Tuesday, March 20, 2012

REVIEW: Gorath

Director: Ishiro Honda
Year 1962
Gorath is a fantastic Japanese disaster film produced by the cinematic powerhouse, the Toho Company. Directed by the legendary filmmaker Ishiro Honda, the movie has enough dynamic elements to make it one hell of an entertaining drama, with a few wacky moments thrown in for good measure. If you’re looking for a film with an over the top plot and an extraordinary amount of destruction, then look no further, Gorath is coming for you.
The film tells the tale of Earth’s eminent doom, with the discovery of a giant planet sized meteor named Gorath that is a whopping six thousand times the size of Earth. It turns out that this behemoth is on a collision course with the Earth and it is approaching at a tremendous rate. With all of the world’s scientists working night and day, they come up with a mater plan to save the planet and escape this global disaster. What is this master plan you might ask? Well it’s a doozy. By placing a mass amount of rockets in Antarctica, the scientists plan to simply move planet Earth out of the way of the approaching Gorath. With the collaboration of all the nations of the world, can the human race beat the insurmountable odds put against them and in the process defy the very logic that holds our solar system together? You bet your ass they will! It’s a Toho production of course. There’s nothing but good old fashion entertainment here and tons of it. Now let’s save this damn planet!

Like with so many enjoyable Toho films, Gorath is directed by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Ishiro Honda. With so many films under his belt, this man has nothing left to prove. He’s created a handful of Godzilla films including the classic original, dabbled in some enjoyable sci-fi fair like Battle in Outer Space, Mothra, The H-Man, and The Mysterians, and he’s had a huge hand in bringing some fantastic films to the forefront like Varan the Unbelievable, Matango, Latitude Zero, and King Kong Escapes. Hell the guy even brought two of the most iconic science fiction movie monsters in cinematic history together under one flick when he directed King Kong vs. Godzilla. The guy is a true legend and his filmography speaks volumes on how successful his career had been over the years.
With Gorath, he tackles the genre of disaster films and what a treat this movie is. Taking a page from his Battle in Outer Space plotline, Honda throws an overwhelming situation at the human race, forcing them to pull together and forget their differences for the benefit of the greater good. In Gorath, this plot device isn’t executed as inspirationally as it was in Battle in Outer Space, but it still manages to inflict some sense of wonder at the concept of humankind realizing that they’re all in this together. I’ve always been fascinated by disaster flicks, especially doomsday ones where the Earth is threatened by a global killer of a disaster, and Gorath delivers on that wild premise and then some, by adding in some wacky flavor that only Toho and Ishiro could dream up.

As I mentioned in the summary, the genius idea that the scientist have in order to survive this coming catastrophe is to place rockets on the Earth’s surface and nudge us out of the way of Gorath’s path. There are so many things that defy logic in this premise, but that’s what is so special about a Toho science fiction film and an Ishiro Honda directed one at that. Forget the fact that if this method was used in the real world it would have devastating effects as equally horrific as an enormous planet colliding with our own. When it comes to one of these fabulously fun flicks, you just have to learn to go with the flow and trust in Honda and the world that he has set up. Within the context of this cinematic creation, the idea of moving the planet’s orbit isn’t as impossible as you would think. I enjoyed the simple outlook of the movie and I really got a kick out of the practical, yet naïve notion, of nonchalantly placing the Earth wherever we want. It’s a fun premise and to actually see this plan set into action is a splendid moment in wacky cinema history.
In order for the film to partake in this wild scheme, the filmmakers had to execute a large number of miniature shots to show the operations in Antarctica as they prepared to install the rows upon rows of rockets that would eventually propel the Earth out of its orbit. The effects work for these shots are grand in scale, depicting some masterfully envisioned models and wonderful miniature work. There is also a great deal of destruction to be had in this film, that is rendered in that wild Toho fashion of demolishing those already mentioned and masterfully created models. The destruction really gets going when Gorath reaches the outskirts of our planet, bringing its substantial girth with it. The gravity from Gorath begins to wreak havoc on our planet, sending the oceans to spilling over and ripping mountainsides like they were made of Styrofoam, which they most certainly might have been made of. The effects work in these scenes is standard for a Toho production, which is always a damn good thing. We get to see the full destruction in a handful of steady long takes that never pull away from the carnage, produced by the demolition of these artistic renderings of specific locations throughout Japan. The technique of miniature work is a slowly vanishing trade, but here we get to see it in its full glory. There’s nothing like it and it’s just another one of the aspects of Gorath that make it so much fun to see play out.

Gorath is another great effort brought to us by the great people of the Toho Company and the expert eye of director Ishiro Honda. The story is an interesting one, giving us an inside look at what it would take in order for the planet Earth to survive a collision with a rogue star six thousand times its size. The atmosphere of doom is wonderful and the thematic pull of all the nations coming together to weather the storm is a great treat to see performed on the screen. You always wish humanity shows its best side in life, but to be able to see a representation of mankind working together for the greater good in order to avert a disaster gives this reviewer a glimmer of hope that maybe we’d do the same thing if up against the same odds.
The overall look of the film is grand in scale, showcasing some iconic imagery that supports the epic nature of the narrative and holds true to the weighted concepts that the film hits upon. The miniature work is also well thought out, bringing that trademark Toho seal of approval that seems to be a guarantee when watching one of their many efforts during this time period. If there is one production company that can churn out hit after hit, it would be Toho. These guys never disappoint when delivering a movie that seems destined to entertain the masses. If you’re looking for a disaster flick that has the fun factor of a Toho movie then give this one a try. It has got the stuff that genre nuts crave. Look out because Gorath is on a……

So lifelike you won't believe your eyes!

Did I forget to turn off the space iron?

We're all going to die! WEEEEEE!

Fiddlesticks! I hate that damn Gorath!

You're alright in my book you goofy dumb bastard.

Get a hold of yourself... there's got to be a bathroom around here somewhere.

I have no idea what the hell this means.

Well hello there.

What are you morons doing in there?

Space is fun! WEEEEEE!

Ah, the memories before Gorath.

Shhhh! I'm trying to use the phone!

What do you want Frank? You called me.

Run! It's a giant walrus! Eat your heart out Gorath!

This just in! Gorath is AMAZING!

We got you in our sights you son of a bitch.

What are you looking at butthead?

That was a close one folks, but it turns out that Gorath just wanted to snuggle.

Alright everyone! Tonight... everyone gets laid!


  1. Great flick this one. One of a few more Toho sci fi pictures still unavailable on R1 DVD.

    I don't understand why your stuff isn't showing up in my blogroll, Jay. The last thing it shows is from two months ago!

  2. They really need to get these great Toho films out there on DVD so people can view them more easily. It was a feat trying to track this one down, but luckily I was able to check it out for myself and I'm so lucky I did. Excellent film!

    Yeah, I don't know why my blogroll has mysteriously stopped updating and I'm not blog-savy enough to go messing around to see what the problem is. Don't want to screw something up and take down the site... haha, so I just deal with it. It's a pain in the ass though!