Gorath : 3 of 5
Since this part of Ishiro Honda's "space opera trilogy" (which includes The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space) isn't available on US DVD, it took a little effort to see this film, but I'm so glad I did! Gorath is another Toho science-fiction masterpiece from 1962 with an incredible story and jam-packed with special effects. Set in the far-flung 1980s (you can tell since everyone has a video phone!), the Earth is in danger from a runaway star called Gorath, which happens to have 6,000 times the gravity of Earth! This gravity is so strong that it destroys the first rocket sent to collect data (the crew screams "Banzai!" as they hurtle to their doom), and somehow causes amnesia for one of the crewman of a second mission. The entire world unites (an extremely strong theme in all of these films) to find a way to save the planet, and they decide to build huge jets at the South Pole to push the Earth out of the way! The miniatures used in the construction scenes are simply incredible and so detailed, including long shots of ships moving through the icy waters as well. Along with the amazing miniatures, there are also fantastic full-size sets, such as the spaceship interiors and the huge mission control room. Kumi Mizuno stars as the girlfriend of one of the astronauts, looking cute as ever (there's even a brief bubble bath scene!), and along with the regular Toho actors I also noticed the comic relief character from Ultraman in the crew. Most of Gorath is kaiju-free, but there is a brief sequence where a giant walrus is released from the ice (which famously was cut from the US version of the film) that has some nice composite work (even if the monster is kind of silly). When the star Gorath finally passes the Earth, its gravity causes tremendous tides that destroy Tokyo, but the message of the film, that mankind can do the impossible, is clear. I absolutely love these Japanese science fiction classics, and I intend to keep watching all I can!