Review Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974) film review by The King of the Monsters
Written By The King of the Monsters on 2014-11-11 17:04:01
Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974) MovieLearn More
After the universally-despised All Monsters Attack, the divisive Godzilla vs. Hedorah, and the sub-par Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon, Toho finally hits their stride again with the excellent Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Finally a film with high production values, virtually no stock footage, a fresher plot, and a new monster that would become a fan-favorite, the incomparable Mechagodzilla. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is still far from perfect and suffers from a few glaring flaws, but complaints aside Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is one of the highlights of the original series of Godzilla films.
*SPOILERS* During a traditional ceremony in front of the Azumi royal palace in Okinawa, the Azumi princess Nami has a horrific vision of a monster setting fire to a city and trampling on people who try to run away. Shortly after the disturbing vision, a cave is uncovered in Okinawa. Inside, a prophecy is discovered, foretelling the coming of an evil monster that will try to destroy the world, but only after a black mountain appears in the sky. Also discovered is a statue of a shisa, said to be an image of the Azumi's guardian monster, King Caesar. According to the prophecy, when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west, two monsters will arise to save the people. A mysterious agent attempts to steal Caesar's statue, but is driven off. Meanwhile, Godzilla emerges from Mt. Fuji in an inexplicable rage and begins to lay waste to the countryside, leading many to believe that Godzilla is the evil monster foretold of in the prophecy. Anguirus soon arises and attacks Godzilla, despite being his closest ally. During the battle, Anguirus tears off some of Godzilla's skin, revealing shiny metal underneath. Godzilla then breaks Anguirus' jaw and forces him to retreat. Godzilla soon arrives in Tokyo and sets the city aflame with a yellow-hued atomic beam. Suddenly, another Godzilla rises from the ground and challenges the other Godzilla to battle. As the two Godzillas battle, more metal is exposed on one of them, revealing it to be a robot disguised as Godzilla. His plans exposed, the leader of the Black Hole Aliens, Kuronuma, orders his Mechagodzilla to shed its reptilian disguise. Mechagodzilla then unleashes its payload of weapons on Godzilla, knocking him to the ground. Godzilla fires his atomic breath at the mechanical impostor, but Mechagodzilla counters with its laser vision, causing the two monsters' beams to burst. Godzilla is knocked into the ocean and vanishes in a stream of blood, while Mechagodzilla's head controls are damaged in the explosion. Kuronuma orders Mechagodzilla to postpone its attack and return to the aliens' base in Okinawa. Professor Hideto Miyajima, his daughter Eiko, and his assistant Masahiko Shimizu travel to the Gyokusen cave in Okinawa, where Masahiko had previously discovered a strange titanium-like metal. While in the cave, the three are captured by the Black Hole Aliens and taken before Kuronuma. Kuronuma orders Eiko and Masahiko taken to the execution room and forces Professor Miyajima to repair Mechagodzilla. He then tells his agent to quickly retrieve King Caesar's statue to prevent him from being awakened. The aliens' agent follows archaeologist Saeko Kaneshiro and Masahiko's brother Gosuke onto a cruise ship called the Coral Queen, on which they are bringing the statue to Okinawa. The agent steals the statue, but is attacked by Gosuke. The agent gains the upper hand and prepares to shoot Gosuke, but is suddenly shot by an unknown assailant and falls overboard with the statue. Gosuke later reveals to Saeko that the statue was a fake and that he had entrusted the ship's captain to watch over the real one. Once the two reach Okinawa, they learn that Professor Miyajima and the others had not been seen for days, so Gosuke leaves in search of them. At the aliens' base, Miyajima has finished Mechagodzilla's repairs and demands that Kuronuma release his daughter and Masahiko. Kuronuma responds by throwing Miyajima into the execution chamber with them now that he has outlived his usefulness. As Gosuke nears the base, he is ambushed by one of the aliens. He is saved by a mysterious man in sunglasses, who reveals himself as Nanbara, an agent of Interpol. Nanbara says he has been following the Black Hole Aliens for months and has been protecting Gosuke ever since he became involved in the conflict. Gosuke and Nanbara steal some of the aliens' uniforms and infiltrate the base, where they find Miyajima, Eiko, and Masahiko. After a gunfight with some of the aliens, they free the prisoners and escape to Gosuke's car, which the aliens have rigged to blow. Nanbara starts the car with a wire and lets it explode, leading Kuronuma to assume they are all dead. Saeko arrives with King Caesar's statue and says that they must place it on the Azumi temple to awaken Caesar. Gosuke, Nanbara, and Miyajima decide to go back into the base and deal with the aliens while the others awaken Caesar. Once the others reach the palace, they find Nami and her grandfather being held hostage by two aliens. Thankfully, Nanbara's partner Tamura arrives and kills the aliens. Using the statue, the group manages to reveal King Caesar's resting place. Kuronuma then sends Mechagodzilla to destroy King Caesar while he is asleep. Nami sings to Caesar and finally awakens him just as Mechagodzilla arrives. Mechagodzilla and Caesar do battle, but Mechagodzilla eventually gains an advantage. Before Mechagodzilla can blast the helpless Caesar with its finger missiles, Godzilla rises from the ocean. Kuronuma orders Mechagodzilla to beat Godzilla to death, and the battle resumes. Godzilla and Caesar double-team Mechagodzilla, but are blasted relentlessly by its vast array of weaponry. Godzilla charges through the barrage of missiles and lasers and nearly gets in a strike at Mechagodzilla up close, but Mechagodzilla flies out of the way. Mechagodzilla flies by Godzilla and repeatedly blasts him with lasers and missiles, causing him to bleed profusely. As Mechagodzilla continues to fly overhead, Godzilla emits a strange glow and amazingly develops a magnetic field, pulling Mechagodzilla in towards him. Mechagodzilla shrieks helplessly as it is pulled into Godzilla's grasp. As Godzilla holds Mechagodzilla still, King Caesar rams and strikes Mechagodzilla repeatedly. Godzilla then grabs Mechagodzilla's head and twists it around until it sparks and falls off. While Kuronuma and the aliens are dumbfounded by their magnificent machine's defeat, Nanbara, Miyajima, and Masahiko ambush them. After a brief gunfight, all of the aliens including Kuronuma are killed. As the base collapses and explodes, the three rush outside. Mechagodzilla explodes as well, sending Godzilla toppling into the ocean. Godzilla soon arises unharmed and swims away, while King Caesar returns to his resting place. King Caesar's statue is returned to the Azumi family and the Earth is safe once again, thanks to Godzilla, King Caesar, and a few brave humans. *END SPOILERS*
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla has a well-written script and is appropriately paced, a far cry from the previous film. The cast of characters is rather large and hard to keep track of, but nonetheless much more interesting than the few characters in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Everything about this film looks to have been done with care, from the writing to the effects down to the choreography for the gunfights. It really helps to shake the cheap budgeted feeling of the previous entries.
