Movie Review Key Thread

Pre-Ramble Poster Comment: As far as I know, this is the last time Noriyoshi Ohrai made a poster for a Godzilla film and it’s freaking awesome.

Pre-Ramble Ramble and Pre-Ramble Trivia Ramble Super Combo: While I wait patiently for my Criterion Collection Boxset of the Showa Era films, I’m gonna knock out the Millennium Era of films. I love this series almost as much as I love the Showa Era, and in some ways, I love it even more. Even though this series starts with Godzilla 2000, I’m gonna skip over that one for now and save it for last, mostly because it’s one of my all time favorite Godzilla films and I’ve seen it so many times, I want to put some distance since the last time I watched it to make it as fresh as possible. So that takes us to the next film in the series, Godzilla v Megaguirus, which is just a so-so kind of film. What’s interesting about it though is that from what I’ve been told, Toho originally intended each film in this era to be stand alone pieces, each by different creators, to tell new and fresh stories. Interestingly enough though, the director of this film, Masaaki Tezuka is brought back two years later to direct Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla which Toho like so much they let him make its direct sequal, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. So he’s directly in charge of literally half the movies in this series and not surprisingly, all three films share very familiar aesthetics. If that wasn’t enough, he was also a visual effects supervisor in the Millennium film, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and while not related to this era of films, he was also assistant director for Rebirth of Mothra II and III. If you actually look at Toho’s films, you’ll see that this kind of thing isn’t uncommon at all (and in fact, Tezuka’s resume is kind of short compared to a lot of others), but I think in this case it’s particularly interesting because like I said, as I understand it this is the exact opposite direction that Toho had in mind originally for the Millennium Era. No complaints here though, cause I think all three of his films are f-u-n.

To make a long plot story short, the original Godzilla was never killed with The Oxygen Destroyer and he comes back to Japan to attack a nuclear power plant. Figuring nuclear power is luring him there, Japan outlaws it. Skip ahead and plasma energy power plants are invented, once again Godzilla attacks and once again they’re outlawed. Exposition out of the way, we’re introduced to a crack team of soldiers who’s sole job it is to take out Godzilla, they’re called G-Grasper, and we see them in 1996 trying to stop him with rocket launchers. It’s awesome. The action is mostly focused around a Major Tsujimori as we see her take on the big guy and lose her commander and mentor as he sacrifices himself to save her. Cliche, I know. Fast forward to the year 2001 and she and a compatriot hire a self taught engineer, Kudo, who happens to know G-Grasper’s top scientist, to help build a portable black hole cannon to destroy Godzilla once and for all. You read that right. Black. Hole. Cannon.

Okay, I gotta pause for a minute on the plot and just focus on this part of the story. Normal science would probably say this is a bad idea. I mean, what’s to stop a black hole from just eating the whole planet if it gets out of control or something? Godzilla science says “Hell yeah! Black holes!” Which is weird because the original Godzilla was all about “Nuclear weapons are bad. Making bigger weapons to take care of the problems from smaller weapons (The Oxygen Destroyer) is a stupid way to go about solving things. Maybe we all oughta be a bit more careful with this science stuff.” None of anything even resembling that message is in this film at all. Yeah, there’s one scene with a military trial and all where G-Grasper seeks permission to use the weapon, but it’s so inconsequential it might as well not even be in the film. Instead we’re just gonna have a crazy black hole cannon and use it and everyone is mostly fine with it and no one is really gonna question it. Um. Okay.

So back to the story. So they test this black hole cannon outside of rural village and the test goes alright but it accidentally creates a time/space distortion and for some reason no one is overly concerned about it. Some kid sees it and Major Tsujimori basically makes him swear to secrecy. Later on, this kid finds an egg cluster after investigating a giant, shadowy dragonfly, and like all characters who make stupid creature feature decisions, decides to take it home with him. Cause let’s face it, scary shadowy monsters and mysterious egg clusters are never related, right?

As another aside, if something like this ever happens to me in real life, know what I would do? Not touch a thing and maybe, I dunno, get the government involved? How hard is it to make that kind of decision. Really.

