Is the 26th time the charm for Godzilla? Experience had taught me not to expect a whole lot from this movie, especially since Godzilla was going to be hammering on his metal twin, Mechagodzilla. Three times previously, someone had the bright idea that all it would take to defeat him is a really big, clunky robot that other than looking slightly like Godzilla really had nothing going for it.
Past vehicles for Mechagodzilla had been notably lackluster and included Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Terror Of Mechagodzilla (so putrid they took the next decade off from making any Godzilla movies at all) and 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, arguably the most painful of the three to sit through.
The fact that we had the same guy writing the latest rumble that barfed up such concepts as Baby Godzilla and chicks with psychic links to Godzilla which were featured so shamelessly in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II only made me want to flee through the city streets like the big lizard himself was after me.
I hadn’t intended to actually watch this movie when I did – I just put it in to see if it looked like it was going to be as hideous as the last Mechagodzilla dust up. Next thing I know, it’s 88 minutes later, I’m at Toho‘s web site looking for when the next scheduled Godzilla film is being released and I’m constructing my own Mechagodzilla in my kitchen out of a broken down dish washer and an ice tea maker! How was this movie able to grab my attention so easily? One word: typhoon!
What that means is this movie goes back to basics. Not Godzilla basics mind you, but story telling basics. Right back to the beginning with the classic, “it was a dark and stormy night” but they improve on it by making it “it was a dark and stormy night and Godzilla’s on the rag”.
So there’s this typhoon swirling all around, my subwoofer is straining to keep up with the punishing audio the movie generates and the next thing I know, the guy from the Japanese Weather Channel is doing a stand up in the middle of the typhoon and up from the depths, thirty stories high pops Big G! What’s his problem this time? Who knows? Maybe he’s just like those farm animals that spaz out whenever a storm approaches.
It doesn’t matter why he’s picked today of all days to rampage, you just have to like the fact that this time it’s not taking any sort of experimental device to wake him up, or some dumb ass stealing his eggs or an overgrown flea trying to steal his publicity by trashing Tokyo without him. It just felt like rampaging time for him. And that’s the kind of Godzilla we all like to see. No agenda, just delinquent behavior.
Surprisingly enough, the prime minister of Japan complains about how they keep getting “raided” by not only Godzilla, but all his monster buddies. I always thought the Japanese were overly tolerant of all these monster attacks and having to constantly rebuild their largest cities so it was good to see someone finally acknowledge that these attacks went beyond mere inconvenience. They usually treat the devastation like we would a few potholes. The prime minister even starts going down memory lane, flashing back (via stock footage) to when the first Godzilla rampaged in the fifties, one of Mothra’s attacks, and inexplicably to that rarest monster of all, Gaira, from War of the Gargantuas!
You’ll notice that I mentioned a “first” Godzilla. That’s because the Godzilla running amok today is a different one than the one that originally harassed them. In fact, that first one is dead and they just discovered its bones in the ocean and are going to use it as the basis for a brand new Mechagodzilla named Kiryu.
Kiryu is equipped with a brand new super duper weapon sure to waste Godzilla called the Absolute-Zero Cannon. This is your basic freezing ray and while it worked well enough on a bunch of sky scrappers when Godzilla fired his breath at Kiryu and messed up its aim, it doesn’t do a whole lot to kill Godzilla.
It does irritate him enough that he eventually wanders back out to sea at the end of the movie, but I’m guessing that the Japanese were hoping their tax dollars would do more than what usually happens once Godzilla gets bored with wrecking their cities and swims off for a nap.
Kiryu and Godzilla hook up a couple of times and Kiryu actually shows us a new move when he ducks out of the way of one of Godzilla’s radioactive beams, but then he goes and shows us an even newer move when he goes on the fritz and rampages through the city himself!
Godzilla sees this fool tearing everything up on its own, so he figures Kiryu can handle things and leaves. That is one great weapon! Build a cyborg to tear up your own city so that the real monster won’t! Why didn’t that cross anyone’s mind in the previous twenty-five movies?
Though hampered by the usual less-than-stellar special effects, the movie succeeds more often than not due to its serious tone, music, and pacing (it’s a welcome twenty minutes shorter than the last Mechagodzilla epic). The acting doesn’t distract you and is commensurate with the idea that Godzilla is a menace to not only flee from, but to actually fight off.
This is the best Mechagodzilla of any of them and doesn’t look nearly as klutzy as the other ones. The chest-centered cannon is a nice touch (even if it doesn’t really bother Godzilla) and this thing has all kinds of beams and missiles to fire which is good because I like to see stuff blow up.
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