The Invaders Attack (Ishiro Honda, 1968)
Director: Ishiro Honda
Actors: ‘Little Man’ Machan, Akira Kubo, Haruo Nakajima, Jun Tazaki, Kyoko Ai, Susumu Utsumi, Teruo Nigaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Yu Sekida, Yukiko Kobayashi
Screenwriter: Ishiro Honda, Takeshi Kimura
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Director of Photography: Taiichi Kankura
Editor: Ryohei Fujii
Genre: Action, Horror, Kaiju eiga, Science Fiction
Distributor: Les Films Marbeuf
Release Date: September 30, 1970
Original title: Monster Beast Advance (怪 獣 総 進 撃)
Synopsis: In the future, in 1999, a warlike alien race tries to conquer the Earth by taking control of the most terrible monsters that inhabit it. All over the world, the biggest capitals are attacked and destroyed one by one. But who can stop them?
Godzilla, Episode 9. Aware of the drifts and of having exploited the vein to the end, the Toho undertakes the last Godzilla to end the saga, without suspecting that the franchise would continue long after. This false stand-off will take the form of a large final fireworks display by accumulating as many kaiju as possible on the screen.
The Invaders attack has a very good reputation with fans and connoisseurs. And for good reason, it takes the form of the greatest hits applied to the whole genre. We had known films with a kaiju, or even two or three, but here we have eleven at once.
On the menu of this dream football team, we, therefore, find: Godzilla obviously, his son Minilla, Mothra (at the larval stage), Rodan, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Manda, Baragon, Varan, Anguirus and Gorosaurus.
The reason for the meeting of this Ocean’s Eleven of Kaiju is justified in the story, located in the future, in 1999, where all the monsters were confined on an island called “Monsterland” (or Monster Island). One day, some monsters disappear from the island and start attacking capitals.
We discover that they are controlled by a race of aliens called the Kilaaks and wanting nothing less than to enslave the earth by using kaiju. After many scenes of unnecessary dialogue and gratuitous destruction, humans regain control of the monsters.
The Kilaaks then send their supreme weapon: King Ghidorah. The fate of the earth is then played out in a great settlement of accounts between the ten Earth kaiju and the dragon with three heads.
This pitch, highly crazy and enjoyable, has become seminal for the whole genre. Far from aiming at themes or any matter, here it is purely and only a release allowing to see as many monsters as possible on the screen. Alas, it is far from living up to its fine reputation, despite undeniable qualities.
We recognize the leg of Ishiro Honda in the realization (his last Godzilla really watchable and filmed in a massive 2.55), the music of Akira Ikufube reviews the jubilant themes of kaiju and the scenes of destruction are more rhythmic and precise than on previous films.
But not everything works, far from it. The editing is sometimes aberrant, focusing on the uninteresting intrigue of the aliens, we are frustrated to see a single monster at a time attacking each a big city when we would like to see them fighting all against each other and at final, the battles between kaiju are summed up with King Ghidorah.
And there again, that poses a problem because if you remember the 5th part, King Ghidorah was easily beaten by an alliance between Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan, so three kaiju. Here they are ten against him, and the fight is completely unbalanced. Even Minilla, a constant source of annoyance, participates in combat and makes herself useful by strangling one of Ghidorah’s heads with his circles of energy that were thought to be harmless.
Overall, The Invader’s attack only comes to life when you see the kaiju. However, we do not see them enough and when we see them, they are not fully exploited as they should be. Here we reach the limits of the Showa era in what it could offer starting from a Godzillakind and heroic.
The films follow each other and whether they are alike or not, always end up showing the same faults: inconsistent human characters, infantilized kaijus, special effects that wait until the last 20 minutes to impress and a bitter absence of about.
It can be taken as a regressive pleasure, what the film is and what it assumes, but it becomes frustrating to see a franchise that no longer seeks to renew itself or to tell something meaningful.
We will therefore especially remember Les Invahisseurs Attaquent the influence it had more than the film itself, if only for Pacific Rim by Guillermo Del Toro who was well inspired and much more commendable. Some students sometimes overtake their teachers.