Tonight’s Main Event: It’s Monster Madness As Mechagodzilla, Takes On Godzilla, Takes On Mothra In A Triple Threat Match For The Supreme Heavyweight Championship – Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

17 02 2016

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2003)

I don’t know if you watch Professional Wrestling; oh you do, OK. Well in that case, for those of you who may not watch Professional Wrestling, in Pro-Wrestling there is a kind of match called a Triple Threat Match. Now this pretty similar to a singles match, except that it involves three competing athletes instead of the usual two. It brings an extra level of tension and jeopardy to a match as the athletes have to worry about not one, but two athletes. It’s the kind of match that is not wheeled out as much as it might have done once upon a time, but imagine for a second, that there is a Triple Threat Match, and competing in it, are the three of the best Pro Wrestlers in history (something like Triple H vs Sting vs The Undertaker). Well, we have something like that here in this film, as Three of Japan’s best loved Giant Monsters fight it out in a Triple Threat Match.

GTS11

Released in 2003 by Toho, Produced by Shogo Tomiyama and Directed by Masaaki Tezuka; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is the 28th film in the Godzilla series, and serves as a direct sequel (as in it follows where the last film left on, instead of a sequel in the generic form of just happening to be made after a film) to the previous film: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. The film also serves as continuity to both the original Godzilla film and Mothra back in 1961. While the previous film was entirely about the confrontation between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla; this film also sees the welcome return of Mothra, whose only other appearance’s in the millennium series include Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack and Godzilla: Final Wars (which came after this).

GTS10

Set about a year after the Events of the previous film; Mechagodzilla is undergoing repair after his confrontation with Godzilla, while Japan is rebuilding after both the fight, and Mechagodzilla’s rampage. In Karuizawa, Airman Yoshito Chujo (Noboru Kaneko) and his nephew Shun (Kenta Suga) are staying with Yoshito’s father; Dr. Shinichi Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi). Suddenly, two tiny twin fairies (Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka) appear to Dr. Chujo, who remembers them well, as he has met them before. The twin fairies warn the three of them, that if they do not return the original Godzilla’s bones (the same ones used to build Mechagodzilla) to the bottom of the ocean, then Mothra will declare war on the human race. Yoshito argues with them saying MechaGodzilla is Japan’s only real defense against Godzilla, but the Twin’s tell him that if they return the bones to where they belong, Mothra will take Mechagodzilla’s place. Upon returning to the base where MechaGodzilla is being rebuilt, Yoshito has mixed feelings to what he has heard. Meanwhile a new set of Mechagodzilla pilots arrive, one of whom; Azusa Kisaragi (Miho Yoshioka), is an old friend of Yoshito’s. Meanwhile, the news and press are all wrapped up in wondering why so much money is being poured into the MechaGodzilla project, especially after the robot’s accidental rampage. Back at his home; Dr. Chujo tells Shun about what how he met the twin fairies and Mothra’s attack on Tokyo back in 1961. Dr. Chujo makes an appointment to see Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi (Akira Nakao), and tells him of Mothra’s warning and that they should end the project. Out at sea, the carcass of a strange giant turtle like creature called a Kamoebas washes ashore dead, with a scar in its neck, believed to have been done by Godzilla, who is also responsible for the destruction of an American Nuclear Sub too.

GTS3

With news of Godzilla possibly heading for Japan, Mechagodzilla’s repairs are fast tracked as a new weapon is added to replace the defunct Absolute Zero weapon that was destroyed in the previous fight. Wind of Dr. Chujo’s talk with the Prime Minister reaches hot-shot pilot Kyosuke Akiba (Mitsuki Koga) who gets into a fight with Yoshito. A short time later however, Godzilla reappears, and is attacked by the military, soon landing ashore. The city is evacuated, but Shun goes missing. Dr. Chujo goes to find him at the school, where he discovers that Shun, using the tables and chairs within the school, has made the sign for Mothra in the playground. This instantly summons the appearance of Mothra who quickly sets to attacking Godzilla. Shun and Dr. Chujo run from the scene while Mothra and Godzilla engage. Mechagodzilla is ready and waiting, but the command to attack has not been given yet. On Infant Island meanwhile, the twin fairies start singing to an egg.

