Godzilla vs. Monster zero by all rights should have been a disaster, its budget was slashed, it was a confused and completely rushed production and it marked the third Godzilla film released in between 1964 and 1965. Like King Kong escapes this was the only time a Godzilla movie was co-produced by Toho with an American studio. Do to the increasing interest in space and popularity of space fiction the producers insisted they combine the giant monsters with alien invasion and space travel to ride the popularity. Even with everything riding against them the all-star team of director Ishirō Honda, and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya pulled off an incredible entry in the series. This film featured Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah, and stared who else but the most prolific face in the series besides the big green guy himself, Akira Takarada.
The plot is ludicrous let’s just get that out of the way right now. It starts with a voiceover explaining a new planet was discovered behind Jupiter as a two crewed spaceship begins to descend on the new planet. One of the astronauts is played by Akira Takarada in probably his best performance yet. Basically aliens are discovered to be living supposed fear of King Ghidorah who has terrorized the planet since being defeated in the last movie, and strike a deal to borrow Godzilla and Rodan from earth to force Ghidorah away. Back on earth a new sound making invention is being produced and a mysterious woman approaches the inventor with to buy it out.
After successfully transporting Godzilla and Rodan to planet x and dealing with Ghidorah the aliens double cross earth and using psychic energy(that also powers their ships and planet) take control of all the monsters and release them on earth causing much destruction. The alien plan doesn’t make any sense if they were in control of Ghidorah the whole time why (besides wanting to stage a cool looking fight in space) did they ever bring the other monsters to planet x? Also if they can use psychic energy why not just control all the planets leaders? All they wanted was water why not negotiating with us. I’ll tell you why, this movie involves giant monsters destroying everything in sight in new and spectacular ways and invading psychic aliens who dress like its Halloween, it supersedes making sense. There is a really interesting subplot revolving around the inventor and a massive conspiracy to sabotage his inventions. Even though it’s slowly revealed to be relevant to everything else it doesn’t have much of a payoff.
This movie brings out the best from both Ishirō Honda and Eiji Tsuburayak, the movie flows really well and all the performances are engaging my favorite I think is the only American Nick Adams but Honda’s steadfast direction squeezes the best out of everyone on every scene. After this Godzilla film Eiji Tsuburayak retired from the series. He did go on to do other notable special effects but this was his swansong for the Godzilla series and he really gave it his all. Every action scene, every miniature set, every miniature car or tank look fantastic. There’s a scene where a tidal wave wipes out an entire town and you would be amazed at how realistic it looks.
Tsuburayak had the great idea to put cameras inside the miniature buildings as they were being destroyed to make the audience feel like we are actually there. Planet x itself looks better than some sets in star wars. He was a pioneer in the art of making small things look realistic and big and his attention to detail in this one is spot on. If he was alive I would really love to see him featured in our Creative Spotlight. The monsters look better, the sets are more varied the plot is amusing and the characters are all interesting. I like how the tension built through the whole film and ill definitely say this one is more than worth a watch. And considering the line of terrible Godzilla films on the horizon… yeah it’s one of the better ones.
Best Moment of Destruction: When Godzilla is unleashed the military (As per usual) attempt to take him out using tanks. Tanks I tell you! Godzilla stomps them all and burns down the entire city for good measure.