Upon repeat viewing, I think this film is massively underrated, and does what IATOM does for a Godzilla hard sci-fi film, for a Godzilla adventure film. I think Fukuda’s involvement in the franchise is massively underrated as well.
eabaker wrote:I'm a big fan of the color pallets of the two Fukuda flicks from the 60s. That combined with Sato's scoring just gives them a kind of delightful, light weight, candy coated sensibility unique within the series.
This. I was going to mention this in part of my reflection, but it definitely makes the film standout. A clear shift in culture can be done by comparing the Shobujin from Mothra vs Godzilla, with their big hats and ornate dresses, to the tropical version we get here with their yellow dresses and floral crowns. The clothing the protagonists wear is also bright, and far more casual then anything in the series prior. It’s a minute detail but it makes the film more fun.
I also noticed how more proactive the characters are involved with the action. Prior films hanged everything on the characters inventing something, or causing monsters to fight through dialogue. This film has them wake up Godzilla, replace the berry juice with fake berries, building nets and waking up Mothra...etc. There’s also a lot more physical feats, with the characters getting shipwrecked, scaling a mountain, and running to a cliff side away from the Red Bamboo.
Also, while it’s easy to just box the film in as “Godzilla beats up a condor and giant shrimp, and easily destroys a base, it’s important to remember exactly what was going on. The Red Bamboo were manufacturing nuclear arms. A terrorist organization that puts people into slavery. No doubt if the protagonists and Godzilla didn’t foil their plan, they would’ve taken over the earth. They have a legitimate airforce, and navy as well. While maybe not as immediately drastic as the Xillien threat, the Red Bamboo were definitely a formidable threat that would’ve led to disaster.
Additionally, in retrospect, I realized a lot of scenes of Godzilla fighting the giant condor, and subsequently the airplanes, isn’t necessarily meant to only be a threat to Godzilla, but really Dayo. We aren’t really supposed to be worried for Godzilla, but Dayo who unfortunately becomes a sort of damsel. However, note how Dayo screams and wakes Godzilla up, before the giant condor attacks Godzilla. Presumably originally the giant condor would’ve just eaten Dayo. Though less so, the same thing happens with the planes, which cuts to Dayo narrowly avoiding large explosions. The Giant Condor Scene+Airforce Scene create a nice bridge between the first Ebirah fight and the base destruction sequence.
And yeah, shame for Ebirah. Upon rewatching it, there’s a couple neat moments where he does get the upper hand, and shows considerable strength, but the film really needed to show more to make him a more serious threat. The first fight with Ebirah is actually pretty neat, there’s a mix of rock throwing, a beam shot, an awesome surprise attack from Ebirah, and a ton of cool fake outs. The second fight is cool as well, but it’s a bit lackluster due to how cut apart it all is, and it does leave more to be desired. I would argue that the fight while not the best in the franchise, is one of the most unique, with a fight not only in the water, but underwater. It makes you wish there was more with Ebirah beating up Godzilla with his claw, or maybe ramming into Godzilla repeatedly underwater. I also think that Ebirah itself is a really unique monster, that doesn’t reek of “man in a suit”.
The final fights main issue, is how it keeps cutting and jumping away from the action, to waking Mothra up and the buildup towards the explosion. I get why they do that, but this wouldn’t be such a big issue if it weren’t for how short and strung together all the clips are. Minus Godzilla tearing off the claws, and a few shots of Ebirah underwater, I feel that the first fight is actually much better then the final one. To make matters worse, there’s sortve a scuffle and the tension of getting off the island, that takes tension away from defeating Ebirah. In fact, Godzilla, very briefly fights Mothra, which does have a beam, some wind, and a wing slap which does make it a fight.
We can also presume, that Godzilla would have died if he stayed on the island, or at least been horrible injured. It’s important to note that the explosion was nuclear, and although whether or not Godzilla could survive a direct nuclear explosion is always up for debate, the fact is the explosion blew up the whole island, and would’ve trapped Godzilla deep under the earth and water.
Monster interactivity is something here that a lot of previous films, aside from maybe 1954, and KKVG have. The first thing we see of Ebirah, is its claw, sinking the ship, which provides a direct and clear threat to the protagonists. We get a good estimate of how big Ebirah is, and the shot of the claw is an excellent beginning. Next time we see Ebirah, he attacks the two escapees, and eats them with a smaller claw. We again get a good tangible idea of Ebirah’s size, and onscreen is a rare instance of a Godzilla monster eating people. Later, with Godzilla, we get the whole Godzilla wakes up scene, where a wire is attached to Godzilla, and following Godzilla interacts with Dayo. Finally, Mothra is woken up by the pleas of the natives, and also physically rescues the islanders from not only the explosion, but Godzilla. Unlike previous films, such as IOTAM, and GTTHM, you get a real sense of interactivity between the people and the monsters. Both Mothra and Godzilla being waken up are key story factors and Ebirah plays a key role in the red bamboos function. Compare this to how Ghidorah never really comes into contact with humans or really acknowledges them; sure there’s advantages to that as well but it makes EHOTD more unique. They’re more physical in this regard, and it’s one of Fukuda’s strengths which he carries into the next film.
Also fun continuity detail: notice how there’s a small watchtower destroyed by a boulder in the first Godzilla vs Ebirah fight. Then later, notice when Godzilla first approaches the base, how the tower is still there, but is also destroyed!
Overall, a solid adventure film, if not a solid Godzilla film. I feel that the film’s problems, really just have to do with some choppy editing towards the end, trying to compete with what the main threat is(is it the Red Bamboo? Ebirah? The island exploding? Godzilla?). However, it’s an important film for changing the direction of the series, but it still takes itself fairly seriously.