GTS2

Mothra begins to lose the fight. Prime Minister Igarashi gives the orders for Mechagodzilla to be launched in order to help out Mothra. Yoshito leaves the base to go and look for his father and Shun, and is given assistance by the twin fairies. Back on Infant Island, the egg hatches to twin Mothra Larvae, which then immediately head for Tokyo. Back in Tokyo, Godzilla and Mechagodzilla engage in battle with Godzilla quickly gaining an upper hand, eventually knocking out MechaGodzilla indefinitely. Yoshito finds Shun and his father, badly beaten and in desperate need of medical attention. Mothra’s twin Larva arrive and distract Godzilla, but just when it looks like they will be destroyed too, the adult Mothra jumps in the way to save them. With MechaGodzilla needing on site repairs, Yoshito volunteers to do on site repair work. With help from his crew back at the base, as well as the twin fairies, Yoshito is able to repair Mechagodzilla, but gets trapped inside. Mechagodzilla comes back online. He is soon able to get an upper hand over Godzilla, and with some help from the Twin Larvae, Godzilla is cocooned in silk. At that moment, the twin fairies singing can be heard all over the city. Yoshito hears it within Mechagodzilla, and takes it as a sign that Mechagodzilla just wants to sleep in peace. The Twin fairies declare that the bones residing within Mechagodzilla should be returned to the sea, and that humans have no right to touch the souls of the dead. Seeing Godzilla lying defenceless on the ground, Prime Minister Igarashi decides that Godzilla should be destroyed, and that then he will cancel the Mechagodzilla project. Mechagodzilla though becomes irresponsive, as the spirit of the original Godzilla wake up inside Mechagodzilla once more. Mechagodzilla wraps itself around the cocooned Godzilla, picks him up, and flies out to sea. Yoshito meanwhile is still inside but is rescued by both Azusa and Akiba. Mechagodzilla then, with Godzilla still attached dives into the ocean.

GTS12

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S, is an interesting film with a terrific title to boot. It has a lot of interesting ideas and is backed up with lots of Giant Monster action. It’s just a shame that these ideas do not really go anywhere. The film creates ideas and interesting story points, but some of these don’t exactly start out very strong, and in the meantime, the good ones do not really go anywhere either. The film’s plot begins with the arrival of Mothra and a warning to return Godzilla’s bones to the sea. This creates a first good build-up; it’s an ultimatum, not a request; however the consequences sound rather weak. Ok, Mothra will declare war on Humanity, which it does not want; but it feels like a weak consequence, against say something like the monster within Mechagodzilla from the previous film reawakening and going on a similar rampage like it did before, or even worse. It’s not a bad idea; it just doesn’t really feel all that strong a consequence to not heeding to an ultimatum. One thing this film mentions very briefly as well is the political and financial difficulties when dealing with a project such as building a giant robotic form of Godzilla. This idea is touched upon early in the film, but for most part is just ignored…..and it’s a real shame, because it is a really cool idea. If there wasn’t a political, financial or a civilian problem to such a large-scale project, then it would seem ok just to carry on with it, but in this case, there is an overall issue from all sides. You have TV coverage on the general populations view on the financial costs of a project that is only partially successful to date. Why is it then that this side of the story does not go into as much detail? It’s not like this kind of thing has not been done before in film. Gamera 3 deals with political and civilian issues with Giant Monsters in great detail to a high level of realism, so why is it not done here? Part of me thinks this film was done at the wrong time, and that such levels of voice in a hot situation as covered here, should have been done in a film made about now. There were no international monetary problems back then, or at least as bad as they are now. If it was to have been done now, it’s a subplot that could have been weaved in beautifully? But even if it wasn’t, there is a suggestion there that is not worked on, but rather skimmed upon.

GTS9

It’s a film of missed opportunities, and one whose list sadly continues. It’s like the writing team were dipping their fingers in a tank of water. They began to submerge the tips, but did not decide to push their entire hands. It’s a film whose points and issues could have been worked on by just dipping their fingers, or even knuckles; in that little bit more. The more they would have done it the more it would have improved, and then could have sprouted out more and produced a work of art that could have found itself in close ranks with the original 1954 film. It’s not bad, just not worked on enough for it to reach the stars. Another issue I have with the film’s story is how quickly it ends. The film’s big battle reaches a climax, but then all of a sudden it just stops. A realization then suddenly hits everyone. The story of Mothra’s Fairies warning comes to a bit of light and suddenly Yoshito learns what the fairies warning was really all about. It’s a subject that should have been constantly touched upon, but is forgotten during the fight, and then suddenly everyone realizes what was really meant? I just don’t understand it. It makes me think that the writing team were running out of printer paper and just decided to end it quickly. There is no build up, or consistent mention of story plot points, or at least not enough for this ideal to change in a good way. It’s just sudden and not understandable. It then ends altogether, very quickly with a change of heart from Mechagodzilla.

