Monday, May 12, 2014

GODZILLA vs. MEGAGUIRUS (2000): 30 Days of Godzilla

DAY 26


Godzilla's had problems with moths before, but this time around he has another infestation to deal with. The King of the Monsters must contend with a swarm of giant prehistoric dragonflies that want to drain his energy. At the same time, those pesky humans are trying to blast his ass into an artificial black hole. It's all in the life of a Godzilla as documented in this so-so second installment of the Millennium series.

The Japanese have the market cornered in two areas of innovation. 1.) Vending Machine Technology (seriously, there's like nothing you can't get) and 2.) Weapons to destroy Godzilla. From Masor Cannons to Anti-Nuclear Bacteria, they've developed and tested them all. In Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, however, Japanese scientists break new ground in the fight against Godzilla: an orbital satellite called the Dimension Tide that can fire artificial black holes. But wouldn't you know it, there's a side effect: it creates worm holes in space-time. From this distortion, an ancient species of prehistoric dragonfly manages to squirm its way into our present day and lay an egg that will kick off a monstrous infestation.

Black Hole Sun (won't you come?)
Although it employs the same Godzilla suit as used in Godzilla 2000Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is not its sequel. Like most of the films in the Millennium series, Godzilla vs Megaguirus is a stand-alone movie with its own internal continuity. In the universe of Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla first rose up and attacked Japan in 1954 but he was never destroyed. After demolishing Japan's energy resources, he retreated back into the sea. Following the attack, Japan moved its capital to Osaka and sought to rebuild. When Japan created its first nuclear power plant in 1966, Godzilla returned to wipe the plant off the map. Then in 1996, Godzilla attacked a third time, targeting a facility that was developing clean plasma energy to replace nuclear energy. Scientific development of new energy was publicly suspended and more resources were diverted to the G-Graspers, a scientific and military anti-Godzilla initiative. In 2001, under the leadership of Major Tsujimori (Misato Tanakai) they developed the Dimension Tide. Tsujimori's judgement, however, is clouded by a deep desire for revenge against Godzilla because he killed one of her friends in the attack of 1996.

The 2000 Godzilla suit digitally inserted into scenes from Gojira 1954
While the military attempts to crush Godzilla into a quantum singularity, Tokyo is being quietly invaded by giant prehistoric bugs. After a boy sneaks the egg into the city and abandons it in a sewer, it hatches into a clutch of larva called Meganulon. Meganulon first appeared in 1956's Rodan, but here they get a creepy revamp as deadly crawlies that emerge from the sewers to feed on Tokyo's citizens. From the sewers, they flood a portion of the city to encourage further egg growth. After a score of Meganulon hatch, they crawl up the sides of the buildings to dry out and moult into their next form: the winged Meganula -- an energy-sucking giant dragonfly. A swarm of Meganula attack Godzilla, draining him of his nuclear power, and carry the energy back to the hive like irradiated honeybees to feed to their queen. They die in the process, imparting all the stolen energy to the giant queen Megaguirus!


During a waterfront showdown with Megaguirus, a moderate amount of destruction is delivered by the warring beasts, and Megaguirus manages to get a slight advantage on Godzilla by replicating a number of his powers by absorbing his energy. In the end, however, despite some of the fight's more fun moments (such as the Godzilla body slam), it's a fairly low-stakes battle and things turn out pretty predictably. Godzilla fries that flying freak with his own personal atomic breath bug-zapper. The humans, meanwhile, work out some devastating kinks in the Dimension Tide software and mange to hit Godzilla with a black hole that appears to annihilate him. Good thing Godzilla vs. Megaguirus exists in its own continuity: that's an ending that would be hard to write a way out of.

There's just about as much to like in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus as there is to dislike. A lot of the monster suit effects are great. A lot of the CGI and green screen composting sucks. The Dimension Tide subplot is really cool. The human cast of characters are bland, dull, and even outright unlikable. Since Godzilla only attacks when Japan is fucking around with potentially dangerous new forms of energy, there's not really much at stake since it's the humans who end up looking like assholes. There's some really great monster suit choreography but it's marred by low production values. Meh. For every good point there's a bad; as a result, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus cancels itself out and ends up but just another mediocre and, sadly, forgettable installment in the 60-year franchise.


Not impressed by Godzilla vs. Megaguirus? Don't worry, tomorrow things are going to get NUTS as Toho dusts off a cavalcade of kaijus for its next installment in the Millennium series. Check us out tomorrow for 30 Days of Godzilla when we spotlight 2001's GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK

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