"Killing Godzilla is hopeless."
Godzilla Raids Again (1955) (ゴジラの逆襲) [literally: Counterattack of Godzilla], also known as Gigantis, The Fire Monster, is the sequel to the original Gojira (1954), released the year before. This is the first film to feature two kaiju and the introduction of Anguirus, Godzilla's rival in this film. This is film was directed by Motoyoshi Oda, and was the only Godzilla film he directed.
Godzilla returns! Well... kinda. While on a rescue mission two pilots accidentally discover ANOTHER Godzilla who is locked in a huge struggle with another giant kaiju that resembles another long-extinct prehistoric dinosaur. Can the humans do anything to stop not one, but two giant kaiju as they make their way toward Osaka?
[Note: this review is referencing the original Japanese version.]
Unlike most sequels you can actually tell that this film's makers actually looked at what worked in the original and tried to play up the things they thought worked in it. For example, not only does this film have twice the amount of action and monster destruction the original had it also has far more of a story involving the protagonist (human) characters. Unfortunately, both of these things managed to be pulled off in a far less interesting way than the original did them!
It was nice to see Takashi Shimura return in this film reprising his role from Gojira (1954) although unfortunately they basically just use him for a cameo and a method for delivering exposition and also to set up the movie for anyone who didn't see the first one, which I actually appreciated because it helps this film stand on its own... though if you did skip Gojira and started this one, do yourself a favor and go back and catch up with the original!
First off, the costumes (for the monsters) look far worse than the original. It's possible the original had the same quality, but the lighting was far better, and the camera never seemed to hold on them for too long, which helped the illusion incredibly. Here the crazy long takes of monsters battling just look awful.
Speaking of which, our kaiju are wrestling the whole movie. Without much explanation, it's just what they do. I'm not saying I need a real good reason for two monsters to fight, I'm just saying the wrestled for so long I began to wonder why they were fighting; there was so little going on in the movie that I began to wonder what the monsters were thinking about. Not to mention Godzilla hardly uses his his flame breath at all, for some reason he just wants to wrestle the entire movie? Which is just silly.
Also the third act of this movie seems really unnecessary. Godzilla finally defeats Anguirus and starts to leave Japan (he really didn't come to destroy any cities in this one) when our human characters decide to attack and stop him for good. Completely opposite of the moral debate that I loved so much in the original Gojira about weather or not to kill him because he is in fact a living creature. This time there's none of that. I actually felt sorry for Godzilla in the end of this one!
Hmm well one thing I can say is I do think this film has some creative action sequences, and it does have some really good effects shots which utilized and made good use of the models they were using, which when two monsters are endlessly brawling for no apparent reason, really did help the movie on a whole.
I'm tackling all or most of the early Toho Studios' Godzilla and Kaiju films in anticipation of the newest Godzilla (2014) movie. Check back next time for my review of the original Gojira's American cut: Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956).
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