Invasion of the Astro-Monster (1965)

Invasion of the Astro-Monster was released in 1965, and it feels a lot more like an episode of Doctor Who than a Godzilla movie. This movie has aliens. And they aren't done in an Arrival sort of way, either. These are dudes in, truly, some of the more ridiculous costumes I've seen. It's a lot of fun. Also, Godzilla does a funny little dance on <s>the moon</s> an alien world in this movie, so... Do with that information as you will.

There's not really much else to say about the movie other than that, so let's just get into it, shall we?

The Recap

So, this movie wastes no time in being bizarre, with text telling us that we've discovered a mysterious planet out beyond Jupiter. It's unclear if this is Saturn they are talking about, or between Jupiter and Saturn, or if they just mean beyond everything and using Jupiter as a reference point. In any event, the Japanese space program has decided not send probes or cameras out there, but instead put two humans (An American and a Japanese man {It feels wrong to write "A Japanese", even though it doesn't feel wrong to say "An American". I wonder why that is...}) on a spaceship and send them there. At this point in 1965, humans had not made it to the moon. But, with the technology even available later on, it took them over 4 days to reach the moon, which is a distance of 384,400 km. Jupiter itself is 778.5 MILLION km away, and Saturn is an unfathomable 1.2 Billion km. So, without factoring in fuel and food storage, and assuming that everything would be about the same, it would take, approximately, 8,671 days to reach Jupiter, and 13,365 days to reach Saturn. That's between 24 and 37 years! I guess this is possible (again, assuming that it wouldn't take them any longer, which it definitely would), but it would mean that, given the ages of these two men, they would have been put on this spaceship as infants, 24-37 years ago, and left instructional DVDs of how to be astronauts, and what Earth is like. And, since they have relationships back on Earth, those would have had to have been formed through phone calls. So, I'm gonna go ahead and say no, on this one. It's theoretically, but not practically, possible.

Anyway, the American's name is Glenn (which is pretty lazy, honestly) and the Japanese man is Fuji, who I don't believed is named after anyone. I'm pretty sure Glenn is full on speaking English in this movie. I watched an English dub of this one, so they were all speaking English, but his mouth seemed to line up with the words I was hearing, while the others didn't. So I was a little confused about that. Anyway, back in Mission Control, Fuji's sister, Haruno works as a... something? She's upset because Fuji doesn't approve of her romantic interest, an inventor we meet named Tetsuo. This dude is a cartoon character. He lives with his mother (?), who's always yelling at him. And he wears glasses, which isn't a good sign. His most recent invention is this strange little device that serves no function other than to make a loud noise. I'm serious. The sound isn't a side effect of some other function, it was built to, and successfully does, create a piercing, annoying sound. That's all.

[[Image: Tetsuo's machine|Are Justin Bieber jokes still a thing? Because he, too, was built to, and successfully does, create piercing, annoying sounds.]]

There's also Dr. Sakurai, who, between releases of Smash Brothers games, dabbles as a scientists who tracks mysterious planets. He doesn't do a lot in this movie, but kinda hangs around, helping out, you know. So, Tetsuo has sold his noise machine to a toy company, which makes him a lot of money, so he takes Haruno out to a nice dinner. BUT, it seems this dinner is also a business meeting, because a woman named Ms. Namikawa, who works for the toy company, sits with them to discuss his contract. Later, as Tetsuo and Haruno are leaving, he expresses his desire to prove his worth to her brother Fuji, claiming the money will "hang him on his head." The movie then cuts to Fuji and Glenn in space, upside down! That's cute. They have found the mysterious planet, which they're calling Planet X for some reason, and land on it. They get out to explore and Fuji notices some strange footprints, which he follows, resulting in him losing Glenn and the ship. That's okay, though, because he does find an elevator? It rises from the ground and opens in front of him, and is accompanied by a voice, telling him to enter. The voice calls itself "The Controller of Planet X". Why do the people living here also refer to this place as Planet X? Perhaps we'll find out.

Fuji is led to a room with a large table, that Glenn is sitting at, having been led here, too. Then, you guys. Then, the aliens show up, and you just have to see what they look like.

I want to be clear. I firmly believe we're supposed to take these things seriously.

I want to be clear. I firmly believe we're supposed to take these things seriously.

