Thursday, 22 June 2017

Godzilla raids again (4 Stars)

This is the first sequel to "Godzilla", made in 1955, only four months after Godzilla was killed in the first film. So how could he be raiding again? And come to think about it, did he ever raid anyone or anything in the first film?

The original Japanese title translates literally as "Gojira strikes back". That makes slightly better sense, except that being dead would make it difficult for him to strike back. Don't complain about Gojira's name being anglicised as Godzilla. When the film was first released in American cinemas in 1959 it was called "Gigantis the Fire Monster". The first film had been called "Godzilla, King of Monsters" in America. The name change was to tell the audience that Gigantis was a new monster, because the original monster from the first film was dead.

I admit that the name change makes sense, but it's not what the original Japanese film makers wanted to say. Far from being a folk legend, as in the first film, the Gojira is a dinosaur that died out two million years ago. There are even pictures of the Gojira in Japanese dinosaur books. That's funny. When I was a child I never saw pictures of a Gojira or a Gojirasaurus. Godzilla #1 and Godzilla #2 both belong to the same breed. Both used to live on the sea bed and were driven to the surface by the atomic bombs. That almost makes sense.

The sequel tells two stories. In the first story a pilot crash lands on a small Japanese island called Kamiko. When another pilot is sent to rescue him they see Godzilla fighting with another giant dinosaur that they recognise as an Angilas (called an Anguirus in the American version). That's another dinosaur that I never saw in my children's dinosaur book. The pilots return to mainland Japan. They're stationed in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. Soon afterwards Godzilla swims to Osaka, followed by the Angilas, and they fight in the city centre, destroying everything as they battle. Eventually Godzilla wins and swims back to sea. The end.

That's the end of the first half of the film, at least. The second story takes place a few months later, in winter. It seems to be a simplified copy of the story from the first film. A fishing boat is destroyed. The pilots that we met in the first half of the film investigate and see that Godzilla did it. They discover that Godzilla still lives on the small island where they first found him. The Japanese air force makes multiple strikes to stop him from doing any more damage.

The first Godzilla was killed, but this one is only trapped. Oops! Yet another spoiler? I deserve a spanking. That was a wise choice by the screenwriter. If they killed Godzilla in every film we would need 29 Godzillas by now.

Unlike the first film, which has been remastered for Blu-ray, the second film has only been released on DVD and is now out of print. If you want a copy you'll have to pay expensive collector prices. Or do what I did: watch it on Amazon Prime.

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