In 1968 Toho wanted to give the Godzilla franchise a sendoff as they had planned to end it. As such, what better way than to make a movie featuring every monster seen thus far in Toho’s catalog?
“Destroy All Monsters” has a simple plot, as it is about another race of aliens called the Kilaak who want to take over the Earth. The monsters have been gathered up on a single island so the Kilaak invade Monster Island and take control of the monsters. It is up to Dr. Yoshido, the military, and the captain of the SY-3, Katsuo, to stop their intrusive plot. There is not really much to be said here. The plot is standard fare, only with using the whole island confines as a reason to put all of the monsters together in one place. There are some oddities in this whole concept though, as some of these monsters, such as Baragon and Varan should be dead. Also, why is Mothra part of this? Wouldn’t the fairies and islanders from Infant Island be against this? Or did they all die out? Finally, how did they manage to get all of the monsters there to begin with?
Moving on, not only does the plot leave holes big enough for Rodan to fly through, it is very poorly paced. Within the first few minutes the control center on Monster Island is taken over and the monsters are sent out to destroy various cities for a few more minutes, then there is a big attack on Tokyo about twenty minutes later, only for there to be nothing afterwards until the last twenty minutes or so of the movie. The Kilaak invasion is flawed and the monster attacks are also brief. It feels like Toho did not know what to do with all of these monsters as some of them are there for nothing but a shot in the background on the island. Hell, Varan does not even participate in the final battle. If you blink during his two appearances you will never have even know he was in this thing.
The characters are not much. The biggest stand out point for a few of them is that they are played by veteran Godzilla actors, especially Katsuo and Yoshido. If you have seen the previous five movies befor this, then you already know these actors. The only one that is new is the woman who plays Kyoko, but her character is one dimensional and really only there to act as the reason for everyone learning about the newest Kilaak control device that she did not even need to be there. A brick wall could have done her job just fine.
The selling point of this movie is the monsters, which is strange considering how little they are actually in this thing. Their designs are also standard fare with Godzilla really being the only one that has a new look. Rodan and Anguirus are the same as before. Gorosaurus and Baragon look the same, but they are hardly in the thing to really tell if they have new costumes or not. While it is nice to see Varan in color, he is not even on screen long enough to notice the details of his costume in color. Ghidorah looks fine but his eyes seem just to be a dead pan black color that were painted on as there is no life to them. That is probably the biggest issue with Ghidorah here as he is lifeless. Not to mention he is defeated so easily that he seems to have been brought in just to have a big bad guy to attack the good monsters.
Godzilla’s new costume is bad. Someone at the gym should have told him to go home because he was done when it came to losing his fat. He is skinny, but he also lost all of his muscle structure he had in the past. Sure, he has been losing his muscle tone with each new costume, but now he really does look like a rubber suit now instead of a monster. The worst crime is his head. It looks like they pulled all of the fur off Cookie Monster’s head and gave him a scaly eyebrow ridge. He just does not look threatening at all, but more like “Godzilla, the Friend of Children.”
The effects in the movie are also quite subpar. The miniature sets don’t look horrible, but they look cheaply made in some areas. And I did not know the harbor in Tokyo was designed the same as the one found in New York City. You learn something new every day. :-p Most of the battles take place in the country side, which also gives a sense that their budget was limited. Either that or they spent the majority of their money on their moon bases. The best part of the movie is probably its score, as Ifukube’s music does fit with it and there are some really great tracks here. I think my favorite is the one when Katsuo and his gang are trying to melt the Kilaak controller off of its base so they can take it. The fast paced piano rhythm is just fantastic there.
In the long run, there is not too much to say about “Destroy All Monsters” that does not end with disappointment. Toho promised so much with having all of their monsters in one movie and yet delivered so little. The movie could have been fine with just Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus and Mothra in it. In fact, where did Kumonga come from? He just appears out of nowhere at the end of the final fight with Ghidorah. Varan had no business being here at all and it seemed like even Toho could not even be bothered to make sure they had their monster suits available as we clearly see Gorosaurus attacking Paris even though the news reporter says it is Baragon a minute later. The pacing is bad and the characters are just rehashes of those from past movies. It is a shame that all of this potential was wasted on what I’m going to assume was an extremely limited budget that was too little for what Toho had initially planned to do.
In fact, as of this moment, both attempts to do a huge monster mash movie has ended up in failure, meaning that either the world is not able to handle such a feat or no one is willing to give it the attention one truly deserves. “Destroy All Monsters” is nowhere near the worst Godzilla movie ever, but a movie that promises as much as it fails on is nothing more than average in my book. As such, I give it a 6/10.