Book Review: Godzilla: The Official Guide To The King Of The Monsters by Graham Skipper

Do you like Godzilla?

You better!  Seriously, for over 60 years, Godzilla has been the rightful king of the monsters and not even a few less-than-perfect films have been able to knock him off of his throne.  He started out as a symbol of the nuclear age, a prehistoric monster brought back to life by man’s arrogance and war-like nature.  He eventually became mankind’s protector but then deciding that he no longer cared for mankind. And then, like many international stars, he ended up making movies for the American studios.  It’s an epic story and it’s hard not to like the big monster at the center of it.  If, for some reason, you don’t like Godzilla, maybe Graham Skipper’s new book, Godzilla: The Official Guide To The King of the Monsters, will change your mind.

Godzilla: The Official Guide To The King of the Monsters is exactly what the title says.  It’s a guide to all of Godzilla’s adventures, from his first appearance in the 50s all the way through his animated films and the current American version.  (Perhaps not surprisingly, the 1998 version of Godzilla is only afforded a few paragraphs.)  Helpfully, Skipper divides his overview into ears, so you can see how Godzilla changed as he moved from studio to studio.  Skipper also takes a look at Godzilla’s existence outside of the movies, as a comic book mainstay and an occasional television guest star.  The book is written with a lot of obvious affection for Godzilla in all of his incarnations and reading it will remind you of why Godzilla’s films — yes, even Son of Godzilla — are so much fun to begin with.  Skipper includes a lot of trivia, some of which was new to even me.  Such as, did you know that Luigi Cozzi re-edited and colorized the original 1954 Gojira for a 1970s release in Italy?

The book is also heavily-illustrated, featuring a lot of shots from the films and behind-the-scenes pictures of Godzilla and all of his colleagues.  As I read the book, it occurred to me that, as goofy as Jet Jaguar was, it’s still nice that Godzilla had a friend.  As well, as I looked at the pictures, it occurred to me that, even in the later films when Godzilla had been transformed from a truly fearsome symbol of the nuclear age to a somewhat goofy rubber monster, there was still an undeniable majesty to him as a creation.  Even at his worse, Godzilla still looks like a king.

I picked up a copy of this book on the day after Christmas and I’m glad I did.  Not only does it celebrate Godzilla but it also provides me with a guide because, over the next 12 months, I hope to watch every Godzilla film that’s ever been made.  (I’ve seen the majority but, as this book reminded me, there’s still a few that I missed.)  For the record, I still think that Godzilla vs Destoroyah is the best of the Godzilla films but who knows?  Maybe my mind will have been changed by December.

Humanity has survived a lot over the past few years and I’m happy to say that Godzilla has survived with us.  Graham Skipper’s Godzilla helps to explain why.

Film Review: Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (dir by Kōbun Shizuno Hiroyuki Seshita)

The 2017 film, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, takes place in the distant future. It’s been over 20 years since the constant fighting between Godzilla and a host of other giant monsters forced humanity to flee the Earth. Two different alien races offered to help the humans get rid of Godzilla but it turned out that both of them had ulterior motives and ultimately, neither one of them was a match for Godzilla. So, now, humanity is stuck floating through space, looking for another home. An entire generation has never known Earth. Meanwhile, the children who were forced to flee their home planet have grown up hating Godzilla and wondering if they’ll ever be able to return home.

One of them is Captain Haruo Sakaki. He believes that he’s come up with a way to destroy Godzilla once and for all but, in order to do so, he’s going to have to convince the ruling Central Committee to allow him (and several others) to travel back to Earth. It going to take a lot of convincing, especially since Haruo is already in jail for defying orders. But what if Haruo anonymously publishes an essay? Will that be enough to sway public opinion?

