Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)

Title: Godzilla: Tokyo SOS
Released: 2003
Rated: PG
Score: 5/10
IMDb: Click

As the Japanese military rushes to repair the damage done to Mecha-Godzilla during its last battle with Godzilla, other daikaiju have taken an interest in the creature.  The twin faerie spokeswomen for the Protector of the Earth have declared that the bones of the dead must be allowed to rest.  Mothra and Mecha-Godzilla both have their ardent supporters, and when Godzilla makes his approach toward Tokyo once more, all eyes are on the confrontation.

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS is another Godzilla flick that’s a direct sequel to another and therefore; it makes an effort to hold the continuity of the entire tripartite series together.  The direct sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla-this is the only Millenium-series Godzilla film to carry such a title and therefore probably the most recent film with a strong adhesion to continuity.  References are made to the battle and weaponry from the last film, although I wouldn’t know if watching it would make anything easier to understand here.  It’s possible… but I just don’t know and Wikipedia entries on Godzilla are sketchy at best when it comes to anything other than daikaiju powers.  Mothra references that seem to stretch back to the Shojo series- again, I haven’t been able to confirm this, but it definitely applies at least to the Heisei films.

This may or may not be a mark of the Millenium series Godzilla films, but the dubbing is probably the best of any Godzilla film I’ve seen.  Sure, it’s imperfect… but it’s far better than the monotone that marks the earlier films.  Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the subtitled version at the time I watched this, but I have a feeling in this case the experience would have been very similar, a definite plus.

One thing that consistently drew my attention, and I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, is the characters and their interactions.  We have a history between the main character, a mechanic that not only works on Mecha-Godzilla but is the nephew of the old man who’s dealt with Mothra, and one of the pilots.  The dialogue between them is cheesy and unrealistic as per expectations- no, demands– from a Godzilla flick, but there’s obviously some attraction and at the very least a degree of friendship.  Really it’s up for guess, and I’m curious as to how it turns out in the film’s native Japanese.  The main character also has an interesting dynamic with Mecha-Godzilla’s primary pilot, and it’s hard to tell whether they have a history of antagonism or just made very poor first impressions.  Their relationship quickly degrades even farther in quite an anime-esque manner, taking a perfectly understandable line of disagreement and stretching it beyond realistic progression.

Another interesting thing about this film were the graphics.  While the making of documentary (I use the term loosely, as all of the monologue is in Japanese with no subtitles) shows that the above-water monsters were actually animatronic, they look very CGI. I actually thought that Godzilla reminded me closely of a Spyro video game character.  Nevertheless, underwater, it’s clear CGI.  This results in a more fluid look for Godzilla, sure, but it’s also a lot harder to take him seriously as he starts to look almost cartoony while swimming.  The monsters’ (and robot’s) attacks were also clearly computer generated, but that’s along the line of “how the fuck else do you expect it?”  The technology was pulled off very well, as I expected the latest of a series including 5 giant monster movies to do.

SPOILER BELOW (highlight text to read)
And now for the reality check.  Yeah, yeah, groan and skip the paragraph, sure.  But if you’re like me, you were wondering how in the world the bones of a non-telekinetic, non-magical nuclear lizard were able to overcome sophisticated military programming to take control of Mechagodzilla.  Or about the portrayal of the military.  As an American (and a military enthusiast), this gives me some interesting questions.  Do the Japanese Armed Forces really greet one another by bowing instead of saluting?  Do they really speak in such a casual way when acting formal (“Not my cup of tea”)?  Or did the makers of this film, as in many other Godzilla and Science Fiction films, not bother researching the real military when making the film?  I’m leaning toward the latter explanation… but I suppose I’ll never know.

One last gripe before I wrap up.  You notice I haven’t spoken much about the monsters.  Odd, since I know as well as you do that everybody who watched this movie was waiting for one thing: the reason why one title for this film is Godzilla vs Mothra vs Mechagodzilla.  Well, there’s a few views of Mechagodzilla… inactive.  A lot of talk about the mech, and a lot of talk about Mothra.  Hell, even active Mecha-G (as the characters, even the anorexic fairy twins, oddly enough call it from time to time) and Mothra are fairly active, with some baby Mothra action as per the Giant Moth genre.  But… Godzilla?  Barely present.  He shows up, rampages, fights a surprisingly capable Mothra and then Mechagodzilla, and that’s it.  This has to be… an hour into the movie or so, and they’re still focusing more on the humans than Godzilla.  For this reason alone, Tokyo SOS is as disappointing as a Godzilla movie can be.  If you’re a hardcore fan, or especially love Mothra or the human scenes and lessons, give this one a go, otherwise, let it slide.  For the rating, this falls under a movie that was well made, but still fails.  Like All-Star Batman and Robin.

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1 thought on “Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)

  1. Pingback: Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003) | Video Game news « Tokyo Bookmarker

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