Thursday, October 16, 2014

Godzilla 98's Bastard Child: Gargantua

Gaergantua is a cheap dick move of a film, made to be premiered the night the night that 98 Godzilla held its advance viewings. Unlike Zarkorr, it has never been released on DVD, which gives an idea of how bad it is. This is the sort of cheap rip-off (later to be seen in Kraa the Sea Monster and Atlantic Rim) that is made to ride on the coat tails of better films, and line a few untalented pockets along the way.


We start off in Jaws territory. The obligatory bikini-clad tourists discover something on the beach, then get dragged out to sea and drowned. Intro Jack Ellway, a marine biologist sent to discover the effects of local earthquakes on the local wildlife. He has a son, who misses his dead mother. And this is about as deep as the characterization gets. In the wake of the drownings, Ellway wants to close the beaches. Yeah, the writer clearly liked Jaws. Despite happening on the Pacific island of Malau, all of our protagonists are white guys, and coincidentally from California.

When Ellway leaves his son alone for a day, and he makes friends with the baby Gargantua, marking this as another Gorgo tribute. A nine foot tall version comes ashore during another party, and the animatronics don't look a damn thing like the CGI. The larger version is seen by the island people and tourists, which leads to a rain-drenched night time chase scene, and they end up capturing it. Which is when I realized that the screenwriter really liked Gorgo.

The bigger one? Ogra?

Along the way the writer slip in the obligatory environmental message as the film grinds out its stupid time. There's been pesticide dumping off the island. Yawn. We never hear about it again.

Toxic waste? What a surprise!

Whenever a monster's about to make an appearance, the weather suddenly turns rainy. Even if it was dry when the monster came ashore. Or if a group of photographers decide to take a 13-mile trip in the open Pacific in a speedboat.

Do the monsters create rain, or does the rain create monsters?

The gargantuas, which are never called that in the film, are the lowest common denominator kaiju. Bipedal, lizardlike, probably derived from salamanders, they aren't visually distinctive or interesting.

GODZIL--no wait, GORG--n. I got it. GARGANTUAAAAA!

There's a fair amount of Godzilla rip-off. The scientists versus the military, the menace that comes from the sea. And when the large female comes ashore, she touches a telephone poll, and sparks fly. It's a stretch, but I'm so bored watching this film, I'm looking for anything to write about. And because the film doesn't feature logic or sense, this is what triggers the military to open fire. Fortunately, the production couldn't afford tanks, and the Gargantua seems immune to gunfire. I would have liked it more if it had the ability to defend itself, but that wasn't in the cards. The military is portrayed as on the edge. They're willing to cooperate with the scientists until something bad happens. Gargantua kills the occasional marine, and then it's personal, and they open fire.

A soldier attempts to use a LAW rocket on the Gargantua, but concidence causes the shot to miss, and blow up the majority of town. Yay, we got explosions. Then, like Godzilla, it returns to the Pacific. There's a variation to the footprint trope, perhaps the only innovation in the film. As the larger Gargantua lumbers up the beach, the camera looks down at two soldiers who have made a footprint a foxhole. And Gargantua steps in its own footprint and the two soldiers.

What are the odds it's going to step in the same place twice? Aw crap.

This enrages the military, and this time, coincidence does not stop the LAW. An American production once again demonstrates the gun is the solution to all monster problems, and Gargantua goes down from a rocket to the throat, orphaning the two younger Gargantuas. Cue overlong sympathy for the dying animal. I'm honestly surprised Ellway didn't shake his fist at the military and call them all bastards.

OH MY GOD IT'S DEAD what's for dinner, man?

But there's an adult male Gargantua waiting out there. The ultimate plan is to herd it using high-frequence sound and its young, a gambit right out of Gappa. And it succeeds, with male Gargantua eating the bad people along the way. Throughout the final sequence, the tension is as stunningly flaccid as I have ever watched in a film. And then the Gargantuas go home, Ellway bonds with his son, and I get to turn it off, happy to be done.

The terror of shitty CG!

This film is the same sort of bottom-feeding mishmash nonsense as Zarkorr. It shows an utter disdain for its audience. The logical problems with the story are huge. No one cared if the film made sense, they just wanted a giant monster movie before Godzilla.

But I decided I wanted to watch all the kaiju films I could get my hands on. So next up is Zarkorr's sibling crapfest, Kraa the Sea Monster.

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