Kiryu 2 – Kaiju Boogaloo
I’m back at it with the Godzilla reviews, and this ones something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Godzilla: Tokyo SOS is a 2003 kaiju action movie that serves as the sequel to the previous instalment on the Millennium series called Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. This movie picks up right where the last one left off, as the humans scramble to fix their mecha Kiryu as Godzilla makes a reappearance. This movie also introduces Mothra into the story to add to the monster factor. Does this movie surpass its predecessor? Well lets find out.
For the most part, the story is very similar to its prequel, with that movie serving as the bones (quite appropriately considering Kiryu), for this movie which expands the continuity. However, this movie has a primary focus on the ideas of past mistakes and how future ones can lead to many more. Mothra’s place in the movie is supported by her desire to return the bones of the 1954 Godzilla that are inside Kiryu. Apparently her reasoning is that life cannot be continued past its initial existence, and Kiryu opposes that rule as it is using the skeleton of Godzilla to live. Not a bad idea at all, but I have one major issue with this idea. Mothra has been established as Godzilla’s enemy/ally in the past, but here this is their first time encountering each other so it makes little sense as to why Mothra would be concerned with Godzilla’s bones. I also wish they’d explored Kiryu’s whole ‘Godzilla soul’ storyline a bit more, it does appear in the climax but it’s out of nowhere and the reasoning behind it is also kind of backwards. But aside from those little gripes, this plot is still interesting, the human efforts to fix Kiryu as Godzilla’s arrival draws ever nearer does have some degree of tension and Mothra’s morals do raise the idea of how far we are going to protect our world. Add to that a satisfying conclusion and you have a story with a lot of interesting themes and some decent flow.
In Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, I mentioned how the characters in that movie were excellent and really carried the movie for the most part. Here the characters are still good, but not as good as their predecessors. For one the professor from the last movie isn’t present, at least as far as I saw, which is a serious shame because he was such a great character. It also doesn’t make much sense in the story, he’s one of the best scientists on the Kiryu project and his lack of appearance in this movie does raise questions as to what happened to him. The previous protagonist Akane makes an appearance, but only to serve as a way to pass the torch to the new protagonist. Speaking of the new protagonist, named Yoshito, I think in terms of likability he delivers in bucket loads, but otherwise he falls short compared to Akane. The reasons for this mainly pertain to him not really having much of an arc, he does evolve as time goes on, but only at the end does he truly come full circle instead of it being a gradual build up. He thinks one way before doing a U-turn at the end during his epiphany. Despite that he is still a character you route for and his uncle and cousin are both great supporting characters for him. His uncle is actually connected to Mothra, and this is what propels to plot forward which to me sounds like a massive convenience to me. The cousin is also alright but he does border on annoying at times and also, for some reason, knows how to summon Mothra despite never having done so before or being told how to do it. I reminds me of the kids (AKA. Kennys) who are known for their random exposition and annoying nature from the early Gamera movies, weird… The rest of the cast is honestly a little bit weak. The politicians aren’t that interesting and they just repeat the same stuff about how “Godzilla will destroy us” or that “Kiryu must succeed or we’re finished”. There’s also a love interest/female friend who doesn’t stand out that much and we even have a bully character who comes to like the protagonist, a near carbon copy of the last films human conflict. So while the protagonist and a handful of supporting cast are likeable and do add to the movie, the rest of the cast falls short on account of being kinda dull.
This move has improved in terms of it effects, and most of this improvement is shown in the use of the new addition to the movies roster, Mothra. Her entrance sequence is quite tense with some decent effects and the rest of the design does look pretty good. The effect used for her scale attack is also pretty cool. Not to mention, the shot of Mothra’s death (erm…spoilers again I guess) is absolutely stunning and the way it’s crafted and orchestrated is quite moving. The combat in this movie is also an improvement, no longer being simply a wrestling match. The rest of the shots of the monster are done well, a lot of wide-angle shots. I do wish we got to see more Kiryu at times, but when we got a lot of sweet Mothra action then I can let that nitpick slide. Aside from that the rest of the presentation is par for the course, establishing shots, close-ups, action shots etc. they’re all pretty standard and serve their purpose. However, there is one shot in which Godzilla is underwater, the issue with that being that he’s completely CGI, and this being an early 2000s movie that effect have aged about as well as milk.
They definitely upped the ante with this movie, there’s a lot more monster action. Godzilla’s appearance was really cool, rising from the ocean in a magnificent explosion. His design is the same as the last movie, and it’s a design that I like a lot with its gnarled looking spines and constant snarl. Mothra looks great too, her wingspan really selling you on her sheer size. Kiryu’s back for round two and he looks basically the same, I still love this Mechagodzilla design and there are some slight changes that don’t really impact the design for me but are a nice touch to show how they’ve rebuilt Kiryu after its beating in the previous film. The fights in this film are an absolute blast, particularly the Mothra fight. While it does consist mainly of Mothra flapping her wings and Godzilla getting knocked down by wind, the scene in which Mothra begins to shed her scales and slowly die is rife with tension and fear as you beg for Mothra to make it. I did find the Larvae Mothra to be quite bland and it honestly didn’t feel like a real fight to me since it consistent mainly of Godzilla playing cat and mouse with them. Kiryu’s fight is also fun, and the way that Kiryu eventually gains sentience and tries to kill Godzilla by sacrificing itself is a unique turn of events I didn’t see coming. I was initially confused as to why Kiryu, who was once a rampaging murder dinosaur from 1954, would turn into a selfless hero, but when you look at how Akane from the last film called out to Kiryu and how Yoshito does the same it does make some degree of sense. So in conclusion, the monster action in this movie was awesome and while the last film left you wanting more, this one left you satisfied.
- Story: 3/5 – This plot is very similar to its predecessor, some additional themes are added but it doesn’t do much to separate it.
- Characters: 3/5 – With the exception of the protagonist who I really like for his personality, no character jumps out and amazes me and draws me into their world.
- Presentation: 4/5 – Improvements on the effects do add to the movie and, once again, the shot of Mothra’s death is spectacular.
- Genre representation: 4/5 – The monster factor has improved and the overall action in these scenes is great as well.
- (Unique Grade) Godzilla…ness: 4/5 – Godzilla is way more kick-ass in this film and so are the rest of the monsters. The action is thrilling any many of the movies best scenes are spent with these beasts.
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