Thursday, June 30, 2011

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Title: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2003)

Director: Mazaaki Tezuka


The Millenium series of Godzilla films represent the films that started in 1999 with Godzilla 2000. So far, six films compose this period: Godzilla 2000, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla, Mothra and King Gihdorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and finally, the one that put an end to the Millenium era of Godzilla films: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). These Millenium Era Godzilla films ignored the continuity set by all previous Godzilla films except for the original Gojira (1954) film, so many consider this series of Godzilla films as alternate universes. The cool thing about these more recent Godzilla films is that they benefit from the recent advancements in special effects. Though technically these new films are still made the old fashion way -men in suits destroying miniature models- when you watch these newer Godzilla films, you get the feeling that the filmmakers have really perfected the whole process of making a Godzilla movie. We can’t see no strings, the miniatures are awesome, and Godzilla looks freaking great! What’s not to like about this one?

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla starts out with the government gathering a group of the most brilliant minds in Japan to device a way to kill Godzilla. Their plan involves using the bones of the original Godzilla, the one that the Oxygen Destroyer killed in Gojira (1954). Weird thing is I remember those bones being disintegrated as well, but whatever. So anyway, they take the DNA from Godzilla’s old bones throw it into what they refer to as a “DNA Computer” and voila! We have Mechagodzilla! Codename: ‘Kiriyu’, which means Mechanized Dragon or Machine Dragon. Essentially, Mechagodzilla is a giant robot that looks like a mechanized version of Godzilla! And it’s made from the original Godzilla’s DNA! It’s bound to kick ass! Right? Now the humans have the ultimate weapon against Godzilla, who by the way has just been re-awakened by a passing typhoon and is currently stomping around Japan . Will Mechagodzilla prove to be good enough to go up against the real one?

After seeing Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, I can see why many see Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) as a huge letdown. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was freaking amazing! By far the best special effects on any Godzilla movie I’ve seen and I’ve yet to see the sequel to this one called Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2004) which I am looking forward to seeing. But seriously, the best fx award on any Godzilla film goes to this one. When we compare these two previous films to Final Wars, Final Wars definitely falls short, like a step down from the awesomeness created on Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and its sequel. What is so great about Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla? Many things are good about this film, but number one amongst them is that it does not bore. Not for a second! Once the battle between these two monsters begins, its non stop destruction and mayhem till the end! Seriously, the battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla has to be one of the best ones in the whole series. Mechagodzilla makes a formidable adversary, second in my opinion to King Gihdorah, or maybe even more formidable then King Gihdorah. Point is, with this version of Mechagodzilla we could be talking about one of Godzilla’s most powerful foes ever. It certainly ranks as one of my favorite Kaiju so far.

Why is Mechagodzilla such a great adversary for Godzilla? Well, for starters he is partially made up of DNA from the original Godzilla, the one that was destroyed by the Oxygen Destroyer in the first film. This premise presents us with one of the coolest moments in the film. At one point, Mechagodzilla is fighting against Godzilla and everything seems to be running smoothly for the humans because Mechagodzilla is kicking Godzilla’s ass. But something changes when Mechagodzilla hears Godzilla’s roar. The roar that Mechagodzilla hears triggers an ancient memory hidden within its DNA, which is partially made up of the old Godzilla’s DNA. This roar awakens the old Godzilla in him. So in a way, suddenly it’s as if Mechagodzilla was possessed by the original Godzilla from the first film! As if the original Godzilla had somehow reincarnated in Mechagodzilla! And you know what is always in Godzilla’s mind: the complete annihilation of Japan ! And so suddenly Mechagodzilla goes from being under the control of the good guys, to rampaging out of control all over Japan. Problem is that Mechagodzilla has so many destructive weapons under its arsenal, that when it goes crazy, it starts using all of them to destroy Japan ! It’s an awesome spectacle of destruction. The way I saw it, this movie treated this whole Mechagodzilla plot line in the same way that Robocop (1987) played out. Think about it: Mechagodzilla is a robot that can’t really function properly because the memories of his past life won’t let him be? That’s the plot for Robocop right there! I guess this would go in line with how many Godzilla movies have something of American cinema in them.

Godzilla himself looks freaking awesome in this movie. What director Mazaaki Tezuka did was he made Godzilla more real. This doesn’t feel so much like the older movies, where you get the sensation that you are watching a guy in a suit, quite frankly, this is something that I find disappointing in the older Godzilla movies from the 60’s and 70’s. I might enjoy the hell out of a film like Monster Zero which I loved, but when it comes down to the Godzilla suit in that film, it just looks so damn dorky! This is not a problem in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. Godzilla looks monstrous, dark, menacing, a true monster. A special effort was made by director Maazaki Tezuka and his team to make Godzilla into a living breathing creature, he purposely tried to get away from Godzilla looking like a guy in a suit. The shots the director chose, help Godzilla look gigantic. When he first appears stomping on a town in Tokyo in the middle of the night, with the rain falling on him, he looks menacing, the people, genuinely afraid and the shots that the director used from below made Godzilla look gargantuan! Some Godzilla directors forget to do this; they fail to project Godzilla’s gargantuan nature. But the way Tezuka shot this film, that doesn’t happen often. On this movie, Godzilla is huuuge!

