Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All-Out Attack (2001) Movie Review

4 Comments

For those viewers who believe Godzilla films consist of two guys in rubbery costumes wrestling with each other while a badly dubbed cast carries on some semblance of a plot, this film will be a revelation. This Godzilla film is a dark and occasionally frightening tale with heavy supernatural elements. This film takes Godzilla seriously, and so will you.

Ignoring all previous Godzilla films, the story opens with the destruction of an American nuclear submarine, with very familiar glowing back fins disappearing into the murky depths. The story then introduces us to a tabloid news team that discovers the legend of the guardian monsters of Japan. Named Baraguon, Mothra and King Ghidorah, they terrorized Japan in ancient times before being imprisoned. The team also meet an old prophet who warns them that Godzilla is returning, now possessed by the souls of dead Japanese soldiers from World War II who feel that modern Japan has forgotten them. He also predicts that the guardian monsters of Japan will be resurrected to defend their home from Godzilla.

Soon Godzilla reappears with a vengeance, but so too does the three guardian monsters. While Baraguon is quickly dispatched by a fiery death, the two more formidable monsters remain. Japan watches, wondering if Mothra and King Ghidorah can stand against the fury of Godzilla, while the military has their own designs on destroying the monster.

Director Shusuke Kaneko (“Cross Fire”) and co-writer Kei’ichi Hasegawa have re-imagined Godzilla as a vicious, feral beast that lays waste to everything he sees. Sporting pure white eyes, large fangs and a blowtorch-like fire breath, this Godzilla is a nightmare come to life. Kaneko also emphasizes the terror of seeing this creature by using camera angles to simulate the experience of looking up at a towering beast. This is also the most realistic of the Godzilla films, focusing on the massive collateral damage that occurs when giant monsters brawl.

The creature suits designed by Fuyuki Shinada are very life-like and possibly the best ever. Especially in the case of Godzilla, who shows a scary new look for this film, and the change looks good on him. The cinematography and matte work are also excellent, although the CGI effects sometime appear unrealistic. Composer Ko Otani’s score enhances the monster and battle scenes, and gives the film a distinctive atmosphere.

The plot is quite imaginative and takes the Godzilla series in a new direction by adding fantasy and horror elements to a reliable science fiction formula. An inventive and bold new take on a classic monster, the movie daringly depicts the harsh reality of a monster rampaging through a city while still being able to convince the audience to suspend disbelief for 105 minutes.

But perhaps it is too daring to make Godzilla be possessed by dead Japanese soldiers of World War II, who now feel the current generation is ignoring their sacrifices. Since Japan entered World War II voluntarily and intent on aggression, one wonders how the spirits would like to be remembered and how they can justify their actions in instigating conflict with other countries. Godzilla is a worldwide cultural icon and his films are not appropriate forums to express nationalistic opinions. This concept detracts from one of the best Godzilla films in several years, one that is sure to please kaiju and science fiction fans. These movies should inspire feelings of enjoyment, not cause controversy and anger.

Shusuke Kaneko (director) / Kei’ichi Hasegawa, Shusuke Kaneko, Masahiro Yokotani (screenplay)
CAST: Chiharu Nîyama …. Yuri Tachibana
Ryudo Uzaki …. SDF Admiral Tachibana
Masahiro Kobayashi …. Teruaki Takeda
Shiro Sano …. Haruki Kadokura


Buy Giant Monster All-Out Attack on DVD

Author: Joseph Savitski

Joseph is a contributing writer for BeyondHollywood.com and ScifiCool.com, where he critiques movies, television, and books. He lives in PA, and obsessively loves movies, books, and the New York Yankees.
  • matt

    You must not have paid much attention to this film if you think its explanation of Godzilla is nationalistic.

    In the film, the characters who seem to understand what is going on best (The Professor and Yuri) clearly explain that Godzilla is animated BOTH by the angry souls of the Japanese who died in the war (and by implication in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as both soldiers and civilians are included in this) who are angry that the young have forgotten them AND by the angry souls of the Americans and Chinese who died in the Pacific part of the war as well.