Okay, so maybe you’re getting the feeling that Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is not a typical Godzilla film. You’re correct. This is the first animated Godzilla film. It’s also the first Godzilla film in which the key to getting people to team up against Godzilla is the publication of an anonymous essay. It’s kind of like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton singing pseudonyms to the Federalist Papers because they knew readers would be more likely to listen to Publius than to listen to Jim, the Virginia Lawyer. Godzilla: Planet of Monsters spends a lot of time on Haruo and his allies trying to convince the Central Committee to let them fight Godzilla. On the plus side, the animation is gorgeous so visually, the film holds your interest and, as someone who hates bureaucracy, I appreciated the menacing way the that Central Committee was rendered. On the negative side, this is a Godzilla movie and, in the end, that is who we’re watching to see.

That said, the film definitely deserves some credit for returning a sense of menace to Godzilla. As opposed to some of the later Toho films, where Godzilla was too obviously a man in a rubber suit to really be a credible threat, the animated Godzilla presented in Planet of the Monsters is a terrifying force of unstoppable chaos. There’s nothing cute or cuddly about this Godzilla. This Godzilla is all about mindless destruction. Like the atom bomb that was the original inspiration for the monster way back in the 50s, this Godzilla destroys the innocent and the wicked alike. When he first appears as a shadowy form reigning destruction down upon civilization, the audience is reminded that Godzilla was never meant to be a hero or a toy or any of the other roles that he’s played over the years. Godzilla is pure, mindless chaos and destruction.

Of course, he’s still the most compelling character in the film. Unfortunately, the humans in Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters are not very interesting. We’re supposed to care about Haruo but he’s so obsessed with destroying Godzilla that he becomes a bit of a bore after a while. Does he do nothing but talk about Godzilla all the time? No wonder they tossed him in jail. The other human characters all tend to blend together but then again, this is a Godzilla film. We’re not watching for the humans. We’re watching for Godzilla and his family and this film, whatever it’s other flaws, brings everyone’s favorite monsters to vibrant life. You just wish the film would be a bit quicker about getting to him.

Sadly, Godzilla will never win an Oscar. But his fans will always love him, even as he tramples them and disintegrates them with nuclear fire. In the end, that’s what fandom is all about, isn’t it?

Film Review: Godzilla vs. Megalon (dir by Jun Fukada)

Look, I get it.

I fully understand why there are some people out who cannot stand Godzilla vs. Megalon. I mean, Godzilla vs. Megalon is a film that totally goes against everything that originally made Godzilla unique. When Godzilla first showed up and destroyed Tokyo, he was relentless and he ruthless and he was destructive. He didn’t care about humanity. One of the most haunting scenes in the original Gojira features a mother holding her children while Godzilla approaches. Godzilla was created to be a symbol of chaos and madness. For a nation that was still struggling with the trauma of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Godzilla was a nightmare come to life. That’s something that was made very clear in the original Gojira and it’s a theme that’s still present in the American cut of the film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

That, however, is not a theme that you’ll find in Godzilla vs. Megalon. There is a nuclear explosion at the start of the film, of course. It rips apart Monster Island and it also angers an underwater civilization. The underwater people retaliate by summoning their God, a giant beetle named Megalon. Why would an underwater civilization worship a beetle? Who knows? Once the beetle starts attacking humanity, it’s up to Godzilla to save the day.

Of course, someone has to let Godzilla know what’s going on. That mission falls to Jet Jaguar, a humanoid robot that is briefly controlled by the bad guys before the good guys override their commands. Jet Jaguar actually gets more screen time than Godzilla and, from what I’ve read, Jet Jaguar is one reason why a lot of hardcore Godzilla fans dislike this film.

Jet Jaguar

Yes, Jet is kind of silly but, when you’re fighting a giant beetle, you do what you have to do. Godzilla doesn’t seem to have a problem with him.

See? BFFs.

Perhaps realizing that it’s going to be really difficult for a beetle to defeat both a dinosaur and a robot, the underwater people contact a bunch of aliens who agree to lend them Gigan, who is a really cool monster who has a chainsaw in his chest for some reason.

Gigan and Megalon

It all leads to knock-down, drag-out fight, one that sees Godzilla going in for a flying kick. Basically, it looks more like a tag team wrestling match than anything else but again, it’s all about the saving planet and if you don’t cheer when Godzilla goes flying through the air, I don’t know what to tell you.

