Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974) Not Bad But Not Great Either

Godzillavsmechagodzilladvdcover

GodzillavsmechagodzilladvdcoverGodzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 1974
Director: Jun Fukuda
Writers: Jun Fukuda, Masami Fukushima, Shinichi Sekizawa, Hiroyasu Yamamura

In 1974 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla became the fourteenth installment in the Godzilla franchise. This movie had four writers and you can tell. There were easily four different plot lines woven together with varying amounts of success. There was an alien plot line woven in with a secret agent plot line mixed merrily with a legend about a royal family that involves a princess and a prophecy and a scientist whose daughter is held hostage by the aliens. Oh and the giant robot, let us not forget that.

I find it interesting that in this particular Godzilla movie there seems to be a real attempt to create a James Bond type character out of a shadowy Interpol agent. James Bond was created in 1953 by writer Ian Flemming which makes that venerable character just a year older than Godzilla who debuted in 1954.

In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla aliens have hatched an evil plan to take over the Earth (why?) by convincing the human population that Godzilla has gone rogue and is wantonly destroying the countryside. It turns out that it’s a huge frame job as the Godzilla we see beating up on his friend Anguirus is actually a robot in disguise! That’s right, Mechagodzilla gets caught wearing a Godzilla suit.

Once the jig is up and everyone knows it’s aliens then we have the battle with Godzilla and King Cesar against Mechagodzilla and King Ghidorah. There’s a lot of plot getting in the way of the action and in this movie the special effects and make-up team get a lot of mileage out of some gorilla suit heads that are painted green. It’s a bit silly but not on the level of say Godzilla vs Gigan.

In a movie full of strange things loosely tied together perhaps the strangest in my opinion is the need for a human scientist to repair Mechagodzilla. Aliens are remote controlling their own super high tech robot Godzilla and it gets damaged by Godzilla in battle. Rather than fix it themselves they kidnap a human scientist and threaten to kill his daughter if he doesn’t affect repairs. I guess that was their excuse for getting human operatives, especially our secret agent from Interpol, into the heart of the alien command center.

After the previous few Godzilla movies Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a nice call back to some of the classics like Destroy All Monsters. It’s not bad but it’s not all that great either. K.

Godzilla vs. Megalon A Surprising Success

Godzilla vs. Megalon DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Megalon DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Megalon DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Megalon
Director: Jun Fukuda
Writers: Jun Fukuda, Takeshi Kimura and Shin’ichi Sekizawa

1973 brings us the next movie in the Godzilla franchise: Godzilla vs. Megalon. In every way this was superior to the previous two Godzilla movies and while it is tempting to pan it as an awful movie I think that misses the intent of this movie. In the late sixties campy movies and television shows became extremely popular in the US and Ishiro Honda began experimenting with humor in Godzilla movies. I don’t know, nor do I expect there is a correlation, just that these two things are known facts. Jun Fukuda picked up where Ishiro Honda left off and continued with the Godzilla franchise, including experimenting with humor it seems.

The movie starts out ominously enough for the viewer with questionable music and an opening scene of a young boy on some kind of carnival type watercraft out in a small, narrow bay. An earthquake occurs and the young boy and his craft almost get sucked into a whirlpool. He is rescued by the two men and, in an island nation where tsunamis are commonplace; they stay to watch all of the water get drained out of the bay. Not a promising start, gentle reader.

I’m going to attempt to pull out all of the good things about this movie with the understanding that I’m making it sound far better than it is. Just understand that the cheesiness and the campiness are very over the top in this movie.

The plot of Godzilla vs. Megalon involves such Godzilla staples as aliens, peoples from a lost civilization and war against humankind. In a somewhat thoughtful and easily overlooked twist, the attack on humanity is predicated by an attack by humanity on the other civilization. Granted an unknowing attack but still a real attack.

The testing of nuclear weapons has caused great destruction and even though governments have attempted to test where humans would not be affected, the sad truth of the matter is that fallout drifts. In Godzilla vs. Megalon it is a test of a nuclear device that destroys much of a long hidden and ancient civilization living underground.