I love Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla films, but Tezuka has to be one of the best directors to take a hold of the franchise. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla demonstrated one thing to me, Tezuka knows exactly what Godzilla fans want from a Godzilla movie, and he gave it to them! He knows that what people are most interested in is the Monster action, so that’s what he gives us most of in this film. In many ways, he is the opposite to Ishiro Honda who gave more importance to the human side of the story in his Godzilla films. In Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Tezuka does the opposite of what Honda did, he pays more attention to the monster fights and the action, which is cool as well. I love me an action packed Godzilla flick! Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was so successful in Japan that they made a direct sequel to it, one of the few instances in which this was done in the whole Godzilla franchise! That sequel was Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S, also directed by Tezuka. He also made Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), which I’m looking forward to seeing as well. If Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is any indication, I’m in for a treat with both of those films. Personally, to me this is the best that Godzilla has ever looked! Highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to see Godzilla at his city destroying best.

 Rating: 5 out of 5


venoms5 said...

Awesome write up, Fran! Of all the Godzilla directors, Tezuka comes closest to capturing the spirit of Honda's movies even if the characters aren't built upon. Still, he does manage some decently drawn characters in MEGAGUIRUS and that one is nearly two hours long. Fans seem to be divided on that one. The tone shifts a few times throughout. Tezuka did present some things never before seen in a Godzilla movie in that one.

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, I've been reading about MEGAGUIRUS, its one of the few instances when they actually had a new creature for Godzilla to fight as opposed to the classic monsters from Godzilla's history. I've read some hate it, some love it, but Im still looking forward to it, I mean, I love these two Mechagodzilla films he made, Megaguirus has to have some of that coolness in it, either way, Im looking forward to it as well.

Agree about him being similar to Ishiro Honda in some ways. In others I find he is different, like in placing all th emphasis on the action and monsters, which Honda hardly ever did right?

venoms5 said...

Some of Honda's movies are more action oriented and those are the ones he was least proud of. He generally preferred character to creatures using the monsters to accentuate everything else. You definitely have Honda's style pegged, Fran!

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Brian, which of Honda's films is more action oriented? I'd like to check those out at some point, I havent seen them all...especially those of which arent Godzilla films, I havent seen any of those. I've jotted down The Mysterians, I will no doubt be checking that one out soon. Next one up for me is: Gihdorah The Three Headed Monster and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, which I've read has an interesting even happen on it, looking forward to this one. I know you're not a big fan of the Heisei era of Godzilla films, but Im curious to see how this "interesting event" which I dont want to spoil happens.

venoms5 said...

1. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD aka FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON--it's about half and half. It has some decent characters, but probably the longest monster battles.

2. WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS aka FRANKENSTEIN MONSTERS: SANDA VS. GAIRA--sequel to above film. Both of these are big fan favorites and have wacky stories particularly the former. I love them both.

3. KING KONG ESCAPES aka KING KONG'S COUNTERATTACK--based on a 60s King Kong cartoon. Fun stuff. The Japanese version is ten or so minutes longer than the US cut. I reviewed this one some time back.

4. GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER has multiple stories, but way too much crammed into its running time. Good movie just the same.

5. SPACE AMOEBA aka YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE--pretty bad movie all around. Set on an island and about aliens hiding in a cave creating giant sea life.

There may be one or two others, but these come to mind. Love the Controller of Planet X banner, by the way!

Franco Macabro said...

Gihdorah The Three Headed Monster is the next one I'll be watching, but I will write these you've mentioned down. I saw some pics for War of the Gargantuas, it looks like a fun movie.

Thanks for the recommendations Brian, they will prove very helpful.

venoms5 said...

I actually watched GHIDORAH (1965) yesterday afternoon. Much better than I remembered it and I already liked it a lot.

Franco Macabro said...

I will posting a review for that one sometime next week cause I dont want to bog everybody down with too many Godzilla reviews (I will be posting one today!)

Though I tell ya, I dont get tired of watching them! I need to go get me a whole new batch of them though...I've already watched all the ones I've bought. I literally devoured them.

SFF said...

I am so enjoying these Godzilla reviews.

My son and I just watched G vs. Megaguirus and it was generally pretty bad or weak. It has some good moments but we actually laughed quite a bit.

Anyway, we are so looking forward to this one. We liked Destroyer too like you so I think were on the same wavelength here.

Alight time to brush my firebreath. Cheers on these reviews.

SFF said...

Oh an you will see strings on Megaguiras in the nighttime shots.... Pretty bad actually.

Franco Macabro said...

Glad you enjoyed these reviews man, I had a blast going through all these Godzilla films, they really are fun times. My favorite one I think was Godzilla vs. Destoroyah and these new Mechagodzilla movies. Yeah, Megaguirus was a pretty weak entry.

I'm currently looking forward to Godzilla's rebirth, I'm sure they are working on it as we speak, plus, I'm also waiting for that new American Godzilla film, I hope it's not stuck in development hell.

SFF said...

I can't wait for the new Godzilla too - the Toho one!

My son and I laughed quite a bit during Megaguiras.

The Godzilla effects were solid. The story and editing was a bit of a mess.

Yeah, love these entries. I have some of my own in development.


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