Destroy All Monsters (1968) [International Version]

Class: User
Author: Destroyer
Score: (3.5/5)
September 1st, 2011 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Charge of the Monsters, known famously as Destroy All Monsters, is the ninth Godzilla film, and arguably one of the most well known. This film was meant to be the all-out finisher, the one where we stare at the screen and cheer it on, and feel sad when it's over (before Toho decided to make the rather infamous All Monsters Attack (1969) the following year). As a Godzilla fan, this movie holds a a special place in my heart. Now that I'm revisiting it, I have an opportunity to comment on how it functions as both a Godzilla movie and a science fiction story.

The year is 1999. Technology has advanced greatly, and Earth's scientists have contained the earth's monsters on an island they call Monster Land (a proto-Monster Island). When aliens calling themselves the Kilaaks decide to conquer earth, the monsters are set free and begin attacking the major cities of the world thanks to extraterrestrial mind control. Can the humans mount a counter offensive?

Yeah, it sounds pretty awesome on paper. How it's executed is another thing. Since Toho at that time decided this would be the last Godzilla film, they squeezed in most of their monsters that had appeared up until that point. Eleven altogether, a true feat; only broken many years later by Final Wars with a total of 14, not including the opening stock footage montage. The monsters include Godzilla of course, everyone's favorite spiky armadillo-like ankylosaur: Anguirus, the supersonic horror of the sky: Rodan, the cutesy Mothra larva, Godzilla's son: Minya, King Kong's adversary from the year prior: Gorosaurus, the serpent that terrorized the Gotengo: Manda, the giant spider of Solgell Island: Kumonga, the horned dinosaur that battled Frankenstein: Baragon, and Varan, the unbelievable. Wait, that's only ten! We can't forget the King of Terror himself, the space demon King Ghidorah.

This is the reason why we're here, the monsters. Sadly, we have to endure minutes and minutes of boring plot and sub-par acting. Our hero Katsuo is a nice guy, but lacking.....something. The other humans are unintentionally funny.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I'm tired." That pretty much sums up the blunt and sub-par script (yes, that was a quote from the film). Maybe it's the dub's fault, but one day you might just faint from hearing the word "right" so often.

The Kilaaks are okay; their leader does well with what she's given. They have nothing on the Xiliens though. See, the thing in Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) is that while Godzilla himself was not the main focus, it was an engaging science fiction story. Destroy All Monsters is very similar in plot and tone, but the non-monster scenes are boring and fail to capture the viewer's interest.

Now, let us get onto the fun part. The monsters themselves are portrayed wonderfully; they're full of distinctive character and sheer awesomeness. There are some great destruction sequences, such as Manda attacking the bridge, Gorosaurus coming out of the ground to attack Paris, and Godzilla firing his atomic ray at a ship.

Sadly, there are major disappointments with the monsters. Baragon and Varan do NOTHING during the film; it felt like they were thrown in just to say they had more monsters. They didn't fight at all, they had no destruction scenes; it was just sad for fans of those monsters. Baragon at least got to appear in another film after this, while Varan was never seen again outside of stock footage in GFW (2004). Also, and I don't know if this was the fault of the dub, but Gorosaurus was called "Baragon" in his Paris scene, an infamous error.

The soundtrack, oh my gosh, the soundtrack! I cannot get over it; the dramatic music truly adds suspense. Rodan's theme, Godzilla's theme, Ghidorah's theme are all used handsomely. Like, when you see Rodan flying and then the dramatic cue plays, nothing beats that. The military theme is also solid, but it's a bit funny every time they use it, 'cause we always know just how little they really mean to the monsters.

For a 1968 film, the effects are pretty darn good. This was before CGI, folks; just suits and props. The beam effects are pretty awesome; Godzilla's atomic ray being a highlight. It's kind of sad when you look at some of the later Showa films and compare those effects to this movie, the older film actually wins out (it's not always about the age, people).

The final fight between earth's monsters and Ghidorah is truly a spectacle to behold. Never have I felt myself having such a better viewing experience, it was an intense, no holds barred brawl with excellent battle music, and that IS why we all signed on. The fight is worth the money alone. You just can't compete with this. Forget big explosive effects, this is a fight that doesn't have to rely on that kind of visual. Punches, bites, beams, double kicks, webbing; it's brutal and beyond the word "epic". This IS the best scene from any Godzilla film, and it saves the movie. You forget all about the boring and just find yourself swept up in a euphoric fit of smiling and cheering.

In closing, Destroy All Monsters isn't the great film that people often claim it to be. It is similar to Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) in plot and tone, but that film is far superior in acting and pacing. Still, the final fight in Destroy All Monsters is worth it, and the destruction scenes with our favorite monsters are great. With a better script and better pacing, the film could have been unstoppable.