GAMG Akane

Tokyo S.O.S. does struggle with casting. For what is supposedly a follow-up to a previous film, I find it weird that while the film does feature the monsters and events, there is very little form the previous films cast of characters. I thought a follow-up would include them in a much bigger form. While the film does boast at least one major character from Against in Koh Takasugi, while also being backed up with Godzilla veterans Akira Nakao and Hiroshi Koizumi, why is it, that the lead character from Against is only in this film for less than 5 minutes. Yumiko Shaku, who played JXSDF Lt. Akane Yashiro in Against appears in about 2 scenes before bowing out for the new lead characters. Surely a direct follow-up would feature her more so why is it then that she disappears? Along with the lack of Lt. Akane are the other 2 major leads in Sara (Kana Onodera) and Tokumitsu Yuhara (Shin Takuma). Where did they go, and why aren’t they mentioned in at least some vain if not given major parts in this film? While the lack of Akane’s character in this film is a real disappointment; that’s not to say that the cast taking her place are also. Some of these characters could have been developed more, but their onscreen appearance is still pretty good and very enjoyable. Hiroshi Koizumi and Akira Nakao for instance are always good value. Koizumi who sadly passed away last year had a prolific career and recorded several major appearances in the Godzilla series. Now providing a similar role to the one he had in Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla in the 1970’s, He is as good here as he has ever been. While his role is more reliant on the past experience of his role in Mothra, his caring side for his family, plus knowledge on the situation, continue to highlight his scientific character, one that Koizumi has practically played in every Godzilla film he has appeared in. His different stance though, that of a grandfather make his role a more active one, and one that takes him into more perilous situations, including being on the ground, very near to Godzilla. These scenes with Shun are pretty good ones to look out for, very enjoyable. Akira Nakao meanwhile continues to play another strong leadership role in playing the Prime Minister. In this role he is a strong character, but also a very believable one, and looks like a real politician/prime minister. He is a very caring one, and carries a lot of weight on his shoulders and continues to battle all sides and everyone around him. His sudden change at the end is a bit swift; much like the script, but throughout he is a character to look out for.

GTS8

Alongside them, we have our many side characters. Ok, Azusa and Akiba are more up front, but don’t really have as much air time as Yoshito. Akiba is a prat, and a real one at that, but his character does have some redeeming aspects to it, and one that grows as the film carries on. While Akane might not be in it, her replacement is still very good. Azusa enters as a possible love interest to Yoshito, but becomes more of a supporter to him. It’s not till the end that more of that comes out of her, going so far to rescue him at the end of the film. Shun is a good little character for Yoshito, someone to look after and care for, and whose near death in the film creates a very powerful moment, it’s just sad that it wasn’t strung out or developed a little more. After them we have our collection of Side characters. The Shobijin (or twin fairies) are nicely done once more, but don’t really show much in the way of character other than near replicating every Shobijin performance so far. There are a lot of extra characters of note including military personal and politicians including JSDF Chief Hitoyanagi (Takeo Nakahara), General Dobashi (Koichi Ueda), one character whose name I cannot find…nor an actor’s name, but plays Akiba’s Father, and a fleeting appearance from Shun’s mother (Noriko Watanabe). After that, it really only comes down to Yoshito himself. Yoshito is a good person and a great mechanic. He takes his job seriously, and is very caring of his family. But this man is thrust into a difficult situation, as two twin fairies tell him that he needs to dump Godzilla’s bones in the ocean. This plagues his mind throughout, until eventually he learns what they really mean. They mean it not in the form of getting rid of the Japans only defence against Godzilla, but in letting the original Godzilla’s bones, and history rest in peace. He begins to understand this as the film reaches its conclusion, whereas when it first starts he does not believe that Mothra is a hero given the creature’s past, but now realises that what the twins meant is that Japan had no right to drench up a dead body and mess with its soul. Yoshito is a good lead for a film that has lost its previous main, but he is one that you want to follow, and one whose life you care about. You feel his pain, his emotions and struggle throughout, but all the while he remains strong.

