Film Review: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

Also known as: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy (full title)
Release Date: November 3rd, 2000 (Tokyo International Film Festival)
Directed by: Masaaki Tezuka
Written by: Wataru Mimura, Hiroshi Kashiwabara
Music by: Michiru Oshima
Cast: Misato Tanaka, Shosuke Tanihara, Yuriko Hoshi, Masatoh Eve, Toshiyuki Nagashima

Toho Co. Ltd., 105 Minutes, 88 Minutes (TV cut)

Review:

The Millennium era of Godzilla was pretty weird, at least the first leg of it. This was a film that started out kind of strong but ended up shitting all over itself in the second half.

The movie’s first half has a very good horror vibe to it. In fact, at one point, the much smaller Megaguirus actually violently slaughters a young couple in an alleyway.

The film also features a good subplot with a young boy that comes in contact with a Megaguirus egg. This helps to setup the villainous kaiju monster but the plot with the boy is basically dropped after the first act, which I found to be pretty bizarre, as he was essentially a main character early on.

Now I liked the concept of the Megaguirus creature, as it is an insect that evolves and eventually goes from being a swarm of large killer bugs to a massive singular kaiju.

Sadly, the kaiju action is just kind of meh. While Megaguirus was a cool monster, I felt like he was way too one-dimensional after becoming a giant beast. He pretty much just had his big stinger and flew around in a real nonsensical way that didn’t even work for tokusatsu/kaiju physics.

The film also borrows heavily from the Ultraman series in how it has a specialized military squadron dedicated to fighting giant creatures. And like Ultraman, this squadron acts immature and very un-military-like. The whole thing is kind of confusing, as on one hand, this is an adult film with some actual violence and light gore. But then on the other hand, the plot is structured and presented like it’s supposed to appeal to a younger audience.

I also thought that the special effects are a mixed bag. I mostly liked the kaiju costumes. However, the miniatures looked pretty basic and paled in comparison to the superb work of Eiji Tsuburaya, almost a half century earlier.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus isn’t a shitty kaiju film but it’s mostly forgettable and a discombobulated, confused film. It’s trying to be multiple things at once without realizing that some of those things exist in contrast to one another.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Millennium era Godzilla movies.

Film Review: Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth (1992)

Also known as: Godzilla vs. Mothra (alternative title)
Release Date: December 12th, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Takao Okawara
Written by: Kazuki Ōmori
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Tetsuya Bessho, Satomi Kobayashi, Takehiro Murata, Megumi Odaka, Akiji Kobayashi, Akira Takarada

Toho Co. Ltd., 102 Minutes

Review:

“There isn’t a job that is too tough for me, except, the one time I was married to a real stubborn woman.” – Takuya Fujita

I kind of forgot how much I enjoy this entry into the Heisei era of Godzilla.

It’s a pretty solid picture, all around, minus some cheesiness. But that cheesiness is mostly from the human actors, as the kaiju interactions and battles are some top notch stuff.

Also, since I hadn’t seen this one in quite awhile, I forgot that it’s actually Godzilla versus both monsters in the end.

While this is the first time that Godzilla and Mothra meet in the Heisei era, it is the first time that Battra has ever appeared. For those who might not know, Battra is essentially the Yang to Mothra’s Yin. He’s a darker and, at face value, an evil looking version of Mothra. The two monsters do battle throughout the film but by the end, Battra and Mothra decide that it would be better to combine their efforts to fight Godzilla, who in this continuity, is still a real threat and not the friendly, kid loving monster he became later in the Shōwa era pictures.

The rubber suits and animatronics in this chapter are amazing. While I find the previous film, Godzilla vs. Biollante, to be more impressive overall, this looks like a pristine and well crafted production, top to bottom. It’s certainly one of the best kaiju films of its era from a technical standpoint.

This also has one of my favorite final battles because the location looks unique, the monsters look great and the action itself is well choreographed.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a giant, neon Ferris wheel dropped on Godzilla, than this is the movie for you.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Heisei era Godzilla films, as well as Mothra vs. Godzilla from 1964.

