After two poor performances at the box office, many doubted that the Godzilla
series could return. Godzilla needed a miracle
and it came in the form of acclaimed director
Kaneko (famous for the Heisei Gamera Series).
Help also arrived in the monster cast; reviving
Godzilla’s most famous creature costars
Mothra and King Ghidorah. What Kaneko gave moviegoers
was not just the best Godzilla movie in a long
time but one of the top Godzilla movies of all
Fifty years after his initial onslaught, Godzilla
is all but forgotten by many people. Admiral Taizo
Tachibana warns not to let the peaceful time Japan
has experienced to cloud judgment. The admiral
also goes on to explain that there have been reports
of monsters attacks all around the world, including
New York in 1998. Tachibana uses this as a reason
to be prepared for anything. During the lecture,
Taizo takes leave to deal with a situation: a
US nuclear submarine has disappeared off the coast
of Guam. The submersible Satsuma is dispatched
to help in the investigation. Near the wreckage;
glowing fins are spotted. A nightmare from the
past has appeared in the present day…
While Yuri Tachibana (the admiral’s daughter)
is filming a special docu-drama about Mt. Myoko,
the head of the local village tells them to stop
filming such lies. When Yuri tries to discuss
with him about how it will be good for tourism,
a tremor hits. Afterwards, Yuri spots an old man
on in area and when she looks back, he disappears!
That night, a biker gang is killed during a tunnel
cave-in, and the truck driver witnessing the event
sees a giant head looking back at him. While the
D-03 missiles (special missiles with drills at
the head) are being used to uncover the tunnel,
the driver is interrogated about what he saw.
He claims he saw Godzilla. Yuri tries to convince
her boss to cover the odd occurrence, but he declines.
Later her advisor, Teruaki Takeda, brings her
a book about a local legend: a group of legendary
creatures known as the Guardian Monsters. Later
he brings her home drunk to her father.
The next evening, at Lake Ikeda, a group of teenagers
rob a local store, and in the process of their
revelry, almost drown a dog. When a few members
paddle out with the pooch, they’re tossed
overboard and dragged under. The ones remaining
on the shore are soon approached by a giant creature
coming out of the water. That morning they are
found dead, wrapped in a cocoon with the only
survivor being the innocent dog.
The next morning, Yuri and her crew arrive at
the Motosu Police Station to talk to the old man
that appeared during the tremors. He explains
to Yuri that Godzilla will return. He goes on
to say that while nuclear weapons gave the monster
exceptional survival skill, his true power lies
in the collective souls (both Japanese and foreign
descent) lost during the Pacific conflict that
have congregated in Godzilla body. They’re
purpose is to remind Japan of its forgotten past.
He continues saying that the guardian monsters
will succeed where human weaponry won’t.
He orders her to go to the shrine where the dragon
Ghidorah sleeps. All Yuri finds there is an amulet
that she and her colleagues figure must contain
That evening, a storm hits the Bonin Islands.
Unknown to the inhabitants, there is another destructive
force in the storm. It is confirmed that at a
press conference that the culprit was Godzilla.
However, after much searching, the JSDF comes
up empty handed, causing the search to be called
off, much to the frustration of Admiral Tachibana.
He is later joined by his daughter, Yuri, and
she explains the legend of the Guardian Monsters.
While he doesn’t quite buy the story, he
doesn’t dismiss it entirely. He explains
that he is still haunted by his experience with
Godzilla’s first attack, during which he
lost his parents.
Bar the door, Hades. All hell’s breaking
loose at Motosu when a giant red creature (mistaken
for Godzilla) erupts from the ground by the police
station. The creature, later identified as Baragon,
makes its way toward Hakone Spa. While confusion
grips the country, a certain horror surfaces in
Yaizu Harbor. Godzilla has finally returned to
Japan and rampages towards Tokyo. Soon Godzilla
and Baragon meet in Hakone Valley and engage in
fierce combat. Baragon is outmatched and soon
is incinerated by Godzilla’s heat ray. During
the battle, Yuri is injured when the building
in which she and Teruaki were standing began to
collapse. The disaster results in numerous casualties
and injuries. Yuri tries to convince Teruaki to
follow Godzilla, who refuses. Undaunted, she purchases
a bike and follows the King of the Monsters. She
easily convinces her boss to go live with the
footage as Godzilla is attacked by an air strike
that ends with the monster turning all the planes
into fireballs. Just then, Mothra hatches out
of her cocoon and Ghidorah begins to tunnel from
Mt. Fuji. After viewing Yuri’s broadcast,
Admiral Tachibana begins to believe in the Guardian
To continue the countermeasure against Godzilla:
The Yokohama Defense Line, Patrol Fleet Headquarters
and the Yokohama Garrison Post are set up in the
city. Soon, Godzilla arrives in Yokohama as does
Mothra. The two battle it out until Ghidorah pops
out of the ground to assist its fellow guardian.
