TALKBACK #27: Godzilla Tokyo SOS

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TALKBACK #27: Godzilla Tokyo SOS

Postby lhb412 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:27 pm

Back to the talkbacks! The holidays and classes starting up again are the cause of the delay. To the final stretch!

You could largely cut and paste my comments for Godzilla against Mechagodzilla here - but there are a few improvements.

There is an attempt to make more interesting characters, unfortunatelty Tezuka never takes the extra step to succeed in this. It's like we're given the begining of a story arc and then the resolution with nothing in between. Less like a "character arc" and more like a "character jump" (example: these two guys aren't going to like each other - Oh! he saved his life so now things are okay between 'em; the prime minister begins to think Kiryu was a bad idea - the prime minister is now sorry; ect. ect.) Hiroshi Koizumi is wasted.

On the good side we have some very competent and even special effects work, punctuated by the occassional terrific FX shot. Godzilla blowing up Mothra's dust cloud when he's inside it is a good one. The Diet building is thuroughly destoryed (the moment I saw the model I thought: "That's gonna go down!").

Unfortunately the "monster drama" borrows too heavily from previous films: the two Mothra larva lifted from Mothra vs. Godzilla, and dumping Godzilla into the sea is from the first two films releases in the 1990s...
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Postby Tyler E. Martin » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:03 pm

I like this one pretty well. In my book, it's just beneath the previous film in terms of quality and enjoyability. I do happen to have a few nitpicks, though.

I must say that I really didn't find a whole lot of interesting things going on in the human drama, save (to an extent) the Prime Minister's change of heart. It's great to see Hiroshi Koizumi back, even though, as lhb412 said, he's pretty much thrown away. His introduction is a great nod to his initial appearance in Mothra.

The effects work is mostly satisfactory, with a few genuinely impressive moments, such as the destruction of the Diet Building, and the monster action, while quite derivative at times, is sufficiently well-done and exciting.

Oshima's score is pretty good for the most part, though I definitely prefer her work in the previous picture. What pulls it down the most is the flute and bell arrangement of the Mothra theme that plays during the sequences with the fairies, which I find very annoying.

Far and away my favorite element of this film is the climax. The idea of the original Godzilla reasserting himself within Kiryu and finishing the job while illustrating the film's theme appeals to me very much. It brings the story arc introduced in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla to a very memorable conclusion.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:09 pm

Tyler E. Martin wrote:I like this one pretty well. In my book, it's just beneath the previous film in terms of quality and enjoyability. I do happen to have a few nitpicks, though.


I'm the opposite, this is just above the last film in terms of quality and enjoyability. Though I agree with everything you said. The monster action while derivative (Basically the last movie with a touch of Mothra vs. Godzilla thrown in) is so much better compared to what we got last film. Though that's not saying much given it was mostly Kiryu looking spectacular while Godzilla watched.

I'll have more thoughts on this, I'm stuck on campus right now without the DVD. Perhaps by the end of the weekend I'll have more to say. Though I will say I enjoy this quite a lot.
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Postby MouthForWar » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:51 pm

A really entertaining flick, but nothing great at all and nothing that hasn't been done better in the past. Its a pretty mixed bag.

The AWESOME concept behind an MG with the original Goji's skeleton is still wasted/goes nowhere. It basically takes GvsMG 93 and blends it with Godzilla vs. The Thing.

The effects are some of the best in the series and Mothra looks better than she EVER has. I can't see any Mothra in the future topping this one either. Its perfect.

I really like the ties to the Showa movies (Koizumi's character from Mothra returning, Kameba's cameo, the other kaiju names on the vials at the end, etc). BUT it is all a waste of time because any attempts to continue from the Showa series get destroyed since the film borrows from those films left and right without shame. Its a remake posing as a sequel, so any potential there is destroyed. Tezuka's inept and dull direction pushes the story into territory we've seen a hundred times rather than expand upon it and that's the movies biggest sin. So much potential in the continuity of the old series and the concept of Kiryu is wasted. To me, this shows much more wasted potential than GFW because it has LESS to cram in with BETTER ideas, and it STILL fails.

