It has been way too long since I have watched a new Toho kaiju movie. Well, let me rephrase that. It has been WWWAAAYYY too long since I have watched a classic Toho kaiju movie for the first time. Now today’s movie is a kaiju movie in a very loose sense of the word, as there is a giant monster in it but it is not the main focus of the movie and it is only on screen for about 6 minutes. I have known about this movie for a long time but honestly never put a whole lot of effort into picking it up, and every time I did consider it, I would find the American version, which had cut the scenes involving Maguma (the giant monster) from the movie. Finally, I went to one of the sites I go in order to find rare movies and they had both the US and Japanese version of this movie available and I decided to finally obtain a copy. So let’s see if this was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Gorath.
The plot: In Japan, the space rocket JX-1 Hawk is launched from the Mt. Fuji Interstellar Exploration Agency launch site and proceeds on it’s mission towards Saturn. As they pass the moon, they are radioed further instructions about their mission, which is to examine a new planetoid, called Gorath, which has entered the solar system and is determined to be 6000 times the mass of the Earth. As they pass Saturn, they pick up Gorath on their sensors and begin collecting data on it but quickly learn that not only is Gorath smaller than they thought, roughly 3/4 the size of the Earth, but they end up caught in it’s powerful gravitational field. Unable to escape, they collect as much data as they can and send it back to Mt. Fuji before their rocket is destroyed. Back on Earth, the collected data is studied by astronomers and they learn that Gorath is on a collision course with Earth. Scientists from Japan and other nation members of the United Nations work together to try and solve the problem and essentially break it down to two possible ideas; destroying Gorath or moving the Earth. The UN asks that Japan sends the JX-2 Eagle rocket up to further study Gorath, and the captain goes to collect the flight crew, who were out celebrating the assignment. Instead of celebrating, Tatsuma Kanai goes to see Takiko Nomura, who he has a crush on, and gives her a gift as he doesn’t know whether he will survive his mission but she tells him to take it back. As the JX-2 takes off, construction of giant rockets begin at the South Pole, with all of the world’s nations supplying workers and materials for the project. The rockets are being built in a 600 kilometer radius, 500 meters below the surface, and when activated, will produce a force equal to 6.6 billion megatons, with the plan being to move the Earth 400,000 kilometers out of it’s orbit until Gorath passes, then move it back to it’s normal orbit. Out in space, the JX-2 nears Gorath and discovers that it’s gravitational field has become even stronger, due to it’s increased mass as debris from objects striking it have made it larger. Kanai is sent out in a survey capsule to collect more data and warned of the increased dangers but he chooses to continue with his mission. As he observes Gorath, his ship is damaged from meteors that are being drawn towards Gorath but he successfully manages to get away and return to the ship. As the crew bring him back on board, they discover that the light from explosions of the meteors hitting Gorath has caused Kanai to lose his memory and the ship makes it’s way back to the Space Stations orbiting Earth. Back on Earth, construction is finished on the engines and they are quickly activated. The rockets work and the space stations report back to Earth that the Earth is successfully moving out of it’s orbit. As the Earth continues to move, Dr. Tazawa, the project leader, stops in Tokyo to speak with Dr. Kono and warns him that due to Gorath’s increased mass, their initial projections won’t be enough and they need more rockets in order to save the Earth, but leaves with Tomoko when tempers start to flare. After he leaves, Kono admits to Kensuke, Tomoko’s grandfather, that Tazawa is right about Gorath’s mass but that there isn’t anything they can do about it. The JX-2 is ordered to check on Gorath’s course, then head back to Earth and as it leaves, the space stations are called back to Earth as well. Meanwhile, the heat from the rockets has caused a giant walrus called Maguma to emerge from the Earth and it destroys part of the research station on the surface. Kono calls Kensuke and asks him to accompany him to the South Pole to examine what happened. Kensuke examines the blood found at the wreckage and determines it is proof of an animal attack. Taking a small VTOL craft to examine the area, Tazawa, Kono, and Kensuke spot Maguma in a ravine and use the craft’s laser to bury it in a landslide. As they land to investigate, Maguma breaks free and so they are forced to take off and, in order to keep it from destroying the rockets, use the laser to kill Maguma. Out in space, the JX-2 watches as Saturn’s rings are pulled towards Gorath, increasing it’s mass even more. As Gorath gets closer, people are warned about possible effects Gorath will have on the Earth, such as a rise in tides around portions of the planet. Tomoko is helping Takiko pack so she can stay with them when Kanai, and two other astornauts, show up. The astronauts had hoped that seeing Takiko would help him regain his memory but when it doesn’t seem to work, Tomoko suggests that he stay with them as being around them might help him. When Gorath nears the Earth, the moon is drawn into it’s orbit and destroyed. Tokyo is flooded by a tsunami while the JX-2 and the space stations at the Mt. Fuji launch site are destroyed by a landslide. At the South Pole, flooding occurs that causes some of the rockets to be extinguished and people worry if they have managed to successfully move the Earth to safety. As Gorath reaches the closest point to Earth, the images of the star on TV causes Kanai to black out but when he regains consciousness, his memories have returned. As time counts down, Gorath passes safely by the Earth, and the people all celebrate the good news. At the South Pole, Tazawa celebrates briefly before setting in on his next assignment, returning the Earth to it’s proper orbit. Meanwhile, Kanai, Takiko, Tomoko, Kensuke, and some others all return to the flooded Tokyo and Kanai says they can rebuild it into a model city, as the news anchor suggest that the way the citizens of Earth worked together to avoid destruction should be a model of how they do things in the future.
This was actually a much better movie than I expected it to be. The acting was pretty good and, although I watched the subtitled version for review purposes, the dubbing in the US version wasn’t that bad. The plot was actually pretty good and definitely made for a good sci-fi thriller. Considering when this was made, I kind of think that this might have been some inspiration for some of the apocalyptic movies later on, such as Armageddon or Asteroid Vs. Earth. In fact, there was honestly no need to include a giant monster to make this movie entertaining but the producer insisted so Ishiro Honda (the director) reluctantly agreed to do so. The special effects tended to be a mix of good and bad, with several scenes involving Gorath and it drawing objects close to it, as well as some of the explosion as the objects collided with it, being really well done, but some of the other scenes with the models, such as the rockets flying past the planets, or Maguma itself were a little weak. A good sci-fi movie that is definitely worth watching if you get the chance.
Rating: 3 out of 5