Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. – 2003, Masaaki Tezuka – Japan
Wow! I had some low expectations for this one, but Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is actually pretty solid!
The formula is good; Toho said “Hey, let’s make a Godzilla movie, but let’s have it be more like Top Gun, only without all the blatant homo-eroticism.” So they did. And it was cool! The air force setting really helps to keep our human characters interesting, they all have something going on that feels less stale than characters from other films in the series. We also have a dude from the original Mothra movie popping in as a secondary character in this one, which is done pretty well and helps the movie feel connected to the Showa era in a fun way.
As is tradition with post Showa era Godzilla flicks, Tokyo S.O.S. picks and chooses which film continuities it observes, this time serving as a direct sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, but also acknowledging Gojira, and Mothra. In this continuity, Mechagodzilla is a man made weapon designed to take down Big Daddy G, and constructed partially from the skeleton of the monster from the original Godzilla film. Mothra and her tiny, magical, unison speaking fairy girls are not cool with this. Apparently, using the corpse of a slain monster to create the world’s most fearsome war machine is kinda pushing it, from an ethics standpoint, and Mothra wants a proper burial at sea for Godzilla senior, pronto. That’s trouble for we humans, though, because it would mean dismantling Mechagodzilla when we still desperately need him to defend our oh, so stompable human bodies from all the beast rampages we keep experiencing. Mothra respects that, so in order to sweeten the deal, she promises to protect mankind from Godzilla if we comply with her wishes, but also to kill us all if we fail to comply. Mothra is not good at negotiating. But anyway, it’s a good thing we called her bluff, because later in the film Godzilla kicks Mothra’s ass and without Mechagodzilla to save us we’d have been totally f’ed.
So, it’s pretty good. The monsters are well done, the human stuff is cool, and the whole movie is well made. There is an apparent desire to rely on practical effects and costume monsters over CG this time, and damn, keep it comin’, Toho, because Godzilla and Mothra look great. Probably the worst effect in the movie is the composite job used to make Mothra’s envoy look tiny, but even that is fine. We’ve seen that effect suck for 50 years now. We’re used to it.
Tokyo S.O.S. is yet another solid achievement for the Millennium Era, and, like it’s immediate predecessor, I’d call it one of the best post-Showa Godzilla movies yet made. recommended for fans of the series.