Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Penultimate Godzilla offering, before Toho retires the 50-year-old brand next year -- presumably to retool it for a CGI world -- is a mechanical affair, but not without its amusements, both accidental and intended. Most Statesiders will see pic in dubbed form, no doubt, when TriStar rolls it onto home vid.

With:
With: Noboru Kaneko, Miho Yoshioka, Katsuya Onizuka, Koh Takasugi, Chihiro Nagasawa, Hiroshi Koizumi, Akira Nakao, Koichi Ueda, Norman England.

Penultimate Godzilla offering, before Toho retires the 50-year-old brand next year — presumably to retool it for a CGI world — is a mechanical affair, but not without its amusements, both accidental and intended. Most Statesiders will see pic in dubbed form, no doubt, when TriStar rolls it onto home vid.

Series completists will enjoy the presence of Hiroshi Koizumi, reprising his scientist role from 1961’s “Mothra” (although he has had different roles in other Godzilla pics) and again confronting miniature twins from Infant Island — still singing their hypnotic songs and providing moments of magic amid the silly mayhem.

The twins call on the scientist for help. Mothra, the giant, dust-dispensing giant from the girls’ home, needs protection from Godzilla again. Godzilla — or Gojira, as he’s known at home — is supposed to be resting peacefully beneath the sea, but some of his bones have been taken to put in a mechanical robot clone Mechagodzilla.

Godzilla’s bones are calling him and he threatens to get out of control as in the past.

The scientist and his handsome young nephew, Yoshito (Noboru Kaneko), a lead technician on the robot clone, tell the authorities that Mechagodzilla needs further tests. But, the authorities don’t listen and Mecha malfunctions.

Soon, Godzilla returns and the army finds itself in need of assistance from the U.S. military — which provides unintentional laughs, as every sailor and GI seems to have a Canadian or Aussie accent.

Amid the action above Tokyo Tower, a hot-dog “wing commander” (OK, he “flies” one of Mecha’s arms) has a rivalry with Yoshito over a female officer both men like. Meanwhile, the old scientist has to scramble to save his little grandson from Godzilla’s destructive footsteps. That’s about it for the human element.

There’s a spectacular bit of product placement during the rescue seg: When Yoshito’s boss tosses him some car keys to after his relatives, there’s a monster close-up of the Honda logo in the middle of the frame.

Monster effects for Godzy and Mothra (aka Mosura) are as cheesy as ever, while Mecha gets more hi-tech lensing. Still, helmer Masaaki Tezuka, who has made a few of these before, does an above-average job of pulling the disparate elements together and finishing off Godzilla. Again. Pic has a good sense of humor about series history, boding well for big-budget closer, the portentously titled “Godzilla: Final Wars,” from “Versus” helmer Ryuhei Kitamura.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Japan

Production: A Toho Co. production. (International sales: Toho, Tokyo.) Produced by Shogo Tomiyama. Directed, edited by Masaki Tezuka. Screenplay, Tezuka, Masahito Yokotani.

Crew: Camera (color), Yoshinori Sekiguchi; music, Michiro Oshima; costumes, Shinich Wakasa; f/x director, Eiichi Asada; assistant director, Hideaki Murakami. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival, Oct. 24, 2004. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Noboru Kaneko, Miho Yoshioka, Katsuya Onizuka, Koh Takasugi, Chihiro Nagasawa, Hiroshi Koizumi, Akira Nakao, Koichi Ueda, Norman England.

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