GO GO Godzilla! Celebrating Kai-June with a look at the Toho Godzilla Collection.

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Movie Review, Product Review
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Toho Collection

There really hasn’t been a better time to be a Godzilla fan for home video collectors. With the release of the American remake, a couple of different companies have unleashed quite a barrage of classic Godzilla movies. Sony’s Toho Godzilla Collection is series of double features totaling 8 of the more modern features of everyone’s favorite giant lizard.

I’ve often enjoyed many of the more classic Godzilla movies, but quite honestly, a lot of these movies from the 80s, 90s and 21st century had evaded me. When I saw these double features, I knew they would be mine. Oh yes, they would be mine (and now they are). So, without further ado, let’s dig into each release:

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah / Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991):
When a mysterious U.F.O. is seen flying over Tokyo, tension mounts, until the craft’s occupants reveal themselves to be friendly time travelers from the 23rd century who have come to warn mankind that Godzilla will soon awaken and wreak havoc upon Japan unless he is destroyed. Meanwhile, a double threat arrives in the form of King Ghidorah, Godzilla’s flying three-headed archrival and an evil and all-powerful android. The suspense builds to terrifying levels as the time travelers’ sinister mission on Earth is gradually revealed and Godzilla must wage a solo battle against these evil forces who want to destroy mankind.
[UR] Directed by Kuzuki Omori. Running time: 101 mins.

Thoughts: It’s not uncommon for U.F.O.s to weave their way into Godzilla’s filmography, and King Ghidorah is no different, except this time, it’s not aliens, but visitors from the future. As part of their warning of Godzilla destroying Japan, we also learn that Godzilla is really a mutated T-Rex!

A team is quickly assembled to go back in time and prevent Godzilla’s mutation, but when you change the past, there are always unintended consequences. This time, King Ghidorah takes Godzilla’s place, working to destroy all of Japan.

This one isn’t one of my favorite Kaiju flicks. It takes over an hour before we see any significant monster action and there are some really terrible FX shots. There is an android from the future that has super human speed, and when it’s time for him to use that speed, the results are laughable.

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah isn’t totally devoid of goodness though. The last 40 minutes or so are vintage Godzilla, with him going toe-to-toe against King Ghidorah, not just once, but twice. The second time around, Ghidorah is equipped with technical upgrades including a robotic head.

Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992):
After a series of earthquakes unearth a gigantic orb, a trio of Japanese explorers are dispatched to the mysterious Infant Island to investigate. There they discover the island’s sole inhabitants, miniature twin women whose duty is to protect the mammoth ball, the egg of Mothra! When the explorers attempt to bring the egg back to the mainland, a furious Godzilla awakens from the depths and attacks the party, causing the egg to hatch and forcing its newborn larva to fend off the gigantic monster. The humongous worm holds its own until a new threat arrives in the form of Battra. When Mothra and Battra metamorphose into flying monster moths, the battle rages on land and in the sky. With two powerful foes to reckon with, has Godzilla finally met his match?
[UR] Directed by Takao Okawara. Running Time 102 mins.

Thoughts: This is one of the more heavy handed environmental messages in the Godzilla pantheon. It has the only appearance of Battra, the physical embodiment of Earth’s anger, a creature that is a lot like Mothra. Battra battles Mothra, and then Godzilla, only to be saved by Mothra. It gets a bit confusing, but it’s all for the sake of saving the Earth.

This is actually one of the highest grossing movies in Japan history, which boggles my mind. It’s not a bad Kaiju flick, but for my money, there are more entertaining ones. It was likely due to the return of Mothra, easily the second most popular Kaiju in Japan behind Godzilla.

Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II / Godzilla vs Space Godzilla

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993):
Synopsis for sony.com: Mechagodzilla is the ultimate Godzilla-busting weapon! Fueled by a nuclear reactor, the mammoth metal robot is Japan’s greatest hope for ending Godzilla’s reign of terror. Meanwhile, on a remote island polluted by nuclear waste, a team of scientists discover a giant egg in a Pteranodon nest, and bring it to their lab for study. Baby Godzilla hatches and Godzilla returns to claim the cuddly infant as his own.
[PG] Directed by Takao Okawara. Running time: 105 mins.

Thoughts: MechaGodzilla, built by mankind to stand up to, and ultimately destroy Godzilla has always been one of my favorite “monsters” in the Toho Kaiju universe. It’s really the best of both worlds, a giant robot that looks like a monster, fighting other monsters.

There are also running themes in most Godzilla movies, and MechaGodzilla II plays on the parental instincts of not only Godzilla, but guest Kaiju Rodan! One of the things I love about the Toho Universe is that you never know what monster is going to show up. It’s a lot like reading comic books in that there is a lot of creative license to who shows up.

MechaGodzilla II is a very solid entry into the Godzilla mythology and is a pretty fun watch. Not only do you get MechaGodzilla, but he gets upgraded to “Super” Mechagodzilla! Check it out and have a blast.

Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994):
Synopsis for sony.com: Cells extracted from Godzilla are brought into space by Biollante and Mothra are exposed to intense radiation from a black hole. This celestial fission creates a highly aggressive extraterrestrial beast named Space Godzilla. Space Godzilla heads to Earth to confront Godzilla, Junior Godzilla, and the new G-Force robot, Mogera.
[NR] Directed by Kensho Yamashita. Running time: 106 mins.

Thoughts: This was the first time I’d seen, or really ever heard of Space Godzilla. The science behind it is a little crazy, but hey, we are talking about giant monsters, so what the hell, just roll with it. The result of Space Godzilla coming to Earth to smash cities are some very good monster show-downs, which is really what we are here for.

