MONSTER ZERO (also known as Invasion of Astro Monster) is one of the movies representing the golden era of TOHO filmmaking. Not only is it a great Godzilla movie, it’s a fantastic science fiction film. This one is monumental in quite a few ways. For one thing, it was the first movie to introduce an alien species. It was also the first of many to use the popular plot device of having the monsters controlled by the extraterrestrials. It also cemented Godzilla as a good guy who the public no longer seemed to have a big fear of. It also introduced the tag-team of Godzilla and Rodan, a combination people still know today. MONSTER ZERO holds up extremely well and is just one of the best films in general. It’s another masterpiece from Director Ishiro Honda.
The story follows two astronauts, Glenn and Fuji, who have been sent to a planet just outside Jupiter called Planet X. Upon arriving there, they discover they aren’t alone. The planet is inhabited by aliens called the Xiliens. Their leader, the Controller, explains to them that their planet is constantly being harassed by King Ghidorah. He makes a proposition: he wants to ‘borrow’ Godzilla and Rodan to defeat Ghidorah and in return the astronauts will receive a cure for cancer. (In the dub, the cure is for all disease!) Things backfire however when the Controller reveals the whole thing was a setup to take control of the Earth!
The story is absolutely classic. The monsters work so well with the overall plot. You know a Godzilla movie is good when the human scenes are just as good as the monsters. The cast is by far one of the strongest in all of Godzilla. The highlight is definitely Glenn, portrayed by American actor Nick Adams. This would be his second film for TOHO, the first being the awesome Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Almost every line he says is great, he adds charisma to the cast. His partner, Fuji, is also great. The other characters, such as Fuji’s sister, Dr. Sakurai, and Tetsuno are all good side characters that add to the story. I think this film may just have the best human cast period.
There’s an ongoing romantic subplot between Glenn and Miss Namikawa, who turns out to be an Xilien. Miss Namikawa is portrayed by Kumi Mizuno, who would go on to appear in a few other G films and become the fan favorite actress. The two have such great chemistry together, which is no surprise since they also appeared a few months earlier in the great Frankenstein vs. Baragon. (If it isn’t obvious by now, you should go check that film out!) This is definitely the strongest romance in the entire Godzilla history, the viewer actually becomes quite sad when she’s eliminated for disobeying the Prime Directive.
The Xiliens are the first, and have since become the most iconic alien species in Godzilla. (They’re so popular that they were brought back 39 years later in Final Wars.) You’ll get a good smile at their 60’s spandex. The main antagonist besides Ghidorah is their leader, the Controller of Planet X. The dub’s voice for this guy is fantastic. Almost all of his lines are classic. “If you have an idea, why don’t you tell us?” “A happy moment.” This guy deceives the characters and even the viewer, he’s definitely by far the best human/alien antagonist in the Godzilla series.
The monsters are of course the highlight. Godzilla is bursting with personality and is just a blast to watch. Rodan at this time was one of TOHO’s ‘elite,’ so it’s great seeing him get some of the hardcore action. This would be Ghidorah’s second ever appearance. While he’s controlled for the majority of the movie, one can’t help but be glued to the screen every time you hear that cackle. The first battle is quite unique, one of the most unique in the entire series. Want to see kaiju battle on a distant planet? It’s a great fight. It’s a shame we never got any other otherworldly battles in the series.
The final showdown is the film’s main highlight. Nothing beats watching the tag-team of Godzilla and Rodan. This film is a perfect example showcasing how magical and engaging the fights were, something that lacked in many of the Heisei films and some of the Millennium ones. These are characters that make plans and have personalities, you can’t help but smile throughout the battles. All of this and the rest of the film is accompanied by Akira Ifukube’s wonderful soundtrack. From the haunting title theme to the classic battle theme, it’s fantastic stuff.
Overall, MONSTER ZERO is a true classic and ranks as one of the very best in the Godzilla series. No matter how many times I watch it, the quality never ceases. The cast is a lot of fun to watch, which sometimes can be hard to say for some of the films. The monster scenes are very energetic and a blast. MONSTER ZERO is definitely one of the films to watch if you’ve never seen a Godzilla movie.
Daniel is the guy for everything Godzilla related at Unleash the Fanboy. Besides the Big G himself, his favorite monster is Rodan and you can follow him on Twitter:@Destroyer_199