But for Dash and Jack-Jack’s first exposure to the classic Godzilla movies, I needed something just as age-appropriate. That may sound silly, since the Godzilla flicks are essentially men fighting in rubber suits as they demolish models of Japanese cities and villages. But in many of these films, the humans are more violent than the monsters. (In Destroy All Monsters, people are shot in the head and throw themselves off cliffs.)
So after checking the “parents guide” pages of many of the Godzilla flicks at the IMDb, I landed on Son of Godzilla.
Scientists experimenting with changes in weather on a tropical island get more than they bargained for when Godzilla shows up to battle humongous insects and protect his newborn child, Minilla.
Purists of the Godzilla franchise largely disown Son of Godzilla, calling it pandering and childish compared to other entries in the series. But that’s exactly why it felt like a good place to start with my 8- and 5-year old boys.
It’s easy to see why more fervent fans of the Godzilla series find Son of Godzilla a bit corny. A couple of examples:
- The opening situations involving the scientists on the island, and the musical score that accompanies them, are very lighthearted and reminiscent of the tone of live-action Disney films of the same era.
- Goofy music plays whenever Minilla is fumbling about, and at one point the filmmakers even have Minilla throw a kicking, screaming temper tantrum on his back.
But the human storylines aren’t why we watch these films. We want to see giant rubber monsters throw down, which is what makes the classic Godzilla films exciting, cheesy fun (here, Godzilla and Minilla battle giant praying mantises and a monstrous, web-slinging spider). Unfortunately, the battles in Son of Godzilla are infrequent, and the best clash (where Godzilla takes on the praying mantises) is early in the film and too brief to be satisfying.
While Son of Godzilla is by no means a classic (though the ending is oddly touching), it was a good first choice for introducing Dash and Jack-Jack to the Godzilla film series. Now the question is: Which one do we see next? Suggestions are welcome in the comments below.
* A year after Son of Godzilla, Kubo also starred in the aforementioned Destroy All Monsters.
* Director Jun Fukuda directed several other films in the Godzilla series, including Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
What did Dash and Jack-Jack think?After only one brief appearance by Godzilla in the first 25 minutes, Jack-Jack’s patience was tested, while surprisingly Dash was interested in the dubbed dialogue of the Japanese cast. To their credit, they both stuck with it to the end, even when there were long stretches of action-less dialogue (a pitfall of many of the Godzilla films).
Dash (on the praying mantis): “It’s not really scary.”
Jack-Jack: “I think I like the girl the most. I think the girl knows everything.”
Is it suitable for your kids?Son of Godzilla is rated PG for “sci-fi monster violence.” Godzilla bodyslams and breathes fire on several of the giant mantises, as well as the giant spider. In a couple of other scenes, Minilla is in peril as the monsters pursue him. Also, a man is attacked by one of the giant spider’s claws, but escapes unharmed.
From the humans, there are separate mentions of a concentration camp and having a cold beer, men shoot their rifles at a giant praying mantis, a man gets grazed in the arm by a bullet, and there is a brief scene of smoking.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?I haven’t met any serious female Godzilla fans in my lifetime, though I’m sure they’re out there. I’m guessing this would be more of a you-and-the-boy(s) situation if you decide to check it out.
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad / You know I'm gonna be like you."
Son of Godzilla
* Director: Jun Fukuda
* Screenwriters: Shinichi Sekizawa, Kazue Shiba
* Stars: Tadao Takashima, Akira Kubo, Bibari Maeda
* MPAA Rating: PG
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