Despite the injections of electricity, Ghidorah
is soon knocked out and Mothra too when she takes
the full brunt of Godzilla’s ray, in her
efforts to save her ally dragon. With the monsters
out cold, the military unleashes the D-03 missiles
at Godzilla, which prove to be (yet again) ineffective.
The monster proceeds to wipe out 90% of the defensive
line. Before Godzilla can take out the battle
cruiser on which Admiral Tachibana is stationed,
Mothra attempts to attack the creature once more.
Godzilla turns his ray on the insect and destroys
her. Her essence is absorbed by Ghidorah, and
they are reborn as King Ghidorah! The creature
takes to the air surrounded by a glowing golden
globe of energy. Godzilla fires his ray at the
dragon but is ineffective thanks to the sphere
of energy, which amps up the power of the ray
and tosses it back at Godzilla. The ball of energy
knocks the King of the Monsters into the bay with
an open wound on the shoulder.
While King Ghidorah battles Godzilla underwater,
Admiral Tachibana requests one of the Satsuma
subs with a D-03, which he plans to launch at
Godzilla’s wound. A recently-arrested Yuri
overhears this and pleads with him not to go.
He argues that it’s his job and it wouldn’t
be right to send someone else. She counters with
it’s her job to cover the story, and in
response, he gives her permission to gather information
freely. While the Satsuma subs are being readied,
Yuri broadcasts on the Yokohama Bay Bridge. Suddenly,
a ray comes out of the water and destroys the
foundation of the bridge, causing Yuri to plummet.
She is caught by Takeda just in time. One the
subs launches the missile at the wound, but Godzilla
pulls Ghidorah in its path, which stuns the creature
enough for Godzilla to knock it out with his breath.
He then grabs hold of the Satsuma, piloted by
On the bridge, the amulet that Yuri found earlier
falls into the water and on to King Ghidorah.
As Yuri and Takeda fall into the water, King Ghidorah
awakens and exhales bubbles to the surface, cushioning
their fall (Yuri is knocked unconscious however).
King Ghidorah bites onto Godzilla’s tail,
causing him to let the sub go. King Ghidorah soon
surfaces, and when Godzilla also emerges, the
dragon unleashes its gravity beams on Godzilla.
However, Godzilla simply absorbs the beams, combines
the energy with his own ray, and fires the assault
at the dragon, destroying the last guardian monster.
But the spirits are not done yet! The spirits
of Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah appear in
the sky and enter Godzilla’s body, causing
him to lose buoyancy. As he descends, Taizo pilots
the Satsuma at Godzilla, who swallows the tiny
sub. The admiral then sees his daughter’s
spirit urging him to keep going. He gets a grip,
thanks her, and fires the missile. On the surface
Yuri awakes, coughing up water. Godzilla soon
comes out of the water near them. Staring at them,
the D-03 comes out of the wound and blows up inside
the monster! Furious at this internal attack,
he turns his rage on Takeda and Yuri and prepares
a ray to finish them off. Just as he’s about
to fire it, the ray instead comes out the wound!
Roaring in pain, Godzilla cuts it off and attempts
to fire another one. It does the same thing and
Godzilla collapses into the water screaming. The
Satsuma escapes out of the large wound. Through
the blood, Godzilla is seen trying to charge one
more ray at the Satsuma…
Then a massive explosion occurs and Godzilla
disappears! Everyone begins to celebrate their
victory over the monster. The Satsuma surfaces
with Taizo inside safe and sound. On land he encounters
his daughter, who salutes him. He tells her not
to just thank him, but also his colleagues and
the Guardian Monsters.
But on the bay floor, a giant heart continues
Kaneko brings again to the table 3-dimentional
characters; something that has been lacking in
the series for a long time. Yuri Tachibana (Chiharu
Niyama) is a strong woman who’ll go through
hell to cover Godzilla’s rampage. Her character
is very likable and perseverance is something
to be admired. Admiral Taizo Tachibana (Ryudo
Uzaki) is strong military man who is still haunted
by the memories of Godzilla’s 1954 attack.
He urges people not to forget the past and is
frustrated when the government feels it’s
unnecessary to continue searching for Godzilla.
His performance was well done, making the audience
feel for his loss. A familiar face, Eisei
Amamoto (the toy maker from All
Monsters Attack ) plays Hirotoshi
Isayama, the old man who warns about Godzilla
eventual return and tells about how the Guardian
Monsters can stop the nuclear menace. The fact
that his character is not well-developed added
an air of mystery about him. The other actors
(most notably Masahiro Kobayashi, Takashi Nishina,
Kaho Minami, and Shinya Owada) all do a fantastic
job in their roles despite them not being well
A few familiar actors are seen here of course.
