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Rodan was uninspired, slow and downright boring. With a promising premise and an opening that did, indeed, capture my interest, by the time the titular monster Rodan was actually introduced I was bored as hell. An 80 minute film should not feel like double its running time, however Rodan drags so much that, half way through, I had to pause it to take a nap - that's not an exaggeration.
Unfortunately, I can't find a lot to actually commend about Rodan. In most of the scenes, even the actors seemed bored. A lot of the dialogue was delivered boring and uninspired. I think part of the problem is that someone working on the film got the idea that you can slap a cool monster into a movie and the audience will stay interested - unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. Rodan itself isn't a terrible kaiju. Although it does have the least inspired design of Toho's kaijus in my opinion, it's still a cool looking monster and scenes with it as the focus were definitely interesting. The meganulon (the big insect fuckers from the mineshaft) were also cool, and those with a keen eye may spot their only reappearance in 2000's Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. However, as with the majority of other kaiju films, while the monster is usually the primary focus (and namesake) of the film, what really carries it and holds the audience's interest is the human characters. So when the actors seem bored and present for their paycheck, it makes me feel bored and I don't get a paycheck for continuing watching (hence why I fell asleep at one point - I'm not on the clock, why should I spend my free time feeling like I am?)
Rodan reminds me of Godzilla Raids Again - slow and uninspired. Unfortunately, Godzilla Raids Again had interesting characters and it turned out to be a memorable and mostly-enjoyable film, unlike Rodan. It wasn't the worst film in the world, by far, and I don't regret watching it, however for someone interested in kaiju films, I wouldn't waste my time. Skip to the good stuff.
It's hard for David Lynch to make a bad film. Blue Velvet is the masterpiece that was greenlit as a "consolation prize", following the massive failure that was Dune (1984) (maybe his one bad film). Following some of Lynch's earlier work such as Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet is a natural progression from the more surreal and abstract films of Lynch's past. Lynch calls Dune a "learning experience", and from this, it's clear to see that he used what he learnt from Dune's failure when working on Blue Velvet, making it that much more thrilling.
Technically, it's hard to fault Blue Velvet. Kyle MacLachlan is a wonderful actor and delivers a stunning performance. Isabella Rossellini is both a great actor but also beautiful in the film and Dennis Hopper gives a terrifying and wonderful performance. Together, the three of them perform one of the best scenes in movie history when Jeffrey breaks into Dorothy's apartment. Another Lynch favourite actress, Laura Dern, also stars, adding to the already A+ cast. Angelo Badalamenti, maybe better known for his work on Twin Peaks, supervised the soundtrack. The film's soundtrack creates a wonderful and fitting atmosphere for the events that take place.
Overall, Blue Velvet is fundamentally a masterpiece. I'd call it one of Lynch's greatest films, however if I give that title to Blue Velvet, I'd have to give it to almost all of his other films, too. It is still one of my favourite films of all time, however, and I'd recommend it to anybody.
1961's Mothra was a bizarre spectacle that rolls with the punches. Strangely, while watching Mothra, despite things getting stranger and stranger it is easy to follow. Despite Mothra not actually showing up until close to the end of the film, the characters used - though somewhat generic - are interesting in themselves and it's enough to keep you watching before Mothra actually shows up. While Mothra manages to be goofy and strange in itself, the film is no more wacky and comedic than some of the films that came before it (such as "Godzilla Raids Again") and some that came soon after it (namely King Kong vs. Godzilla). Mothra manages to find a genuine balance between seriousness and wackiness which I do appreciate. Unfortunately the film has an issue with language, as some characters are speaking English and some characters are speaking Japanese. This is fine, but in the Japanese version there are occasionally subtitles for the American speech and occasionally nothing? Which character speaks what language is wildly inconsistent too and seems to be based on nothing, and the final product of this is that people will speak different languages to each other. The only other glaring problem I can think of that Mothra has is that it tends to bring up plot points that sound important but are never expanded on, such as the natives' juice that stops radiation sickness. Both of these are easy to overlook and ultimately I thought that Mothra was a lot better than many reviews give it credit for, and it's no wonder Mothra was Toho's second-most popular kaiju.