Now, those who complain that this film feels like it was made for children have a point. It definitely does have something of a chidlish feel to it and the fact that it was one of the more financially successful Godzilla films outside of Japan led to a lot of people assuming that all Godzilla films were like this one. Whenever anyone rolls their eyes at the thought of Godzilla being a serious metaphor for nuclear war, it’s probably because the only Godzilla film that they’ve seen is this one or the original King Kong vs. Godzilla.

So, don’t get me wrong. I full understand why some people don’t like this movie but …. well, I do like it. Or, I should say, I always enjoy it when I see it. Seriously, it’s just all so silly and rather innocent. It’s pure fun, which may go against what Godzilla is meant to represent but, at the same time, it’s impossible for me not to smile whenever I watch it.

Fortunately, though, Jet Jaguar never appeared in another film. He did an okay job in Godzilla vs. Megalon but, by the end of the movie, you could tell he was starting to let his new-found fame go to his head.

A rivalry begins in the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer

Back in 1986, Optimus Prime muttered 6 six words to Megatron that would sear itself into the minds of kids for a generation.

“One shall stand, One shall fall.”

And here we are, 30 years later, still using that phrase, or something like it. as Godzilla vs. Kong  offers the tagline “One Will Fall”.

After 3 mega movies (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island & Godzilla: King of the Monsters), we’re finally ready for a kaiju matchup of truly epic proportions. Godzilla vs Kong pairs the two legendary monsters against each other, though for what reasons, we’re not entirely sure. Neither side wishes to concede, and the battle looks like it’s going to be both in the water and on land. From the newly released trailer, it looks like Kong’s the current hero. The returning characters of Mark and Madison Russell (Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown) from Godzilla: King of the Monsters seem to feel that something’s wrong with our atomic breath spewing hero. Dr. Chen (Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is also on hand to help. After saving the world twice, why would he suddenly turn on mankind? I’m not sure I like the idea of Godzilla being a villain in all this, but they have to have a reason to fight, I suppose.

While it doesn’t look like anyone returns from Kong: Skull Island, we still have Kong and some supporting characters in Alexander Skarsgard (The Legend of Tarzan), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Jessica Henwick (Underwater), Eiza Gonzalez (Bloodshot), Danai Gurira (Black Panther), and Lance Reddick (John Wick 3 – Parabellum).

Godzilla vs. Kong is due in IMAX and on HBO Max on March 26th, 2021.

International Halloween Review: All Monsters Attack! (a.k.a. Godzilla’s Revenge) (dir by Ishiro Honda)

“Godzilla says that I have to learn to fight my own battles.”

Well, good for you, Minilla, son of Godzilla.  It’s good to see that Godzilla’s raising you well!  But can your monster advice possibly contain any useful life lessons for the human world?  Let’s watch 1969’s All Monsters Attack and find out!

You may have noticed that I’m specifically calling this a “Halloween review” as opposed to a “horror review.”  That’s because it’s just not Halloween without a Godzilla movie or two but, at the same time, it would be really stretching things to describe any of the Godzilla films of the 60s and 70s as being horror films.  Certainly, the original, black-and-white Gojira was a horror film, even if it no longer scares audiences.  But, by the time the 60s rolled around, Godzilla had gone from being the living equivalent of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to becoming a cuddly friend of children everywhere.

All Monsters Attack, for example, is clearly a film made for children and stock footage aficionados.  Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki) is a little kid who has no friends but he does have an active imagination.  Whenever he falls asleep, he goes to Monster Island where he watches as Godzilla beats up various monsters.  Why exactly does Godzilla stay on Monster Island, I wonder.  Like literally everyone else on the island seems to hate his guts and they’re constantly trying to kill him.  If I was advising Godzilla, I’d suggest he move to another island.

