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  Son of Godzilla A monster's guide to modern parenting
Year: 1967
Director: Jun Fukuda
Stars: Tadeo Nakashima, Akira Kubo, Bibari Maeda, Akihiko Hirata, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara, Haruo Nakajima, Little Man Machan
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: A strange signal summons Godzilla from the stormy sea, drawing him towards Solgell Island. On this tropical island, a team of UN-backed scientists, led by Dr. Kusumi (Tadeo Nakashima), are conducting top-secret weather experiments. Eager, young reporter Goro Masaki (Akira Kubo) parachutes in to cover the story, straining the patience of second-in-command, Fujisaki (Akihiko Hirata) and sweaty team-mate, Furukawa (Yoshio Tsuchiya) who is clearly on the verge of cracking up. Whilst exploring the wilds, Goro runs across plucky, jungle girl Reiko (Bibari Maeda), and together they discover a giant, monster egg that houses Minya, the son of Godzilla. Reiko befriends the hapless hatchling and watches proud papa give him monster lessons. Meanwhile, deadly, giant mantises stalk the science team. As the weather experiment threatens to go awry, Goro, Reiko, Minya and Godzilla are caught in the silky web of spider-monster, Spiga.

Rival studio Daiei were enjoying success with their child-friendly Gamera series, so Toho pitched the eighth Godzilla movie directly at the kiddie market. However, unlike several slapdash series entries in the 1970s, screenwriters Shinichi Sekizawa and Kazue Shiba include enough elements here to keep adults intrigued. Son of Godzilla is really two movies. One concerns a team of scientists trying to keep their cool in jungle hell and pull off a tricky experiment (with a documentary sci-fi tone akin to George Pal’s Destination Earth (1950)). The other is a happy-go-lucky monster romp where Godzilla teaches his son how to blow smoke rings and paternally encourages romance between Goro and Reiko, while Minya falls down a lot.

Some fans resent the mere existence of Minya, but those who grew up watching the classic Godzilla series have a soft-spot for the podgy, whimpering tadpole. Clumsy and prone to getting hit by flying rocks or knocked over by Godzilla’s flailing tail, the creature’s awkwardness was tailored to endear him to very young children. Still, adults needn’t despair, director Jun Fukuda creates a sweaty, dangerous, jungle inferno with monsters lurking around every tree, while Beverly Maeda’s vivacious jungle heroine and Akira Kubo’s Tintin-like junior reporter rank among the series’ most beguiling characters. Effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya crafts some especially creepy crawlies, the Gimantises and Spiga (pronounced Spee-ga and endowed with an-almost hypnotically gross mouth) but sadly, the Godzilla suit featured here is well below par. Redesigned with a bug-eyed, froglike appearance so as to more closely resemble his progeny, this is easily the worst suit in the series. However Big G’s monster battles are exciting as always. One standout f/x moment sees Goro and Kusumi flee an exploding gimantis as the creature’s flaming, severed limb goes sailing overhead. Kudos also for one of the most endearing and audacious endings in Japanese monster movie history, featuring Godzilla and Minya locked in a snowy embrace. It’s oddly heart-warming.

Minya stuck with the Godzilla series. Following a cameo in Destroy All Monsters (1968) he took centre stage with Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) - where he spoke in a voice that sounds a lot like Don Knotts - and after a hiatus of thirty-five years, returned in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). During the interim his position was occupied by Godzilla’s other son, Godzilla Junior, but that’s a story for another day…
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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