For the Children! For the Future! For the…. what the hell is this movie!?
This movie is for children. This needs to be known. It is the only movie in the series that is 100% a children’s film, and was written/ directed/ produced/ marketed that way intentionally. All Monsters Attack gets a bad wrap for its ‘kiddy’ nature, but once this film is embraced for what it truly is, it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
The main protagonist of the film is young Ichiro – a child many from this time period could relate to. His father is nowhere to be seen, and his mother works long days and nights simply to provide for her son. Ichiro and his mother have a genuine love that is conveyed thoroughly in this film, and that makes her absence that much harder to swallow. This entry in the series has a very clear and concise moral message, represented through Ichiro and his Monster Island buddy, Minya – the Son of Godzilla. Both are bullied by respective ‘Gabara’s. Ichiro’s Gabara is a larger, imposing boy from school. Minya’s Gabara is a huge, Ogre type beast that roams Monster Island. Ichiro’s lack of parental guidance comes into play here – he has no one to show him the ropes, no one to teach him how to stand up to a bully (and more importantly WHY he should). Minya, on the other hand, has Godzilla. Ichiro escapes to Monster Island in his dreams, and using his powerful imagination he is able to befriend Minya and learn from the guidance Godzilla bestowes upon him. Sounds like a pretty creative little flick right? It is. And at times, it shows real promise. There’s a solid plot, with a beginning – middle – climax – and end, which is so much more than many other Kaiju films can attest to. So why all the hub-bub, Bub?
Part of what throws the fandom off initially, I believe, is that this film followed Destroy All Monsters, a more serious entry in the series. That film was preceded by ‘Son of Godzilla’, a rather well made film that introduced Minya. To make matters worse, neither the widely known Japanese title or the U.S. title make much sense when regarding the film. The only title for this flic that truly lets you know what you’re in for is the theatrical release title: Godzilla, Minilla, Gabara: All Monsters on Parade.
Make no mistake – I am not wildly defending this movie. It is far from perfect, or even being a good film. The use of stock footage is sloppy, and the entire film seems a bit rushed. I just think it is important to recognize this film as a creative venture by Toho, rather than a creative misstep. Our own KFN expert The Real McCoy explains, using both the Japanese and American releases:
This movie, intended solely for children, was a rather odd entry into the Godzilla series. Monster Island is an imaginary place, as are Godzilla, Minilla, Gabara, and the rest of the monsters. It basically erases any continuity in the Godzilla series and turns it into the fantasies of a young boy. The characters are not very interesting, but most aren’t given much to do. Tomonori Yazaki, as Ichiro, is a typical child actor in a Japanese monster movie, except much less annoying. Of course, being the main character, he gets the most character development. Basically living alone, he fends for himself, and has to fight for acceptance. Eisei Amamoto, as Shinpei, is enjoyable despite his lack of character development. The only other characters worth mentioning are the bank robbers, as a good part of the movie involves them. The two are incredibly stereotypical at best, almost like a Saturday-morning cartoon gangster type pairing. The footage of Godzilla consists of mostly stock footage and, while some people find stock footage as an eyesore, the use of it works well in this film. The main setting is Monster Island, and the stock footage comes mostly from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, both of which had an island setting. Its usage isn’t nearly as distracting as in Godzilla vs. Gigan, (1972). The new monster footage is fun and enjoyable to watch. The message the movie portrays seems to be to face one’s fears, and by the end of the movie, both Ichiro and Minilla conquered their fears.
The only notable difference between the American and Japanese versions of the film is the opening title track, which was replaced by stock music. The rest of the dubbing is fairly poor, but also compliments the goofy tone of the movie. I just have to say, Minilla’s voice in the American cut is hilarious, sounding more like Barney The Dinosaur than anything else.
From a critical standpoint, this isn’t one of the more memorable Godzilla movies, but from an entertainment standpoint, it can be a very fun movie to lose one’s self in.
– Justin, aka The Real McCoy
The following is why I love this system! Representing the opposite side of the spectrum concerning this film, here’s KFN Expert Kaiju Duke with his take on All Monsters Attack:
All Monster’s Attack is, to be frank, the worst Godzilla film ever produced, featuring a really unorthodox plot revolving around a little boy who escapes the hardships of reality by pretending to visit Monster Island and hang out with Godzilla’s son Minya. Through his daydream adventures with Minya, who can now speak and grow and shrink at will, the boy learns how to face his fears in real life, whether it be confronting bullies or facing down bank robbers. Now, while that may sound rather admirable and all, it really is a story best saved for an after school special rather than a Godzilla movie. Also known as “Godzilla’s Revenge,” either title suggests a far more menacing or epic scenario than the actual plot really was unfortunately.
The film’s worst trait is that nearly all of the monster scenes are derived from stock footage leftover from earlier Godzilla flicks, which kinda spoils the fun of exploring monster island and seeing familiar faces like Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, etc. The only original monster scenes are those involving Minya’s time spent with the kid, his lessons in fighting and courage with Godzilla, and their battles against Gabara, a giant green Ogre who serves as the villain kaiju of the film (but he only exists in the kid’s imagination and shares the same name as the bully who picks on the kid in real life). I can’t say for certain if Toho was tight for cash when they made this one or didn’t feel like shooting new scenes for all the monsters, either way, the film suffers for it since ya can tell the difference between the various Goji suit looks and will be able to recognize the fight scenes from the previous films.
I would only recommend this film to hardcore Godzilla fans who desire to possess or see every Godzilla film in the franchise, casual monster fans will probably be disappointed by it. However, to be fair, this film was clearly intended for a younger audience than the average Godzilla film and does have a good message for kids, so if ya have little ones at home this is a good film to watch with them thanks to its lighthearted and humorous nature. On the other hand, I wouldn’t introduce an older viewer to the Godzilla franchise using this film, not Toho’s best work.
P.S. you will not be able to help but smile and laugh at the scene where the kindhearted toy maker who babysits the boy shows him his “miniature computer for kids,” which is easily the size of a normal PC computer monitor today and far larger than a laptop or I-Pad. – Kaiju Duke