With the current trend in the quality of Godzilla films that are being released, I was prepared to be disappointed with Godzilla: Invasion of Astro-Monster. The fact that it’s one of the old Godzilla films hailing from 1965 resulted in flashbacks of a dancing Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Ebirah which filled me with dread. Thankfully, I can say that Godzilla’s dancing in Godzilla: Invasion of Astro-Monster is limited to a simple ‘happy dance’ to signify that he is top monster.
As I’ve mentioned in previous Godzilla reviews, the delineation between a good and a bad Godzilla film can be based upon two factors. The first is that the story is somewhat fresh and believable. Each new plot is never truly unique, since the basic concept is always the same: Godzilla fights another monster and a city is destroyed. This then leads us to the second factor, which is how spectacular the battles between Godzilla and…well…anything or anyone is. For the most part, Godzilla: Invasion of Astro-Monster succeeds in both respects, and it’s only by couple of small failings, mainly due to the age of the special effects, that the film is let down.
The main story line is fairly straightforward and isn’t too difficult to swallow. A new planet is discovered near Jupiter, a planet never seen before because it’s very *cough* dark *cough*. The inhabitants seem friendly and speak perfect Japanese, but seem to have somewhat of an annoying monster problem, which the people of earth readily agree to help out with. However, can the people of Planet X be trusted? Well of course not, otherwise it would be a very short film, but it just seems strange that such a technologically advanced race would go to so much trouble pretending to be nice and cooperating when they could have easily used the element of surprise and taken over the earth relatively quickly. However, I guess if that had happened then we would have missed out on a great deal of Godzilla high jinks.
As for the fight scenes, this is where Godzilla: Invasion of Astro-Monster truly shines. Not only are there three monsters all battling it out, but for a rare moment (at least for this reviewer) Godzilla is a nice guy, not someone you would lend money to, but nice nonetheless. He and Rodan team up to battle King Ghidorah with the fate of mankind in the balance. The tag team tactics allow for some new moves to be added to Godzilla’s repertoire, resulting in more fun for the audience. The only problem with the fight scenes is that this reviewer is too spoilt with modern special effects, so those produced in 1965 look quite dated.
Overall, Godzilla: Invasion of Astro-Monster is a repectable member of the Godzilla franchise, sporting both an interesting plot and impressive fight scenes that many of the newer Godzilla films can only aspire to.