Anyway, it turns out that Godzilla’s son, Minilla, is being bullied by a red-headed lizard named Gabara.  Minilla is a monster who always seems to get a mixed reaction from Godzilla fans.  When I first saw him, I was like, “AGCK!  BURN IT!  KILL IT WITH FIRE!”  But actually, Minilla is kind of cute and he does this adorable thing where he breathes radioactive smoke rings at his enemies.  Godzilla could protect Minilla but instead, he tells Minilla that he has to fight his own battles.

OH MY GOD, JUST LIKE ICHIRO!  Ichiro is so moved by Godzilla’s advice that he decides to stand up to the bullies.  But first, he’s going to have to stand up to some bank robbers as well,  The bank robbers take Ichiro hostage so he promptly takes a nap so he can hang out on Monster Island with Godzilla and Minilla.  Good plan, kid!

Anyway, All Monsters Attack is considered by many to be the worst of the old Godzilla movies and, in many ways, it is.  While all of the later Godzilla movies were aimed at kids, most of them at least had a decent fight or two.  All Monsters Attack is basically just 69 minutes of the kid getting in trouble and then taking a nap.  In fact, Godzilla’s barely in the movie at all.  Minilla gets most of the monster screen time.  That said, the film’s heart is in the right place and if it made any bullied children feel better then it did some good.

(Listen, I’m always going to give any movie starring Godzilla the benefit of the doubt, okay?)

That said, it does kind of seem like the ultimate message of the film’s final scenes is that the best way to deal with a bully is to pull a mean prank on someone else and then join the bully’s gang.  So maybe All Monsters Attack! did more harm than good.  I don’t know.  As long as Godzilla’s okay, that’s all that really matters.


Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Review by Case Wright, Dir: Michael Dougherty


Godzilla: King of the Monsters is like eating a huge handful of different colored Jelly Bellys all at once; it’s fun and kinda sticky.  It was written and directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus, or anything that’s filmed for a few hundred bucks and a sandwich).  Dougherty is known for inexpensive genre films like Krampus, which was kind of fun in a goofy way.  This is a much bigger budget and if it weren’t for the dialogue, it would’ve been great.  Honestly, you don’t really need to listen to the dialogue and Dougherty is a lousy writer; so you’re better off tuning the people out.

The cast was everyone you like: Coach Taylor, Eleven, Tywin Lannister, That Lady from the Conjuring, That Science Teacher from Stranger Things, West Wing Guy, What’s His Face, and the guy who was in the last one who wanted the monsters to fight.  On the monster side: there was Mothra, King Ghidora, Rodan, Michaelangelo, Godzilla, and the rest.  They were all thrown at the screen like water balloons hitting you in the face.

The movie opens with Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) at a Monarch facility where baby Mothra wakes up and everyone seems to want to touch it.  Gross.  They’re gonna get a dino-rash! Terrorists enter, kill everyone, and take ….. did I write take … I meant pick up Dr. Russell and Madison.

Why? Dr. Russell lost her son to the last Godzilla attack and has decided that everyone should die because that makes sense…somehow. So, she sets up her Doctor Doolittle machine to talk/wake up all the Kaijus to kill everyone.  Her argument is really annoying and has a makeshift powerpoint presentation.  She is the embodiment of every sanctimonious Seattleite, Vegan, Composting, Apologist, Whiner all rolled into one; she figures if the monsters kill all the people that the world will be better off- think if that horrible Lorax finally got the money to kill for the trees.  They’re why I refuse to recycle …. EVER!

Anywho….she wakes up all the monsters and Coach Taylor who is Dr Russell’s quasi-ex-husband scientist is granted crazy authority over the military to figure out how to stop all the monsters from killing everyone.  And man do they ever fight?!!! I mean it do they ever fight?  I counted only four monster on monster fight scenes- kinda skimpy.  Also, Godzilla had to be recharged with nukes or radioactive spa time to keep going; I guess Godzilla decided to upload the latest Apple Update.

