Dirty Stinkin’ Rats

Everything the alien Xiliens do is commanded by computers. Their entire society is based on rapid calculations. No one loves and no one marries without the commandant’s permission – which is also judged by computer. Their invasions, their wars, their entire sense of self is technology. Invasion of Astro Monster was ahead of its time.

By the mid-1960s, Japan found itself in an economic boom. Toys and electronics became exported gold. The Xilians represent that expansion running unchecked, exaggerated of course. The alien society is cold, unfeeling, but particularly isolated and robbed of emotion because their entire cause was given to electronic data. An excessive parable in 1965; now, unreasonably authentic in a time of mobile phones, Google, and social media.

Nazism and even Imperial Japan stick out from the Xilien’s motives. Their means of social control and warlike deceptions/takeover capture an ugly historical period where people blindly follow orders. Invasion of Astro Monster warns of a return to those mistakes in a near future.

Invasion of Astro Monster warns of a return to those mistakes in a near future

It’s worth noting the Xilien plan makes little sense, and that’s intentional (maybe). They call Earth for help in dealing with King Ghidorah, ask to “borrow” Godzilla and Rodan, then using mind control, unleash the monsters to destroy Earth. There’s no logic in asking Earth’s permission first. But then consider Xiliens listen to their fallible computers, not their own rationale, and suddenly this makes sense. Or, the Xiliens are just vengeful and spiteful – it’s Earth that sent Ghidorah back into space at Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster’s conclusion.

Invasion of Astro Monster (released five years later in the US as Godzilla vs Monster Zero) is also of the space race. Past the opening credits, Japan has already launched a two astronaut team. Forget the build up. Glenn (Nick Adams) and Fuji (Akira Takarada) fly to Planet X (past Jupiter) to investigate a radio signal. It’s pleasingly simple, and the international cooperation isn’t treated as anything special. That’s merely the ideal future, and now gleefully retro, or arguably, woefully naive in viewing Japan as the superpower to unite the world.

Somewhat infamously, Invasion of Astro Monster is the Godzilla movie where Godzilla dances after a victory. It’s a cultural thing, if no less kooky in context. On Earth, the monsters have a temper tantrum, falling over and kicking their legs wildly. The series decidedly transformed in this sixth entry, with a budgetary drop-off looming as Japanese TV substituted for theatrical viewing. Even acknowledging these tonal faults, Invasion of Astro Monster isn’t an intellectual failure. Rather, monster brawls appeal to kids while reflecting a societal concern aimed at adults.

Video

A dour image lacks firmness on this Blu-ray release. Sourced from a release print, the end result suffers persistent dirt and damage. Scratches invade most frames. Remnants of editing appear at the image’s bottom with each cut, irritating and distracting.

Grain mashes into a mass, mostly noise. This isn’t so much compression (even with two other films on the same disc in the Showa Era Collection) but lacking resolution. Invasion of Astro Monster hardly represents HD, and rises to a slightly superior SD.

Age and the lackluster print itself sap color, with an overlay of thin yellowing. Contrast fares marginally better, and that’s where most of the energy is found in this presentation. When primaries fizzle, at least brightness holds up its end.

Audio

Routine DTS-HD mono keeps Akira Ifukube’s awesome score intact, save for the final cue that seems to rot as it plays. No matter. Invasion of Astro Monster is a spirited selection from Ifukube, and on this disc, carries an analog warmth. It’s damage free.

Likewise, dialog sounds crisp in its vintage veneer. There’s nothing inherently special with this mix, but it’s fine and consistent.

Note an English dub is available on this disc.

Extras

Nothing.

Invasion of Astro Monster
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

The fight in Invasion of Astro Monster is more Japan itself versus a dystopian future, which is smart substance as the series began catering to kids.

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