All Monsters Attack (1969) – Ishiro Honda

This entry in the Godzilla serries is unique, in that the majority of it takes place in the imagination of a young boy, Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki).

A latchkey kid, like a lot of us growing up in the 70s and 80s, Ichiro is a quiet kid (with Godzilla toys in the closet), who isn’t quite as assertive as his father would like, and is having problems with a local bully. He has a few friends, hangs out with his neighbor, a toy inventor, and reminds me a lot of myself as a kid. Losing himself inside his imagination and dreams, he takes a fanciful journey to Monster Island, he pals around with Minilla (who can talk in this entry), who is having issues of his own with a new kaiju on the island, conveniently sharing a name with Ichiro’s own bully, Gabara.

Godzilla, in his role as parent, urges Minilla to confront Gabara on his own, with nudges and the occasional smack, and Ichiro sees what he must do in his own life.

Wrapped around all of this is the story of a pair of crooks who have made off with fifty million yen. Ichiro in one of his playing escapades, stumbles, inadvertently, and completely unawares into their hiding place, and recovers a dropped driver’s license, which now makes him a target.

As dark as that may sound, it’s just window dressing for a very light, and enjoyable entry in the series, which doesn’t feature a lot of new kaiju work, some stuff with Minilla, Godzilla and Gabara, but the rest is recycled footage from previous films as Ichiro wanders Monster Island.

Yazaki’s a cute kid, and seems to be having a good time, Honda gets a realistic performance out of him that sees the young fellow behaving exactly as you would expect him to, though it’s funny to see how the film plays with Ichiro and Minilla’s size. We know Godzilla is huge, and Minilla is about half his height, but when the boy and young monster are together, they are the same size – credit that to the boy’s imagination, I suppose, and one could argue, thematically, he’s as big as he wants to be, if he will simply grow to believe in himself.

All Monsters Attack is also the shortest entry in the series to date, just barely surpassing the hour mark, and it rolls along at a very quick pace, balancing the imaginative side with that of the bank robbers, and Ichiro’s parents who are upset that they can’t spend more time with him.

With no real rampaging, or destruction in this film, the world enjoys a temporary respite from the kaiju, but I’m sure they will be back next time, when I delve into Godzilla vs. Hedorah!

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