Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) – By Timothy Martinez

 This film begins in Okinawa, where strange things have been unearthed…literally. Deep in the ground a strange metal has been found, along with some ancient cave paintings that contain a prophecy – a prophecy that speaks about a giant monster appearing to destroy the world. All too soon, the signs foretold in the prophecy come to pass and the giant monster does appear – Godzilla! But wait! Godzilla is a good guy (or at least he was by this point of the Showa series), so why he is rampaging harder than Sean Penn on a group of photographers? Its because this is NOT Godzilla. Sure it looks like big G, but the real Godzilla soon appears to unmask the imposter. It turns out the “bad” Godzilla is really a gigantic robot – Mechagodzilla. Worse yet, it is under the control of aliens from outer space who are hell bent on conquering the Earth! Toss in plenty of “spy vs. spy” type shenanigans, a brief appearance by Anguiras (Angillas), the all new monster King Seesar, some truly idiotic space invaders, a diminished budget and what do you get? A film that is best enjoyed if you turn your brain off…which is a prerequisite for most Godzilla films anyway.

For some reason which I have never been able to fathom, the Japanese have a fascination with large robots and/or humanoid-shaped mechanical devices. From Evengelions and Gundams to Johnny Sokko’s Flying Robot and The Space Giants, all manner of huge robots have stomped their way across Japanese films and television. Why should the Godzilla series be any different? After taking on all manner of organic beasties in previous films, Godzilla now goes up against a giant robot which has the ability to fly, a spinning head, missiles for fingers (which seem to magically respawn after having been fired), eyes that emit some type of deadly ray and a light-bulb thingie in it’s chest that shoots a funky lighting bolt-like laser beam. Plus, Mechagodzilla will never get tired and has the benefit of mechanical strength and reflexes. Will it prevail against Godzilla? Not a chance in hell. However, first it gets the chance to beat the living tar out of King Seesar, some kind of guardian monster that protects the people of Okinawa. Sadly, King Seesar isn’t up to the task of defeating Mechagodzilla and nearly has it’s gigantic ass handed to it…that is, until Godzilla shows up to pull the plug on Mechagodzilla. In a Kaiju tag team, Godzilla and King Seesar manage to turn the giant robot into so much scrap metal…but not before things look grim for everyone’s favorite giant radioactive lizard.

Gojira tai Mekagojira is first and foremost a Godzilla movie. That should tell any prospective viewer right off the bat what to expect. Coming as it does at the tail end of the Showa series (only one more film was produced before Godzilla went on a ten-year hiatus), the movie also suffers from the same things that plagued other Godzilla films of the era – more energy and enthusiasm than a budget. Gone are the sweeping model cityscapes in which to do battle. Here the giant monsters fight one another on cheaper-to-build sets that depict the great outdoors. The Kaiju violence seems amped up somewhat as well. On more than one occasion a monster suffers a grievous wound and begins spraying blood all over the place. The violence among the humans isn’t much less restrained. More bodily fluids spraying all over (though in this case it’s the sickly green blood of the ape-like aliens), gunplay and even some mild torture. Still, its the sort of action that most kids can safely watch and the whole thing unfolds at a frenetic pace that will be sure to keep one interested. A comical dub adds to the charm. Check it out.

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Rogue Reviewers Roundtable Topic: The Robotic Menace

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