An entertaining movie, but there's really no reason to watch it if you've got Godzilla vs. the Thing in your collection.
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Postby TerranigmaFreak » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:13 pm

Very good movie. I love the ending sequence. The special effects are hands down the best in the series. I'm not as impressed with Mothra as everyone else though. The wing flaps are good and powerful, but the way the wing tips bend from the force of the flaps look awful.
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Postby KaiserGhidorah » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:10 pm

It's an alright film. The special effects are fantastic. I remember first seeing it at Gfest on the big screen. Originally, GxMG was booked but they opted for SOS instead since it was new and most there had not seen it. Audience absolutely loved it and it was a terrific experience. I enjoy the film despite the lack of originality in borrowing scenes from other films and the puzzling premise as to why Mothra cares about Godzilla's bones.
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Postby Rodanex » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:39 pm

KaiserGhidorah wrote:It's an alright film. The special effects are fantastic. I remember first seeing it at Gfest on the big screen. Originally, GxMG was booked but they opted for SOS instead since it was new and most there had not seen it. Audience absolutely loved it and it was a terrific experience. I enjoy the film despite the lack of originality in borrowing scenes from other films and the puzzling premise as to why Mothra cares about Godzilla's bones.


Maybe Mothra wants to jump Godzilla's...um, nevermind.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:56 pm

In some ways I feel like this is the best Tezuka film. It's perhaps the most unoriginal, but at the same time I feel like he does justice to a couple of other elements in the film. The score is wonderful, the kaiju look great and the performance of the kaiju is much improved. Still I have to say that Tezuka still has yet to create any human characters I remotely like. I don't why, but apparently it's something that's nearly impossible in this day and age.

I think most of my love of S.O.S. has to do with how wonderful Mothra looks in this film. Everything seems to look pretty great and seeing it for the first time on the big screen left a decent impression on me. It's no GMK, but it's still rather enjoyable.
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Postby Alpha OTS » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:52 pm

MekaGojira3k wrote:I think most of my love of S.O.S. has to do with how wonderful Mothra looks in this film.

That's the film's biggest asset. I think this is the best Mothra has ever looked. The scene where the jet's tailing her in the clouds is one of the best in the film, and succeeds in making this Mothra seem like something that could really tackle Godzilla.
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Postby kent » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:03 am

I find this to be Tezuka's best film. Yeah, it's pretty much a "rehash" of the previous film with a hint of Mothra Vs. Godzilla thrown in for good measure.

I guess that about sums up what the movie actually is. I really happen to enjoy this one, though, despite all of the similarities to the two films I've mentioned above. It's always nice sometimes to have a contemporary interpretation of previous works. Godzilla is definitely treated better this time around as well.

I love, though, how half the movie is all human drama, then the second half (starting at 45 minutes in) is mostly kaiju action! Superb! One of my favorite Millennium films!

4/5
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Postby Reaper G » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:13 pm

This is my least favorite of the Millenium series. Mothra looks great and the ties to both her first film and GxMG are nice, but too much is rehashed from previous films. Also, I wanted a Mothra-Mechagodzilla fight, at least that would've been something we haven't seen before.
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Postby canofhumdingers » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:12 pm

Reaper G wrote:Also, I wanted a Mothra-Mechagodzilla fight, at least that would've been something we haven't seen before.


Agreed! I think it would've been awesome to see Mechagodzilla confront Godzilla first, and almost win, rendering Godzilla unconscious after a very pitched battle. During the battle, Mothra would be on the way, with the humans thinking she was coming to help defeat Godzilla. Mothra arrives on the scene just as Mechagodzilla "wins". Only, now she engages MechaG! She wasn't coming to help the humans, but to help Godzilla return his ancestor's bones to the sea! I think this would fit in nicely with Mothra's spiritual nature.

