Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa
Cast: Akira Takarada, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Keiko Sawai, Jun Tazaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Akira Kubo, Takamaru Sasaki, Fuyuki Murakami, Yoshifumi Tajima, Kenzo Tabu, Noriko Sengoku, Somemasu Matsumoto, Gen Shimizu, Toru Ibuki, Kazuo Suzuki, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Hiroo Kirino, Toki Shoizawa, Mitsuo Tsuda, Takuzou Kumagai, Koji Uno, Masaaki Tachibana, Yutaka Oka, Rinsaku Ogata, Tadashi Okabe, Ryouji Shimizu, Hideki Furukawa, Kamayuki Tsubono, Minoru Ito, Haruo Nakajima, Masaki Shinohara, Shouichi Hirose, and Goro Naya
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 12/19/1965
MPAA Rating: G
Exploring the recently discovered Planet X, astronauts Glenn (Nick Adams) and Fuji (Akira Takarada) are kidnapped by Xiliens—humanoid aliens whose original society had been devastated by Monster Zero (the Xilien designation for King Ghidorah). Desperate to purge the flying demon from their planet, the Xiliens present Fuji and Glenn with a unique proposal: in exchange for Monster Zero-One (Godzilla) and Monster Zero-Two (Rodan), the only creatures capable of defeating Ghidorah, the Xiliens will provide the people of Earth with a cure for cancer. Thereafter, the Xiliens—now in possession of all three monsters—assume control of human civilization. Only a sonic emitter crafted by Tetsuo (Akira Kubo), a meek inventor, can save humanity from the Xilien occupation.
By combining the aesthetic vision of Forbidden Planet with the stylized monster action of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster (also known as Monster Zero and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero) will appeal to fans of the creature feature genre. The child-friendly tone of this film may, however, fail to captivate those who appreciate the dark, moody atmosphere of its predecessor from 1954.
Though saddled with cringe-inducing dialogue, Nick Adams (an American actor whom kaiju fans will recognize from Frankenstein Conquers the World) should be commended for his performance. Worth praising in particular is the alpha-male spirit embodied by Adams while portraying Astronaut Glenn, who, in spite of his diminutive stature, puts forth a fierce and heroic opposition to the Xilien race.
Senichi Sekizawa’s narrative deserves criticism for its alien invasion subplot, which lacks a compelling air of tension to compensate for the slow pacing of this production—much in contrast to The War of the Worlds and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, two similarly themed science fiction films. Specifically, the machinations of the Xilien people are never explored beyond a surface level, preventing them from conveying their intentions in a non-cartoonish, let alone menacing, fashion—a problem compounded by the fact that the alien commander (the Japanese equivalent of a mustache-twirling supervillain) erupts into a fit of maniacal laughter as the astronauts depart from Planet X.
The first daikaiju offering to depict Godzilla as a superhero, Invasion of Astro-Monster establishes a now iconic trope (i.e. the king of monsters rescuing mankind from a dangerous and malevolent adversary) initially alluded to in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Another important aspect of this film, a technologically advanced alien race travels to the planet Earth ostensibly to promote peace and prosperity, later revealing a sinister plot to enslave the human species—a frequently employed storytelling device in the Godzilla franchise that, though originally featured in The Mysterians, would achieve tremendous popularity through Invasion of Astro-Monster.
Invasion of Astro-Monster is a campy, cheesy, fun-filled entry in Toho’s daikaiju series. Especially terrific are the monster battles involving Rodan, Godzilla, and King Ghidorah, which, despite being somewhat brief, will induce “roaring” laughter from the audience.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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