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Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of The Big G Paperback – April, 1998
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About the Author
Steve Ryfle is a former Los Angeles Times reporter. His articles on Godzilla and Japanese science fiction movies have been published in Cinefantastique, Sci Fi Universe, G-Fan, the Chicago Tribune, Retrovision and other publications.
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I Like Horror Movies
The not-so-loving critiques? As the movies became a franchise, and the screenplays shifted from genuine horror to cheesy camp during the late 60's into the early 70's end of the first cycle of Godzilla films, Ryfle amps up the criticism. While I tend to agree with him, the tone and content of his critiques too frequently comes across as utterly dismissive, even snide. A more thoughtful approach might have been to acknowledge the positives about a given film, balancing these against the negatives. Many times he just rips a film up and down, occasionally sneaking in a complimentary observation or two. The Heisei-era films of the 90's especially suffer in this regard. It's one thing to be disappointed that a given film didn't live up to what it could have been and another thing to basically say, "don't bother watching this one".
In a way, this is two books combined into one: the first few chapters, covering the classic original and the popular American version, then the remaining chapters which cover everything else. The first half is great, but the second half is not-so-great. Still, anyone who has a fondness for the Big G, especially if "Gojira" and "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" are your favorites of his films, should immediately add this book to their shelves.
Ryfle reviews twenty-two Japanese Godzilla films (the few most recent, beginning with Godzilla 2000, not included), as well as the American abomination. He also gives in-depth profiles of writers, actors, and others who worked on the movies, and gives looks at unmade films (such as Godzilla vs. Frankenstein) and special projects (such as the two Godzilla episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000).
A final ironic note: This book was originally held up by studio lawyers, which only gave Ryfle time to review the American monstrosity as well and add his savaging of it into the final product.
This book is recommended.
Ryfle has obviously put a great deal of effort into the book and it shows, but it is not terribly readable, one comes away with the feeling that if he is not interested in a film it has no merit (despite his supposed respect for director Ishiro Honda, he manages to place a full-page photo of him that is most-unflattering).
The book's chapters also lack continuity as Ryfle jumps from writing about the films in sequence to small chapters on individuals that interrupt the overall flow. In the end, Ryfle's book offers little in terms of the Godzilla series' true signifcance in the adult realm of Fantasy Films.
--Peter H. Brothers, Author of "MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN -- The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda."
Most recent customer reviews
The lack of photograps of the key Mon-Stars can be a little disconcerting but since...Read more