Tuesday, March 23, 2021

All Monsters Attack - The Criterion Collection!

1969's All Monsters Attack (or as I've known it Godzilla's Revenge) was once one of my least favorite of the Godzilla run. And it's for all the reasons you might suspect, but now it's one of my favorites. This is not really a Godzilla movie like any before or really after. What we have is a movie about a little boy, a latchkey kid living in an urban Japanese environment. He's assaulted by relentless traffic, air pollution, and the basic fact that his parents have to neglect him in one way to get enough money to see to his needs in another. It's a harsh trade off in the modern world for families struggling to get by and it's well reflected in this story which dashes on at  a delightful pace. 

Godzilla in this movie doesn't really exist. This is the world more like the one in which you and I live in which Godzilla is a media concoction and the source of toys (one is seen in the movie in fact) and we have a boy hero who like many of us is besotted by monsters and stories of fantasy. Toys are a big part of this story in a fashion as the surrogate adult in the boy's life is an older stay-at-home inventor of kid's toys. The kid looks to Godzilla for strength in the face of threats from local bullies and ultimately as the story unfolds adult bank robbers. Ichiro is the kid's name and he's a pistol of a character well acted and not made too sweet. He's got a nifty edge like some modern Tom Sawyer, a boy with a clever wit and just enough mischief in his soul to make it interesting. When he's ultimately nabbed by the robbers, the two foul-ups are really out of their depth dealing with the kid's inventiveness and the movie has moments evoking a later classic Home Alone

In flights of fancy which evoke Alice in Wonderland at times, Ichiro visits Monster Island where the Son of Godzilla Minya is his guide, shrinking down to suit the part. And as Minya faces his own challenges including a bully named Gabera (who more than resembles some similar characters in the boy's real life) Ichiro learns by proxy how to approach his own issues. So in this movie Godzilla becomes a father figure, a symbol of strength which a boy can look too for calm assurance. 

More next time when the pollution gets even worse. 

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