Movie Reviews

Paul’s Favorite Films – Number 19

I am sorry. I could not resist.

For those who are unaware of my burning love for the king of the monsters, my favorite film franchise is the Godzilla series. From a young age, Godzilla has always been my go-to source of captivating and awe-inspiring action sequences, with a monster that has always remained the definition of power and strength.

On top of that, with twenty-eight entries in the series (thirty if you include the two American films), there is more variety in the Godzilla films than any other movie franchise. From the goofy yet stylized “Godzilla vs. Hedorah,” to the somber “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah,” to a film that attempts to discuss modern-day issues in Japan about forgetting its veterans in “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack,” to the so bad it’s good “Godzilla vs. Megalon.” And all originating from one of the best monster movies of all time, 1954’s “Godzilla” as it combined the feelings of Post-WWII Japan with an anti-nuclear message by making a monster that poses as a living atomic bomb.

Godzilla in a scene from the film 'Godzilla VS. The Smog Monster', 1971. (Photo by Toho/Getty Images)

Godzilla is one of the longest, oldest and most enduring film franchises. Aside from a few awful films, the majority of the franchise always manages to bring a smile to my face. Whether through the vast landscape of this monster-filled world yet never forgetting about the human aspect, or just having a well-choreographed action sequence, these are the films that always brighten my mood.

So, needless to say, you’ll see a couple of Godzilla films on this countdown.

To start things off, this is the Godzilla that has grown on me more than any other, Jun Fukuda’s “Son Of Godzilla.” I’ll be honest, when I was a child, I despised this film. I always considered the titular son of Godzilla, Minya, as annoying, irritating and made Godzilla look uncool. But as I’ve grown old, there was a child-like naivety to Minya that made me smile and I soon realized that he added much more to character of Godzilla than ever before.

As I grow older, the more I appreciate and love “Son Of Godzilla.” Which is odd, considering that it is the most light-hearted and comical Godzilla film. Then again, this does make it more endearing and relatable.

On a far-off deserted island, a group of researchers have been running weather experiments for months, while also avoiding the large mantis’ running around the island. But when one of their experiments goes wrong, thanks to unnatural brain waves interfering with their equipment, unbearable heat and radiation is sent upon the island, mutating the mantis to giant size and able to find the source of the brain waves – an egg containing a baby Godzilla. Before the mantis’, nicknamed Kamacuras, can kill the baby, the adult Godzilla shows up to reluctantly raise his adopted son to become just like him.

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What I love the most about “Son Of Godzilla” is how it evolves the character Godzilla, by actually giving him a character. Before this film, Godzilla was just a monster – a living atomic bomb that could not be stopped and would fight any other monster that got in his way. But now, he has another life to worry about besides his own. And he intends to make his kid into another version of him, a cold, uncaring, unstoppable creäture of destruction.

But over the course of the film, even Godzilla begins to realize that Minya is not like him. Minya doesn’t want to destroy other living beings, as he seems to avoid fighting Kamacuras, and wants to make friends with the humans on the island.

Suddenly, Godzilla has to stop being a monster, and become a mentor. One of the best scenes in the film is when Godzilla has to teach Minya how to properly roar and use his atomic breath. After Minya lets out a loud shriek, rather than his usual donkey-like noises, Godzilla nods in possible approval, but I don’t think even he is sure what to think.

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My favorite touch in the film is that Minya hides in fear when Godzilla uses his atomic breath. His eyes become wide, as if he is afraid of what something like that could do. Yet Minya knows he can emit that same fire, but would choose not to use it. Which is probably why Godzilla threatens to get physical with Minya when his son doesn’t want to practice anymore.

One of the themes in “Son Of Godzilla” is the current generations need to protect future generations. The reason these scientists are on the island is so they can run their weather experiments, which they could use on non-fertile lands in Africa and South America to produce enough food to sustain the growing human population.

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The same theme is shown in Godzilla. He is not just one creäture now, but the example for future Godzilla’s’. He has to sacrifice his own needs and desires, so that his race can survive passed himself.

All of this culminates in the ending, which I hold as the best ending in the Godzilla franchise. After defeating a giant spider, Kumonga, that nearly killed Minya, a massive snowstorm has fallen upon the island. With the temperature dropping rapidly, it is becoming too cold for anything to survive. Godzilla has enough strength to leave the island, but Minya is too weak, as he stumbles in the snow, reaching for Godzilla’s help.

I won’t spoil anything else about the ending, other than this is one of the few scenes that reduces me to tears. Sad scenes in cinema rarely make me cry. But incredibly happy scenes where everything works out perfectly give me the biggest smile and tears of joy. The ending to “Son Of Godzilla” is one of compassion, sacrifice and pitch-perfect character development.

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It is like watching a father realize how much he cares about his son. That he loves his child more than he loves himself and he would do anything to keep that bond alive. No matter what happens him, his son deserves to live his own life. This is nothing short of breath-taking and heart-warming.

The fact that any scene between two actors in rubber suits while being covered in thick snow makes me feel emotional is true test to the power of “Son Of Godzilla.”

“Son Of Godzilla” is certainly the most unique and beautiful film in the Godzilla franchise. Complimented by a vibrant color scheme, great use of its island setting and a joyful score by Masaru Sato, this film is gorgeous to behold and listen to. Minya is adorable in his child-like innocence and curiosity, and gives the film the emotional punch that it needs. The monster fight scenes are tense and woven into the plot without feeling forced or unnecessary. Most importantly, this film gives Godzilla a heart alongside his awe and power.

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