Ladies and Gentleman, your 1968 Monster League All Stars!
Intended to be the final Godzilla film (only off by three decades and counting), DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is an all-out celebration of all of Toho Studios famous and not so famous oversized creatures. In this one movie, we are presented with eleven different monsters: Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Minilla (SON OF GODZILLA), Anguirus (GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN), Ghidorah (Three Headed Thingy from Space), Gorosaurus (KING KONG ESCAPES), Manda (giant snake-like thingy, from a film called ATRAGON), Kumonga (aka , Spiga, giant spider, SON OF GODZILLA), Baragon (from the film of the same name!) and that rarest of all Toho creatures, Varan, or as his closest friends call him, Varan the Unbelievable! (Note to all you Baragon and Varan fans - they are hardly in the film at all).
The plot of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is borrowed from GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO. In the future (1999!), aliens from a planet nobody knew about come to Earth and use mind-control to force the Earth into surrendering. Get used to this plot; it will become the standard fallback position whenever the series got stuck for an idea. Luckily, the plot proves to be nearly foolproof, always providing wacky, entertaining results.
Many of the Giant Monster movies keep you waiting for the action, but not DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Roughly ten minutes into the film, Rodan is attacking Moscow, Gorosaurus is decimating the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (sacré bleu!) and Godzilla is setting the U.N. on fire with his atomic breath. The Earth (well, Japan) then receives the standard "surrender or die" message from the aliens, in this case The Kilaaks, who come from an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. However, with Japan's advanced space program featuring their handsome and goofy hero Captain Yamabe (Godzilla regular Akira Kubo), we Earthlings decide to fight back. Good for us!
The movie splits its footage between the Giant Monsters causing trouble around the world and Captain Yamabe and his hearty band of astronauts wearing suits made from rain slicker material and duct tape attempting to locate the aliens and destroy their headquarters. The new dialog for the English version seems to be dumbed down and spoken specifically to match the actor's lip movements, which leads to weird pauses and pointless exchanges. Sentences as simple as "And now we have to help her out" are spoken as if they were two sentences: "And now we. Have to help her out". And if you had a nickel for every time a character answer another character with a curt "All right" or "Okay", you'd have about $1.75 by the end of the movie. Characters also endlessly restate the obvious:
"Rodan, Godzilla and Manda are all here at the same time."
or my favorite:
"And Rodan... is flying." (Duh!)
The highlight of the film is the Battle of Monsters at the end. When all seems lost for the Kilaaks (you knew they were going to fail, right?), they unleash their secret weapon: King Ghidorah, who apparently will be the secret weapon for any group of aliens willing to pay enough. The Kilaaks expect Ghidorah to kill all eleven monsters and then destroy the rest of the world. The tragic flaw in their plan is that it is a stupid one. King Ghidorah had already been driven away twice by Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra in GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER and by Godzilla and Rodan alone in GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO. And in this film, he is asked to fight ten monsters at the same time (in theory - some of them are nowhere to be found in the final battle). As in all of these "aliens controlling giant monsters" stories, past and future, the aliens are completely and utter clueless as to what to do when their plans fail. We Earthlings are just too plucky for 'em!
The plot is actually taken more seriously
than that of its inspiration, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO, but unlike
another similar film KING KONG ESCAPES, it is still a fun movie.
Eleven monsters (in theory), astronauts flying back and forth
between the Earth and the Moon at a moment's notice, zany aliens,
mind-controlling earrings, wacky dialog (see below)... it has
everything you would expect in a late-sixties Godzilla film. One
character throws himself out a 20 story window to the beach below,
and his companions are on the ground next to him five seconds later.
Monsters zip back and forth from Russia, Paris and the U.S. to
Tokyo in record time. Ancient dinosaurs deliver devastating
flying drop kicks. Major themes from MONSTER ZERO endlessly
recycled during the battle scenes. Guys with lasers overmatched
by guys with hand guns.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is a favorite of many a Godzilla fan, owing to its epic scale compared to the rest of the series. There would be a few more decent films still to come before Toho decided Godzilla had run his course, but DESTROY ALL MONSTERS could be considered as the peak of the original series. - JB
Actor Akira Kubo appeared in many impressive films in his long career, including Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD and SANJURO, Inagaki's CHUSHINGURA, the classic samurai satire KILL! and Takeshi Kitano's 1989 remake of the classic ZATOICHI. He is best remembered for the science fiction and giant monster films he did for Toho, including GORATH (1962), MATANGO (1963), GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO (1965), SON OF GODZILLA (1967) and SPACE AMOEBA (aka YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE) (1970). He even appeared in Daiei Studios 1995 update of their classic monster GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. In a 1995 interview with the site History Vortex, Kubo talked about his days fighting giant monsters with great affection:
"It is a joy to me that children whose parents are in their thirties or forties become aware that I am in some of the Godzilla films when they see them on VHS tape or laser disc. Children often point and say, 'Hey, it's Uncle Godzilla!' when they see me. It's very heartwarming. "