Koichi Ueda (regular Godzilla player) plays the
Village Headman whom Yuri convinces to film their
documentary to help tourism. Shiro Sano from Godzilla
2000 (1999) is seen here as Yuri’s
boss Haruki Kadokura. His reactions to certain
comments and situations are hilarious and add
some comic relief to the serious film. The suicidal
man who falls into Ghidorah’s cave is none
other than Inspector Osako (Yukijiro Hotaru) from
Kaneko’s Gamera series. The twin girls that
are shown when Mothra flies overhead (reference
to the Shobijin normally seen with the insect)
are Ai and Aki Maeda, the former name being from
the excellent Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999).
After countless movies of outrageous machines
and fantastic monsters, Kaneko finally brings
realism back to the Godzilla series. The monsters
are all well fleshed out. Godzilla is the harbinger
of forgotten souls taking their revenge on Japan.
The Guardian Monsters are creatures that were
killed long ago and await the time when they’ll
be awakened to defend their homeland. When Baragon’s
marching through the forest, birds are seen taking
off in front of the giant creature, something
logical that hasn’t been seen in a Godzilla
movie. The confusion after Baragon’s arrival
is also logical with scant reports, and the fact
that everyone’s calling it Godzilla just
adds to the chaos; just like a natural disaster.
One of Kaneko’s points in this movie is
the people’s ignorance towards the monsters.
Most don’t take the situation seriously,
like a real natural disaster. You can look at
examples in real life of people not taken powerful
hurricanes and tornados seriously and then they
wonder why they lost what they did. He also shows
the aftermath of the battle between Godzilla and
Baragon in the hospital scene with all the injured
and dead. Considering in the past movies that
Godzilla attacks so much, this subject is never
focused upon. Also another subject rarely seen
in recent films are the deaths of the military
people who fought against Godzilla. It’s
easily assumed that they died in previous films,
but Kaneko shows the deaths realistically when
Godzilla wipes out the defense force in Yokohama.
When the monsters were first awakened, teenagers
were their first victims. What Kaneko is trying
to say is that most of the problems today are
due to teenage ignorance and their lack of ability
of knowing the consequences for their actions.
The director also shows the ignorance of politicians
who don’t take situations seriously and
don’t respond to a crisis promptly. (Ring
a bell anyone?) Also, let’s not forget the
cocky military who assumes that because their
weaponry is more advanced, they’ll be able
to handle the threat with no problem. They learn
their lesson the hard way when even their most
powerful weapon does nothing to Godzilla. Finally,
Kaneko takes a shot at the news media and television
programming with the name of the station that
Yuri works for: “BS Digital Q”. BS
pretty much sums it all up.
There are also plenty of references in GMK.
Kaneko makes reference to the original Godzilla
(1954) with the hospital scene after the battle.
The showing of mental breakdown as well as the
injured and dying is a throwback to the original.
He also makes reference to the Lucky Dragon, the
ship that irradiated by the first H-bomb test,
with a poster of it in the harbor building when
Godzilla appeared. Godzilla looking over the hill
at the Hakone Valley was a reference to the famous
Oto Island scene when Godzilla first revealed
his presences to the island people. A reference
to (or shot at, however you interpret it) the
(1998) was in the beginning when Admiral Tachibana
mentioned an attack on New York City in 1998.
One officer inquires to another if it was Godzilla
and the other says that the Japanese scientists
doubt it. Kaneko was well-known for his comment
about how the American Godzilla was weaker because
a monster that couldn’t be taken down by
their arms was unfathomable to the US.
In the battle of Yokohama, there is a scene that
will seem hauntingly familiar to American viewers.
Mothra is about to fly into the Yokohama Landmark
Tower and just as she avoids it, Godzilla’s
ray blasts through the upper floors. Sept. 11th
happened post-production and Kaneko shot this
scene in remembrance of the victims that were
lost during the terrorist attacks.
(1954), GMK is filled with messages.
The first one being that forgetting the past has
consequences. If we choose to forget what happened
in the past, more than likely, it will catch up
to us. Another messages concern Godzilla himself.
One of the things people try to pick at in this
film is the fact that it was the military that
defeated Godzilla and not the monsters. First
of all, Ghidorah WAS the cause of the wound and
it was Godzilla who caused himself to blow up
in his attempt to fire his atomic ray. Secondly,
Godzilla is our problem. We made him, so it’s
up to use to take care of him. Lastly, there is
Godzilla’s heart; while it can have many
possible meanings, one is that problems (unless
they are fixed) will always come back. Another
meaning could be the fact that Godzilla will always
be here to remind us of our mistakes and if it
gets out of hand, he will be back.
