Also known as: Kaijū-tō no Kessen Gojira no Musuko, lit. Monster Island’s Decisive Battle: Son of Godzilla (Japan)
Release Date: December 16th, 1967 (Japan)
Directed by: Jun Fukuda
Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa, Kazue Shiba
Music by: Masaru Sato
Cast: Tadao Takashima, Akira Kubo, Bibari Maeda, Akihiko Hirata, Yu Sekida, Seiji Onaka, Akihiko Hirata
Toho, 86 Minutes
Minya (or Minilla) is the son of Godzilla. Many fans hate Minya with intensity. I don’t hate him. I’m one of the weirdos that actually likes Minya. It probably has to do with the fact that I discovered him when I was at a really young age. So like the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, I accept him even though he is an extremely childish character made only to appeal to six year-olds. Besides, its not like he’s Jar Jar Binks or anything.
There have been other Godzilla “juniors” over the years. Minya, even if he does look like the lovechild of the Pillsbury Doughboy and a gum eraser, was the best of the Godzilla spawn. Sure, Junior from the Heisei Era was cool but only once he got full grown. His earlier appearances were some of the worst moments in the Godzilla franchise.
I’m not going to lie, Son of Godzilla is a cute movie. At this point, Toho knew its audience was young kids. So introducing a child for Godzilla wasn’t really a “jump the shark” moment but more of an acknowledgement that the franchise had left behind its horror roots and was embracing its bread and butter.
Son of Godzilla also came out during a string of Godzilla pictures that were set primarily on tropical islands or in vast expanses of wilderness. This was mainly because of budgetary reasons and this is also something many old school fans hate but I really like the Godzilla island movies.
First of all, the island films have a sort of vintage tiki vibe to them. They feel like a 60s beach party even if there is no beach party. Also, they come with a good adventure scenario for the human characters trapped on the island with giant monsters. This is why I really like Son of Godzilla. Granted, I much prefer Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (also known as Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster).
In this movie, we see a team of scientists and a photo journalist partake in experiments that alter the weather and radiation levels on the island. This causes physical changes in some of the creatures that call the island home. There are three praying mantises that are already human size that then grow to giant proportions. There is also a giant tarantula named Spiga, who is the big enemy in this kaiju picture.
The giant praying mantises end up breaking open a giant egg. Inside the egg is Minya, Godzilla’s infant son. Godzilla quickly arrives to defend his baby from the jerk mantises. The remainder of the film shows Godzilla being a father to Minya and trying to turn him into a man that can fight his own battles. This all comes to a head with the big showdown between Spiga and the two Godzillas.
Ultimately, this is a really fun film. The human story is exciting and the tale between kaiju father and kaiju son is endearing. While Son of Godzilla lacks good villains, it makes up for it in seeing Godzilla become more human-like. While this aspect of Godzilla’s character in the later films is frowned upon by some, I always loved kid friendly Godzilla because I discovered him when I was a kid.
This film also has some really beautiful parts. The final few shots are marvelous and even though you know everyone will be okay, there is something truly sad about the finale. In those final moments, Godzilla displays his parental affection for his son, as they fall into hibernation.
Son of Godzilla isn’t even close to being the best in the franchise but it is still a really enjoyable movie.