Review Date: 3/7/20
Director: Jun Fukuda
Cast: Tadao Takashima, Akira Kubo, Beverly Maeda, Akihiko Hirata
A group of scientists are performing weather experiments on a remote tropical island, when a goofy journalist (Akira Kubo) decides to drop in via parachute. He refuses to leave, so the scientists reluctantly recruit him as their cook and janitor. Their first climate control experiment goes horribly wrong, resulting in mass destruction across the entire island and temperatures up to 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit). Things return to normal after a few days, until a group of giant mantises unearth an egg that hatches a baby Godzilla. The monsters plan to eat the helpless hatchling until Godzilla shows up to save him. The rest of the film revolves around baby Godzilla growing up and learning to breathe fire, which culminates in a battle with the mantises and a giant spider. The scientists perform their weather experiment again, which leaves Godzilla and son frozen under a blanket of snow.
Apart from a handful of neat visual effects, the film is irredeemably awful. The giant spider and mantises are an impressive feat of puppetry, but baby Godzilla is downright embarrassing. He's also hideous to look at. Godzilla himself gets a makeover and looks ridiculous, which falls in line with the film's more kid-friendly approach. His "dad voice" resembles a lion, while baby Godzilla sounds like a braying donkey, a screaming cat, and a whimpering dog. I can't fault the performers, because they do a remarkable job with the father-son dynamic, but it's just painful to watch. Similar to "Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep" (1966), the oddly whimsical music score gives the film a light-hearted tone. While the composite shots are the best looking ones in the series to date, the characters are so unlikable that it's hard to care. Only series veteran Akihiko Hirata seems to take anything seriously, while the others come across as goofy caricatures. Admittedly, as a silly family movie it's not bad, but as a Godzilla movie, it sorely disappoints.