The music score is a fantastic blend of traditional
orchestra sound with modern synthesized music.
Don’t be surprised if some get stuck in
your head! In parts of the film, it adds to the
supernatural feel when it’s needed. The
theme that plays during the opening really get
the viewer pumped for the film. Godzilla’s
theme is powerful and really helps to capture
the size and power of the King of the Monsters.
Mothra’s new theme is elegant and mysterious.
Also if one listens close enough, you can hear
singing from her old theme. While King Ghidorah’s
tune wasn’t as memorable, it still gives
regal style to the monster. The theme that is
played during the preparation of the battle of
Yokohama really adds suspense to the scene. Don’t
even think about stopping the movie when the credits
start to roll! Two of Akira
Ifukube’s most famous themes (Godzilla’s
main theme and the "Monster Zero March")
are played during the credits. Hearing these two
themes is a nice tribute and allows comparisons
to be made between these and the new stuff.
When it comes to special effects, the visuals
shown in this movie are top notch. Better then
anything seen in the Godzilla series in a looooong
time. The monsters look the most believable out
of majority of the Godzilla movies. The camera
shaking with each step of Godzilla and the other
monsters really adds to the effect. The matte
shots were perfect and seamless. The CGI was excellent.
The missiles were done better then in Godzilla
2000 (1999). The sets were so detailed
it was like they took the monsters to the locations
and filmed them. The battles are well-thought
out, not just random beams and suits smashing
into one another.
Now it’s on to the monsters. One word can
describe Godzilla in this film: wow. Godzilla
is just plain evil. If there ever is a Godzilla
that could give someone nightmares; this is it.
You get in his way, he’ll kill you. You
get out of his way, he’ll kill you. (You
get the idea.) The bland white eyes add to the
evilness of the monster. Giving Godzilla intelligence
just adds to the scare factor. After two movies
of a sharp-edged Godzilla, he’s back to
his old design. His beam is once again blue and
is the best animated beam in the series with the
vortex of energy that occurs around his mouth
before he fires. The fact that it can generate
an atomic explosion is a nice surprise. The animatronics
in the head really helped to bring the monster
to life. The shots of him through the windshield
and rising out of the water really enforced the
size aspect. Another common complaint is that
Godzilla’s too strong. In this movie, Godzilla
is portrayed as a god-like creature. If he was
weaker, it wouldn'y have the same effect.
Baragon, in his first screen appearance since
All Monsters (1968), is just as good
as he was back then. Once again his hind end is
hidden so it will hide the fact that the actor
is walking on their knees. The texture of the
skin and the animatronics in the head added to
the realism of the monster. Also, he’s given
a new roar this time out (instead of the old recycled
roar during the Showa era) but he loses his flame
breath to give Godzilla more power. This really
helps to show the level of power Godzilla’s
opponents have. Baragon has no projectile weapon,
Mothra has stingers, and King Ghidorah has his
Mothra is more insect-like in this movie. The
fact that CGI is used more and more adds credibility
to the creature. Her flight is well done and the
flap frequency problem is non-existent. The poorest
shot of her is when she’s flying toward
the tower, but the reason for it was discussed
earlier. The fact that Mothra fires stingers is
quite weird, but her hatching is the best seen
since her debut in 1961. The larva is briefly
shown in the beginning when it attacks the teenagers.
King Ghidorah has brought on the biggest complaints
because he is a good guy in this film. Good-Ghidorah
is still awesome. While they look goofy in some
scenes, the heads give a regal appearance to the
monster. The electric bite is a nice surprise.
The glowing scenes were well-animated and the
gravity beams looked wicked. He is one of the
best examples of how the special effects have
progressed through the years. His rebirth after
absorbing Mothra’s essence may look a little
fake, but it is awe-inspiring, and that is a good
testament to the series’ progress.
Kaneko is truly a great director in kaiju
eiga. He brought Godzilla back to his original
roots: an evil go-like creature with a message.
The main reason for GMK not being on
the same level as Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) is the
nitpickers (you heard me) who seem to try their
hardest to find something wrong with film. Thanks
to Kaneko; Godzilla received something that despite
his fame, hardly ever has: high praise from American
critics. The fact that film critic Leonard Maltin
said (and I quote from his movie guide) “worth
seeing even for nondevotees,” says something.
This is the closest thing to a 21st century version
(1954) that we’ll probably ever see. It’s
too bad that Sony passed on releasing this film
into theaters; it would have finally given Godzilla
some respect in this country. This is a film that
every fan should own. Period. Because simply:
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant
Monsters All Out Attack is just plain awesome.