Baby Doll

Soaking in island heat, Son of Godzilla wrestles with Japanese idealism. Scientists engage in experiments meant to solve Earth’s forthcoming hunger crisis, seeking to turn weather in their favor. Their actions exhibit gusto, loyalty, and determination.

Then there’s Furukawa (Yoshio Tschiya) who begins losing his sanity, the stress and heat finally causing a breakdown. Son of Godzilla captures World War II’s arduous Pacific front, where by the end, dutiful Imperialist soldiers lodged themselves in caves. Here, rather than off-shore or aerial bombings, it’s giant monsters battling above, loosening rocks, and creating the terror of a possible cave-in.

For the scientists, it’s as if they’re trapped in war’s residual conflict. Their isolation never considers the experiment’s implication. A tense sequence as they launch atmosphere-breaching weather balloons recalls an anxiety over bombings, with a countdown nearing detonation. It’s not dissimilar to a scene in Toho’s Frankenstein Conquers the World, only there, it was literally Hiroshima. Son of Godzilla isn’t as gruesome, just suggestive.

Son of Godzilla aims for goofy, pop entertainment

Still, this is radiation, sent upward to alter the climate. The message doesn’t change – fallout kills, mutilates, and is uncaring. Dialog never questions the inevitable damage to wildlife in creating such temperature swings. At the end, it’s snowing on an equator-like island. This coming after a radioactive disaster that mutated some native mantises. Yet, science moves forward at any cost. While still fearful toward nuclear materials, things softened by Son of Godzilla.

That fits. Son of Godzilla aims for goofy, pop entertainment. The infamously grotesque son, Minilla, is a franchise sore spot. Even Godzilla looks awful here. Levity helps however. A gorgeous score from Masaru Sato carefully balances island ambiance with richer dramatic cues. Plus, Son of Godzilla sprays color everywhere, pure ‘60s design that covers towers in bold reds and yellows, while dressing cast members in vivid clothes.

For a film containing World War II’s dark undertones, it’s perky and even funny. While decades removed from Godzilla’s true menace, watching him parent this ditsy offspring brings a definite smile. Interactions between them mimic any father/mother coping with a toddler, tantrums and all. A dialog exchange even draws a parallel to Godzilla and Japan’s demanding parents – neither let their kids have fun.

Son of Godzilla ultimately works. Father and son hug it out in the final moments, a somber embrace amid quiet snowfall. Maybe it’s reluctant, but there is acceptance of their bond in a surreal monster-ish way. And on the human side, it’s all smiles. Their war is over, life goes on, and they carry hope that mankind will solve its ills.

Video

On the lower-end of the Showa Era Collection set so far, this bland Blu-ray barely captures the detail boost for HD. It’s soft, with lean grain that barely looks like film. Blame the release print source material or maybe a low-res scan. Either way, there’s limited definition to see over Sony’s prior DVD.

Yellowing saps vibrancy, lessening contrast too. Clouds appear tainted by age. Primaries do stick out, if lacking genuine kick for a movie demanding saturation.

Print damage isn’t excessive, contained to a smattering of scratches, a few stray hairs, and a dropped frame or two. The annoyance comes from editing scars, with a flicker appearing at frame bottom alongside each cut. That’s all too common in this set.

Audio

Thankfully, Criterion corrects a balance problem from the DVD release. Sato’s score no longer drowns out dialog. In fidelity terms, Son of Godzilla wavers due to inconsistency. Riko’s theme wobbles in the highs. A coarse low-end takes a beating in spots. And yet, other scenes suffer no ills.

Monster action sharply keeps audio intact. Any intermixed dialog stays in balance, always crisp from this analog source.

Note an English dub is offered.

Extras

Nothing.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Son of Godzilla
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Revisiting the toll of island fighting during World War II, Son of Godzilla counters those horrors with a kooky, surreal piece of pop sci-fi.

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