Fuji and Glenn manage to not burst out laughing, but instead sit and listen as the Planet X-ers give a lot of Planet X-position. The Controller tells them that he has their ship, and will give it back to them, if they help him. Suddenly, an alarm comes on, indicating that "Monster Zero" is back. But who is Monster Zero? If you know anything about the Godzilla franchise, you probably know who this is, but we'll wait and see if we're wrong. The Controller calls Monster Zero, "The Demon of our Galaxy," and the reason they can't live on the surface. He decides to show us a visual of Monster Zero, and on the screen, we see that it is, in fact, Ghidorah! Or, as Glenn refers to him, King Ghidorah! The King part seems to be new. I don't think it was ever said in his last movie. Maybe he was trying to say "fucking Ghidorah", but it got censored or something. That's probably what it is.

Anyway, they have no weapons against it, so they just wait until it leaves, which it does after damaging some machine that... makes H2O, or something? The Controller makes a request of them, asking them if they can borrow two monsters from Earth, Monster One and Monster Two. Godzilla, and Rodan. They (the aliens) will take care of capturing and transporting the monsters, if the humans allow it, and, as an incentive, offer them a miracle drug that will cure every disease on Earth. Hey, that's neat. The movie cuts to the humans on the ship, leaving Planet X, but they haven't accepted the deal. They're gonna take it back to Earth and ask about it. Presumably, their return trip takes another 30 years.

There's another one of those meetings I don't know how to describe. Kinda like a UN thing, but just for the leaders of Japan? High Mind Meetings? The Meeting of Important People? I'm not sure what to call it, but one of those. The physicians of the world want to take the deal, mostly because of the miracle drug, and the "Organizations of Women" have no objection. Wait, what? The Organizations of Women? Is that a recognized conglomeration, with a seat at the table? That seems bizarre to me. Anyway, Tetsuo goes to the toy company to ask about his contract, and someone there goes to fetch the CEO. Get this, you guys. This dude is sitting under a red light, with this weird electrical noise all around, and some kind of nodes on his back. When he hears that Tetsuo is here, he gets the blueprints for the noise machine and lights them on fire. Later (it's unclear how this scene resolves itself), Fuji and Glenn are at a bar and meet with Tetsuo and Haruno, before Glenn leaves to go out with a woman he's seeing, which Tetsuo and Haruno discovers is Ms. Namikawa, from the toy company! Whoa!

Previously, the Controller had told Fuji and Glenn where Godzilla and Rodan could be found, and the military does find Godzilla in the lake he's supposed to be at. Glenn takes Fuji out to the spot he took Namikawa, and tells him they spent the night together, but he woke up to find the controller standing over him. So that's weird. They get to the Godzilla lake, and see a three spaceships emerge from the water! They use gravitational beams to life Godzilla out of the water, and grab Rodan from some mountain and bring the two together for some reason. Fuji and Glenn prepare to return to Planet X with the Controller and the monsters, and Glenn says goodbye to the mysterious Namikawa, promising to marry her when he returns. He leaves and she drives off, followed by Tetsuo, who's just thirsty for details about his contract. Fuji, Glenn, and Sakurai return to Planet X (30 more years). Namikawa takes a boat to an island, and Tetsuo somehow manages to stowaway on it. She meets with the CEO, and its revealed that she is only seeing Glenn to gain information. Oh no! Tetsuo gets caught. Double oh no! Back on Planet X, the monsters are freed, Ghidorah arrives, and finally, finally, we get our first Monster Fight!

This happens almost 50 minutes into the movie.

This happens almost 50 minutes into the movie.

Godzilla and Rodan get the best of Ghidorah, who flies off, and Godzilla does a funny little dance in celebration. During the commotion, Fuji and Glenn run off, I guess in suspicion of the aliens. They discover that all the women on Planet X look just like Namikawa for some reason! They get caught, but there's no consequences, because they are guests. Instead, the aliens give them the miracle drug, and a recreation of their spaceship they came here on the first time. As they leave, Fuji laments leaving Godzilla and Rodan behind, noting that they seem to resent being left behind. Back on Earth, we see that Tetsuo is being held in a cell, and the CEO is in contact with the Controller. Surprise, they're working together. The astronauts return to Earth (30 years), and hand over the miracle drug, which is ostensibly a formula on a tape they have to listen to. In actuality, the tape is a message from the Controller, revealing that they are bad guys! And they demand compliance so they can take over Earth! Oh no! They demand surrender, or Earth will be destroyed. That's not good.

