After Godzilla: Final Wars brought Toho’s Millennium series to an end, with no future Kaiju films in sight, a number of small, giant monster films came out. Most of these, like The Return of Monster X: Attack the G8 Conference or Gehara: the Dark & Long Hair Monster, are parodies. So it is a welcome change to find one independently made Kaiju Eiga movie which takes itself seriously.
This is not a live action film. This is a densely-detailed, near photo-realistic CGI animated film.
The plot is simple and straight-forward — which is what we expect from a a film less that half an hour long. A scientific exploration mission to Mars accidentally unleashes a monster on our planet. A reclusive scientist revives his long forgotten super robot and sends it out to take on the alien attacker in a marvelous battle that takes up at least a third of its running time.
Now I’ll confess that I love the fact that this film is set in the year 100 Showa, a nice reference to Toho’s earlier era of Godzilla movies. That means the one-hundredth year of Emperor Hirohito’s reign or 2025.
Not that he actually lived that long.
The city itself, except for a few futuristic buildings, is recognizably a Sixties Tokyo that would have been long gone in 2005. The tanks and Lockheed F-104 Starfighters both came straight from those classic films, only they look better here, as they lots of moving parts and move the way the real ones would.
But what really stands out here is the carefully constructed mood and atmosphere, built up from so many pieces: the scratchy and faded quality of the film, as if we were watching a print which was run over and and over again; the moody lighting and dull colors; the seemingly endless rain; and the various aged and worn newspaper clippings.
The human characters aren’t as good as the incredible backgrounds and vehicles, but one expects that from a CGI film made in 2005.
This is a solid, if short and simple, Giant Monster movie. Its Martian Monster is unique and visually interesting, the Giant Robot is amazing by any standard, and the films as a while is more than worth the effort it takes to find it.
Its writer and director, Jun Awazu, also directed a remarkably similar full-length Tokusatsu Anime, Planzet, but, while interesting, it never quite measures up to this one. However, his latest film, Neko Kikaku, is remarkably different and more than a little strange. It will undoubtedly be worth a look.
If it ever gets shown in the US, that is.
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