Later on the kid and his family moves to Tokyo, the egg cluster is making a gooey mess where he’s hiding it in his house, so he dumps it down a sewer. Everyone watching this movie knows where this is going. Eggs start to hatch. The kid sees another dragonfly, realizes he messed up, and he meets with Major Tsujimori (because somehow he had her number or something or maybe G-Grasper is in the yellow pages) and confesses everything. Blah blah blah. Horror scenes happen, and unlike Godzilla v Destroyah they’re not as bad because they don’t outlive their welcome but also unlike Godzilla v Destroyah they don’t really fit the tone of the rest of the film. We don’t see the kid but twice more, once when he’s running away from destruction with his mother and once in a post-credit’s scene.

I’m focusing way too much on plot here, so let me cut to the chase. Ancient dragonflies swarm Godzilla and attack him draining him of energy. G-Grasper fires their black hole cannon from a satellite to get rid of Godzilla and while the cannon works it fails to kill him. The dragonflies fly back to their queen and inject her with Godzilla’s energy and they all die. The queen awakens. She and Godzilla fight. Godzilla kills her. G-Grasper kills Godzilla with the black hole cannon. The movie winds down for a close. Oh, there’s also a flood or something, I dunno. That’s the story.

On to what I really love. The characters. Okay, two of them, Tsujimori and Kudo cause they’re the main two, the only really interesting ones, everyone else are secondary or tertiary characters and they’re stand in tropes and they do their job but I don’t care as much about them. I freaking love these first two though. Tsujimori is a bad ass with clear reasoning to want to stop Godzilla. Not only is it her job, but she lost her boss and that affects her. She takes charge, she spearheads pretty much every mission that she’s on, blah blah blah. She’s honestly nothing too much to write about character wise, not all that well developed, but she’s simple and straightforward enough that there’s nothing to hate. Kudo is a like or hate kind of character, who has some good things about him and some dull things about him. He’s not too special, just an engineer, bit of a nerd, has an awkward but not often mentioned crush on Tsujimori. The thing that he really has going for him is that he and his inventions make really convenient plot devices that help move the story forward logically. That’s something that’s sometimes sorely missing from these kinds of films. To be truthful though, no character or actor in this film is really gonna blow you away, but that’s okay. We can all take comfort in knowing we don’t have to hear poorly executed lines like “Let’s just keep it as our secret. You can tell your son about it when he’s born, Major Spielberg.”

Kaiju action wise, this movie is a bit of a mess. There’s quite a few scenes where this movie relies too heavily on CGI to make the action work and unfortunately, this movie doesn’t have the budget for good CGI and bad CGI in 2000 was pretty bad, so they were eyesores then and they’re even worse now. The scene where Godzilla fights the swarm of dragonflies is kind of okay, if you’re able to look past the bad CGI, but the final battle against Megaguirus is where things start to really fall apart, even though it’s mostly practical effects. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not the best kaiju battle out there. There’s quite a bit of experimentation that goes on, some novel (if a bit derivative) ideas are tried out, but the whole choreography just kind of falls flat. This is mostly because there’s too long of a gap between setups and payoffs and as a result the filmmakers’ willingness to take risks and try new things isn’t enough to overcome underwhelming execution. I think the last battle would have really benefited from a slightly brisker pace as well as the courage to leave just a bit more footage on the editing room floor. All that said, the opening battle was far my favorite. I would have loved to see more foots soldier vs giant monster action. Shoot, now that I think about it, I’d love to see a Godzilla film from the perspective of a tank crew or something.

All in all, this movie has its detractors, and it’s fair to understand why. If you’re mostly into Godzilla films for awesome action and charming yet effective special effects, this one falls pretty short. On the other hand, the story holds up pretty well, without being dragged down by too many characters or being too convoluted. I give it a 2.5/5. You’re probably not gonna have the time of your life watching this movie, but you’re probably not gonna regret it either. Me personally, I enjoy it enough that if someone pulled it out of my collection and says “Hey, I haven’t seen this one yet, wanna watch it?” I’ll say “Pop that sucker in!” I will say that I’m glad I reviewed this one first, because every other movie in this era tops this one so we only have upward to go from here.



posted by applewood: 13 days ago