Movie Name: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla III


All righty, then! For the fourth time in a row, Toho has decided to completely reinvent the Godzilla universe from scratch, once again having the original 1954 movie be the only chronicle of Godzilla's previous appearance. This was a great way to get a fresh start for Godzilla in Godzilla 1984, and it was also a good way to bring him back to life (metaphorically speaking) in Godzilla 2000. Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to get a wee bit tired of it at this point. Yes, starting from scratch each movie allows the filmmakers to express their creativity with new storylines that are not constrained by past events, but the cost is a complete lack of continuity from one movie to the next (something I always enjoyed about the Hesei series and, to a lesser degree, the original series).

Anyway, enough griping about that. On to the review!

First up, of course, is the brief plot summary:

O.K., back in 1954, a creature called "Godzilla" (or "Gojira," if you prefer) attacked Japan and was eventually defeated using Dr. Serizawa's "Oxygen Destroyer." After Godzilla's defeat, Japan was periodically beset by other giant monsters, including Mothra and "Gaira" (one of the giant humanoids featured in the movie War of the Garantuas. These monsters were not nearly as formidable as Godzilla, however, and the newly created "Anti Mega-Losses Force" (AMF) was able to defeat them by using a heat ray and a maser cannon, respectively.

All is well and good in Japan, giant monster-wise, at least, until the year 1999, when another Godzilla rises from the sea and wreaks a bit of havoc on the Japanese shoreline. How do we know it's another Godzilla and not the original one? More on that later. During this attack, an entire squadran of the AMF is wiped out except for a young female pilot named Akane. She blames herself for the death of her comrades and accepts as punishment a transfer to a position as a filing clerk.

After the attack, the Japanese government decides that a much more powerful weapon needs to be created to combat Godzilla, since the maser cannons were completely useless against him. And so, the government puts together a think tank of Japan's brightest minds, including a Dr. Yuhara (an expert on cybernetics), and tasks them to create this new weapon. Here's where things get a bit wonky, though. The government officials inform the scientists that they have recovered the skeleton of the original Godzilla from Tokyo Harbor and want the new super weapon to be built around these bones (which, incidentally, still contain traces of Godzilla's DNA),

Three and half years later, in 2003, the new weapon is completed: a giant mechanical Godzilla (or "mechagodzilla) named "Kiryu" (for reasons not likely to become clear any time soon). Kiryu is primarily designed to be operated by remote control from a special control aircraft that must fly close to the robot, and is fitted with all sorts of weaponry, including missile launchers, maser cannons, and the supremely powerful "Absolute Zero Cannon" that generates a pulse of super-cold light beams that can shatter any object. Having served her penance, Akane is asked to join the new Kiryu squadren and pilot the control aircraft.

By an amazing coincidence, Godzilla decides to attack Japan just as the Kiryu is being unveiled. Akane and her squad leap into action and an epic battle between Godzilla and his mechanical twin ensues, Well, not really. Kiryu gets off a few shots from it's missle launchers and maser cannon, but just as it is about to fire the awesome Absolute Zero Cannon and rid the world of Godzilla forever, Kiryu malfunctions and goes on a complete rampage on the surrounding countryside. Apparently, hearing Godzilla's roar triggered some sort of genetic memory deep within Kiryu's bones and Kiryu became convinced that it was Godzilla! Dang, I just [i]hate[/i] it when that happens!

The rest of the movie basically deals with the attempts to repair Kiryu to prevent it from going beserk again, concinving the government to let Kiryu have a second chance, and then a second cliamctic battle between the two titans. Oh -- there's also a sublot involving Akane, Dr. Yuhara (who has the hots for Akane in spite of the obvious age difference) and Dr. Yuhara's precocious young daughter, Sara.

And now for the review:

Godzilla x Mechagodzilla isn't a bad film, but neither was I particularly impressed by it. They spent so much time re-establishing the known universe and setting up how and why Kiryu was created, which just made things a bit boring in my opinion. When Godzilla and Kiryu meet for the first time, Godzilla basically just stands there motionless while Kiryu pelts him with missles and maser rays, and once Kiryu goes on a rampage, Godzilla just turns around and goes back into the ocean -- it's painfully obvious that the whole encounter was nothing more than a poorly thought out plot device to allow Kiryu to go on a rampage.

One major gripe I have with the plot has to do with the fact that the only weapon that really has a chance to be effective against Godzilla is the Absolute Zero Cannon, but for some unknown reason they decide to mount this weapon onto Kiryu's chest. None of Kiryu's other weapons have any effect on Godzilla whatsoever, and every time Kiryu is about to fire the weapon at Godzilla something goes wrong. Why build a horrendously complex and potentially dangerous mechanical godzilla clone simply to fire a weapon instead of simply firing it from a traditional mobile weapon's platform?

The special effects were generally good, although once again there are a number of scenes that are obviously CGI, and Toho seems completely unable lately to make realistic-looking miniature street scenes. They love to show Godzilla's foot stomping down and sending cars flying, but it just doesn't look that good, to be honest.

In general, and this is the real reason I didn't like this film as much as some other recent efforts, the movie just seemed devoid of the heart and soul that made so many other Godzilla enjoyable to me. Godzilla's appearance was, as I mentioned earlier, treated largely as a plot device. The "real" story had to do with the efforts of the plucky characters to get their new supermachine working -- Godzilla was just an afterthought. Or so it felt to me. The movie certainly had some good scenes and spiffy action moments, but it just wasn't worth reinventing Godzilla from scratch once again. The Big G deserves better than to be treated as a plot device.

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