Just got done rewatching this one. Talk about another film that's unfairly maligned by a vocal group of fans. I think this is, for the most part, just as good as the rest of the 1960s. There's a lot of complaints about the Godzilla suit, and although I won't defend it as a favorite of my own, I become more fond of it with each viewing. There's a certain charm about the short snout, stocky stature and uneven spines. I don't really see the "parental look" that fans speak of though. He's no handsome creature in this movie, nor do I think he looks very fatherly, but that's okay. He's a monster after all.
I also like how Godzilla is still considered a threat. While there's no arguing that his transformation into a hero started with Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster
, this and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster
clearly display an anti-hero of sorts. He's not a villain to root against, but he's not exactly making things easy on the characters either.
Points to Akira Kubo who might be one of the more versatile actors in the series. After playing a frumpy little nerd in Monster Zero
he takes on the amusingly determined Goro in this and a commanding leader in the follow up. He's not as fun to watch as Takarada in the previous film, but I enjoy him a lot.
Saeko is an interesting character for this movie; her involvement in the story is convenient at best and frustrating at worst. She tends to give the characters pertinent information pretty late in the game. Tropical fever? Lets wait and tell everyone until they're snug in their cots and Dr. Kusumi is mulling over it. Waiting inside the cave for Kumunga to leave the entrance? Lets notify everyone of the other exit when someone asks. Thanks, babe.
The tropical fever subplot came on quick and mostly served as a catalyst for Goro and Saeko running into Godzilla training Minya. I suppose it did help discourage Kusumi to attempt another go at his experiment, but there's a lot of disconnect in that section of the movie. It's fairly bumpy. (Speaking of Dr. Kusumi, when did he read Saeko's father's notes? He asks Saeko about Kumunga and then, less than a minute after, is an expert on the monster's weakness. That's some quick studying!)
Joking aside, I think the movie works for the most part. The characters are constantly connected to the monsters-- the cat-and-mouse game they play with Kumunga, Kamakirus and Godzilla really keeps the threat of giant monsters believable. I like the weather experiment story-arc and how it was tied with Kamakirus's size and putting Godzilla into hibernation. I also thought the special effects were amongst the very best in the entire series. Arikawa had to be making Tsuburaya proud in this one. I loved how many shots there were of characters and monsters in the same frame. I don't want to say the special effects in the Showa series took a nose dive after this movie, but they certainly didn't improve. I feel like this was the last Showa movie with truly great, innovative visual and miniature work.
It's not quite
a top tier Godzilla movie, but it's real damn close.