Film Review: Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)

Also known as: Gojira vs. Biorante (original Japanese title), Godzilla 1990 (South Korea)
Release Date: December 16th, 1989 (Japan)
Directed by: Kazuki Ōmori
Written by: Kazuki Ōmori, Shinichirō Kobayashi
Music by: Koichi Sugiyama
Cast: Kunihiko Mitamura, Yoshiko Tanaka, Masanobu Takashima, Megumi Odaka, Toru Minegishi, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Yoshiko Kuga, Ryunosuke Kaneda, Kōji Takahashi

Toho Co. Ltd., 104 Minutes, 83 Minutes (VHS screener cut)

Review:

“Godzilla and Biollante aren’t monsters. It’s the unscrupulous scientists who create them that are monsters.” – Dr. Shiragami

This is the hardest of all Godzilla movies to track down if you didn’t actually buy the VHS, DVD or Blu-ray when they came out. It’s been out of print for years and if you want a copy, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for it. Luckily, I had a hook up because I was too poor to buy this way back when it came out and as much as I love the movie, I’m not going to pay nearly $100 for a copy now.

Anyway, we never got a real sequel to Godzilla vs. Hedorah due to Toho hating it when it came out in 1971. However, this is a sort of spiritual sequel to it in that it pits Godzilla against another environmental threat… or in this case, a biological one.

After the lukewarm reception to The Return of Godzilla and the complete failure of the United States’ King Kong Lives, Toho was really cautious about rushing out another kaiju sequel. Although, the success of The Little Shop of Horrors remake got their attention and I’d have to assume that the plant monster designed for this film was somewhat inspired by the plant monster from that picture.

Although, Toho did hold a writing contest to see if fans could come up with a great Godzilla story worth telling. So I’m not sure how much of this came from fan input or from Toho’s writers trying to emulate The Little Shop of Horrors.

Needless to say, the studio was looking for a new kind of threat for Godzilla to fight and they wanted something fresh that was born out of science run amok. Where Godzilla was born out of man experimenting with atomic energy, Biollante was born out of man experimenting with biological engineering.

The end result is one of the coolest kaiju ever created, as well as one of the greatest threats Godzilla ever faced. Additionally, the monster, like Hedorah before her, had different stages of evolution throughout the movie. This would also go on to start a trend that saw Godzilla fight monsters that would evolve into more dangerous versions of themselves as movies progressed.

Godzilla vs. Biollante is one of my favorite films in the Heisei era and honestly, one of my favorite, overall. It just looks fantastic, I love the monsters and the effects and this boasts some of the best kaiju on kaiju violence in the franchise. Between the early fight where Godzilla fights Biollante in her flower form to the big, grand finale, everything in regards to the kaiju action is tremendous!

I also really like the story, I thought the actors were better than average for these sort of pictures and this movie has pretty solid cinematography for something from the tokusatsu genre.

Plus, this movie just has an epic feel to it that builds off of the spectacle of its predecessor in a great way.

This is one of the best looking and most interesting chapters in the long running franchise.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other Heisei era Godzilla films, as well as Godzilla vs. Hedorah.

Film Review: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Also known as: Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Monster Zero (alternative US titles), Battle of the Astros, Invasion of Planet X, The Great Monster War (alternative Yugoslavian titles)
Release Date: December 19th, 1965 (Japan)
Directed by: Ishirō Honda
Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Akira Takarada, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Keiko Sawai, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Yoshifumi Tajima

Toho Co. Ltd., 93 Minutes, 74 Minutes (re-issue)

Review:

“[about the victory over King Ghidorah, while Godzilla is outside dancing] A happy moment.” – Controller of Planet X

This is the last Godzilla film of the Shōwa era that I had left to review. While I didn’t watch the movies in order, I did save one of my favorites for last. But honestly, I like all these movies and don’t think there is a bad one in the bunch. Nope, not even All Monsters Attack a.k.a. Godzilla’s Revenge.

What I liked about this film is that it is a true follow up to its predecessor Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and also features the same lineup of monsters, minus Mothra. This also introduces the Xiliens from Planet X, who were (and still are) the best alien villains in Godzilla lore. In fact, they should’ve been regular antagonists throughout the Shōwa pictures but Toho decided to introduce new hostile aliens with almost every movie after this one. Although, I did like the ape and the cockroach aliens, somewhat. But leaving the Xiliens behind, after this film, was a mistake.

