GMK – A Hauntingly Good Monster Mash
With the release of the Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailer, and Godzilla now fresh in the minds of his fans, I elected to do another Godzilla review, one from 2001. In actuality the movies full title is *deep breath* Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All Out Attack. For the remained of this review I’m going to be calling the film GMK as many others do, for my own sanity and so as o not extend every sentence by 27 extra syllables. GMK is a 2001 kaiju movie and is the third in the Millennium series. The movie is a direct sequel to the 1954 original and follows Godzilla as he’s revived by the restless spirits of WW2 and goes on a rampage for revenge. When I first heard about this movie, I always heard good things, but were those things as good as many said. Well in some places no, but in others, absolutely.
This story takes a very cynical approach to the presence of Godzilla, and monsters in general. In a style similar to the Inuyashiki anime, this film has a very strong ‘anti-youth culture’ message, as it depicts many Japanese youths committing crimes and other atrocities, connecting to the motivations of this new Godzilla but more on that later. So the actual plot? Well it follows a low-budget group of reporters and their attempts to get a good scoop when giant monsters start appearing. the main focus of a girl named Yuri, who is desperately pursuing Godzilla and the other monster across Japan as they all gather for a massive throwdown. In all honesty, for the longest time we get the plot dragging its feet and trudging slowly towards the action. However this isn’t necessarily all bad, it does tease the monsters throughout which keeps you invested most of the time. The films endless assault on youth culture often leads to said youths been at the mercy of the monsters and this does honestly come off as a little bit forced, trying to really push how despicable youth culture is, but this is merely a pet peeve than an actually complaint. But one thing I really draw issue with is that there are so many MacGuffin moments it would make Star Wars blush. Seriously, so many things happen out of pure coincidence or through very specific actions that had to happen at that specific moment, the climax especially is full of these moments. But back to the positives, I really love the mysticism in this movie, bringing back the original Godzilla with a supernatural feel is a great idea, and the lore behind the Guardian Monsters is a really nice way of bringing in classic monsters (and Baragon who no one cares about) into this version of the timeline. My favourite is Godzilla’s new lore, it’s a great take on the monster and does really add to his dread when you figure out why he exists in this continuity. So while the story does plod along slowly and has a very forced message about youth culture and our lack of respect for the past, the story is still well paced in most places and has a fascinating lore built around its monsters.
In terms of characters in this movie, I’m very on the bench. One one hand the main protagonist Yuri is really likeable in her tenacity and willingness to do her job. But on the other hand she’s very annoying in her tenacity and willingness to do her job. I say this because her sheer lack of judgement and concern for her safety puts her in so many life threatening situations, yet she continues to persist despite the threat being so high. I really do admire that nature, but how is she so determined she would throw caution to the wind all for the sake of getting a story? Aside from her, there’s her father, who I really like and the fact that he has a past with Godzilla and was there during the 1954 disaster really does make you sympathise with him and helps to tie this movie in with the original even further. The other characters however don’t really stand out and serve only to act as moral support for Yuri and her father in their respective scenes. I do however really like Yuri’s company crew and how over the top enthusiastic they can become when a story arrives. So with the exception of the female lead and her farther, no character really jumps out and amazes me.
The presentation in this movie really is something to admire. There are so many shots and moments that sell you on how great this movie can be. It particularly excels in the use of shots that depict the monsters, the wide-angle shots really accentuating the size and power of these beasts. Speaking of the monsters, all their designs look fabulous, particularly Godzilla. The combat in this movie is also great, you really feel the weight of the monsters attacks and the fights look spectacular. While some of the CGI looks extremely dated, many shots look incredible, particularly one shot of King Ghidorah that looks especially fabulous. There isn’t really that much else to talk about here, I feel I’ve covered everything that needs to be covered. When compared to the other 90s Godzilla movies, I will admit this one is probably the best looking in terms of visuals and its sheer size.
Since the roster for this movie is relatively small, I’ll include separate paragraphs for each of them:
- Baragon: I feel so sorry for Baragon, he’s perhaps the most shafted kaiju in the series. He was in Destroy All Monsters in a brief cameo and when he finally gets a major part, he’s defeated easily and isn’t even mentioned in the title. The title was already 22 syllables long, what was stopping them from adding an extra 3 for Baragon. Ok, to his credit the scene with Baragon are actually pretty enjoyable and his fight with Godzilla, while one-sided and not in Baragon’s favour is pretty fun.
- Mothra: A new Mothra brings with it a new design, and it honestly looks ok. It bears resemblance to the original Mothra design but has a much more fierce look to it. Her fights with Godzilla are also really cool and she displays real empathy in her actions when she sacrifices herself for Ghidorah. As a Mothra fan I really like her in this movie, her updated look, lore and even new abilities are all great changes for the character in this world.
- Ghidorah: My how the tables have turned for Ghidorah. Long ago Ghidorah was a planet destroying dragon alien, now he’s the guardian or earth which is quite the change in profession. Honestly Ghidorah is the weakest in terms of impact for me with this roster of kaiju’s. What i mean by that is that he doesn’t even stand a chance against Godzilla until he receives a power boost from Mothra and even with all that power, gets annihilated by Godzilla. I also don’t like how he doesn’t fly until the power boost, it looks really awkward with his wings tucked into his body and the shorter necks make him look really small to me. But with that being said, when he does power up, the fight with Godzilla is awesome and he has some of the best shots in the film.
- Godzilla: I love this Godzilla! Plain and simple, i just love it. Beaten only by Shin Godzilla for my favourite Godzilla design, I love how the one is more akin to the original but has a few changes that make it stand out. Most notable are its eyes, which are completely white and very small, giving off a really sense of sadistic terror and a true lack of empathy from the kaiju. The idea of this Godzilla being the incarnation of deceased WW2 soldiers is weird, but in the context of this movie it really works and actually reminds me of the original idea for Godzilla vs Destoroyah where the Heisei Godzilla would face off against the ghost of the 1954 incarnation. The sheer ferocity of this Godzilla is great, when I think of King of the Monsters, this is the Godzilla i associate most with that title. His strength his durability, his absolute power is really something to both admire and fear. Not to mention, it’s implied this Godzilla is immortal, a terrifying thought for sure. So in terms of delivering with Godzilla himself, I’d say GMK did that with gusto.
- Story: 3/5 – The plot does drag along for an extended amount of time but does hold some substance. When the monsters all show up however the story takes a backseat to the insane kaiju action.
- Characters: 3/5 – With the exception of the protagonist and her farther, no character is particularly interesting. Even the protagonist waver between likeable and just plain stupid.
- Presentation: 4/5 – This movies effects are dated, but they really do work well when showcasing the monsters and how vicious they all are. The shots during the fights are great and many of the ‘money shots’ of the monsters look spectacular.
- Genre Representation: 4/5 – This movie delivers the goods when it comes to monster action, and definitely showcases some great moments for the Godzilla franchise.
- (Unique Grade) Monster…ness: 5/5 – Four monsters all battling together and it’s a rumble for the ages. While not as crazy as something like Final Wars, this film has some great kaiju moments and they all look great with their new designs.
- Final Grade: 4/5 – While this move wasn’t as amazing as I was led to believe, it’s still one of the best Godzilla movies I’ve seen to date. The mix of grim undertones mixed with the self-aware style of monster fights is well done and the lore of this Godzilla continuity is very interesting. Definitely give this movie a watch if you’re a Godzilla fan.