Godzilla vs. the sea monster 1966, oh man here is where the series really started to fall apart. Directed by Jun Fukuda with special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa the new team pales in comparison to the other films. The seventh Godzilla film represents a major departure from previous films, and is a silly uninspired mess. The cities that have become such a lovable cliché are replaced with a smaller scale island. The characters are all really dull. Even the rival monsters, Ebirah (a giant Lobster) and an unnamed giant bird are phoned in. it is cool to see series favorite Akira Takarada expand from his usual good guy routine, but other than that nobody it seems is really trying.
We open on a family worried about a missing son. A group goes looking for him and is accompanied by a thief who recently pulled off a big heist. The search takes them to a South Seas island, which is protected by Ebirah. As if he doesn’t look bizarre enough the island is the secret base of an organization calling itself “Red Bamboo” that is planning domination of the world. The Red Bamboo use kidnapped villagers from a nearby island presided over by Mothra; among the slaves is the missing son. After infiltrating the villains’ base, our heroes discover Godzilla lying dormant in a cave. They manage to revive Godzilla and have the giant reptile turn his destructive attention on the bad guys, destroying the Red Bamboo facilities and planes. Godzilla fights Ebirah as the last remaining Red Bamboo set the island for destruct; then Mothra arrives just in time to rescue the islanders.
The island setting could have been an interesting fresh bite for the series but it’s just not pulled off very well. The island just doesn’t have a real “feel” to it and it comes off tasting sour. Comparing it to the islands used in King Kong Escapes or Godzilla vs. King Kong leaves you wondering why this one looks so bland. The plot is laughable and it plays out more like a spy thriller, they even reuse some James bond music during one of the few good scenes and director Jun Fukuda treats it as such, featuring lots of fast-paced action and gunplay. I have always praised these giant monster movies for their special effects, I can’t do that this time it looks terrible. Godzilla’s suit is falling apart, the fight with the giant bird is off screen, and the camera tends to be at eye-level for Godzilla, destroying any sense of size, constantly reminding us that we are watching a man in a suit.
This just isn’t a Godzilla movie, which makes sense because in true Toho fashion it was never meant to be a Godzilla film but a third King Kong movie; Godzilla was thrown in for marquee value. Once you know that you start to see it, Godzilla is awoken and given strength from a lightning bolt like Kong from the earlier films. Godzilla also has a curious love interest in a beautiful island woman which is clearly more Kong. Had it been Kong I think it would have been more fun but personally I just expect more from a Godzilla movie. This one is an overlong boring affair with little going for it; it really just falls into the back round because nothing overly interesting happens in it. I only recommend for hardcore fans and even then I suggest seeing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.
Best Scene of Destruction: Godzilla and Ebirah play volley ball with a boulder… wait did I say best?