Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Caterpillar jizz defeats space monsters too.

Coming right off the heels of Godzilla vs. Mothra, one of the better movies in the Godzilla cannon, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster continues the previous films success by playing off a lot of the same ideas. While this is the first movie to come without an overt, political agenda, it doesn't really suffer because of it. In fact, it was a little refreshing to avoid the ideology in my monster movie. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed monster continues the pleasing science fiction and fantasy aspects that were introduced in Godzilla vs. Mothra and further builds the world that these monsters inhabit. This results in a generally pleasing experience even if it's steeped in camp and a little slow to develop.

After his previous defeat at the hands of Mothra, Godzilla finally re-emerges 45 minutes into a obnoxious detective movie and things start to get good. At the same time, the dreaded King Ghidorah, destroyer of planets, emerges from a meteor and starts shooting stuff with his lightning breath. It's up to Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan, a monster that looks like a reject bird, to join forces and fight King Ghidorah. If they don't, earth will be totally destroyed. The movie marks the first movie for recurring villain King Ghidorah, the first Godzilla movie for Rodan and the first time that Godzilla doesn't trash Japan. It's a fan favorite for these reasons and more, but it never really transcended it's cult nature to impress the masses or the critics.

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster has a lot in common with the previous film in the series Godzilla vs. Mothra. It is a direct sequel, bringing back Mothra and Godzilla exactly as they were left off, and it also maintains much of the same tone and charm that made its predecessor so appealing. The movie expands on the world that Godzilla and Mothra inhabit, adding new monsters, like Rodan, and the idea of aliens and space monsters, to create the Godzilla world that most people know. If Godzilla vs. Mothra was the first step towards building a world, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster was the completion of that work. The monsters here have real personalities finally, especially Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan, and the monster fights are hilariously campy and entertaining. They play kind of like Three Stooges acts except the Stooges are wearing giant rubber dinosaur suits. This results in fight scenes that are, sometimes, laugh out loud funny and very enjoyable. The movie also manages to avoid bludgeoning the audience with some sort of political agenda. While some the films were successful in this respect, it was boring and uninteresting in most of them. While the film-makers made the right decision to leave out the moral lesson and the unnecessary love story, they failed to cut the plot in key places.

The biggest problem with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is that the first 40 minutes of the movie are dull and tedious. Once again, we are introduced to more characters than is necessary and burdened with too much plot development. It's not that the characters here are poorly written or portrayed, it's just that they aren't what I came to see. For some reason, we have a lot of manufactured drama to keep the plot development rolling instead of just using the actual drama of the giant monsters that are on the loose. The movie also suffers from an extremely abrupt ending. Just as the fight is starting to get interesting, Ghidorah just flies away. There's no back and forth here. Ghidorah is winning, then he is loosing and he flees. After that we see Mothra returning to her Island and we learn nothing of what Godzilla and Rodan do. Maybe this will be addressed in the next movie, but it felt like an odd way to end the film.

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is a worthy follow up to Godzilla vs. Mothra and another exciting addition to the series. I was worried that, after the huge drop off in quality that Godzilla Raids Again and King Kong vs. Godzilla represented, the series was going to be painful to watch. I didn't want to have the memories of my childhood crushed quite like that and it's good to see that there is still a lot to enjoy in these movies. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is goofy, fun and almost exactly what any Godzilla fan could ask for. You might be best off skipping the first half of the movie, but the fights towards the end will bring a smile to the face of anyone who has ever enjoyed a cheesy movie.


No comments: