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For a while now I've been considering doing this for a series, or a game, or something else that I know well. Mostly because the Dark Yagami liveblog made me wonder if I could do something nearly as good. Seeing that monster films in general are too generic a topic, and that my library doesn't include the likes of Boa vs. Python that would make for some hamtacular snark, I'm going to take on something actually challenging: Godzilla himself. Now, it's important to bear in mind that I love the big guy. Haven't seen all (or even half) of the Toho films, but they can be found. I'll try and do this in chronological order, but depending on which ones I have at any one time, it might be out of whack. Not that this would really be all that important anyway. And I'll try to keep snark about dated effects to a minimum, but do forgive the times that I give in to temptation and make a crack at it. Hopefully, this will turn out to be amusing to read. The first film will be the original Gojira, from 1954. My version is subbed Japanese, so forgive me if some translations are a little off the mark. First post should be up sometime tomorrow (German time, that is).
edited 9th Nov '10 9:53:31 PM by balrog1911
Time to dig into what I will admit is one of my all-time favourite films. It probably does not deserve the snark that it’s about to receive, but here goes anyway. It begins (in black and white, of course), with a very loud boom, and the opening credits. Handily enough, the title card is subtitled. But none of the following text is, which doesn’t help much, as I can’t read Japanese. The real problem is that I’m imagining this whole credits bit being the Japanese equivalent of “A Moose once bit my sister” (“A kaiju once stomped/vaporized/otherwise annihilated my city” perhaps) and that those in charge have just been sacked. Well that didn’t take long. On the upside, the music is fantastic. It is stirring and wonderful. Now if only something were happening besides scrolling text… Cut to open sea. Or rather, a ship’s wake on the open sea. Then sailors strumming a guitar, playing some music, and relaxing. Suddenly, a loud bang. There is a bright flash of light and…a gust of wind. I know this is meant to be an atom bomb shockwave, but it honestly looks like these guys got pushed over by a somewhat weak rainstorm. The ship is now on fire and sinking. Two men look strangely calm as they send an SOS, only to be overwhelmed by water. I think they were meant to be on the ship, but the cut is a little jarring, considering it was mostly underwater already. We cut to other people with machines and more Morse code. Somehow, I doubt they’re on the ship. Back to the boat - only the prow is left with smoke curling off it. Well, at least the petrol didn't catch fire. Next up, a ringing phone. Will the action never end? The man who picks it up (Ogata) is a salvage worker and we only hear his side of the conversation. Now, my Japanese is definitely not up to par – in fact it’s nonexistent – but I somewhat doubt that what sounds like three words translates to “Yes, I understand clearly. I’ll be sure to get on it as soon as possible.” Sure, that may be the sentiment of it, and it’s probably the same as when a German dub takes the English “Yea” and turns it into “Of course, I’ll definitely do it” but it seems a bit of a liberty. Conversation with his girlfriend. They had plans, but he has to work. Conversation at the salvage company - they discuss the missing boat. Nobody knows what happened, except that there was an explosion. Another ship is investigating. Oh goody, I wonder what’ll happen to it. I’m sure they’ll be just fine and dandy. We cut to a boy’s bathtub and his toy boat. Wait, no, that’s meant to be the other ship on an ocean. The water lights up, the boat is on fire. Incidentally, it was called the Bingo-Maru, which gave me an odd image of a bingo-playing boat. The company confirms to some people that both ships have sunk. Survivors are rescued but they don’t know from which boat just yet. And another boat has “met the same fate” apparently. Then, NEWSPAPERS! Two headlines proclaiming that ships are disappearing and it could be mines or an underwater volcano, or so the subtitles tell me. Next we’re treated to lots of people sitting on a beach. They seem to be waiting for good waves to break out the boards and go surfing. I can just about spot Bodhi! Or maybe that’s my overactive imagination. A young man and an older guy see what could be a raft out on the water, and so they alert people. By screaming at the top of their lungs. Because