The acting in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is not excellent, but it isn't half bad either. Masaaki Daimon plays the male lead, Gosuke Shimizu. He comes off as a capable lead that does a good job appearing determined and brave, but not overly concerned for his own brother's life. Kazuya Aoyama, known for playing the human alter-ego of the hero Zone Fighter in Toho's Zone Fighter series, plays Gosuke's brother Masahiko, who does a competent job despite being a very underdeveloped character who contributes little to the plot. Reiko Tajima plays archaeologist Saeko Kaneshiro, and appears legitimately interested by the prophecy she must decode and concerned about the world-threatening events taking place around her. Veterans Akihiko Hirata and Hiroshi Koizumi play Professor Miyajima and Professor Wagura, respectively. Koizumi has a very small role, but is a good actor as always. Hirata evokes the spirit of a tortured scientist walking a tightrope between doing what is necessary to save those around him and trying to avoid dooming mankind not seen since his performance as Daisuke Serizawa in the original Godzilla. My favorite performance of the film has to be Goro Mutsumi as the deliciously evil alien leader Kuronuma. Mutsumi is incredibly calm, diabolical, and just plain sadistic in this performance and despite being a bit over the top at times, he was made for the role of Kuronuma. Shin Kishida plays the cool Interpol agent Nanbara. He appears shady at first, but later becomes the good guys' most important ally. Singer Beru-Bera Lin (a.k.a. Barbara Lynn) plays Azumi princess Nami. Her acting mostly consists of her acting terrified, but she also has a singing part towards the film's climax. Unfortunately it drags on a lot and slowly becomes a bit grating to the ears. Overall, not a stellar acting performance, but not a below average one either.
The effects are where this film shines. The only stock footage in this film consists of a few stills from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Submersion of Japan and a brief shot of a car exploding from Godzilla vs. Gigan. This leaves plenty of room for new flashy effects, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla does not disappoint. The Godzilla suit from the previous film has undergone some cosmetic changes to the face to make it look a little more imposing than its cute appearance in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Anguirus' suit shows no visible deterioration despite being used since Destroy All Monsters in 1968 and still looks like one of the best suits in the Showa era. King Caesar's suit is a little goofy and ratty-looking, but nowhere near King Kong's suits in Toho's films. Mechagodzilla looks absolutely amazing. He looks like a real giant robot, giving the impressions of being composed out of a massive amount of metal and being over 150 feet tall. Mechagodzilla is also flat-out psychopathic, fighting brutally by karate-chopping, breaking jaws, and showing his hand down opponents' throats. All of the pyrotechnics in this film are great, from the eruption of Mt. Fuji to Mechagodzilla's many attacks to the final explosion of the aliens' base. One of the few drawbacks of the effects are the aliens' true forms. As possibly a parody of the apes in the then-very popular Planet of the Apes films, the aliens are actually a race of apes from outer space. Whenever the aliens are killed, their human disguises disappear and they turn into, well, guys wearing fake-looking monkey masks. The masks look pretty cheap and at times the actor's face is partially visible under the mask. It's a very cheesy effect in an otherwise solid special effects effort. The special effects in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla are a standout among the Showa series.
Masaru Sato delivers his final score for the Godzilla series, and it is arguably his best. Sato keeps the jazzy feel of his previous music but mixes in a big band style with cymbals, trumpets, and furious drumbeats. It really gives the movie a great energetic atmosphere and is a fun listening experience in and of itself.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is one of my all-time favorite Godzilla movies, but I am biased because Mechagodzilla is my favorite monster besides Godzilla himself. From a neutral standpoint, it is still an above-average Godzilla movie that delivers in every critical aspect, but falters in a few areas, such as acting, character development, and a few effects. The story is superficially a re-hash of many other comtemporary Godzilla films: Aliens use a giant monster to destroy the world. Godzilla and his ally stop said monster while humans battle the aliens. But director Jun Fukuda tries to keep the story fresh and exciting in his final directorial outing in a Godzilla film and it really shows in the film itself. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a great film, but not the greatest entry in the franchise. Any fan looking for a fun monster romp with lots of fierce battles and a human plot that will keep them entertained while the monsters aren't on screen will absolutely love Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, while those in search of a more serious and brooding film might prefer its sequel, Terror of Mechagodzilla.