Anyway, the plot in this one is interesting, as it sees the Xiliens bring two Earth astronauts to their planet in an effort to get them to agree to let them borrow Godzilla and Rodan due to King Ghidorah being a major nuisance. It’s all a trap, however, as the aliens take control of Godzilla and Rodan and force them, along with Ghidorah, to attack Earth, leaving it defenseless. I guess King Kong, Mothra and Anguirus were taking naps on Monster Island.

Despite its hokiness, I really like the set designs and costumes in this chapter. Everything just looks really unique and seeing just one frame of this film lets avid Godzilla fans know which movie it is. Especially, in regards to any scenes involving Planet X or its people.

The special effects are great and consistent with the other films where Eiji Tsuburaya handled them.

All in all, this is just another really fun chapter in the franchise during its greatest run.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Shōwa era Godzilla movies.

 

Film Review: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Also known as: Mosura tai Gojira (original Japanese title), Godzilla Against Mothra (Japanese English title), Panik in Tokyo (Germany), Godzilla Fights the Giant Moth (Worldwide English title)
Release Date: April 29th, 1964 (Japan)
Directed by: Ishirō Honda
Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, The Peanuts, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yu Fujiki, Kenji Sahara, Jun Tazaki, Yoshifumi Tajima

Toho Co. Ltd., 89 Minutes

Review:

“I’m not as afraid of Godzilla as I am of the editor… he’s meaner.” – Reporter Jiro Nakamura

While not my favorite Godzilla movie of the Shōwa era, this one still holds a pretty special place in my heart, as it pits Godzilla against Mothra for the first time. Granted, they’d become solid allies after this movie, as Godzilla would evolve into a hero and Earth’s protector once King Ghidorah shows up in the picture following this one.

This is still a fun film that merges the two monsters into the same franchise, this being Godzilla’s fourth movie and Mothra’s second after 1961’s simply titled Mothra.

The story sees one of Mothra’s eggs get taken from Infant Island, the kaiju’s tropical Tiki-esque home, and put on display in Japan. Godzilla shows up, the egg hatches and we get some great kaiju action. In fact, the battles and the effects are some of my favorite in the series, so hats off, once again, to effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya.

And while I’m mentioning Tsuburaya, his miniatures in this are some of the best he’s done. The vehicles looked and performed superbly.

The film also stars some of Toho’s regular actors from the tokusatsu genre, which I always consider a good thing despite familiar faces appearing multiple times throughout the franchise as different characters. In this one, we get Kenji Sahara, who I always enjoy, and Hiroshi Koizumi.

Mothra vs. Godzilla has a simple story but it works. This is a kaiju movie from the best kaiju studio from the best era in the kaiju genre. It brings together two of the most popular characters in film history and it is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be while slightly exceeding those expectations.

This doesn’t have much of anything wrong with it and its just enjoyable through and through: a true tokusatsu classic.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other Shōwa era Godzilla movies.

Vids I Dig 255: Toy Galaxy: The History & Legacy of the ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers exploded onto the air in 1993 and was a force unlike anything seen before.

Large parts of the episodes were borrowed from already produced series in Japan and adapted for use in the US but the road to get there was a bit rocky.

Book Review: ‘Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishirō Honda’ by Peter H. Brothers

Not all books on kaiju motion pictures are considered equal. There are some good and some bad. This one, specifically focusing on the work of Ishirō Honda, is in the upper echelon, however.

I really enjoyed this, as it is well researched, covers a lot more ground with a lot more detail than I thought possible and it still finds room to include a lot of great photos.

For those unaware, Honda is the director of the original Godzilla film, as well as many of its sequels. He would also go on to be the number one tokusatsu (Japanese sci-fi) director at Toho, who were the top studio for those style of films.

This book covers Honda’s life and the bulk of his filmmaking career, looking at his kaiju films, as well as other sci-fi and horror pictures he did.

The book’s title is in reference to the atomic age that birthed kaiju cinema, as well as the mushroom men that starred in one of his greatest and most bonkers films, Matango a.k.a. Attack of the Mushroom People.

If you’re into Honda’s work or even just the genre he was the godfather of, this is certainly a worthwhile read.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other books on Toho Co. Ltd., Godzilla and kaiju film in general.