Time: 82 Minutes
Hiroshi Koizumi as Shoichi Tsukioka
Setsuko Wakayama as Hidemi Yamaji
Minoru Chiaki as Koji Kobayashi
Takashi Shimura as Dr. Kyohei Yamane
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Fishing scout-pilots are startled to discover a new monster named Anguirus alongside a second Godzilla. The monsters make their way towards Osaka as Japan can only brace for tragedy and relive the horror of Godzilla once more.
I was surprisingly impressed with the original Godzilla released in 1954. Despite how old it is, it has aged very well and remains a stunning, thematic and all around great monster movie. It was such a hit that 6 months after its release it got a follow up titled Godzilla Raids Again. Unfortunately it just did not work nearly as well as that first movie despite its moments.
First of all I should clarify what kind of film Godzilla Raids Again is. Whereas the first Godzilla was a political thriller with a dark and heavy tone, the sequel abandoned that in in favour of being more of a popcorn action flick with a lot of monster fights. It also lacks the thematic weight of the first movie with its themes of nuclear holocaust and the fear of the H bomb, so there’s much less to analyse and unpack. So at its core it is a dumb monster movie, but I don’t necessarily think that approach is a bad thing. Godzilla Raids Again is essentially about Godzilla fighting another new Kaiju monster, which seems like the most basic direction to go with for a sequel, but there’s some potential and novelty in that concept. However even as this, I feel like it could’ve been a lot better. Unfortunately the film just doesn’t really fully commit to campiness as much as it should’ve. The story itself is boring, underwhelming and feels rather dull. The human story in the first movie was surprisingly strong, however the obligatory story in Raids Again is just bad, it just sort of exists and I barely paid attention to it. Really none of the characters are worth getting invested in and it was difficult to stay invested when they were on screen. This movie is also very poorly paced even at 80 minutes long. It spends too much time rehashing the events of the first movie, and it drags when Godzilla isn’t on screen.
There’s really nothing to say about the human characters except that they are boring and feel one dimensional. There’s really no one to gravitate towards or like.
The direction from Motoyoshi Oda is a mixed bag. On the surface it does look similar to the first Godzilla movie. Some shots are nice, and the miniature work is impressive. The action is passable but doesn’t have the same gravity or weight that the original did. The fighting between Godzilla and Anguirius (the new monster) can be pretty fun. With that said, on a technical level, Raids Again it has held up worse than the first movie. The effects really do feel dated, and the fight scenes aren’t nearly as hard hitting. The fights particularly feel like two wrestlers in large rubber suits who can’t see anything slamming each other into buildings. Not that some fun can’t be extracted out of watching that however.
Godzilla Raids Again is a major step down in quality from the previous film. I wouldn’t say that it is bad by any means, I’m guessing that a lot of the Godzilla movies are at this level of quality anyway. However, it is really something when you compare it to the movie that came beforehand. The scenes of the fighting can be entertaining but at the same time its at the film’s expense given how silly it looks now. The plot is uninteresting, the characters are dull, and the film drags despite its short runtime. Even a silly B-level Godzilla movie should be better than this.