MechaG could kill the adult Mothra right about the time the larvae show up. Then, something (maybe mothra's death?) could revive Godzilla to take on MechaG once more. This time, MechaG becomes "self aware" again (just like in the actual movie), He and the Mothra larvae team up against Godzilla and we wind up with the same ending that we actually got (which I really liked)!
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:50 am

Welp, I've been wanting to try rewatching this for awhile, see if my feelings have changed at all.

Here goes nothing.
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:14 am

Hm.

Well.

Let me say this to start: I did enjoy myself while watching this in its entirety for the first time in a couple years. However, TOKYO SOS is frustrating. Why does one of the single most gorgeous Godzilla films ever made also have to be one of the most vanilla?

The monster scenes are perfect. Absolutely perfect. As someone who really doesn't care about absolute realism - quite the opposite, in fact - I think that the miniature effects in this film need no improvements at all. It's sort of a healthy middle ground or a bridge between the perfection of Gamera 3's miniatures (more realistic) and the different but equally great perfection of The Super 8 Ultra Brothers' miniatures (more fantastical). There are a couple of composites that could have been pulled off just a little better and a little CG sheen in places but for the most part everything blends together masterfully.

What does need work is the script. The script needs lots of work. Jesus. It's got plenty of very interesting concepts, doesn't it? If Godzilla is the wrath of nature, Mothra's stepping in as a sort of officer of nature's law, here to tell those idiot humans what's what. That's cool. Placing the focus on Kiryu's team of mechanics instead of the pilots? That's pretty cool too. And maybe cooler then all of that is just the general world-building present in this film through scenes like the discovery of Kameba's carcass or Mothra's visit to Chujo's cabin. In general it comes off far more naturally than the EXPOSITION DUMP! that Kumi Mizuno delivers in GxMG. One might argue that this film had the benefit of being a sequel but I'm sure its predecessor could have done better with a more skilled screenwriter behind it.

This film also desperately needs a better screenwriter though, because now we come to the obvious trouble of how very, very bland the overarching plot is - that is, TOKYO SOS is basically Godzilla X Mechagodzilla infused with Mothra Vs. Godzilla and not even in a very good way. Literally, it feels like the plot is saying, "Okay, let's show this GxMG plot point as a way to segue into this MvsG plot point. Genius!" There's some inventiveness in the battle tactics here and there but it still largely feels as though they're trying to pass off a best-of reel for a wholly new thing. It's not all bad but the end result is that it comes off feeling, as I said, very vanilla.

On top of that are the characters, none of whom are really bad but... I mean, is it just me or does it feel like everyone is just the absolute most basic sketch of whatever character they're portraying? And I know fantasy films of this sort often have broadly-painted characters but why is it that the cast in, say, Ghidrah is so full of life while it feels as though we never spend nearly enough time with the cast of TOKYO SOS to really get a good impression of why we need to care about them, even though they have similar run-times and human-to-monster action ratios? That was, I think, the most frustrating aspect of my viewing experience. I never felt like I had enough time with the core characters to care. Despite that, I will admit that they somehow DID manage to wrench a little emotion from me during the climactic flight towards the Japan trench. It's a pretty well-executed scene.

Also, a side note: The dubtitles suuuuuuck. Knowing some cursory Japanese, it's really frustrating how dumbed-down the translation is. Like the scene with Kameba. The dubtitles read:

"It was attacked by some kind of giant predator, I'd say."
"Like another monster, sir?"
"Yes. It can only be... Godzilla."

Now in Japanese (and my Japanese is very rough, so forgive me if my translation is far from perfect) the difference is fairly subtle but FAR more foreboding, I think.

"It was probably attacked by some sort of giant life form."
"Some kind of giant life form?"
"Yes. For example... Godzilla."

Again, very subtle but I love the implication that there are plenty of other giant creatures out there that could have done this even though everyone both within the film and out know damn well it was Godzilla and we're all shaking in our boots because he's on his way.

