Entities as cultural ambassadors and memorable components of universal art are few and far between. The iconographic tour-de-force of Godzilla is one of the significant, defining assets Japan wields. We may not see anything as bold as the trusting bond between film and country than this example here, not in our lifetimes. With that bond comes inevitabilities, the commercialisation and corruption, liquidating the valuable message and core of a film into its few, vague tropes. Happenstance inclusions of entertainment that spilt over and festered on the deeper, rewarding elements of the initial creation found within Ishirō Honda’s original Godzilla. But perhaps that was just a lucky flare that captured his usual humdrum monster movie madness he helmed throughout his career. Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster would certainly be an argument to consider when discussing the commercialisation of the popular King of Monsters.
While it is not an inherently bad film, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster is, at the time of its conception, the furthest away from anything the series had offered thematically. Always relying on the fighting beasts and narrow-minded humanity at the core of it all, this fifth instalment into the Godzilla body of work is far removed from the gripping atomic era warnings of the original or the human intervention and environmentalism briefly touched upon in Mothra vs. Godzilla. Thematics be damned, is the response Honda gives his audience. Here we find an entertaining spectacle that looks to focus in on the rampaging brilliance of action. What more could one need? Very little, as it turns out, all things considered, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster is exceptionally fun.
Its similarities to Mothra and the travelling, meddlesome corruptions of humanity, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is the first of the franchise to offer a strong mix of exceptionally forthright entertainment values and a story that is simple and captivating. A monster has crashed in from space, and the subsequent investigation leads to inevitably horrific results. While the human characters and oddities throughout support the theme of bleak and bland Japanese culture infringing on the classic monster fights, it is rather essential to the narrative. Or, it would be had it been adapted better than grating, poor television shows and scientists pondering the whereabouts of this creature. These human elements are integral, they showcase the world that will soon be destroyed by monsters who have as much attachment as we have to insects. But audiences may find themselves siding with the thoughts of the beast, it is difficult to connect to characters that feel so interchangeable. Princesses and policemen are the tropes hacked up by Honda this time, and competent the performances may be, they are never moved beyond acceptable.
As Honda grips to his camera with such clear excitement, he fools audiences into thinking the perilous monsters are a reality. Such is the mark of a successful director, the command these brutal kaiju have on the screen is a miraculous achievement for its time. Cementing the legacy of total destruction, playing it off as an occurrence that should not shock or surprise, it is a natural element in the lives of those crushed under the foot of terrifying, radiated lizards and their three-winged foes. These films are fun, it is all they have to be and all they should be. But there is no harm in crying out for depth, of which Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster lacks. There is no straight and narrow, no conviction in what few replicant charms found within, but at least it has the core, modern values of Godzilla down. A white noise of entertainment that gushes over Gods and grapples with their price tag.