Godzilla Raids Again (called more evocatively Gigantis, the Fire Monster in the United States) is in many ways the least of the many Godzilla movies which have been made. It's certainly a dandy tale and if it had not been created in the shadow of its awesome predecessor would be considered what it in the final analysis it actually is -- a perfectly fine monster movie. Godzilla Raids Again is the most like the other monster movies which tumbled onto big screens after the enormous success of Godzilla. The movie has much more in common with Gorgo, The Giant Behemoth, Reptilicus, and suchlike. We have a giant monster which does enormous damage which is ultimately defeated by the courage and even sacrifice of brave men or women.
That's the template for a monster movie. The behemoth threat is really a cauldron in which people burn and ultimately reveal themselves. Those that rise to the challenge are deemed heroic. Those that don't are deemed somewhat less. That's what happens in this movie about a "new" Godzilla which rises out of the ice to threaten Japan once again but who is ultimately defeated by the real hero of the story, the man we'd imagined was only the comedy relief. This is Honda's trick in this story, them misdirection of who the story is about and it is the one real surprise in a movie which is all too commonplace.
More to come.