Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Terror of Mechagodzilla Review
Terror of Mechagodzilla is a special Godzilla film for a few reasons. One, it is the final film of the Showa era. Two, it features the reurn of the original Mechagodzilla. Three, it features the first (and sadly last) appearance of Titanosaurus. Four, it is the return of Akira Ifukube on music duties. And finally five, it features the return of Ishiro Honda, the director of the original Gojira, and many films after it. There was a energy crisis at the time, TOHO had shut down the Godzilla franchise right after this film. The big G returned in The Return of Godzilla in 1984, which started the Heisei era. This would also be the last time we see Godzilla as a full-fledged defender of Japan, who actually gets along with the humans. Terror of Mechagodzilla is a farewell the way things were, it truly is a great film.
Official description from Classic Media:
When aliens from the third planet of the black hole attempt to take over Earth with a little help from their friends Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus, they find themselves pitted against Godzilla, who squares off against them in defense of the planet. This film, which is 15th in the Godzilla series, features some of the most memorable fight scenes in the franchise.
You can tell by this film how different Honda's style is to Fukuda's. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla had an upbeat, jazzy tone. This film retains the deep, almost depressing mood of Honda's previous films, much like Gojira. This being a direct sequel to the previous entry, some plot devices were reused. The Aliens of the Third Planet from the Black Hole are back, (no ape form, but some pretty cool 70's spandex) there are three monsters, (none on G's side this time around sadly,) and the leaders of the Aliens from both films are pretty darn similar. Whereas the previous film had fun fights scattered throughout the film, this film only has one. (Not counting the brief skirmish between G and Titanosaurus in the middle.) However, the final fight is just utterly fantastic. It's of the best battles in Godzilla history. This would also mark the final time the battles would be this crazy, punches/tackling and all. (Until Final Wars brought back this style.) The monsters were what stole the show, but like usual, the next paragraph will be on the cast.
What's interesting about this film is that instead of developing the cast with pointless scenes, (ahem, the Heisei era) it uses the characters to move the story along. There's no house scene with the main character drinking coffee relaxing, the characters are always talking about the plot. I personally like that, it keeps the film from getting dull or boring. Of course, tbecause of this, the characters aren't developed enough to say that there were any award-winning performances. However, unlike the sub-par acting of the previous entry, this one does have some really solid performances. The main character is Akira Ichinose, a marine biologist. He's pretty much just there to move thst story along, another character with no acting emotion like the previous entry's main character. Any type of emotion emitted is forced. However, the sub-plot with Katsura and Dr. Mafune make up for the heroes' lackluster performances. Tomoko Ai as Katsura gives a convincing performance, probably the best in the film. Her tale is both tragic and interesting. Dr. Mafune is an interesting character, aside from his backstory. Apparently after being kicked out for his work in the science community, he wants to destroy all humams? Sorry, I don't buy that. Too unrealistic. Still, his character was well played. The new leader or the Aliens is Mugal, portrayed by Goro Mutsumi. (The same actor who played the other leader in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla!) He's pretty much exactly the same as the previous leader. A very good main villain for the human characters, it's just that he's exactly the same as the previous leader, it might as well been the same character brought back to life.
The new monster is Titanosaurus. Heh, this film is called Terror of Mechagodzilla, but it's Titanosaurus who steals the show. In a world where Gigan, Megalon, and King Caesar appeared, Titanosaurus's simple design was welcome. The suit is fantastic, and the monster is full of character. A proud part of the G universe, it's sad that he was a never a big hit with the fans, truly underrated. (Pretty awesome roar too.) Mechagodzilla makes his proud return here, but doesn't look as good in terms of strength. When G came in close, it could hardly fight back. It's like it lost its melee capabilities. Still a cool robot to watch, the 70's at its finest. Of course, one cannot forget the King of Monsters himself, Godzilla. The suit is the same from the last film, still looking fantastic. I love the fighting character in him, how he has heart and NEVER gives up or retreats. (Ahem, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.) It is both ironic and funny how Godzilla and the humans 'team up' in the final battle, when twenty-one years ago he was their worst nightmare. Ah, I miss those days when he and the humans had a mutual respect.
Akira Ifukube returns for music duties. He truly is one of the greatest composers ever. The dramatic opening theme, Titanosaurus's theme, they're all great. Truly dramatic, couldn't have asked for better music in this film. Also, the effects in this film are fantastic. Like in the last film, the explosions are truly spectacular. The assault that turned Tokyo into a barren wasteland probably ranks as the greatest city-destroying scene ever captured in a G film. As I said earlier, the final fight is truly epic, very well choreographed. The blows are felt, and you are just in-tuned, thinking how the heck G will pull through this, there's a sense that he might not actually win. Really, the final fight in itself makes the film worth watching, I miss those crazy punch/kick/headlock/wrestling battles, good stuff.
Overall, Terror of Mechagodzilla is one of the finest Godzilla films out there. It serves as a farewell to the way things were. Ishiro Honda, by far the best of the Godzilla directors, returns to direct his final Godzilla film. It features the music of the always-awesome Akira Ifukube, and the debut of an awesome monster in the form of Titanosaurus. The final battle is great, and there's a lot of emotion regarding the Katsura subplot. The ending is nice, (albeit the brief scene where the Fake Godzilla suit is used,) it really gives off a sad, yet happy ending to the Showa era. Terror of Mechagodzilla is a Godzilla film that I will keep coming back to, it's one of the ones I'd definitely recommend to non-fans.