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Not so much a Godzilla film as a film with Godzilla in it
on 11 May 2012
The last entry in the series with the dreamteam combination of director Ishiro Honda, effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya, composer Akira Ifukube and the original man in the suit Haruo Nakajima, 1968's Destroy All Monsters is not so much a Godzilla film as a film with Godzilla in it. Despite assembling an impressive-on-paper roster of Toho monsters - the big feller, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Anguirus, Kumonga, Varan, Baragon, Manda, Minilla and Gorosaurus - the real threat this time is the aliens who control them again. Unlike the ones from Planet X in Invasion of Astro Monster, these ones don't wear cool shades but opt for shower caps and cowls. This time around rather than all-out conquest of the Earth they want to offer humanity a scientific Utopia - after they've killed a few thousand people and the others all submit to their rule (which does, admittedly, sound suspiciously like all-out conquest of the Earth to the untrained observer), but Godzilla and the far more cost-effective humans who occupy centre stage for most of the movie have other ideas. Unfortunately it all ends in a massively one-sided battle between King Ghidorah and all the earth monsters which has foregone conclusion written all over it and just leaves you feeling sorry for the three-headed critter.
Like most monster mashes with `all-star' casts, there's not much screen time for most of the beasts, with much of the worldwide destruction the aliens unleash fairly brief shots of TV screens with the occasional monster attacking a capital city's major landmark. Despite being well received at the time, it's a long way from the best or most enjoyable of the series but, while intended as Godzilla's swansong, was successful enough to prompt Toho to make the unfortunate All Monsters Attack - the one where the bullied kid has dreams of Monster Island and of Godzilla's adopted son Minilla having his own problems with bullies while the audience has thoughts of suicide...
The US version wasn't extensively altered - aside from being dubbed into English (well, American), the only major omission is a shot of Minilla covering his eyes which those viewers who hate Godzilla's sprog would probably have missed anyway because they're covering their own eyes every time he appears - but the version originally on DVD in the US by Section 23, while uncut, included Toho's own English dub that was rejected as substandard by US distributors American International who recorded their own and didn't even have chapter stops. The Australian version includes both the Toho English dub and the subtitled Japanese language version but only had trailers as extras, so Tokyo Shock/MediaBlasters new Bluray and DVD release should have been a major upgrade. Unfortunately it's only a minor one: while it does include all three soundtrack options, it's a rather flat looking transfer that almost seems to have been transferred through a translucent layer of gauze, rendering colors drab and definition a bit weak in places. It gains nothing on Blu-ray, and has ridiculously small subtitles that will cause real problems for anyone watching it on a set with less than a 40inch screen. There's a decent compliment of extras, however, including audio commentary by Ishiro Honda biographers Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski, the US, Japanese and French trailers (the latter two completely unsubtitled), radio spots ("It really COULD happen!"), the 7-minute fullframe Super 8mm cutdown, trailer for Godzilla Vs. Megalon and production sketches and storyboards.