My friend does this thing where he smokes some cannabis and watches movies that I guess are enhanced by his altered state of mind.
I know, I know, you’re like, “So what? We all have that friend, and it is me!” I hear you. The thing is, my friend writes reviews of these movies, and they are fantastic. Witness:
Lance’s Movie Joint Perhaps you think Marvel pulled off the world’s greatest film crossover event by designing a 10-year, multi-film, multi-character movie arc that would lead everyone to the same place at the same time, but I must respectfully disagree because I have seen the world greatest film crossover event and it happened in 1968. Consider that in one 90-minute film (not two 3-hour bladder contests) you get Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, Manda, King Ghidorah, Anguirus, Kumonga. and Godzilla Jr. (aka Godzooky) all in one film battling each other for world monster supremacy. And that film is Destroy All Monsters. I need to pause here and express a warning if you’re planning on smoking a doob or two and settling back with a party size bag of Doritos and a 6-pack of Coke Zero and watch this film and that warning is do not try to make sense of this film in the context of any other Toho kaiju movie because this one stands alone. Whereas in some other cinematic universes there exists a thread – however tenuous – that ties them all together through references and backstories, no such thread exists here other than “hey there are gigantic monsters on the Earth and sometimes they get pissed off.” I actually tried to piece together some kind of puzzle of all the other films leading up to this one to see how all the monsters ended up on the same island and why only Mothra needs two tiny women singing to him (her?) whereas the others act independently and do the monsters like humans or nah and why always Tokyo (though in this case they also destroy Moscow, Paris, and New York for good measure) but then I got higher and thought to myself, fuck it, nothing matters anyway. While the (SPOILERS!) costumed actors portraying this variety of monsters do their humble best to stomp all over the carefully and lovingly crafted sets of tiny buildings and real working vehicles, the real stars here are the set designer and the dubbing actors who manage somehow to be even more unbelievable (and awesome) than the monsters. Several times I had to rewind the film to re-experience a line or a look or, like, Godzilla performing some expert karate moves, and what higher praise can I give than that this film managed to overcome my brain’s fuzziness several times to provide things that were crazy awesome amazeballs? You’ll be tempted to talk over the dialog as the monsters engage in one of many, many, many scenes of Thunderbirds-like destruction, but don’t do it! The very next line uttered could be the best one yet – followed by an even better one. It struck me how much these films rely on an uneducated audience, and how much we all know about physics and space travel and gravity that we didn’t (care about) in 1968. Nothing makes much sense, but it’s all pretty and camp and awesome. [5/5 Weeds] (Currently streaming on The Criterion Channel, and you must watch the dubbed version for the full THC effect.)
So I have never been a huge fan of Kaiju movies, but I think it’s because I never saw the right ones. I saw the Matthew Broderick Godzilla, which is damn close to unwatchable, and I vaguely recall being a teenager and seeing some Kaiju movie that was all about annoying little kids singing songs at a Kaiju monster while someone talked into a wristwatch. (It is distinctly possible that my brain has invented a single movie from random bits of TV I saw on weekend afternoons when I was growing up).
But after reading Lance’s review of Destroy All Monsters, I decided that I would give this movie a chance to be my proper introduction to Kaiju … and holy shit I loved it. It was so weird and so over the top and so badly dubbed and such a goddamn delight to watch! If this is a fair and representative sample of what Kaiju movies are like, I’ve TOTALLY been missing out for, like, my entire life.
If you, like me, are new to this genre, or are curious about it, I can’t recommend Destroy All Monsters enough. It’s got a TON of exposition so you don’t have any FOMO about complext character backstories or whatever (if any) thread connects the larger Kaiju film world together. There are no children singing songs, at all, and the Kaiju do a goddamn delightful job destroying all the carefully-constructed cities they stomp around in. There are no silly breakdancing moves, and everything in it is grounded in some version of reality, so I never felt like it was insulting my intelligence by pandering to any section of the audience with dumb fan service like, oh to pick a random example out of thin air, the final season of Game of Thrones.
The big brains at SyFy wire have you covered, too, if you are like “I want to watch one of these movies, but I don’t want to risk a three dollar investment because I am a savvy consumer.” Check out this Really Big List of Ways To Watch Kaiju Movies Online, and if you partake of the wacky tobacky, get ready to enjoy a sublimely weird and totally satisfying, supremely fun 90 minutes.