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Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

If 2001's Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack proves anything, it's that no one — no one — should attempt to make a Godzilla movie outside of Japan. For one thing, there is the lingering zeitgeist that comes from being the target of a nuclear assault that still resonates in much of Japanese pop-culture. While it's certain that watching Lower Manhattan being wantonly destroyed could have the same effect were it made today, there is just something about the introspection inherent in watching a radioactive beast ravage Yokohama that feels a bit different. Of course, that could all be an otaku's desire to create depth where, really, only cool rubber-suited monsters blow things up real good. The thing that's instantly refreshing about this incarnation is that it discards most of the lore that's been created around the monster, instead opting to place the events in a world that has not seen Godzilla since the initial attacks in 1954, including a jab at the 1998 film ("We don't even know if that was Godzilla in New York," says a military official). Since the initial attacks, Japan has quietly been building an arsenal in case their atomically created foe should rise from the ashes, bent on their destruction. Alas, the military has nothing that can combat his strength. In comes Yuri Tachibana (Chiharu Niyama), a reporter for a tabloid TV station that has made its name by re-creating monster attacks Bigfoot-style in order to entertain its fans. When a series of earthquakes, with a moving epicenter, start to occur, she believes the monster has returned. Instead, a mysterious old man has begun to awaken the Guardian Monsters. Once Yuri understands this, she must convince her father, Admiral Taizo Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki), not to destroy them, all while attempting to film the destruction as it ensues. These monsters (Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah) are incarnations of the souls of all who died during the Pacific conflict, and their sole purpose is to defend Japan against Godzilla. There is no conflict here about Godzilla's intentions — he feeds off of nuclear energy, and he uses his power to crush, burn, and smote his enemies. What follows is a series of rip-roaring good fights, with all of the expected collateral damage and then some. The effects are quite a step forward for Toho Studios, but they thankfully stick with the rubber suits. There are some nice touches — Godzilla's face has some emotive qualities that add some illusion of "thought" to his actions. The big guy's breath-weapon has become a nuclear blast (a side-effect of chomping on a U.S. nuclear submarine), and in an early scene he reduces a small fishing village to rubble with an atomic blast that leaves a mushroom cloud. By blending new-school CG-effects work with classic techniques, Toho has created an entertaining piece of sci-fi with old-school charm that fans shouldn't miss. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, however, is a barren presentation, containing only a few trailers. The anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) looks great, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (in Japanese and English) has weakened Godzilla's classic roar to a whimper is several places. Keep-case.
—Scott Anderson

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