Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965)

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Overall Rating 62%
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Ranked #5,096
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Connections: Ghidorah Godzilla Rodan

Aliens from the mysterious Planet X, which resides on the dark side of of Jupiter, come to Earth asking its people to help them save their world from the dreaded King Ghidrah by letting them "borrow" Godzilla and Rodan. The aliens are actually planning to use the three monsters to take over our planet. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 30, 2011
Toho's not stupid, and when they broke out Ghidorah, they knew they had a winner. So they brought him back in the very next sequel the following year. Unfortunately, said sequel was unabashedly aimed at the kiddy audience.

There's been a bold new discovery in space: a new moon of Jupiter has been discovered. Named "Planet X", the international space federation has sent the two-man craft, P-1, piloted by American Glenn and Japanese Fuji. Once there, they discover a technologically-advanced race of humanity living underground. Turns out, their subterranean dwelling is not by choice, as they've been forced off the surface by the three-headed Ghidorah, a creature they've dubbed Monster-Zero. Looking for relief, they propose a trade: they will trade the secret of the cure for cancer in exchange for resident Earth badasses Godzilla and Rodan. Seeing as the two monsters have been little more than a nuisance at best, and a full blown destructive force at worse, they are quick to turn the kaiju over. But maybe they should have questioned the motives of these Xians a little more carefully.

Well, it's finally happen. In his sixth outing, our big green friend has fully reverted to the kid-friendly, cheesy anti-hero that defines his legacy today. The initial fight on Planet X was chock full of it: Godzilla is bobbin' and weavin' like Muhammad Ali as he throws quick jabs into Ghidorah's chest, and afterwards (this being an almost legendary point of derision) he jumps for joy a few times in a victory dance. Personally, it's not the younger audience being targeted that really bothers me; it's the excessive humanization they've thrown in there. They put a lot of work into bridging Godzilla's gap between animal and man, but the problem lies in that he wasn't an animal. He was a near-unstoppable force. They wanted the audience to root for Godzilla, so they turned him into an anti-hero, but that's just not the way it is. Even though he technically teamed with Rodan and Mothra the last time they dealt with the three-headed menace, it was made very clear that he didn't give two shits about humanity.

This overwhelming change in theme isn't on the big guy alone; it's prevalent throughout the whole affair. Hell, at its base level, a "voyage to Planet X" alone brings the franchise further into sci-fi comic realm than it's ever been before, and its native dwellers (humans in black and gray spandex and visors on their eyes) push that particularly ridiculous envelope even further. Then tack on the new theme song to the mix. Sure, it fits the new role well, but it's a long cry from Gojira's slow, ominous tune.

I know I've had nothing but complaints up until this point, but the truth is that I didn't hate this movie. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. Sure, I'm not crazy about some decisions that were made, but this is still a really fun monster movie, and ironically enough, a lot of this fun comes from that cheesier tone. Astro-Monster knew what it wanted to be, and does it well. Although I will say that I wished the final battle had lasted a little longer, it was never really supposed to be the focal point of the movie in the first place.

There is one aspect that just might make this one of the most unique Godzilla movies of the series: the dubbing. Kaiju in general are endlessly picked on for their bad English dub jobs, and rightfully so, but the translation treatment here is actually damned good. In a rarity for me personally, I might even prefer it to the original language. It's pretty much impossible to find English casts on these movies, but the voice actor who covered Tetsuo here was especially good. Also, American actor Nick Adams performance was absolutely spot on as the too-cool American. His voice is left alone in the English version, but dubbed over in Japanese when you watch the original cut. He did far too good of a job to cover that up.

Invasion of Astro-Monster was always one of my favorite Godzilla movies when I was a kid (when it was known asGodzilla vs. Monster-Zero), and I still enjoy it today, but my adult mind can't help but lament about the turning point in the franchise that it represents. 5.5/10.
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