    It’s absurd to label it nationalistic for Godzilla to represent BOTH the amnesia of the young over the suffering of Japanese civilians and soldiers back then AND the guilt Japan has for beginning a war that killed American and Chinese soldiers.

    To use your own words, this absurdity of yours detracts from what could have been one of the best Godzilla film reviews but now slumps to third rate do to its jingoistic misunderstanding of a key thematic point in the film it claims to review.

  • matt

    You must not have paid much attention to this film if you think its explanation of Godzilla is nationalistic.

    In the film, the characters who seem to understand what is going on best (The Professor and Yuri) clearly explain that Godzilla is animated BOTH by the angry souls of the Japanese who died in the war (and by implication in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as both soldiers and civilians are included in this) who are angry that the young have forgotten them AND by the angry souls of the Americans and Chinese who died in the Pacific part of the war as well.

    It’s absurd to label it nationalistic for Godzilla to represent BOTH the amnesia of the young over the suffering of Japanese civilians and soldiers back then AND the guilt Japan has for beginning a war that killed American and Chinese soldiers.

    To use your own words, this absurdity of yours detracts from what could have been one of the best Godzilla film reviews but now slumps to third rate do to its jingoistic misunderstanding of a key thematic point in the film it claims to review.

  • Craig D.

    I like this movie a lot, but I can’t jump on the “best Godzilla movie in decades” bandwagon that everyone else seems to be on. It’s not even the best Godzilla movie in the Millennium series (1999-2004). The action is great, but it was improved in the very next movie and only got better, and what the hell is so special about the story is beyond me. I love how Godzilla is an outright villain again, and a vicious one at that, and the totally unique and original plot is refreshing. I’m fascinated by the idea of Godzilla being possessed by the souls of people who died in World War II and are angry about people today trying to forget about the past. But the movie never does anything with this idea after it’s introduced. After Godzilla is defeated, there’s no reason to believe that anything will change. It’s not even suggested that anyone will start to acknowledge and respect the past. We see Yuri and her father saluting soldiers (and the guardian monsters) at the end, but they’re only saluting the soldiers who helped to defeat Godzilla! Why spend so much time talking about why Godzilla is attacking if you’re not going to address it? And the human characters, apart from being either extremely unlikable (the dickhead with the glasses) or just boring (almost everyone else), don’t have any impact whatsoever on the plot aside from Yuri’s father and his military team. Again, I think it’s a damn good movie, but the praise that it gets for having a well-developed story and amazing action scenes is completely undeserved.

  • Craig D.

    I like this movie a lot, but I can’t jump on the “best Godzilla movie in decades” bandwagon that everyone else seems to be on. It’s not even the best Godzilla movie in the Millennium series (1999-2004). The action is great, but it was improved in the very next movie and only got better, and what the hell is so special about the story is beyond me. I love how Godzilla is an outright villain again, and a vicious one at that, and the totally unique and original plot is refreshing. I’m fascinated by the idea of Godzilla being possessed by the souls of people who died in World War II and are angry about people today trying to forget about the past. But the movie never does anything with this idea after it’s introduced. After Godzilla is defeated, there’s no reason to believe that anything will change. It’s not even suggested that anyone will start to acknowledge and respect the past. We see Yuri and her father saluting soldiers (and the guardian monsters) at the end, but they’re only saluting the soldiers who helped to defeat Godzilla! Why spend so much time talking about why Godzilla is attacking if you’re not going to address it? And the human characters, apart from being either extremely unlikable (the dickhead with the glasses) or just boring (almost everyone else), don’t have any impact whatsoever on the plot aside from Yuri’s father and his military team. Again, I think it’s a damn good movie, but the praise that it gets for having a well-developed story and amazing action scenes is completely undeserved.