Sunday, June 30, 2013


GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (Gojira tai Mekagojira, 1993)
Directed by: Takao Okawara
Written by: Wataru Mimura

Starring: Masahiro Takashima, Ryoko Sano, Megumi Odaka, Yûsuke Kawazu, Kenji Sahara, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Wataru Fukuda.
Synopsis: When a baby Godzillasaurus is discovered, Godzilla has to track him down while also battling Rodan and the new Mechagodzilla.

It occurred to me watching 1993's GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (II) that if the Showa era is the light-hearted and slightly goofy version of Godzilla, then the Heisi era is very much the "dark and gritty" reboot. This movie is beyond violent and rather serious in its tone and subject matter. But in this new tone gives way for yet another new take on an old iconic enemy, some incredible fight sequences, and great special effects. The movie has some great highlights, but the story feels needlessly bloated in a lot of ways and does not justify its 105 minute run.

The best accomplishment of this movie is to create a storyline where Godzilla is clearly an antagonist and is a force that needs to be stopped, but the way that the movie portrays the humans, you actually feel yourself rooting for Godzilla instead of the humans. Starting off a few months after the last movie, we find that the United Nations created the United Nationas Godzilla Countermeasure Center or the U.N.G.C.C. Their headquarters very conveniently placed in Japan. The U.G.N.C.C. also has a military arm called... the G-Force. Without at all touching on the time-travel-related implications of their actions, the G-Force uses technology from the 23rd century and salvaged from the wrecked body of Mecha King Ghidorah to build a robot to fight Godzilla....a "Mechagodzilla" if you will.

Simultaneously, a group of explorers looking at Odoana Island come across a couple of huge eggs, one which has hatched. Now, this island is very obviously full of radiation. The egg that has hatched appears to be a pterodactyl which after being mutated by the radiation in the island became Rodan. At this point, Godzilla comes to the island and the two monsters fight while the explorers steal the other egg for studying. Rodan ends up being defeated by Godzilla in a terribly violent fight, with Rodan looking like he's bleeding out. At this point we're introduced to some completely bizarre plot point of "psychic music" being used to help hatch and wake up Baby "Baby" Godzilla. This music makes no sense since it's not really used to pay off any particular plot. It's introduced, and we hear that it revives Rodan and makes Baby seem angrier, but that's it. While this is definitely a catalyst for the final fight, it also could have been done in a less eccentric manner.

After stealing the egg, the explorer team sets in motion the rest of the movie. Since Godzilla notices that Baby is one of his own species, albeit without radiation, he goes and chases Baby down towards Kyoto. This, of course, gives the (sigh) G-Force the excuse to bust out Mechagodzilla. This is the part where empathy towards the antagonistic lizard comes into play. Mechagodzilla is one well-armed robot. His attacks this time around consist of:
  1. Energy absorbing metal alloy
  2. Laser eye cannons
  3. Mega-buster 
  4. Tranquilizer missiles from his hips
  5. Paralysis missiles from the shoulders.
  6. G-Buster the most cringe-inducing attack that consists of electric cables that bury themselves deep in Godzilla's hide and paralyze him.
  7. The ability to combine with the spaceship Garuda and become Super Mechagodzilla. (He now has a jet pack and increased firepower.)

To say that Mechagodzilla beat the hell out of Godzilla is an understatement. Barely getting out alive, Godzilla does manage to make some damage after a failed G-Crusher attack. This following third of the movie screeches to a halt and becomes merely focused on Baby and Azuza, one of the explorers, and their relations. Recurring series psychic Miki Saesuga also appears as another surrogate mother figure for the dinosaur. The majority of this part of the movie doesn't serve much of a thematic or narrative purpose and could have been cut short. Not all is lost as we find that Rodan is alive, and we see the various humans deal with some interesting moral questions.

Case in point is Miki, who is also a pilot in Mechagodzilla, has to question the morality of her actions seeing as she has developed a sense of empathy for Baby and in turn towards Godzilla. She doesn't want to kill a creature, and yet she has to so as to help out humanity. It almost feels like there's a very interesting, though rather clumsily, theme being explored here, but nevertheless it has to be mentioned that maybe this movie is acknowledging the difficulty of having an antagonist as your protagonist. My reaction to the violence inflicted on Godzilla is definitely due to getting to "know" the character over the many movies he has starred in. The fact that he has to fight Mechagodzilla, whose attacks are just so damn brutal, makes me wish he would beat the hell out of the robot and be done with it. Then not even 20 minutes later, he is destroying whole buildings and cities in search of Baby. Not seeing any of the actual human death toll, it's really hard to hate Godzilla too much, at least from what we are presented in the movie.

The nerd in me did get super excited to see the combination of Godura and Mechagodzilla to have a cool jet pack and increased firepower allowing us to see some rather dazzling special effects display. Speaking of, this movie has a lot of great special effects. The suits look really sharp with notable kudos going to Rodan. His flying and battle scenes look so much more realistic this time around. The biggest thing that dates the movie is the very cheesy effects when Rodan disintegrates and gives his "life force" to Godzilla to destroy Mechagodzilla.

One trend that I am not liking in the Heisi era is the fact that characters are introduced and then subsequently killed within one movie. I loved the way that they brought King Ghidorah back, but the way they just destroyed him permanently, and now Rodan is introduced and his entire purpose of the movie is to fight a little and then die to help Godzilla. It was a little goofy going though the Showa series with Gigan and Ghidorah always flying away at the end, but killing them off after one movie is a little excessive.

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA lays some very interesting groundwork for concepts and characters that will show up in later movies of the series, it felt like exactly that. We were introduced to Baby Godzilla, who I know will continue to appear in the series, as well as as the U.N.G.C.C., who I imagine will have more creations in the upcoming movies. But that's that problem is that it felt like the movie just introduced these concepts and at least with Baby didn't do much with them. I loved the concept of Mechagodzilla this time around, but cringed a bit at just how deadly and powerful he is. To end on a good note, the music in this movie was amazing. There are clever variations of the main Godzilla theme whenever Mechagodzilla comes on the scene and it's one of the better scores used in this entire series.

No comments:

Post a Comment