Son of Godzilla shouldn’t have been as good as it was. On paper, it sounds kind of generic and admittedly a bit of a dumb premise. Godzilla has a kid who gets attacked by a giant spider. That’s it; that’s the premise. However, this is a very cool entry to the series. I can only imagine the creators were battling with their own children when this was made and there are elements that are a bit childish except, as a whole, Son of Godzilla feels more charming than anything.
The film takes place on a tropical island where weather scientists are working to create some machinery that can manipulate the weather. The experiment is a secret for fear of it falling into the wrong hands, so instead of getting the usual assault on Japan, this time Godzilla is limited to an island with only a few staff.
Our story begins with the science staff making the rounds and checking their equipment around the island. During the check, some interference comes up which they cannot explain. As the story progresses, a reporter parachutes on to the remote island seeking a story, and the head of the project is reluctant to allow such a nosy person around for fear of their technology but ultimately relents and allows the reporter to stay. We are also introduced to some man-sized mantises and a pretty girl out swimming, but was she a figment of the reporter’s imagination? Turns out she is the daughter of an archeologist who died some time ago leaving her on the island alone.
We soon get to see the science experiment, which involves a weather balloon called a cryoprobe that, combined with silver iodide spraying towers, causes an updraft in the air. This process draws warm air up to mix with the silver iodide. A second balloon, which is a radioactive heat absorption unit, is then launched to complete the cycle. Unfortunately, the interference returns and prematurely detonates the second balloon. Instead of a cooling effect, the premature detonation causes severe rainstorms and heat for days on the island. We also learn that the radioactivity has caused the local mantis population to grow to Godzilla size.
The large mantises uncover a Godzilla egg, which they commence to smash open, revealing son of Godzilla. Turns out the interference that was occurring is from the little monster calling his daddy. So as the mantises are kicking the little lizard around, dad comes along and metes out some atomic justice to one of them.
After that battle, the father leads son off and lays down for a nap where the child gets bored and starts jumping father’s tail. Here we get a pretty funny scene of Papa Godzilla raising up a bit to give an annoyed glance at his kid. Eventually, the son gets bored and goes wandering where he comes across Saeko, the archaeologist’s daughter, and the reporter who is out taking in the islands sites themselves. Saeko demonstrates that the child is pretty friendly, but dad comes along and chases them off, causing the son to throw a temper tantrum. Dad drags him off kicking and screaming, comically. I thought this bit of interaction between father and son was pretty fitting. It was kind of cheesy but actually felt appropriate.
As this continues, a strange fever breaks out among the scientists, but Saeko knows a cure for the malady. The downside is that the cure is some red water by where Godzilla and son are staying. It’s also across the path of a giant spider sleeping beneath the ground. When Saeko and the reporter arrive at the water source, they get to witness dad teaching son how to breathe atomic fire which was a pretty cool scene in and of itself. Saeko and company retrieve the red water and get the staff cured.
The next issue that comes along is when Saeko is out for a walk; she runs into the giant mantis. Godzilla’s kid comes along to save her but gets into his own trouble with the big insect. During this altercation, the big spider wakes up which was a very cool looking monster. Reading the description of the film, I kind of felt a spider would be pretty generic as a monster, but this one really worked well. The legs moved organically and the thing had a pretty good web sprayer.
I won’t spoil how this ends, but I will say the battle with the mantis, spider, baby, and Godzilla was very, very cool. As with other entries, the effects crew did a fantastic job. I would say the son’s suit could use some work, but that’s a nitpick to an otherwise well-done film.
I wouldn’t actually rate this above any of the other entries I’ve watched, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the fun Son of Godzilla is. There is a decent story around the scientists and their experiment as well as a good father and son tale.