GTS5

A Godzilla film though is not without its Monsters. Godzilla has changed somewhat from his previous appearance. Detail has been made to his look to include a still healing injury from the previous film. He is still though incredibly powerful, and one whose talents are on great show in this film. His merciless like domination as he kills but does not eat a giant turtle like creature, his destructive underwater power as he destroys yet another submarine in a scene that is very reminding of The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah. Mothra is back in a much bigger way than his/her/its previous performance in GMK. Mothra is represented more as this guardian and caring creature but once again with some strict morals, as per its ideal that it is earth’s natural guardian. The representation of Mothra however I feel is that it relies too much on things Mothra did in previous films. Things such as Twins coming out of the Mothra Egg, like in Mothra vs Godzilla. Mothra does not appear to be as powerful as he/she/it can sometimes be and appears to be somewhat weaker, however, it’s early arrival, flying through the clouds and appearing on a small hill, as well as its appearance near the symbol of its calling make some really good shots though. I just don’t know however the real reason for Mothra’s inclusion in this film, it just does not really appear to fit. It seems more like a small part, like Baragon had in GMK. The lack of strong powers really helps this point, as it seems to be a bit weaker in comparison. Despite this though, it’s always fun to see Mothra in a film, and whose appearance adds an extra level of taste, if not much spicy. Mechagodzilla seems to have changed some level despite it supposedly being a follow-up. In Against, Mechagodzilla was constantly being referred to as Kiryu, a name which I rather like, but now Kiryu has just gone and has been replaced by Mechagodzilla, so it’s all rather confusing. Mechagodzilla is of course being repaired, and scenes from with-in the factory floor, plus its launch are really well made scenes. What I don’t get with it this time though is why the sudden change of heart? In Against, he gets mad and goes on a rampage, now he has a sudden change of heart ad decides to go back to where it belonged? Why is it that it did not want to do that in the first film, why now? What has changed? It is talked about in a form that suggests that it was ok fighting for humanity, but now it does not want to. Something has definitely happened in between the two films that are not getting explained here. It’s just further questions, as all of a sudden; Mechagodzilla has become nearly a different monster. Despite all those points though, he still looks as good as he did in the previous film. This form of Mechagodzilla is definitely my favourite (preferably with the name Kiryu, I just rather like it, it’s a cool name), plus his appearance in this film comes with a much more sinister look.

GTS1

One way the film really struggles though with its monsters is the detail of the special effects aimed towards them. Now while the CGI may not be all that great in spots, as this series was built on its pioneering and experienced use of monster suits, I can look over that. It’s more in the suits that this film starts to fail. When an effect is done properly, as in it is worked on hard enough to create the right effect, it is something that as an audience member you don’t necessarily care about while watching the film, as the real looking effect grabs your attention and draws you more into the story. With films like this, one of the things that helps is that because it is a suit, it’s easier to have something look real, as there is actually something real standing in the foreground, instead of having to act or create around something that is not originally there. Suit acting therefore helps with the effect in one important way, that it’s real because it is. As the Millennium series has progressed, more has been done to incorporate suitmation into other forms of special effect creation to create more outstanding moments; an example of this being in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, when Godzilla first rises out of the sea above an Aquarium.

GAMG11

It’s a fantastic shot, and real work has gone in to make Godzilla look both Authentic and Real. When we come to this film though, most of that seems to have been thrown out of the window. In the previous film, Godzilla looked Authentically Real, here; I can look at Godzilla and instantly tell it’s a suit. A level of reality has been thrown out the window, and it does put me off. There are scenes when shots are done properly to make it look as real and astonishing as possible, such as Godzilla walking through a building site, a Fantastic Shot in its own right, but then it cuts to a suit walking through an obviously fake town. The realism is gone, and it is a detracting thing from this film, as it just sort of looks bad; and it’s not just restricted to Godzilla neither. Mechagodzilla and Mothra suffer from this too. Not necessarily Adult Mothra as it has some good scenes such as on-top of the hill and above the school, but more the larvae. The larvae have some nice added bit of detail, and the shots of them crawling round the town are pretty cool, it’s more how much use is made of solid colouring and no real form of shading, they look absolutely solid if it wasn’t for the little added bits of movement around their heads. Mechagodzilla meanwhile has lost some life in his look, and the effect of him looks pretty similar to Godzilla, in that he looks like an obvious suit. It’s a real shame considering the effects of the film before it, but S.O.S. has its moments; mostly from uses of cinematography, such as capturing moments where Godzilla rises out of the sea, Mothra over the school, and Mechagodzilla knocked out on the floor and having people scrambling over him.

