Sunday, April 30, 2017

GMK! Cast and Crew from the Millennium Godzilla Series Favorite Reunite!

Screenwriter Keiichi Hasegawa, suitmaker Fuyuki Shinada, and actor Takashi Nishina discuss their work on GMK. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today I attended a screening of the movie GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). It was the first time I'd seen the movie in many years. If I recall correctly, the last time I saw the film was at a screening at USC in January 2004. So it'd been over 13 years, and I'd imagine it was a good time to revisit it. Even though GMK was the source of a lot ridiculous and over-the-top fan wars in the early 2000s, I was finally able to watch the flick on its own merits and separate it from all the fan-generated nonsense of that era.

It has its pros and cons. Many scenes are well directed and show real flair. Some of the actors are quite good. It's certainly an ambitious film that tries its best to tell an intriguing story. To that extent, it undoubtedly has merit. On the other hand, however, there are still several glaring flaws. The SFX don't hold up very well, the story bogs down in too much spiritual mumbo jumbo, the monsters just don't look very good and aren't given much to do when they battle, etc. I won't go into all the problems I had with the picture because there really isn't much need, and I don't feel like nitpicking the film. To be honest, I enjoyed the movie more this time than I ever had in the past. I'm glad I saw it again with a fresh mindset. I can appreciate the positive while at the same time acknowledging the negative.

Now, on to the event itself. 

Fuyuki Shinada. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Three special guests joined the event to reminisce about their work on the film. First up is suitmaker Fuyuki Shinada. He built Biollante in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzillasaurus in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Legion in Gamera 2 (1996), Irys in Gamera 3 (1999), and the title monsters in GMK, among many other creatures for both film and television.

Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand to discuss the film was co-screenwriter Keiichi Hasegawa. A veteran of Tsuburaya Productions, Hasegawa-san has written many episodes of Ultraman Tiga (1996-97), Ultraman Dyna (1997-98), Ultraman Gaia (1998-99), Ultraman Cosmos (2001-02), Ultraman Nexus (2004-05), Ultraman Mebius (2006-07), Ultraseven X (2007), Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle (2007-08), Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey (2008-09), and Ultraman Ginga (2013). Hasegawa-san has also written for Toei programs, such as Kamen Rider W (2009-10), Kamen Rider Fourze (2011-12), Kamen Rider Drive (2014-15), and Kamen Rider Ghost (2015-16). 

Takashi Nishina. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Takashi Nishina was another featured guest. Nishina-san played BS Digital Q assistant director Aki Maruo. He was also an extra in Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), a soldier in Gamera 3 (1999), as well as appearing in Ring 2 (1999). In terms of TV, he can be seen in the Tsuburaya Productions series Ultra Zone (2011-12) and Ultraman X (2015).

As I said above, I'm glad I gave GMK another go because I have a new appreciation for it. That doesn't mean it's a new favorite of the franchise, or even of the Millennium series. But I quite liked it this time around, which was a pleasant surprise.

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