Firstly, as with most Godzilla films, the American version of the film is poorly recut and scenes are added that ultimately detract and confuse the viewer from the original film's intention. The best way to experience "King Kong vs. Godzilla" is a subtitled version of the original Japanese film.
"King Kong vs. Godzilla" was ultimately disappointing for what it sets out to be - pitting two very popular, very famous monsters against each other in a battle is the perfect premise, however there are multiple flaws that ultimately take away from the experience.
The most glaring fault within the film is its pseudo-comedic style. Serious in some scenes, downright goofy in others, it's often hard to tell when to take the characters seriously. This was an attempt to appeal to a broader demographic including children, however an appeal of both Godzilla and King Kong's source material is the feeling of helplessness and fear the monsters induce. There is an essence of this feeling in the film still, however it feels like Japan is just kind of done with Godzilla's shit and are barely afraid anymore.
Still, there is a lot to commend King Kong vs. Godzilla on. For 1963, the special effects are high quality, opting for the Toho standard suitmation, rather than King Kong's stop frame animation. While by today's standards the special effects are kind of silly, there's something to be said for the quality of the suits and some of the movements of the monsters themselves.
I did find, however, that even despite the special effects quality, many of the monsters' movements were very human, and whether intentional or not it was quite an obvious issue that brought me back to "I'm really watching a couple dudes in a suit throwing rocks at each other" instead of "Godzilla and King Kong are battling."
The film's video and audio quality is amazing, filmed in colour and widescreen. This is a big merit of the film, as despite its faults it looks beautiful and the score is great. A big problem I had with the previous Godzilla film, "Godzilla Raids Again" was the film's poor sound design, however this is easily rectified in "King Kong vs. Godzilla", which I am thankful for.
Ultimately, "King Kong vs. Godzilla" is goofy, silly and downright strange, however bottom line, it's a Toho Godzilla film - it can't go terribly wrong. I can't say this film will entertain you like either monster's source material, however I applaud it for its continuity, special effects and filming. It's worth watching for any Godzilla fan, however a casual fan interested in the upcoming 2020 "Godzilla vs. Kong" may not find much interest in the original version.
As the first film featuring Godzilla fighting another kaiju, "Godzilla Raids Again" is a historic film. To clarify - while entertaining in its own right, the dub and re-cut American version ("Gigantis the Fire Monster", renamed to avoid confusion with Godzilla, for some unknown reason) is not faithful to the original and serves to confuse the viewer more than watching a subtitled version of the original. So, this is a review of the original Japanese version of the film, not the American recut.
Similar to King Kong's quick-to-follow sequel "Son of Kong", "Godzilla Raids Again" was released very quickly after the release (and subsequent success) of Godzilla, with controversial critical opinion. It's important to say that no successful movie can release a sequel only a year later with it living up to the glory of the original - it just doesn't happen. Objectively, however, Godzilla Raids Again isn't a particularly bad movie. Godzilla is back, although it's a different Godzilla that was awoken by the same nuclear explosion, not the original Godzilla from the first film as he was undeniably killed. Thankfully, however, since Godzilla's first attack, Japan is a lot more ready to counterattack. "Godzilla Raids Again" is good at connecting branching storylines. There were a few moments where it felt that the film was sort of going on a tangent and I didn't see how it related to the overall plot, however quickly the film starts to build connections and any scenes that seemed unrelated quickly come together. This made for a story that was able to branch in different directions and continue to be interesting while keeping the core storyline close by.
Unfortunately, the film felt a little barren in a few scenes. "Godzilla" had some great music within its scenes, especially scenes where Godzilla was attacking. While "Godzilla Raids Again" had its moments, the music generally seemed quite sparse and forgettable. This also managed to extend to the dialogue and actions within certain scenes, although not as prominent, there were some times wherein the dialogue and acting weren't interesting or upbeat enough to hold my interest. This was made up for quickly, however, as quite a few scenes, especially those involving Godzilla, were just as interesting as the original film.
Overall, "Godzilla Raids Again" is forgettable. It's not bad, but it's forgettable. If you're a fan of kaiju films or Godzilla in general, this is a historic film based on the fact that it is the first time Godzilla fights another kaiju. However, for the average person, this is a film you can easily skip over. You're not missing much, but if you watch it I am sure you'll have a good time.