GTS7

It’s sounding like this is a bad film doesn’t it? It sounds like a film of missed opportunities raising more questions than delivering answers, not providing much in the special effects department and kicking actors out the door. But don’t think that means I don’t like it; because I do. It does have its problems and moments, but for all the things that near disappoint, something pops along which nearly makes up for it. The film’s monster battles contain a few continuity errors, and while it starts out nice and fast, action packed – it does begin to slow down and come to a crawl before eventually just stopping and ending on a weird note. However, when the action is nice and fast, it’s really good and at its best. It’s not too fast neither. Monster battles at speed are always good, but when going to fast just look bad, however in this, they go at a good speed and continue at relative pace for some time, making up for some of the early on monster disappointment, especially when Mechagodzilla is turned on. The film’s miniatures and set pieces are near to perfection, with special note going to the factory floor for Mechagodzilla, as well as his eventual launch. The city destruction scenes are really good, and as well are the scenes of people running away. They are scenes which are frequent of any monster movie for that matter; but these ones are done really well and add their own level of character too. Even the deserted city streets and inside the Tokyo Tower look really good. A lot of work has been put in to make this film as good as it can be no matter what, and it has worked. And while the story has its issues, it also has its moments. From scenes like the near death of Shun, to the scenes inside military command centres. But above all else is the after credits scene (which I might explain in a later post). To back all this up you have film extras who work really hard to make sets believable, but also, let’s not forget the film’s soundtrack, once again composed by Michiru Oshima.

The soundtrack itself is about the same as it were for Against, but with some pieces getting more attention than others. Yes there are new ones, but these take more of a sombre note rather than a militaristic theme like in Against and Megaguiras. These range from the ending credits, to Shun’s near Death. Weaved in is some more heroic pieces for characters like Mechagodzilla, plus scenes towards the end. All the while continuing to incorporate the soundtrack from the previous film, oh and of course, the sounds and songs of Mothra. It’s a nice soundtrack, and though while it may not standout like it did for Against, it’s one that works for the occasion. Oshima still continues to provide for the series in her own way, and one that continues to produce no matter what the outcome of the film turns out to be; creating in the process some of the most memorable pieces in the series to date.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. in the end is a really nice film. It is a nice enjoyable film combining the things we have come to love in the series while also continuing to create new ideas and moments. While some of its story, characters and even monsters do struggle with the films over broad and under developed points; it provides enough to get you thinking. While maybe not explored in-depth or enough to satisfy completely, there is enough to enjoy. While in its failings it does cause more questions to be asked than answers given, it provides enough to be enjoyed with for now, until something comes along to improve on them. Bolstering meanwhile good cast, monsters, soundtrack, effects, scenes, post credit scene and of course a brilliant title; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is definitely worth the time and money to watch, and when looking past it’s issues, provides an enjoyable entry to the series and one that every Monster Movie fan should see.

GENEPOOL (It’s not really a Triple Threat Match thinking about it, more of a handicap match, but with some moral issues between 2 members of the opposing team).

Advertisements




Godzilla vs The Original Godzilla – Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla

17 06 2013

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (Toho Co., Ltd. - 2002)

Back in 2011 I wanted to do a review of the original 1974 Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla, but at the time of writing it, Japan had been hit by a huge tsunami, so I decided to leave it. But now MechaGodzilla finally arrives as I bring you one of the best films from the series, and one of my ultimate Favourite films. To date, Godzilla has fought about 22 Monsters (not including variations), but the Big G has not really fought himself before. Most times he has appeared to fight himself have mostly been in the form of a robotic version of himself (including a disguise used by MechaGodzilla in  the original Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla) not to mention the Space version of himself in the 1995 film; Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla. However in 2002 Godzilla would indeed fight against himself (well, more like his ancestor), and would do so while also fighting his main rival. No, not King Ghidorah, MechaGodzilla.

