Another entry into the Millennium series of Godzilla movies and yet another reboot…
Back in 1954, the original Godzilla’s assault on Japan heralded infrequent yet devastating monster attacks on the beleaguered nation by such creatures as Mothra and – most curiously as they’ve never been mentioned in a Godzilla movie before – the two brawling brothers from War Of The Gargantuas.
A raid by a second Godzilla in 1999 is the kaiju that breaks the camel’s back and the government put a plan in place to thwart these towering invaders once and for all. But the tool for Japan’s salvation may just come from the most unlikely source imaginable as the bones from the original 1954 Godzilla will be fused with bleeding edge robotics to become Kiryu, a.k.a Mechagodzilla! Armed with genetic memory from it’s DNA powered robo-brain (look, just go with it, willya…), it’s hypothesized that the impressive looking dreadnaught will have what it takes to put Godzilla down for the count for good.
Watching GAM-G is kind of like being flashed by the invisible man – you know something is happening on account of all the noise but your damned if see what any of the fuss is about. There is literally nothing of substance to this movie at all and if it wasn’t for it’s initial, and very cool, premise of utilizing the remains of the 1954 Godzilla it would have any original ideas either. Even then, there’s no real payoff to that concept until the next movie anyway, but you can’t even suggest it was left out for pacing issues as this movie isn’t even 90 minutes long! In fact the movie is SO slight at times it feels more like the pilot to a TV show than the 26 entry to one of cinema’s most long running film series and you get the feeling that audiences at the time must have felt profoundly ripped off. Maybe it was the time period, maybe Toho Studios were playing it safe, after all Godzilla movies (a genre renound for pushing over skyscrapers) was now living in a post 9/11 climate. And yet when you look at where Godzilla came from (e.g. a world shattering event that changed the course of history) you can’t help but sniffed a missed opportunity for some overdue social commentary before Cloverfield and Korean cult movie The Host got there years later. Instead we got a vanilla plot involving the same old story of a soldier vowing revenge after a previous Godzilla attack killed her unit, a trope used repeatedly throughout the series and as recently as only two films prior.
So why the 3 stars, then?
Well as derivative as it is it kind of like hearing a cute child tell a joke you’ve already heard before, you know where it’s going to end but the result is still oddly sweet. It also helps that the epic fights between Big G and his Mecha twin are limber and imaginative, with plenty of satisfying, physical blows landed along with the usual blasts of missiles and atomic breath.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla isn’t anything new or even remotely ground breaking but it nicely achieves the low standards it sets it’s bar to, but just like Kiryu itself, this is one Godzilla that could use more meat on it’s bones.