that’s what you do when you’ve spotted driftwood. The raft / driftwood brings us a catatonic man. His name is Masagi. He tells us that “He did it…the monster..” Now, what monster? No way to know. But an old and grumpy islander knows! And so we get our first mention of the title, when Grumpy Old Man says they’ll all become prey for Godzilla. I’m going to go with that spelling because otherwise it’ll get too annoying with the subtitles. Some scientists land on the island. I have to guess that they heard about this monster as well, because the film doesn’t tell us what they’re doing. For all we know, they could be researching the growth of earthworms, but nobody would be dumb enough to make that part of a film about giant monsters…Oh Wait!. Cut to what is for this island a traditional dance, or exorcism ceremony. The subtitle can’t make up its mind. Grumpy Old Man regales us with delightful tales of the time when they would sacrifice young girls in order to not be eaten. Now, it might be just me, but he seems to be enjoying the idea of that a little too much. A good human sacrifice is nothing to scorn, sure, and it seems to appease just about everything, but wow. GOM, I’ve alerted the police about you. At night, there is ominous music and a storm. The young man who spotted the driftwood-raft-man-thing wakes up and goes outside. Then the house collapses, with his brother inside. More buildings are destroyed, villagers run away. I half expect one to ask why, at the beginning of every Godzilla film, some town or village needs to be destroyed. But then again, this is the first. They didn’t know, the poor chaps. We end this first part with a shot of a helicopter being blown onto its side. Now I said I’d try to keep myself in check vis-à-vis dated effects, but that one is so obviously a toy it’s just…slightly painful. The top half even snaps of rather flimsily. My MST3K-addled subconscious is going “Special effects by Timmy!” What will be next? I’m sure most of you know. But that’s another part, for another day.
So, I take it you're not a fan of Amerizilla (or just zilla, if you prefer) huh? Anyway, yeah, special effects have improved since the release of this thing, but hey, at least they were trying.
Standing on its own it's not as spectacularly bad as it's often made out to be, but it was really just trying to cash in on the name. I mean, I've watched most bad monster movies out there, and it doesn't even come close to the horrific quality of some, but yea. It just ain't Godzilla. If only they'd called it something different. That's not to say it's a good film. Either way I'll be going through it as well. Anyways, next bit of this will be up soon.
edited 11th Nov '10 2:21:41 AM by balrog1911
Ready, kiddies? We're back to Monster Movie 101. Time to dig back into the big daddy of everything to do with giant monsters. When last we left, what seemed to be more than just a storm destroyed an island town/village and the Young-Guy-Who-Spotted-The-Raft’s brother sadly died in their house’s collapse. Oh, and someone's toy helicopter got in front of the camera. Anyways, the aftermath! Which consists of a bus arriving in front of a large, town-hall type building. Inside, they discuss the damages that the village (for so it is) suffered. Buildings, people, and…12 cows and a few pigs. Granted those animals were probably someone’s livelihood, but when most of the town is in ruins, it just seems like Arson Murder and Jaywalking to mention the pigs last. "So, what did the giant monster do?" "Well, it knocked down our buildings!" "Oh, that's not good, your homes are gone." "It killed our friends and neighbours!" "That's terrible! Those poor people!" "It killed cows!" "That's...well, not exactly good, but moving along..." "And some pigs!" "Are you just running out of things to say?" "And Zoidberg!" "Moving along..." YGWSTR takes the stand and says that he definitely saw a “large animal” which has me wondering at which point he’d call something a “giant fucking monster,” though he’d probably be more polite. A Professor Yamane comes up and says that the earth has many deep pockets that have yet to be explored and they can hold many many secrets. Well then, perhaps, one day we’ll find out the true origins of Schnappi. A fact-finding party is decided on. The next thing we’re treated to is a happy fanfare as people wave to others on a boat. Slightly out of place is a Creepy Man all in black, with dark glasses, and an eyepatch under those. Doesn’t he have a cheesy villain role to take on? Also, the music is a little TOO happy considering they’re out to find what might be a giant