MechaGodzilla: Showa, Hesei and Millenium

The film begins in 1999 with a military operation in action at a port. By night a typhoon arrives and reporters are reporting what is happening. Behind them a large waves hits the shore and a rather familiar monster begins to rise out of the sea. The Anti-Megalosaurs Force (AMF) goes into action with several tanks and maser weapons en-route to attack the monster, now smashing small local villages. The AMF begin their attack but are unsuccessful. The maser weapons have a bit more luck but as the monster gets closer, an accident occurs where a small jeep falls off a cliff only to be trampled by the Monsters foot. The following day, the maser tanks driver Lt. Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku) is made a scapegoat for the incident and is given a job in data resources.

GAMG Akane

The Prime Minister (Kumi Mizuno) of Japan recounts previous monster incidents in Japan’s history including the rampage by the original Godzilla as well as attacks by Mothra and Gaira and how these attacks were suppressed by new weapons developed. Now with the confirmation that the Monster from the previous night’s attack was indeed Godzilla, the country needs a new weapon. A scientist at a University named Tokumitsu Yuhara (Shin Takuma) is contacted by Government Agents. He is taken to a science centre where, along with other top scientists are shown the bone remains of the original 1954 Godzilla. The plan by the government is to use the bones to build the ultimate anti-Godzilla weapon. After some persuasion from his daughter Sara (Kana Onodera), Yuhara joins the team in building the weapon. Four years later, the Prime Minister has stepped down and has handed her position over to Hayato Igarashi (Akira Nakao). The weapon is complete and is named Kiryu, A special unit is created whose job it is to control Kiryu and is led by Colonel Togashi (Kou Takasugi), Akane is asked to join the group, she accepts, however one person from the group disagrees to this as his brother was in the jeep that was trampled by Godzilla in 1999.

GAMG6

After months of training Yuhara and his daughter meet Akane who takes an interest in Sara’s sleeping grass plant. Yuhara tries to ask Akane on a date, but is unsuccessful. Kiryu is revealed to the world and its abilities are demonstrated, including its main weapon, the Absolute Zero Cannon. During this presentation Godzilla is spotted heading for Japan, Kiryu is ordered to deploy. Godzilla arrives in Tokyo near an aquarium, wrecking it in the process. Kiryu is deployed and the two monsters stare at each other. Kiryu launches several missile attacks on Godzilla which don’t seem to have much success, but when Godzilla roars, Kiryu appears to recognize it. Akane, who is tasked with piloting Kiryu, tries to activate the Absolute Zero Cannon and kill Godzilla, but it fails. Godzilla retreats into the sea. Kiryu is about to be picked up by special aircraft when it mysteriously attacks the aircraft. Kiryu then goes on a rampage of downtown Tokyo. Akane’s rival’s plane crashes and Akane rescues him before his plane explodes. Kiryu’s rampage continues until his energy levels drop completely running out of power in the process and coming to a complete halt.

GAMG9

Kiryu is repaired as questions of what happened begin to arise. Akane’s rival is seemingly unhappy about being rescued, while the rest of the Kiryu squad seem to be thankful for what she did and give her a warm round of applause and properly welcome her into the group. She however still feels alone despite Sara trying to reach out to her. Yuhara works out that the DNA of the original Godzilla caused the issue, recognizing the roar of the new Godzilla. Yuhara continues to attempt to spring up romance with Akane while Sara becomes upset with the Idea that Kiryu should be made to fight Godzilla instead of being friends with him.

GAMG1

Godzilla reappears and the Prime Minister makes the decision to allow Kiryu to fight despite the possible risk. Kiryu goes on the attack and quickly gets an upper hand but soon runs out of weaponry and gets heavily damaged by Godzilla. Akane then shows off what Kiryu can do by having Kiryu fight in hand to hand combat. This initially works and so the Absolute Zero Canon is prepared to fire. Then Godzilla pulls off an advantage by making Kiryu fall backwards destroying three tall buildings with the Absolute Zero Canon instead. This heavily damages Kiryu and so Akane goes down onto the ground to enter and control Kiryu internally rather than remotely. The Japanese Defence Force deploys to distract Godzilla while this is going on. Akane manages to Get Kiryu working again but Kiryu needs power, so the electric companies cause a Mass Blackout across Tokyo. Kiryu gets back up only to be blasted by Godzilla. Akane is injured but gets strength to continue fighting by memories of Sara telling her how precious life is. Kiryu gets back up ready to fight, Akane’s rival flies his plane into Godzilla’s mouth to prevent him firing his atomic breath at Kiryu again.

