When Recycling isn't the Answer: 'All Monsters Attack' Review
To kick off Kaiju Month reviews, I was tasked with reviewing one of the more obscure and controversial of Toho productions; the children’s film, All Monsters Attack. Yep, you heard it right, a live-action, full-blow Toho produced Kaiju kids film. This should be good.
At this point in the review I’d have liked to say “Suprise it’s amazing!” sadly, that’s not the case. No sir, not in the slightest. But, before I gut the film for such lazy editing, contrived plot devices, and a questionable premise, there’s some context to be given to judge the film in a fair light.
You see, the 1968 cult hit Destroy All Monsters was supposed to mark the end of Toho’s ventures into Godzilla and Kaiju film. Toho was barely above the surface in profit margins when it came to Godzilla-related productions but, the film meant to end the franchise instead succeeded in revitalizing it. What’s worse, Toho wasn’t fully committed to creating another full blown Kaiju movie; they weren’t making a big enough profit to justify it. So, they decided to take one of the worst half-measures in cinematic history - create a kids film with cliched messages aimed towards children but using a mish-mash of scenes from past Godzilla movies to keep costs in the “wanton destruction” (a staple of Kaiju films) budget low. The end product being a shoestring budget Kaiju film that has only a handful of original scenes interlaced with a gross amount of fight scenes from past Toho Godzilla productions.
But, as I’m sure you’re wondering, how the heck did they spin a Kaiju movie into a children’s flick? Well, remember the infamous son of Godzilla?
For those of you who don’t know of Minilla, he’s, well, the son of Godzilla. But, the story isn’t wholly about Minilla. Rather, it’s about a lonely Japanese school boy named Ichiro who dreams of a Monster Island where all forms of Kaiju live. One night, while dreaming of being transported to the island, he meets Minilla. Capable of speech, Minilla tells Ichiro of how a larger, stronger Kaiju named Gabara frequently bullies him and his father, the granddaddy of monsters himself, refuses to intercede. Ichiro sympathizes with Minilla as he too is often bullied by a larger schoolboy who he coincidentally also refers to as Gabara. As the film continues, Ichiro learns special lessons about integrity and self-worth.
Now, I suppose because the film does take place in a dream. You could potentially excuse the use of previous stock footage as it can be attributed to Ichiro remembering a mishmash of scenes in his head. But to be fair, the film is fairly ambiguous about whether or not Ichiro’s dream is taking place or not. Despite that, however, it’s just lazy and feels cheap. It certainly doesn’t feel like the fabled Toho big-screen epics.
That’s a fault of preconceived expectations. Going into this film expecting a Toho film that feels like a Toho film will only leave you with bitter disappointment. The fact is, this is a children’s film through and through, and the stock footage is excusable only to its target audience. Not cinema or kaiju enthusiasts - children. With all that said, it’s best to avoid this film, especially if it’s your first true venture into Kaiju cinema.