Space Godzilla doesn’t feature a who’s who of monsters, nor does it feature a great story, but I still had fun watching this one. Space Godzilla looks really good and the fights are pretty damn entertaining.

Godzilla vs Destroyah / Godzilla vs Megaguiras

Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995)
Synopsis for sony.com: With a super-charged blast from his nuclear past, a new Godzilla emerges from his own ashes, radioactive and ready to take on Tokyo! The great monster’s nuclear energy is increasing by the minute, and a monster meltdown threatens to vaporize the planet. But when mutant micro-organisms unleash a plague of destruction they become Godzilla’s deadliest challenge yet: Destoroyah. And with Godzilla Junior pulled into the ring, only the Super XIII can put the deep freeze on this three-way monster melee.
[UR] Directed by Takao Okawara. Running time 103 mins.

Thoughts: Godzilla has always been a nuclear fueled powerhouse, so it’s kind of surprising that the angle of a Godzilla meltdown hadn’t been used before 1995. It’s one of the more intriguing stories in the entire Toho Collection.

We all know that a good storyline isn’t what make a Godzilla movie tick. It’s essential to have some great monster action and Destroyah delivers that as well. Destroyah is one of my new favorite Kaiju. He looks like he may have inspired some Power Rangers villians, but really works in the Godzilla Universe. I highly suggest checking this one out!

Godzilla vs Megaguiras (200)
Synopsis for sony.com:
Five years after Godzilla terrorized the city of Osaka, Japanese scientists have developed a sure-fire way to finally destroy Japan’s monster nemesis. They have created the world’s first man-made black hole, which will trap Godzilla for eternity! But during a testing of this new Dimension Tide, a prehistoric insect is released from another dimension, producing gargantuan eggs that give birth to a new menace: giant dragonfly monsters called Meganula. The Meganula queen, the 50-meter Megaguirus, is also on a hunt for Godzilla, needing to steal his energy to survive. From the sky down to the depths of a city’s underground sewer tunnels, Megaguirus, Godzilla, and humankind battle for supremacy.
[UR] Directed by Masaaki Tekuza. Running Time 106 mins

Thoughts: Sometimes, mankind is their own worst enemy. When scientists decide to generate a black hole to get rid of Godzilla, an insect from another dimension makes its way to Earth, giving birth to new enemies for humanity and Godzilla. Throughout the history of Godzilla, mankind has always been the true enemy in the movies, whether it was through nuclear testing, pollution or the creation of black holes. The movies remain enjoyable because they are not too heavy handed in their message and focus on giant monsters destroying models of cities.

Megaguiras is a pretty average Kaiju, being generated from an extra-dimensional insect, it just didn’t seem to have any personality. Still, this was a pretty good entry, not mind blowing, but I also didn’t fall asleep watching it.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. / Godzilla: Final Wars

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

Mechagodzilla, the superior-armed, state-of-the-art, all-robot version of Godzilla, is undergoing repairs after his devastating battle against the King of the Monsters. Twin tiny women appear and warn scientists to stop rebuilding Mechagodzilla but their warning goes unheeded. As the great robot nears completion, Godzilla awakens and unleashes a reign of terror against Tokyo. Mothra appears to oppose him and Japan’s desperate Prime Minister has no choice but to launch the unfinished Mechagodzilla to assist Mothra against Godzilla. But in the end — will the survivor be monster, robot or man?
[PG] Directed by Masaaki Tekuza

Tokyo SOS features MechaGodzilla, a favorite of mine, so I was really looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed as Mecha had to go toe-to-toe with not only Godzilla, but also Mothra. It’s always a bonus when there are multiple Kaiju!

Like most Godzilla movies, there’s a message here as well, as MechaGodzilla was built using the bones of Godzilla (one of them anyways) as a framework, which angers not only the latest Godzilla, but also Mothra. It’s the Kaiju way of saying “don’t desecrate nature.”

Tokyo S.O.S. is one of my favorite entries in this series, and when paired with Final Wars (the other movie on this double feauture) it makes for one great afternoon of movie watching!

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Earth has been relatively peaceful since Godzilla was successfully buried deep in ice beneath the South Pole. Then — sometime a few years hence — several of his old nemeses return to wreak havoc on cities worldwide. A huge spaceship suddenly appears and neutralizes all the monsters in a blink. The visitors are “Xiliens,” who take human form and announce they would like to negotiate a peace treaty that would replace the United Nations with a “United Universe.” They are indeed too good to be true, however. It doesn’t take long before their nefarious real purpose is exposed — conquering Earth. Greatly outmatched, Earth officials decide to de-freeze Godzilla as man’s only hope to vanquish the invaders.
[PG-13] Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Running time 125 mins.

Thoughts: Last, but certainly not least is Final Wars, the Battle Royale of Kaiju movies in this set, featuring a jaw dropping 15 different Kaiju! On top of that are those pesky Aliens showing up to rile up the monsters with their nefarious plans to take over the Earth. The only hope is to unleash Godzilla and watch the fireworks.

I suggest you sit back and do the same. For my money, this is the centerpiece of the Toho Collection.

Overall Thoughts: These releases are a godsend for fans of Godzilla. They are inexpensive and easy to find and the picture quality is great. They lack in extras, with most of the discs only having theatrical trailers, but that is easy to overlook. Godzilla movies are meant for rainy weekend afternoons, watched in succession, and best enjoyed with friends. I fiercely defend watching foreign movies in their original language with subtitles, but with Godzilla, it just seems right to watch it dubbed to English.

While not all the movies are created equally, I suggest this entire series for fans of the big guy. My personal favorite was Final Wars, but there are some other great entries as well. It’s a very affordable way to build your Kaiju collection and a great way to spend a weekend!


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