Wednesday, May 14, 2014


DAY 28


Mechagodzilla gets a much-needed upgrade for the new Millennium in a brand new story continuity that, oddly enough, is also a direct sequel to Toho's classic monster movies Gojira (1954), Mothra (1961) War of the Gargantuas (1966), and Space Amoeba (1970).

In 1954, the first Godzilla attacked Japan. It was destroyed when Dr. Serizawa sacrificed himself to attack the monster with his ultra-destructive new weapon: The Oxygen Destroyer. In the intervening 45 years, Japan is attacked by several other large monsters including Mothra, but has always been able to defend itself with better and better technology, such as the Maser Cannons. However, in 1999 a second Godzilla appears and the Japanese Self Defense Force is powerless to stop it. In order to destroy Godzilla the next time he attacks, the Japanese government retrieves the bones of the original Godzilla and assembles the best minds in Japan, including biologist Tokumitsu Yuhara (Shin Takuma) for a secret anti-Godzilla project. Four years later, Japan reveals its first bio-mechanical weapon: MECHAGODZILLA.

"Allow me to be the first to welcome our new giant robot overlords."
The Mechagodzilla, which is nicknamed Kiryu, is assigned to pilot Lieutenant Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku) in a controversial decision that riles up those who hold her responsible for failing to destroy Godzilla in 1999. When Godzilla returns to attack Japan, Kiryu is mobilized. As tensions and conflicts boil within the ranks of Kiryu's control team, an inner conflict is brewing within Kiryu itself. Kiryu faces off against Godzilla and forces him to retreat back into the ocean, but his roar awakens something deep within the biological material at the base of Kiryu's design. Overpowering its programming and circuitry, the memories and spirit of the original 1954 Godzilla are awakened. Kiryu ceases to respond to pilot control. Imbued with the essence of Godzilla, Kiryu goes on such a rampage. If this weren't bad news enough, Kiryu contains one of the most destructive weapons ever made: the Absolute Zero Cannon. Kiryu must be stopped!

What's Kiryu's favorite genre of music? DEATH METAL!
It's up to Akane to win back the trust off her team and get Kiryu under control before Godzilla returns. Only an equally unstoppable force like Kiryu can hope to halt the atomic advances of the King of the Monsters. The stage is then set for a final showdown between Godzilla and Kiryu, but whose side is the mechanical monster truly on?

Cybernetic Showdown
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is certainly a return to better quality suit and miniature special effects compared to the last several films which suffered from a reliance on cheap green screen effects. There's a real weight and reality to the clash between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla. The Kiryu Mechagodzilla is also, hands down, one of the best redesigned costumes created for the Millennium Series. I liked the 1990s Mechagodzilla, but the Millennium edition has a lot more edge and detail. Godzilla, ironically, is much less detailed than he appeared in Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. He retains the general head-shape and exaggerated dorsal plates of the first Millennium Godzilla, but now he's a lot less jagged. The scales have been smoothed out and the features are generally softened, especially the eyes which, despite appearing much larger and brighter, are somehow far more lifeless. Godzilla looks perpetually surprised.

As fun as the monster stuff is, there's unfortunately not nearly enough of it. The human element of the story is thoroughly dull, and Akane is such a cold character it's hard to really connect with her plight. There's also a whole subplot with Dr. Yuhara trying to court her while his daughter tags along, and it's just embarrassing as hell. Kiryu ends up stealing the show as the most interesting character. Even Godzilla himself feels tired and routine by this point. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is a very exciting film for hardcore Mechagodzilla fans, but when stacked up against the 60 years of Godzilla movies, it doesn't break any new ground.


Directed by Masaaki Tezuka and released in December of 2002, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla may not be the perfect Godzilla movie. Then again, with 60 years of films to compete against, very few are. It does, however, set the stage for a much superior and much more entertaining sequel. In a rare occurrence within the Millennium Series, the film that directly followed Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was not a reboot. It picks up only a few months after the events of the previous film, and it opens the door to even bigger and more bad-ass monster battles. Join us tomorrow for the penultimate installment in the 30 Days of Godzilla series as we look at the pinnacle of the jewel in the crown of the Millennium series: TOKYO S.O.S. (2003)

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