Godzilla ends up on top….literally. He gets on top of a mound in Boston and all the other monsters bow down to Godzilla, except Mothra – She curtsies (she’s from another time).  There’s good CGI and Monster fighting- when they do fight.  Just don’t go trying to find deeper meaning.  I loved these movies because they’d be on tv for the nerd set when I was a kid.  I saw them all.  In fact, in King Ghidora v Godzilla, Godzilla tries to help the Japanese win world war II or at least one battle. It was awesome.  These movies are great because you can unplug and watch some awesome destruction.  This movie brings the boom.  Enjoy!

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Godzilla: King of Monsters 2nd Official Trailer

Godzilla King of Monsters

This past summer we saw the first trailer to Godzilla: King of Monsters. To say that the reaction to that trailer was positive would be an understatement. It was one of the highlights of San Diego Comic-Con 2018.

Now, Warner Brothers Pictures saw fit to release the second trailer for the film. This time with less classical music and more Kaiju mayhem visuals instead. Michael Dougherty takes over directing duties from Gareth Edwards and this time it shows as the film stresses the action in the film rather than the human interactions underfoot.

Kaiju films have been fan-favorites for decades upon decades because of the monsters and less about the humans. The humans really were just there to give voice to the different factions of monsters duking it out. It looks like this time this sequel will follow the same formula.

Godzilla: King of Monsters is set for May 31, 2019.

Film Review: Destroy All Monsters (dir by Ishirō Honda)

Long before Marvel Studios convinced everyone in Hollywood that shared cinematic universes were the way of the future, Toho gave the world Destroy All Monsters!

First released in 1968, Destroy All Monsters featured almost every monster that every destroyed Tokyo.  As you can see in the picture below, this was a collection like no other.  Long before the Avengers, it was all about … The Monsters!

Check out the cast of Destroy All Monsters:

Some of these monsters are more identifiable than others.  Everyone knows Godzilla and I imagine that the majority of our readers can identify both Rodan and Mothra (who spends most of Destroy All Monsters in her larval form).  And, of course, that’s everyone’s favorite three-headed dragon, King Ghidorah, hovering in the sky.

As for the rest of the cast, they may be lesser monsters but, just like Ant-Man and the Falcon, they all have a role to play.  Up at the front of the group is Minilla, who is Godzilla’s bastard son.  Walking next to Godzilla is Baragon, who was the antagonist in Frankenstein Conquers The World.  The big snake is Manda, who previously appeared in a non-Godzilla film called Atragon.  The spiky armadillo is Anguirus from Godzilla Rides Again and directly behind him is Gorosaurus, who previously appeared in King Kong Escapes.  The big spider is Kumonga, who previously appeared in Son of Godzilla and apparently no longer wants to eat Minilla.  Meanwhile, up in the air with Rodan and Ghidorah, you’ve got Varan the Unbelievable from the film of the same name.

When Destroy All Monsters opens, all of these monsters (with the exception of Ghidorah) have been trapped on Monster Island.  Somehow, despite the fact that they’ve all tried to kill each other in the past, they’re now getting along just fine.  There’s a research station located underneath the island, where scientists can both study the monsters and keep them from escaping.  It seems like a great situation for everyone!  The monsters get a home of their own and the humans don’t have to keep rebuilding their cities.

But then, one day, all communication with Monster Island is lost and the monsters themselves start to pop up all over the world.  Rodan destroys Moscow.  Mothra takes out Beijing.  Gorosaurus totally destroys Paris.  Why doesn’t America step up to save the rest of the world?  Well, they’ve got problems of their own.  Just check out who has surfaced in New York harbor…

After years of exclusively destroying Tokyo, Godzilla has finally decided to visit New York City!  Of course, Godzilla ends up wrecking the place.  He specifically takes out the United Nations and wins the hearts of libertarians everywhere.

It turns out that, once again, a bunch of aliens have invaded Earth and are using mind control signals to force the monsters to attack humanity.  (After you watch enough Godzilla movies, you come to understand that this happens pretty regularly.)  While a team of humans try to figure out how to disrupt the control signals, the monsters are busy destroying every major city that they come across.

However, as the lead human points out, the monsters instinctively know who they’re “real enemy” is and it’s only a matter of time until they turn on the aliens.  The aliens, however, have a Plan B.  And, like so many intergalactic schemes of the past, that Plan B involves summoning King Ghidorah.

