KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Out Monsters Attack (2001) a.k.a: GMK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

GMK wipes the slate clean (again) and starts yet another entirely new time line in the “G” universe. Here, Godzilla has not been seen since 1954 when the oxygen destroyer killed him. General Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki ) of the Japanese Self-Defense Force is starting to suspect that Godzilla is back and responsible for the destruction of a submarine off the coast of Guam.

Tachibana’s daughter Yuri (Chiharu Nîyama), with whom the general has a strained relationship, works for a reality TV show called Digital Q. The show specializes in stories on Blair Witch and Bigfoot type legends which contain a lot of made up details to get ratings. That is, until Yuri and her crew stumble upon the real thing. They meet a mysterious old man (played by Toho Kaiju veteran Eisei Amamoto) who explains that the Guardian Monsters of Japan – Mothra, Baragon, and King Ghidorah – are re-awakening to defend the homeland from Godzilla. Yuri’s goal becomes to report the story as accurately as possible at any cost. Simultaneously, her father is trying to destroy Godzilla. 

Expectations were very high for GMK as is was the first Godzillafilm to be directed by Shusuke Kaneko, who redfined the genre with his Heisei Gamera trilogy. Unfortunately, it does not live up to expectations in some areas  

In the Gamera series, Kaneko was often criticized for having too much story and not enough monsters. Sadly, GMK suffers from the exact opposite ailment. Does story really matter in a giant monster movie? Perhaps not. The fights are staged very well with lots of nods and winks to great Kaiju battles of the past 50 years. The special effects and suit designs are some of the best ever with the final battle between Mothra, Godzilla and King Ghidorah being particularly ambitious. The daylight stand-off between Baragon and Godzilla was pleasantly reminiscent of the work of Ishiro Honda in such ‘60s films as Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters. 

The biggest disappointment is the musical score by Kaneko regular Ko Otani. There are a few good cues (such as the theme when Mothra breaks forth from her cocoon) but most of it strays a little too deep into John Barry territory for it to maintain its own identity. The classic theme by Akira Ifukube is only used once at the very end of the film to great effect.

Is GMK better than its predecessors Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus? You bet it is. The American re-boot with Bryan Cranston owes a lot to this film.

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