Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Special Effects by
Nick Adams – Glenn
Akira Takarada – Fuji
Kumi Mizuno – Namikawa
Yoshio Tsuchiya – The Controller of Planet X
Akira Kubo – Tetsuo Tori
Jun Tazaki – Dr. Sakurai
Keiko Sawai – Haruno Fuji
Coming after the lacklustre Ghidorah: The three-headed monster, (1964) Godzilla vs Monster Zero (1965) represents a thankful improvement over its predecessor and the first use of the ‘alien invasion’ formula which would become a staple of the later Showa series.
The most notable improvement over its prequel is its plot and acting. In place of the dull characterisation and uneven performances of Ghidorah: The three-headed monster, the acting and character development in Godzilla vs Monster Zero are refreshingly solid. While Caucasian actors in Godzilla films are usually sub par, Nick Adams is turns in a strong performance, and Akira Takarada and Kumi Mizuno also do quite well.
The alien invasion angle is handled in a more complex, serious and imaginative way than in most later films, such as Godzilla vs Gigan, (1972) though it does contain some plot holes. For instance, why was the Xilian’s deception necessary when they already had the ability to seize Godzilla and Rodan with assistance? And if King Ghidorah was always under the Xilian’s control, why did it reportedly damage the hydrogen oxide plant, thus giving Glenn and Fuji the clue they needed? As for the sound proof bars… I rest my case.
Also, like Godzilla: Final Wars, (2004) Godzilla vs Monster Zero occasionally loses touch with its kaiju side. Still, it is good to see a Godzilla film in which the plot isn’t only a means to bring about the monster brawls.
While they are sidelined of much of the film, the kaiju are handled with moderate success. Godzilla is given a more dignified portrayal than in the previous film, while Rodan and King Ghidorah remain equally satisfactory. The suits for Godzilla and Rodan look slightly better than last time, though still pale shadows of their original incarnations.
The special effects are quite decent for 1965, with few cringe-worthy flaws. The miniatures and matte work are generally very good, particularly during the monster’s rampage through the city near the end of the film. Their only downfall is the sequences on the surface of Planet X, where the use of both techniques is rather obvious, and the shots of the planets from space. With the exception of Godzilla’s heat ray, which is somewhat sketchy, the rotoscoping is also well done, as are the pyrotechnics.
Like almost every aspect of the film, Akira Ifukube’s score is an improvement over Ghidorah: The three-headed monster, and while it doesn’t quite match the intensity of his scores for Gojira (1954) or Mothra vs Godzilla, (1964) it’s still good, and complements the scenes very nicely.
While the mechanics of the plot and the involvement of the kaiju leave some to be desired, this is still one of the better Godzilla films of the Showa series, possibly the third best after Gojira and The Terror of Mechagodzilla. (1975) It is also one of the most influential Godzilla films, providing a blueprint which many future entries would draw upon.
Max’s verdict: 6/10