GAMG3

Akane, prepares to fire the Absolute Zero Canon at Godzilla, but holds it as it would potentially kill her rival if she fired it, instead she moves Kiryu into Godzilla, grabs his mouth then throws her rivals plane away before picking up Godzilla and flying him into the sea. The sea freezes as she flies Kiryu into it. Godzilla rises out of the sea with a chest wound, he moves in an opposite direction to Tokyo as Kiryu rises out of the sea. Akane stands on Kiryu’s shoulder and watches Godzilla go out to sea. In a post credits scene, Akane meets up with Sara and Yuhara and thanks Sara for giving her strength. She states that the battle was a draw and invites Yuhara and Sara out for dinner before looking up at Kiryu and Saluting.

GAMG2

I do have the distinct feeling that the Director Masaaki Tezuka and TOHO have wanted to do a film along the lines of the plot of this film for a long time now. If you were to watch an episode of the 1990’s cartoon series there is a plot of some episodes which are along the same lines as this one. As well as that, there was also an unused plot idea in the 1990’s where Godzilla would fight the Ghost from the 1954 film. It is interesting to note how the plot of this film works. For the most part it is a film about a country building a weapon to defend itself from a recurring threat, while also being a film that has essences of philosophy such as the value of life as well as parts about friendship and love which is mostly made up of the growing friendship between Sara and Akane and the possible romance between Akane and Yuhara. These three parts don’t take a side stance either; they are present throughout the film as more of a second plot device. That is interesting in contrast to other Godzilla films which may hint at those possibilities while this one shows it more directly. I also like how the films story mentions other TOHO films like Mothra and The War of the Gargantuas.

GAMG8

The films cast are a nice range of characters with actors that suit them. Characters like Yuhara, Togashi and Prime Minister Igarashi make up the backbone of the film’s acting. Yuhara is the single father who has two main jobs, looking after his daughter, and his work on Kiryu and so is able to balance the two only just, but the flaw in his character is revealed when it is revealed he is not very good at chatting to women and so becomes a bit of a comedy character, but not too much though and so does not ruin the character. It is nice to see Kumi Mizuno return to the Godzilla series as the short lived Prime Minister of Japan before Akira Nakao steps in.  Togashi meanwhile is a strong leader character who has affections to Akane in some form, we don’t know what but they are strong enough to remember her and think about her when the project he is leading needs good soldiers. Igarashi only makes a few appearances but is played excellently by series regular Akira Nakao who plays leaders very well in my opinion, I look forward to his parts as he is an amazing actor in those positions, a lot like Koji Yakusho in some respects. The character of Sara meanwhile is one that is almost like a storyteller in the respects that she is guiding the story along between Akane and her father and also helps Akane to come to terms with herself and her place in the world. She is almost a philosopher as well as she continually asks questions about everything around her that she does not understand but still has an answer for them too.

Cast

The real heavyweight of the film’s acting though (other than the two Giant Monsters) is Yumiko Shaku playing the part of Akane. She is the main lead human of the film and while Sara could be seen as the film’s story teller, Akane is the story’s director. The during the construction of Kiryu as well as the incident at the beginning and the end, you are very much focused on her throughout the film. For most of the early part she does not do much talking but her expressions pretty much do more than speaking would do. She has the look of someone who is holding in something about herself and so buries herself into both her training and work to distract herself from these things, it is not until the story begins to unfold that these things come to light. The friendship she strikes up with Sara and Yuhara (and in some cases Kiryu) is a sign of these things getting better but she still feels alone, even with the help and acceptance of those working with her after saving her rival’s life. As the film comes to a close, it is here that she realizes that life is worth living and that people do care about her even after everything that has happened. The character of Akane is one of the series best female characters by far and I do hope that in the future Yumiko Shaku returns to the series in a similar (or better role, maybe a higher position in the military or government position perhaps) role in the future.

