Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

Class: User
Author: King Caesar
Score: (2.5/5)
February 7th, 2011 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

As I was scanning the movie racks at my local movie store a while back, I came across a collection of rather interesting movies. They were just my type: cheesy, sci-fi, and old. I picked up the first one I saw, and that's how I came to view Godzilla vs. Gigan for the first time. Initially, I absolutely despised the film. I picked out every flaw, and I didn't understand the true purpose of the movie. Now after multiple viewings and many years of critiquing, I've finally realized that this film has more to it than meets the eye. Despite obvious flaws, it has come to be one of my favorites; truly a fun movie.

The year is 1972. An anonymous investor has loaned a private organization money to establish an amusement park called Children's Land. The head of Children's Land has called upon Gengo Kotaka, an unemployed comic book illustrator, to create new monsters for the on-site museum. Gengo's suspicion is aroused when a woman runs out of the Committee Office with employees following in hot pursuit. Later that day, Gengo confronts the female protagonist, Machiko Shima. She has come under the impression that the executives of Children's Land have kidnapped her brother. Once she reveals a stolen tape from the organization's Committee Office to Gengo, the heroes suddenly find themselves in the thick of a real mystery. In the meantime, Godzilla and Anguirus have detected the bizarre radio waves transmitted from the stolen tape and begin their own investigation. Soon thereafter, two monsters from space arrive on Earth, and the battle to determine the fate of the world begins.

The movie's plot isn't half bad. The monsters make early appearances, but no real fighting begins until the climax. The human interaction is enough to hold the viewer's interest until the second half, with its silly comedic moments and the growing suspense that stems from the protagonists' detective-work. Speaking of which, I must note that the investigation into the true identity of the chairman ends rather abruptly. Whether or not this was intentional is beyond me, but I digress, the movie continues at a decent pace and picks up speed once all the monsters arrive.

The human characters are rather bland and they lack a solid back story. Though it is established that Gengo Kotaka is the leading protagonist, some of the other characters are rarely addressed by name and lack any form of explanation as to their history or motives. The hippie, who is known for the notorious corn on the cob hold up, has very little exposition, and all we know is that he tags along with Machiko. The antagonists don't fare all that well either, with only a brief flashback to explain the environmental devastation that led them to embark on their current mission.

The acting in this movie is also average. Some of the actors do an okay job at rising above the rank of off-the-script characters, such as Hiroshi Ishikawa (Gengo Kotaka). He seems to put in some effort, but it still comes across too weak onscreen. The rest of the cast is out-of-it and hardly have any expressions other than serious or downright goofy; honestly, there's nothing to write home about.

The special effects are watered down and killed by the overuse of stock footage. The monsters' outfits, save Anguirus and Gigan, are falling to pieces. The Ghidorah suit (outside of stock footage) is stiff and not nearly as crazed and agile as his previous appearances (he must not be a nightlife kaiju). Anguirus looks very impressive in the shot at the beach, but only from a distance. Gigan has a fresh suit and definitely steals the show. His overall personality is practically bursting through the fourth wall as he takes on Godzilla and Anguirus. Speaking of Godzilla, his suit is by far the worst of the bunch. The arms are falling apart (literally), and his visual appearance is nothing short of disappointing.

The sets where the action sequences take place have a varying level of quality. The shot with Gigan silhouetted against a burning Tokyo is awe-inspiring, but the others, such as the fields in front of Children's Land, are just average. Once again, many shots are pulled from stock footage. The destruction scenes are decent, but the miniatures have some issues. The cars on the highway are specifically a disappointment. They don't move and look more like Hot Wheels™ than anything else.

The soundtrack is the film's redeeming factor. The movie has the feel of a ‘best of Akira Ifukube' going on, as all the tracks were composed for previous Toho films, with the sole exception being the closing song, "Godzilla March". Surprisingly, the use of stock music turns out to be a treat, since viewers won't have to listen to the same few track play ad infinitum (sadly, The War of the Gargantuas (1966) suffered from this flaw).

Overall, this movie is bad on a technical level. The acting, the plot, and the special effects are at or below par, and the other areas of this film don't fare all that well, either. However, if viewers are able to look past the countless flaws, then they will be in for a great time.