments in Gojira, Ebirâ, Mosura: Nankai no daiketto don’t really overcome the general blandness of the film. I had to watch it twice to really figure out the plot, and even then a lot of stuff doesn’t make sense (Mothra is on the island Because, for instance). Certainly a lesser Godzilla film.

*Note* Classical music not actually in the picture.

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