destructive creature. Ah, and we get a name for our Creepy Man. It’s Dr. Serizawa. The boat’s captain is apparently afraid that this might be their last trip. Seems he’s the only one to actually think about the slight madness inherent in what they’re actually attempting. Radioactivity makes its first appearance by name, when the villagers are told not to drink from the well. They are saddened, and have apparently never realized that boiling sea water and capturing the steam can also be a useful technique. Perhaps my expectations are too high. Now the big shocker: the big depression that these men are standing in and measuring is…a footprint! DUN DUN DUNNNNN! This is brushed aside somewhat casually in favour of investigating a trilobite that Dr. Yamane finds in a bit of water. Wait, weren’t we just told the water’s radioactive. So yea, giant footprint caused by a creature the likes of which humanity has probably never seen? Well yes, it’s there. But trilobite! Alarm is sounded! Something’s on the hill! Could it be….? Yes. Yes it is. The world is introduced to Godzilla. A head appears. And then. KREEEEEOOONK. It looks cheesy now, but I must admit I find no fault with this scene. What bugs me is the next one, where the giant beast manages to…well…have disappeared somehow. It’s walked downhill, covered a beach and gone apparently back into the sea without anybody seeing. Perhaps GINO went to the same lizard ninja school. Cut to: a slideshow! Oh how exciting, I've just been dying to see inactive pictures. That's what film is for! It’s a brontosaurus, and they (according to this film) lived 2 million years ago. Along with all the other dinosaurs. This was the Jurassic period. … … What. Okay even back in the 50’s we knew the dinosaurs were older than that. It cannot be that hard to get the dating right. Moving along from that epic research fail. He says this Godzilla probably survived by eating deep sea creatures…fine, I can accept that. Atomic tests may have altered his habitat – yes, okay. Plausible enough. There is strong evidence, in the form the Incredible Trilobite. Ladies and gentleman, a round of applause for this plucky young fellow, who was brave enough to latch himself onto a giant lizard foot in order to facilitate humanity’s understanding of Godzilla! Next we are treated to a rather emphatic discussion of whether or not to release this report to the public. Mr. Ooyama wants to prevent a panic, seeing as this is such a delicate matter and telling everyone the full details before this is all confirmed might have unwanted repercussions. I see no flaw in this. One of the women says that everyone must know the truth. Why? Because the report is important. That’s her reasoning. Ooyama (go ahead, just say that name a few times. Let it roollyama off your tongue. It’s a soothing mantra.) says (again, rightly so) that given the delicate balance of economy and diplomacy etc, they need to be sure to handle this properly. For this, the wonderful lady calls him an idiot. Perhaps some might disagree, but when your argumentation goes from “We must do X on principle” to “You idiot!” one should consider carefully if this is not hypocritical. Anyway, the whole thing devolves into a cacophony, and then it’s back to newspaper headlines, sadly not subtitled. But given that the person reading them then talks about radioactive sea life and Godzilla, one can assume they listened to the woman. Why, in the God-Emperor’s name, would they do that? Ugh, not dwelling on the point. It’d take up too much. Dinner at the Yamane household. The television announces that a fleet has left port to depth-charge the heck out of anything in the area, in the hopes of killing Godzilla. The good doctor is incredibly displeased at this, and goes to his room – and I’m going to insert a quote from Ian Malcolm in The Lost World here: “The creature’s alive for the first time in millions of years and the only way you can express yourself is to kill it?” It’s appropriate enough, even if Godzilla is just [[Understatement slightly]] more destructive than a T-Rex. Okay, pre-emptive measure are also understandable, so it’s hard to fault the Japanese for wanting to safeguard again giant monsters. Yamane is reluctant to talk about ways to kill the creature. He says it should be kept alive and studied. Okay, fine – you find a way to do it, then let me know. In the meantime, let’s see about not getting thousands of people vaporized, shall we? But that’s where it’ll stop for now. Join us next time, when we find out just why Serizawa is such a creeper, and just how effective the Japanese army is against Godzilla.
