Pre-Ramble Mini Ramble: This is the third and final film made by Tezuka for the Millenium Era. As odd as it sounds, I kind of wish this era went for a few more films and that Tezuka was in charge of some of them, because he improved a lot between Megaguirus and Mechagodzilla and he improved just as much from Megagodzilla to this film. While I can’t say that any of his three films are the best Godzilla has, they’re solid, got steadily better, and it would have been cool to see one or two more. In a way, his work kind of reminds me of Fukuda’s from the Showa era, where things start a bit rough but get progressively better with each film. Coincidentally, Fukuda’s last film was the first time we get to see Mechagodzilla, so that’s kind of neat.
So this film is a direct sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and of the three films, this one is lightest on plot. Basically the first act is all setup, and then the second and third act just blend together as one long, stretched out, but not boring battle. But the gist of it is, Shinichi Chujo (from 1961’s Mothra) is visited by Mothra’s fairies telling him that Mothra is kind of upset that humans are messing with nature and turning Godzilla’s bones into a weapon instead of letting them rest peacefully at the bottom of the ocean and that if the bones aren’t returned, Mothra is gonna declare war on mankind. Chujo’s nephew, Yoshi Chujo, is a mechanic who works on Kiryu and his academy buddy and her compatriot are two of the new pilots for Kiryu cause the original pilots, including Akane, are going to America for special training. Godzilla shows up. Mothra shows up to fight him because when push comes to shove, she always does the right thing. Mechagodzilla shows up. Mothra is down for the count. Twin larval Mothra’s show up. Adult Mothra dies. Mechagodzilla goes down for the count. The twins have to hold their own until Chujo repairs Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla goes rogue again, but instead of going on a rampage like in the last film, he traps Godzilla and flies out to the ocean where they can both be buried in a trench and sleep eternally. The end.
I hate writing plot summaries. On to the stuff I care about.
I don’t know why, but I’m kind of just “eh” on the characters for this film. On paper they work great, and if you asked me objectively, I don’t think any of them are awful. I think Yoshi Chujo is probably my favorite, which is good, cause he’s the main focus of the film. I don’t know why, but it’s kind of nice to have a mechanic as a lead roll. I actually gotta say, the Prime Minister for this and the previous film, played by Akira Nakao, I kind of like. If you think he looks familiar, and you watched any of the Heisei films, that’d be why, as he played Commander Aso in the the second half of that series. He just does a great job in being dramatic and serious without being over the top and he’s one of the more level actors in these films. What needs to be said, even though the characters just don’t really stand out that much to me, this movie is a huge improvement over the last film in that there’s not a lot of melodrama forced onto the plot and dialog, and therefore onto us. It makes for a much better viewing experience.
Speaking of better viewing experience, visually this whole film is a huge step up from Tezuka’s previous two Godzilla films. Most importantly, the choreography of the fights have been cleaned up significantly. The pacing is nice and tight, the action is dynamic yet easy to follow, and you can easily discern the thoughts and motivations behind the monsters. Remember how I complained in the previous film about how Godzilla twice took opening salvos and just stood there like a doofus and didn’t react at all? Well, in this film, he still stands there like a doofus, but at least he reacts with alarm and frustration. Pacing wise, they did even better with this film, because even though the majority of the film is basically one huge battle, it’s broken up with scenes with the human characters and they do a wonderful job of switching back and forth between action and plot, avoiding any awkward changes in tone or pacing. Lastly, the satisfying explosions are back. I’m not asking for Bayhem in these films, but if we’re gonna be playing with fire in these movies, it’s better when they’re well portrayed.
I love the character designs in this movie. First off, Kiryu’s weapons have been changed up a bit from the previous film. He’s lost the Absolute Zero Canon and it’s now been replaced with a Tripple Hyper Maser Canon (which is as awesome as it sounds), has some new shoulder canons, and a few tricks up his sleeve, including more missiles than could probably realistically fit on a machine even his size. He’s just bad ass. Oh! Speaking of bad ass, they changed the paint job a bit on him for this movie too, so instead of being all shiny chrome, it’s more subdued and shadowed this time around, making him a bit more menacing. Love it. Adult Mothra in this film looks great for the most part. I think the only complaint I have about her is that her wings are a bit on the thin and flimsy looking side this time around, but this actually plays into how these monsters are portrayed that I’ll get into in a moment. The mothra larva are mothra larva. They’re radio controlled models of worms, so you get what you get. Godzilla looks wonderful though.
Kind of related to character designs, is that they really show damage from combat in this film, which is great. Mothra’s flimsy wings get torn up and she even loses a leg. Godzilla is sporting a nasty scar from last year’s battle, which is a great touch. Kiryu gets all jacked up in the face and remember how I was mentioned last time around that it’s weird having a giant mech with all those exposed wires and nothing happens to them and it’s kind of unrealistic? Well this time, the vulnerability of those wires becomes a plot point in the film, which is a great touch if you ask me. It’s just a nice change of pace to see some real damage show up on these monsters, because with the exception of some blood here or there, that’s not always a thing you see in Kaiju films (though Gamera, for being a kid focused series in the Showa era, had quite a bit of it actually). I think my only complaint is that there’s a scene where Kiryu basically drills a giant hole into Godzilla and there’s not a drop of blood. It’s kind of a weird choice if you ask me, because you’re already stepping into the realm of the hyper violent, so why be shy on the blood? I’m not saying that I want gore in these films, but for some reason, an omission like that bugs me.
All in all, it’s a good film. I give it a 3.5/5. If you’re a fan of Godzilla in general or Mothra or Mechagodzilla in particular, you’ll probably like this movie. I wouldn’t say it’s a “must see” though, more like a “safe bet,” and that’s alright.