Outraged by the unprovoked attack on their civilization the people of Seatopia (yeah our first real laugh) call upon the defender of their people, Megalon to wage terrible war on the surface dwellers. Megalon is called for both vengeance and to be a final weapon, destroying those who would attack the peaceful people of Seatopia.

Since most of their population was killed, murdered, in the blast from the nuclear bomb, they also send operatives to fetch an android being developed by a brilliant scientist and his wealthy benefactor. The same three yahoos we saw in the opening scene. The addition of a young boy to this odd couple living in their mansion is an unfortunate misstep. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with two men providing guidance or fatherly figures for a young boy but because young children do not belong in monster movies (with notable exceptions). In case you haven’t noticed, gentle reader, I feel about young children in monster movies the way most Star Wars fans feel about Jar-Jar Binks—and for the same reason.
The robot is named Jet Jaguar (yet another source of humor) and the Seatopia operatives steal his control device. A car chase scene worthy of Herbi the Love Bug ensues as the wealthy benefactor, who likes cars and drives like a racer (reminding me of no one so much as Tony Stark but 70’s Japanese version—yeah it’s as funny as it sounds). There is some brief lip service given to programming for the robot that is completely thrown out the window as the movie progresses. We go from, “I programmed him that way,” to “His survival programming must have taken over,” to “He must think his job is done;” all but admitting, “I have no idea how he’s doing that.”

This movie doesn’t even give a nod to anything that even remotely resembles the laws of physics. Megalon has wings, as a giant insect type Kaiju, but flies via jet propulsion. And then Megalon bounces, huge, goofy bounces, across the countryside. Jet Jaguar grows and shrinks at will. Somehow the Seatopia (yeah I cringe every time I type that. But what can I do? They named it.) Operatives use Jet Jaguar to guide Megalon.

Our heroes and the obnoxious kid get control of Jet Jaguar back and send him to fetch Godzilla to save Tokyo. Apparently Godzilla makes house calls these days. Jet Jaguar heads back to engage Megalon while the Seatopian big Kahuna calls on alien friends to send—Gigan!

Jet Jaguar has plenty of time to be beat up while Godzilla swims all the way from Monster Island to Japan. Megalon and Gigan are miming their plans and taunts as well as victories as they maul Jet Jaguar. Godzilla finally makes an appearance and his miming says “Game ON!” It’s pretty funny. This really kicks off the main part of the exciting final battle of the movie and it is choreographed for maximum silliness. It has to be, because otherwise it’s just mind bogglingly ridiculous.

Godzilla vs. Megalon is hysterically funny. When I viewed it for this review those watching it with me were laughing out loud during the climactic final battle of the movie. It is such an unlikely venue for humor that I was tempted to write it off as unintentionally funny but knowing the above about the time and intents of Ishiro Honda and upon considering the exaggerated pantomiming motions of the monsters I suspect this was the intent. I think this is the Godzilla movie where they got humor just right.

My advice is to pop up some popcorn, have a martini or a beer and just realize that Godzilla vs. Megalon is what it is. A somewhat funny monster movie that raises some surprisingly astute questions about our actions as a species and the responsibility we hold for damaging our world and those creatures with whom we share it. K

Godzilla vs. Gigan: Not Quite The Worst Godzilla Movie Ever

Godzilla vs. Gigan DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Gigan DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Gigan DVD cover

Godzilla vs. Gigan
Director: Jun Fukuda
Writers: Takeshi Kimura & Shin’ichi Sekizawa
Starring: Hiroshi Ishikawa

In 1972 director Jun Fukuda brought us Godzilla vs. Gigan. This is the twelfth movie in the Godzilla franchise. I sat down to watch this movie, having forgotten most of it in the time since I last watched it. Likely my brain blocked it out.

Since I had previously watched and claimed that Godzilla’s Revenge was the worst Godzilla movie ever made, I sat down for a pleasant evening watching an old Godzilla movie. Oh sure, probably a cheesy one but the worst was behind me, right? The sound track was surprisingly decent which led to a more stealthy advancement of the awful. And I say these things as a long time Godzilla fan.

