Saturday, March 31, 2012
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla Review
Ah, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It's probably the most energetic and bombastic Godzilla movie ever made. Before this film, the G series were suffering from some poorly made films. After Destroy All Monsters, the films went into a decline. Godzilla vs. Hedorah would stand out as a well-done entry with no stock footage, but the rest: Revenge, Vs. Gigan, and Vs. Megalon, they had a very low budget. This film would bring back G to his glory with the inclusion of what would be a fan favorite, Mechagodzilla. With its energetic tone and classic plot, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla proves to be a highlight when the films where declining.
Official description from Sony TriStar:
Imagine a monster with the enormity and strength of Godzilla, but enhanced with rocket-propelled legs, nuclear finger missiles and a suit of indestructible steel. At first, this titan of terror wears a reptilian skin, making him indistinguishable from the real Godzilla -- and when the two super-monsters battle, the entire world is confused by this Jurassic imposter. But when the gloves come off, so does the lizard skin, and the real threat is exposed. But who on Earth would create such a destructive creature? Or perhaps, it's not from Earth at all...
Back in the Showa days, there were two main Godzilla directors: Ishiro Honda and Jun Fukuda. You can tell by the films how different they are. Honda appears to prefer a classy and 'darker' tone whereas Fukuda prefers a bombastic and energetic tone. Making his debut in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, you could already differentiate him from Honda. Who's the better director is up to the viewer to decide, but both have a solid track record. Honda appears to have more of a quality approach, whereas Fukuda prefers a more 'fun' approach, as seen here. The film begans rather awesomely, with Anguirus making his way somewhere underneath the ocean. One must love the character Fukuda injects into this film, all the monsters have distinctive personalities. I also love some of the concepts here, especially the Fake Godzilla disguise. Now that was unique and something you've never seen before in the G films. More on the monsters soon, but first the cast.
The strange thing about this film is that there's really no set main character. It's a bit unusual, it feels like the film wasn't developing the characters on purpose. There's Gosuke, his brother Masahiko, and two female leads, Saeko Kaneshiro and Eiko Miyajima. There's also an Interpol Agent in the form of Nanbara. Now he was a blast to watch on screen, 70's espionage at its best. There's really not much to say about the other characters. They aren't bad, but not much emotion was emitting. They were just there to keep the story moving. Saeko had some genuine acting in some of her scenes, but everyone else wasjust there, nothing to write home about in the acting apartment. Oh, let's not forget about Professor Miyajima. A pretty solid performance, his guilt later and wanting to help Nanbara felt fluid and real. The main villain aside from Mechagodzilla would be Kuronuma, the leader of the Aliens of the Third Planet from the Black Hole. Nanbara and Kuronuma were definitely the best human characters. Goro Mutsumi really gave a solid performance as the villain, probably the best human antagonist performance from any Godzilla film, only rivaled by the Controller of Planet X from Monster Zero.
Wow, the monsters had some incredible scenes this time around. Whereas in the previous two entries where there's only one BIG monster fight at the end, the film satisfies with more than one fun fight. After watching Son of Godzilla, the suit used in this film just looks 100x better. In fact, it's my personal favorite suit aside from the one used in 2000. Full of character and is just awesome, this Godzilla is definitely my favorite incarnation aside from the 2000 one. People may think his move-set and the way he fights cheesy, but it's truly fun and a treat to watch on the screen. Mechagodzilla makes his proud introduction here. This robot is the 70's incarnated into a character! Man, looking back at that time, his design was truly unique. Full of character and style, something future robots in the franchise would lack. Anguirus as you know makes his triumph return here. The suit is the same one from Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Gigan, it still holds up great. By far the best Anguirus suit. Hey, let's not forget King Caesar. A unique design, it looked like a cross between a lion and a dog. (Since it was modeled after a Shisa, a beast that looks like a combination of a dog and a lion.) Great concept, good execution, but underused. I would have liked to see more of a team-up between him and G.
This is one energetic soundtrack. You can tell that this is a Fukuda film thanks to it. Can't touch Ifukube's themes, but they are fun nonetheless. They're great for battles, especially the Fake Godzilla vs. Anguirus theme. And Godzila gets his classic theme back, with a 70's remix to it. (And who doesn't like the incredibly catchy King Caesar theme?) The monster scenes are just fun, and doesn't get tiresome at all. (The Heisei films are guilty of this.) Fake Godzilla's emergence was dramatic, as was his transformation into his real form. The fight with Anguirus was very well-done and just brutal. The part where Fake Godzilla breaks his jaw ranks among the most brutal in the G films. (At 16, I still flinch at that scene.) You really do feel for Anguirus as he walks away limping. Godzilla's emergence was cool, but a bit strange. The way the film shows you was like he juat popped out of that warehouse. The first showdown between him and Mechagodzilla was well choreographed, we even get a beam war, something the Heisei films would later overuse. The final showdown is very impressive and just (yes, I'm using this word again) energetic. Mechagodzilla's final assault was a pretty spectacular show. In fact, the effects as a whole were very good in this film. The explosions were just spectacular. I must question a few things however. The scene where Azumi Nobility has a vision that a monster will come down and bring fire to the land is accompanied by a few stills. In those stills you hear the familiar cackle of King Ghidorah, then they actually show a still of him burning Japan and its people It always did puzzle me why they did that since ol' Ghidorah doesn't have anything to do with the story. (Perhaps a vision for Destroy All Monsters? You never know.) But yeah, that didn't make much sense. I also must question the part where Gosuke was chasing a Simeon on the ship. He had a gun, why didn't he use the blasted thing? Then it's an eye-roll scene when the Simeon uses the gun that he COULD have used against the alien. And....while being steamed to death why does no one take off their coats? Now that I didn't get. It also seems that Godzilla gets some strange powers in the later Showa films. In Vs. Hedorah, he flew, in Vs. Megalon, he flew-kicked, and in this one he uses magnetic powers. It's execution was pretty cheesy, (you could see the strings when he was pulling Mechagodzilla to him) but plain fun. You just gotta love these films and their craziness.
Overall, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla represents a highlight in the Showa era. After Vs. Gigan and Vs. Megalon, this was truly welcome. The monsters have character and are just a blast to watch on screen. The acting was a bit stale however. Not horrible, but not much emotion. The story is great, with the Simeons being good alien invaders. (Planet of the Apes fans will get a kick out of them.) Mechagodzilla proves to be a great adversary for the King of Monsters. King Caesar makes a fine addition to the universe. It's just a really great and fun Godzilla movie. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is something I'd even recommend to non-fans, you will have a blast watching it.