Unhelpfully renamed “Gigantis: The Fire Monster” in the U.S., presumably because Godzilla Raids Again calls up images of Gojira driving into the front of an off licence in a stolen Ford Escort and making off with multiple cases of Tennents Pilsner, the Big G’s sophomore outing finds Tokyo under siege for a second bout of Toho Studio’s particular brand of “e-reptile dysfunction”.
A couple of pilots for a cannery stumble across a second Godzilla on a small island in the Pacific and desperately report their findings but things look bleak. The Oxygen Destroyer; the invention that took down the first rampaging monster, is gone and to make matters worse, he is not alone as Godzilla Raids again introduces fan-favourite Kaiju B-lister Anguiris, a giant spiky Ankylosaurus with a roar like a manically depressed donkey.
As the two Kaiju sort out their differences the only way Kaiju know how; beating seven shades of monster shit out of each other, authorities in Osaka can’t help but notice that their scrap brings them ever closer to the beleaguered city’s shores.
Eschewing the first film’s iconic nuclear analogy in favour of a more standard disaster plot, Godzilla Raids Again, while a slightly more epic affair (more monsters! more carnage!), definitely suffers from a less personal approach. The absence of original director Ishiro Honda is keenly felt as the model and suit work take prevalence over any truly meanful message.
But WHAT model work, though! Godzilla and Anguirus’ main brawl which results in them plowing through Osaka Castle in spectacular fashion is pretty much worth the price in admission alone and a massive factory explosion which draws the monster’s attention in the first place measures up to modern motion picture quite well. The Kaiju rumbles are basic, and thanks to some confusion between over and under cranking the film speed, a little awkward. Most old school monster movies are filmed in slow no to catch the weight of the titanic beasts. Here, in some shots, the footage is sped up making you feel the Benny Hill theme tune should be playing on the soundtrack.
Speed rates of giant lizards aside, Godzilla Raids Again has somewhat of a greater problem as the film seems to have no idea as to what it’s own plot seems to be about. The story is loaded with almost nothing but incident and the human cast, burdened with a story concerning an upcoming marriage between a pilot and his fiance, barely make an impact at all. Even Godzilla seems unsure what to do, choosing to (spoiler) kill his opponent 45 minutes into the movie and then fucks off the Arctic to just hang out aimlessly until the humans figure out how to vanquish him. Even a last minute sacrifice of a side character fails to add depth to a technically proficient, but ultimately pesonality-free affair.
Too straight laced to be kickabout fun and yet too silly to be compared to it’s far superior original, Godzilla Raids Again stomps on uncertain ground. Kaiju buff will find many things here of value but few else will.