(1965) dir. Ishirô Honda
The latest foray into the original Godzilla series with the kids was queued up with the title of Invasion of Astro Monster, but since we watched the dubbed version, the original U.S. release of the film, we saw the film that I recalled from childhood as Monster Zero, the second Godzilla film to feature Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, the king of Godzilla villains.
This film, a direct sequel to Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), recaptures both Godzilla and Rodan to battle Ghidorah, but this time under the shennanigans of the villainous machine-controlled aliens of Planet X. These folks seek to take over the Earth by tricking them into allowing them to bring Godzilla and Rodan to Planet X to defeat “Monster Zero” (a.k.a. Kind Ghidorah), but then using mind-control, sic Godzilla and Rodan, alongside “Monster Zero” on Earth.
All said, though, the combination of the art design (waaaaayyy 1960’s) and narrative actually make for one of the most enjoyable films of the series. There is a lot of narrative preamble, less out and out fight scenes, but a more cohesive and fun film of the Godzilla series. Again, one of my childhood favorites holds up.
That said, being that I end up watching all of these Godzilla films in their dubbed English versions because I am watching them with the kids, I don’t get the interesting contrast of seeing them in their original Japanese. So, for this film, once the kids were in bed, I skimmed a good chunk of the film in comparison. Largely, the film is pretty shot-for-shot the same, using American actor Nick Adams in an integrated way so that it creates a more consistent crossover of actors and translation. But what is really interesting and mostly significant is the translation of the Japanese in the subtitles in comparison to the orginal English diaglogue that had been put in place in the film’s 1970 American release. It’s more clear, less silly, and makes a lot more sense.
The silliness of the dialogue in Godzilla movies is often the camp factor that cuts down the films (that and the special effects of obvious miniatures standing in for the real world). Oddly, had they taken a more literal translation, the film would have seemed that much more interesting.
Definitely, though, one of the better films of the original series.