The appeal of King Ghidorah is obvious.  He’s got those big wings and those three heads and he breathes fire and he just looks like the type of monster that you would want on your side.  But, at the same time, I really do have to question the wisdom of continually trying to use Ghidorah to defeat Godzilla.  Ghidorah and Godzilla fought a countless number of times and never once did Ghidorah actually win.  He often put up a fairly impressive fight and he usually managed to knock around Godzilla’s friends but, repeatedly, Ghidorah proved to be totally ineffective when it came to actually defeating or even slowing down Godzilla.

That said, Destroy All Monsters just wouldn’t be the same without King Ghidorah.  Reportedly, this was originally envisioned as being the final Godzilla film and it’s kind of nice to see Godzilla hanging out with all of the other monsters.  Ghidorah and Godzilla may not have been friends but Ghidorah is still as important a part of Godzilla’s life as Rodan and Mothra.

Like most of the Godzilla films of the late 60s and early 70s, Destroy All Monsters spends way too much time on its human characters but, even if there isn’t as much as you might want, the rubber monster mayhem is still enjoyably silly and fun to watch.  All the monsters get together and play their role in saving the world.  Call it Godzilla: Infinity Wars.

Sick of Reading About The Oscars? Here’s the Son of Godzilla (dir by Jun Fukuda)

Hi!  Are y’all sick of reading about the Oscars yet?  I mean, here at the Shattered Lens, we love the Oscars but I’m sure, by this point, some of our readers are ready to move on.  Well, don’t worry!  We haven’t forgotten about you!

And neither has … Minya, the son of Godzilla!

Oh my God, it’s Minya!

Now, as you can probably tell from this picture above, Minya doesn’t bear that much of a resemblance to his father.  I’m going to guess that he got his looks from the mother’s side of the family.  We really can’t say for sure because we don’t really get the exact details of how Minya came to be.  We get to watch as Minya hatches out of an egg but we’re never sure who laid the egg.  For all we know Godzilla laid the egg.

Then again, there’s also some debate as to whether or not Godzilla is actually Minya’s father.  When Minya hatches out of the egg, Godzilla shows up on the island to protect him but, before that, it’s not like we ever saw Godzilla actually taking care of the egg or anything.  In fact, right before Minya hatched, a bunch of giant preying mantis things were on the verge of eating the egg…

That means that Godzilla is either a really crappy father or this movie is about Godzilla kidnapping a baby monster.

Oh well, it’s probably best not to think too much about it because Minya is absolutely adorable!  He can’t really roar that well.  And when he tries to breathe atomic fire, he just ends up producing some atomic smoke rings instead.  Fortunately, Godzilla does get off his lazy ass long enough to teach Minya how to create flame.

It’s a pretty good thing that Godzilla shows up because remember those giant preying mantises that I mentioned earlier?  Well, they are literally everywhere.  Minya is definitely going to need Godzilla’s help if he’s going to defeat those things!

Now, admittedly, 1967’s Son of Godzilla may be fun and cute but it shares a flaw in common with a lot of Godzilla movies.  There’s way too many humans involved!  Seriously, when you watch a movie like this, you’re watching because you want to watch the monsters go at each other.  No one cares if Tokyo gets leveled as a result.  You just want to see a rubber monster fight.

But these later Godzilla films always seem to make the mistake of bringing in a bunch of humans who act shocked whenever the monsters show up.  With the number of times that Godzilla’s destroyed Japan, I would think that people would start taking a more nonchalant attitude towards him.  “Oh, it’s Godzilla again.  I’ll lock the door.  What’s for dinner?”  In this case, the humans are a bunch of weather scientists who are hanging out on the island.  There’s also a mysterious woman, a native of the island, who shows up because almost every Japanese monster movie made in the 60s and 70s had a mysterious woman living on an island.

Anyway, the humans aren’t important.  What’s important is the bond between Godzilla and his son, Minya!  Just check these two out!