We're back! There's snow outside, so that must mean it's time to get comfy, get warm, hunker down, and liveblog some more. So now that it's established Godzilla is somewhere in the ocean, and that they want to depth-charge the crap out of him, one would expect things to start blowing up. But this is a story and character-driven film, unlike those that followed, and so next up we only get a glimpse of the creature as it sends the occupants of a partying cruise ship into a panic. Because of the danger this presents, all shipping might have to be stopped. Prof. Yamane is asked if he knows any way to defeat Godzilla, bluntly, to which he replies that he doesn't think there is a way to do it. He also still insists that it should be studied instead. Again, I applaud his restraint, but if you suspend all shipping to and from Japan, and on top of that have Godzilla running around... look, there's being nice to creatures and then there's endangering an entire country. However, some people agree with him. Oh well. And now we focus on Emiko and whatsisface (sorry, terrible with names) who picked up the phone at the start. Ah, Ogata is his name. She's sorry for her father's opinions, but he's not worried. Instead, he's uneasy about Dr. Serizawa. Not to be superficial, but the guy is a little creepy, so that's understandable. But apparently he's alright, he's just been affected by the war (hence eyepatch as well). Reporter wants to talk to Serizawa, who refused an interview, and tries to go through Emiko (who happens to be an old friend). She agrees. Serizawa talks to the reporter, who mentions very cryptically that Swiss and German scientists said his work could be used to defeat the creature. However, Serizawa doesn't want to talk about it, and the interview ends. But Emiko will not be deterred, and he says he'll show her his work if she agrees to keep it a secret from everyone. Let's see now, they're old friends and he's working on something apparently incredibly dangerous that could defeat Godzilla but agrees to show her if she doesn't tell. Nope, this couldn't possibly be used for a later dramatic Chekhov's Gun. He drops something in a fishtank, creepy music plays, and she screams. What exactly happened, we don't see and don't get told. Emiko goes home and keeps her promise by not mentioning anything. Then....sirens. Godzilla has returned in Tokyo Bay! It's time to throw the full might of the Japanese military at him, that'll be sure to keep him at bay (sorry, folks, too good to pass up). Everyone is evacuated, including Dr. Yamane (they keep switching between Dr. and Professor, I just use whatever was said last). Time to destroy stuff! A train runs into his foot, and it's a pileup on the tracks. After taking out another bridge, the bug guy wanders off, and the newspapers tell us that international scientific help will be given. Cut to a conference room. They're planning to build a huge electrified barbed wire fence to try and stop Godzilla. Everyone in the shore area will be evacuated. Then, ARMY! The inspirational battle theme starts up again as we see all sorts of vehicles driving out to meet this danger head-on. A lot of vehicles. Ah, and the fence is coming along fast. Seems the subtitle got it slightly wrong, as it's a plain fence of electrical towers and cables, nothing barbed wire about it really. I'm not sure how much time has passed, but christ they put that fence up apparently in very little time. Industrious fellows, they are. Anyway. The radio warns people of various districts to evacuate. Ogata tells Emiko that he's planning to ask her father's consent tonight. Right, okay, more subtitle fail, because earlier it said that she was going to marry Serizawa. Professor Yamane gets home and is quite upset that everyone wants to just kill Godzilla. Ogata does the not-quite-so-smart thing and says he agrees with these people - something must be done. Yamane's reaction is to tell him never to come back. Ouch, man. That's gotta hurt. Before the drama can continue, though, the radio pipes up again. Godzilla has been sighted! He's moving in! Oh no! Is he bringing cookies for the Japanese? Tune in next time to find out!
edited 24th Nov '10 8:59:21 AM by balrog1911
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