Namikawa meets with a distrusting Glenn, but assures him that, while she was just following orders, she grew to love him for realsies. Some more aliens arrive to arrest Glenn, but Namikawa sneaks something into his pocket and is shot by the aliens, and killed. The UFOs arrive at the space center, and destroy some of their satellites before announcing that King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Godzilla are back on Earth, and controlled through Magnetic Waves. If Earth hasn't surrendered in 24 hours, they will release the monsters to destroy the humans. Sakurai and co. discuss how to defeat the aliens, and they begin experimenting with a device that will block the magnetic waves, freeing the monsters. Glenn is placed in the cell with Tetsuo, and notes that its soundproof. He also finds the note that Namikawa left him, telling him that the aliens can be defeated using a certain sound. Tetsuo figures that this is the sound his device makes, which is why they wanted the buy it from him, so it never gets made. Fortunately, he has a prototype with him, and he uses it to lure some aliens in. The two are able to grab the keys and escape. They make it to Sakurai and reveal everything. The monsters are released, as the humans develop a way to broadcast the sound.

We finally get to see some sweet, sweet destruction as the military fights back against the monsters. There's a radio broadcast, announcing to the world that they are about to play Tetsuo's sound, and telling them to turn up their radios. Radios, I'm told, are an archaic form of television, but without the video part. Why they didn't just listen to podcasts is beyond me. Anyway, the sound is played, the aliens hate it, and the humans free the monsters by turning on their magnetic blockers. The aliens are in too much pain to stop it.

Then, get this, you guys. The Controller ship is shaking and smoking and is about to crash, so the Controller says, no joke, "We must escape into the future. In that dimension, we've never seen." He presses a button and the ship explodes! Yeah. I don't know what the hell he was talking about. I don't know if they were successful. I don't know if the aliens are going to show up again in the future. It's so weird, you guys!

There's a scene where Godzilla wakes up the other two monsters by throwing a rock at Ghidorah and slapping Rodan with his tail, then the three fight. It ends (?) with Rodan picking up Godzilla and bowling him into Ghidorah, and the two G's are sent tumbling into the water. The humans are watching this, and then decide to leave, with Glenn announcing that he's returning to Planet X to be their ambassador. How this is possible, with the aliens all evil and presumably dead, is beyond me. But the movie ends, so who cares?

The Review

Okay, I'm starting to understand why people like these movies so much.

There were prolonged sequences in this movie where I legitimately couldn't believe what I was seeing. The aliens? Godzilla on a different planet? Tetsuo? This movie was a cartoon that they forgot to animate. It was wild! But was it good? Well...

There was very little kaiju stuff in this movie. We got a fight between Ghidorah and Godzilla/Rodan on Planet X, but it didn't last very long. Then the aliens released them on the world, so we did get to see some destruction. But it, too, didn't last long. THEN, the monsters were freed, and the movie played out with them fighting. But, again. It was very brief. So, I found it lacking in the Godzilla department. Also, like Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, it didn't really "end", just had the credits roll. So, Godzilla and Ghidorah fell into the sea together? Is that it? They're gone now? What about Rodan? These characters use to be a threat to humanity. Godzilla's a good guy now, sure, but Ghidorah was JUST destroying the world, not one year ago. He was this cosmic threat that the humans had to sick three other kaiju on, and now, he's fights Godzilla at the end, and it's played like, "Boys will be boys!" I want my monsters to be scary! Is that too much to ask? Ghidorah was more of a threat to Planet X than he was to Earth. I also didn't like how Ghidorah was used by the aliens. It made him less scary, more like he was a mad dog, rather than a cosmic, world-devouring entity. But whatever. I have a strong feeling that none of this will be brought up again.

As for the humans... I guess they were fine. Tetsuo was a cartoon character. I couldn't believe how he was introduced, as a goofy inventor being yelled at by his mother for making too much noise. And he was building a machine that seemed to do nothing BUT MAKE NOISE! Why build that?!? It's unclear. I don't think Haruno had any character at all, she was just there to get Tetsuo into the plot. Fuji, likewise, didn't do or say a whole bunch. The only other big character was Glenn, the American, who I really didn't care for. He just seemed to brash and acerbic, and I didn't care for it. I read that they wanted to have an American lead in this movie so it would be more marketable in America. I understand why they did this, but I would have preferred them not too. It just felt... disingenuous to me. Like, why was he an astronaut in Japan? It didn't make sense. And I couldn't care less about his relationship with Namikawa. Like, could not care less.

So, that's Invasion of Astro-Monster. It was okay, but I've liked others better. It was too silly, but not in the same way that Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster was. I think that movie took itself seriously enough that I could find it ridiculous, while this movie didn't so it was harder to laugh at. I don't really know. But, hopefully I like the next one better. Tune in in two weeks for Ebirah, Horror of the Deep! Maybe, like Astro-Monster, Ebirah will be another character we've already met. Only time will tell...