So yeah. Overall thoughts? I'm really not sure. Yes, I enjoyed watching it on some levels but I'm still coming away pretty dissatisfied. This film remains a cinematic quandary to me.
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Postby The Real McCoy » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:43 am

There's not much else to say that hasn't already been said here. The special effects sequences are superb and the music is catchy, but the rest of it needs a little work. There were bits and pieces of the human drama that I did enjoy, but there was also a lot of it that didn't feel smooth. The mechanic being the center of the story, with his "friend" constantly making passes at him only to be blown off multiple times was somewhat annoying. The Prime Minister's change of heart, etc. The Mothra larvae plot was a tad out of place; it was basically a carbon-copy of Mothra vs. Godzilla, but it was done nicely. I think they could have done without the extra tie-in; I thought just being a sequel to the previous film was enough. I did enjoy it, however, but the jury's still out on which is my favorite; this or the previous film. These are both two of my favorites of the Millennium series.
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Postby Gojilove » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:10 am

It looks fantastic. But honestly, the most of this movie just feels like it was mailed in.

I find the plot so boring and redundant. I just want to watch Mothra fly around. Thats all I needed from this. And it delivers on that front.
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Postby Shonokin » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:34 pm

kiryugoji04 wrote:
Also, a side note: The dubtitles suuuuuuck. Knowing some cursory Japanese, it's really frustrating how dumbed-down the translation is. Like the scene with Kameba. The dubtitles read:


I think the more you know of another language, seeing a film in that language with Eng subtitles, you realize that subtitles in general can be pretty dumbed down. I find this in both Japanese and French.

Personally, and I've said this elsewhere on the forum in the long-past, I think an intrinsic problem with this group of films is that Tezuka, while being a true Godzilla fan, is just not a fabulous director. He is not a bad director, but his output is workmanlike. There's nothing that stands out in what he does. There are no risks taken and no substantial overarching ideas brought across.

So it does create that quandary of the films not sucking, but not really having much going for them either.

That being said, I think I'll pull this out and take some time to re-watch it sometime soon.
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:49 pm

I think what makes me the most sad is that we'll probably never see a Godzilla movie made with such beautiful use of the traditional suits and miniatures again. Hell, unless Ultraman Saga utterly kills at the box office next year, I fear that this style may finally be on its way out for good. Q___Q
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:01 pm

I will say one thing about what you said, Jared. Yes, Tokyo SOS is just Godzilla X MechaGodzilla infused with Mothra vs. Godzilla, but really I feel like this is only a plus. Godzilla X MechaGodzilla's plot has only one thing that works for it, and that's the concept of an evangelion-esque mechaG. The rest of the film is boring. Godzilla is poorly portrayed. This, manages to steal from something else to improve itself and has Godzilla, well, not standing around like a statue.


I see no problem with the story as is.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:20 pm

I really WANT to like this movie...especially because (unlike a lot of people here) I actually like Godzilla x Mechagodzilla.

but it's just so...mechanical. everyone and everything is going through the motions and the editing on the fights is actually kinda sloppy. it's like two monsters will be fight, then jump-cut to one sliding across the ground and you never saw the punch/kick/beam/explosion that sent them sprawling...
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:46 pm

The judo flip Kiryu does is pretty awesome though. While the editing DOES leave something to be desired, there're still some pretty cool battle tactics on display here.
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Postby king_ghidorah » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:12 pm

kiryugoji04 wrote:The judo flip Kiryu does is pretty awesome though. While the editing DOES leave something to be desired, there're still some pretty cool battle tactics on display here.


The editing is my biggest gripe of the film, cold characters, luke warm pacing, that's all par for the course in Godzilla films since the Showa era really. What makes this film such an epic fail is that is has what is probably the worst editing in a kaiju related movie that I've ever seen
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:23 pm

king_ghidorah wrote:...cold characters, luke warm pacing, that's all par for the course in Godzilla films since the Showa era really.


Eh?
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Postby MouthForWar » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:23 pm

kiryugoji04 wrote:
king_ghidorah wrote:...cold characters, luke warm pacing, that's all par for the course in Godzilla films since the Showa era really.


Eh?


What do you mean "Eh?" He's right!
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:28 pm

Since the Showa era as in AFTER or DURING the Showa era? I'll agree with the latter but not the former.
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