Despite a comic book style intro, the movie starts off innocuously enough with a would be comic book writer and artist trying desperately to get someone to pick up and publish his work, maybe even make a cartoon of it. In this way he bumps into a girl engaged in some kind of corporate espionage. She drops a magnetic data tape and when corporate goons rush out of the skyscraper after her our would-be artist sends them in the wrong direction, protecting this unknown girl. He picks up the magnetic data tape and after meeting the corporate bigwig goes to find the girl, give her the tape and see what’s going on.

Now the above makes it sound way more suspenseful than the movie actually manages in this part of the plot. The viewer knows straight away that the corporate bigwig is evil because he looks like, and has a whisper of mannerisms of, a Japanese version of Snidely Whiplash. I kid you not.

Snidely Whiplash, I mean the corporation has bought an amusement park. This amusement park boasts a giant Godzilla tower as an exhibit. From this tower the aliens who are secretly (not really) in control of their puppet corporation plan to launch a plot to take over the world. The aliens out themselves at every opportunity in what is a surprisingly well thought out example of people (the aliens) trying to fit in to a foreign culture. The movie is so ridiculous that it would be easy to miss this little tid-bit of goodness.

The girl, her hippy friend (that was a treat), our aspiring artist and the girl’s brother, who has been locked up by the aliens, know what’s going on. They spend the rest of the movie trying to get proof to take to the authorities and foil the alien invasion plan, as well as rescue the girl’s brother. The aliens, naturally, spend their time trying to hurry up their plan before these meddling kids–I mean, the protagonists foil their plot.

The dastardly alien plan involves controlling the space monsters, Gigan and King Ghidorah. Those monsters are to destroy Godzilla and thus take over the world. On Monster Island the monsters know something strange is afoot when the aliens test their control device. Godzilla and Anguirus have a little chat about the matter. Yes, they actually talk. The sound effect is of someone scratching a vinyl record (before hip-hop DJ’s became popular) and then we hear dopy voice-overs of the conversation. To add insult to injury the dialog isn’t even that good.

Godzilla vs. Gigan was a low budget Godzilla movie and we love them for their triumph of Kaiju monster goodness over small budget effects. While I’ve only seen wires on my HDTV in two Godzilla movies, they really shouldn’t have cheated on the miniatures and used Barbies for some of the people in the buildings Gigan stomps through. You could tell that’s what they were because the figures had that Barbie out of proportion torso and when Gigan’s foot stomped through the ceiling the figures were flung out of the booths they were sitting in and the legs never moved. They remained in the “seated” position the entire time.

So Gigan and King Ghidorah are on a rampage through the countryside and surrounding cities, having been called by the aliens. Godzilla shows up because he makes house calls these days. Anguirus heads over too. Some of the Kaiju fight scenes are pretty goofy too but—Kaiju fighting is fun so I’m willing to be lenient. It was still pretty ridiculous.

Anyway Godzilla and Anguirus finally defeat Gigan and King Ghidorah whilst our brave humans defeat the aliens and destroy the system by which they are controlling their monsters. We find out they were giant cockroaches in human guise and with a giant “eewww,” are glad to see the last of them.

This movie was so awful I had to actually compare it to Godzilla’s Revenge to decide which one takes the title of Worst Godzilla Movie Ever. Godzilla vs. Gigan had a talking Godzilla, which was about as awful as the talking Minella in Godzilla’s Revenge so they’re about even there. The Japanese Hippy was pretty silly but not on the level of annoying as the “cute kid” in Godzilla’s Revenge so Godzilla’s Revenge takes that one. Godzilla vs. Gigan had some terrible comic style scenes at the very first but Godzilla’s Revenge had just awful music, far worse than a few bad comic scenes, so Godzilla’s Revenge takes that one too. Godzilla vs. Gigan was low budget but at least it had its own fight scenes. Godzilla’s Revenge used old footage from previous Godzilla movies.

Godzilla vs. Gigan was bad and low budget but Godzilla’s Revenge was a big middle finger to fans everywhere. I’m going to have to say that Godzilla vs. Gigan is only the runner up for worst Godzilla movie ever. Leaving Godzilla’s Revenge our clear winner of the title of Worst Godzilla Movie Ever. K.