Yumiko Shaku

Now we move onto the Monsters, the real stars of the film. Kiryu is my Favourite version of MechaGodzilla to date. His design is spectacular and looks both nasty and terrifying. The effects used for him are some of the best in the series.  His appearance has the scary terrifying look of the original Godzilla but his design is more similar to the 1995 MechaGodzilla thanks to such additions as the jetpack thing on his back and the variety of weapons. He is more of a weapons platform of devastating weapons than being an entire weapon. He is however better than previous versions of himself by one major difference, he has an identity. In the past he has either been just another monster or a weapon. Because of the machine being built around the bones of a former Godzilla and by being in-touch with that monster he has more of a personality, his rampage early on in the film represents this by taking control of himself rather than be directed or controlled and therefore giving him more of a part in the film. It is also Great to see a MechaGodzilla that is more in league with the times, his construction is well documented which gives a nice touch to the story and his character but his construction is not limited to the use of Aliens or people from the future, he is built by the present times due to a need for him to be built.

GAMG4

Godzilla meanwhile makes one of his best appearances in his film career. He is much larger and taller in this film compared to the previous film and several shots are used to show this with great effect. Like all but one film in the millennium series, his introduction is that he has not been seen since the original 1954 film, but instead of becoming a folk tale, his presence is still felt thanks to appearances from other monsters. Some CGI is used in this film for Godzilla’s part but these are really only for the shots from the original film. His strength and power is used to great effect in this film showing that even if a weapon is built that can go toe to toe with him, it is still only just, and on several occasions this is proven. Godzilla’s design is also magnificent and really matches his size also, and the way his eyes sometimes look astonished at what he sees and other times where his eyes make him look really sinister add more flavour to his character, possibly due to the characteristics his eyes brought in the previous film.

GAMG11

Most of the films main special effects are used in the military scenes. While the use of miniatures is till apparent, something that is a regular feature throughout the series; more uses of actual, real life weapons are used in the film also. Things such as tank and vehicle close-ups are filmed brilliantly with some shots taking place inside the vehicles. Not only that, but close-ups on a human level when using a giant miniature in the background made things that are not real, real. The battle sequences in this film are some of the best to date, not just the fight sequences between the monsters but also the occasions when weapons are used against the monsters and the use of close-ups help this also. But not just that, the weapons used by Kiryu look superb, weapons including the mouth laser, missiles and the Absolute Zero Cannon too, and when it is used, the effect of the weapon is Fantastic.

Type 90 Maser Cannon

Other notable uses of special effects are the early scenes of Godzilla rising out of the sea, his rampage through small villages. The weather plays an important part the weather in some shots might of course be the real thing, but those scenes are beautiful. The detail of the special effects is incredible and this comes to great use when looking at the systems and buildings used for the construction of Kiryu as well as the testing ground, the vehicles used for transportation, the interiors, everything. But one of the best special effects of this film is the Giant Skeleton of the original Godzilla. The large sea tank that the skeleton is kept in, the people swimming around it. It is only seen for one scene, but it is terrific.

GAMG10

The film’s soundtrack (provided by Michiru Oshima) is mostly made up if not completely made up of military style music. From the TOHO logo at the beginning of the film to the fantastic opening titles, and this is pretty much what it is like throughout with scenes including the first meet between Godzilla and Kiryu. Every now and again though there is something different in the music such as the skeleton reveal, Kiryu’s rampage and scenes between the three main human characters. The soundtrack gives a nice comparison when it is compared to the mystical themes provided by Kow Otani in the previous film but due to this film’s theme though, the military style soundtrack works extremely well where as a mystical theme would not.

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla is an Amazing film. The film, like many in the millennium series has references to the original 1954 film but processes it in its own way, it even (well sort of) brings back the original monster into the film to meet his descendant in combat. The cast is a good mix with most credit going to Yumiko Shaku. The Monsters are brilliant and the action/fight sequences are terrific but does not rely on those and continues to amaze throughout in other forms too. The soundtrack has a nice military sense to it for a film that is made up of mostly military themes, and the special effects are Fantastic. It is a Great Triumph for Masaaki Tezuka after what happened with his previous attempt at a Godzilla Film and he can hold his head high, producing one of the Best Film’s in the entire series as well as one of my Favourite Films. And not only that, this film had a direct sequel the following year.

GENEPOOL








%d bloggers like this: