The Godzilla franchise is alive and well. After languishing for a while, a few years abo Toho started making more movies staring the world's most famous giant monster, Godzilla. Though it was a little slow making its way across the Pacific, 2002's Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is a fine entry in the series, and one to please many Godzilla fans.
A typhoon hits the coast of Japan, and out from the maelstrom emerges Godzilla. It has been 45 years since the first, and only, attack by Godzilla in 1954. All hasn't been quiet though. Mothra and Gaira (aka The Green Gargantua) have attacked, but they were defeated by the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF.) This organization was created in 1966 to protect Japan from monsters, and have done an outstanding job. Until Godzilla returns that is. The AMF mobilizes all of their weapons and attacks Godzilla. They get thoroughly trounced.
Realizing that their weapons were useless against the king of the monsters, the AMF creates a new more powerful armament. A bio-mechanical remote controlled version of Godzilla based on the skeleton and DNA of the original monster. Dubbed Kiryu, (it's only referred to as Mechagodzilla once,) this robot comes equipped with the latest weapons including a newly developed 'absolute zero beam'.
On their first meeting, Godzilla is no match for his mechanical counterpart. He is peppered with missiles, maser beams, and rockets. It looks like it will be a short battle, and the wounded Godzilla retreats and roars in rage. But something changes with this howl. Since Kiryu was created from the original Godzilla's DNA, the roar triggers a primal response deep inside the robot. It stops obeying its programming, and behaves like Godzilla, running amok. The remote controls no longer function, and there is nothing to do but to let the mechanical creature rampage until it runs out of energy.
Godzilla will be returning, so the scientists try to reprogram Kiryu. But will this man made monster be reliable, or will it be more of a threat than Godzilla himself?
I really enjoyed this film. The movie starts out with a Godzilla attack in the first minutes which really gets the story rolling. Usually after the initial action, the plot kicks in and there's a lull while they introduce the plot. While this movie is true to form, the plot is more interesting than most giant monster movies. The plot with the young female military officer tied in well with the action and didn't feel like something that was just slapped together to get to the action.
The battle scenes, which are the main reason anyone watches these films to begin with, were great! The design for Mechagodzilla was one of the more impressive. He was loaded with weapons, and wasn't bashful about using them. The missiles were particularly impressive. The special effects, while not top of the line, were good. I really enjoyed the way the absolute zero cannon worked.
Make sure you don't turn the movie off during the credits. There's a bonus scene after they are finished that is worth waiting for.
I did have some complaints with the movie though. My main critiques have to do with the Godzilla himself. He just doesn't look quite right in this movie. His head is too small for the body, and his snout is elongated making it look a little like he has a beak. Mechagodzilla looks a lot better even though he looks like a megazord from Power Rangers.
Godzilla also seems to be lacking personality in this movie. He isn't really the star of the movie, more a supporting actor. There doesn't seem to be any reason for his attacks, or a reason given for his return. While he fights well with Kiryu, in the scenes that he has by himself Godilla doesn't move much. He looks more like a statue than an unstoppable force in some shots.
Viewers have the option of viewing this movie with the original Japanese soundtrack or with an English dub. Both soundtracks were 5.1 mixes and there are optional subtitles In English and French. The English dubbing was not as good as the work done on some other of the recent Godzilla releases. The lip-synching was not as accurate, though not nearly as bad as the old 60's movies. The voices of the children were atrocious, they all sounded like adults talking in a high pitched voices, which I guess they were. The Japanese track was much better. The children sounded like kids, of course, and the voices fit the faces a little better. Very good use was made of the soundstage, especially during the battles. The sounds of destruction and devastation emanated from all around. My subwoofer had a real good workout.
This DVD contained a nice widescreen anamorphic transfer. There is some digital noise in the sky and other large patches of solid color, but they weren't distracting. Unfortunately, some edge enhancement has been applied to the picture, but this shouldn't be a problem on smaller viewing setups. The colors were good, and there was a fine amount of detail to the images. Overall I was happy with the picture quality.
This is a bare bones DVD. The only bonus material were a set of trailers, nothing else.
This was a fun movie, reminding me of the classic Godzilla movies in a lot of ways. While I did have some minor complaints about the way Godzilla was portrayed, the fights and design for Kiryu made up for them. This movie contains a better plot than most Japanese monster movies. While I didn't like the English audio track, the Japanese soundtrack was very good. Overall, this was a great entry to the Godzilla mythos. Highly Recommended.