Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1993)

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Our rating: three lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

MechaGodzilla and his plasma beam.
Unique among the new series of Godzilla movies, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla reintroduces three old monsters in new forms. The first is Rodan, a giant pteradon who originally turned up in 1956's Rodan, The Flying Monster, fought Godzilla in Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, and then teamed up with Godzilla at the end of that film and in Monster Zero, among others. Rodan's new origin is that he is a pteradon who hatched from a long buried egg and then was probably mutated by radiation. Why he doesn't look more like Howard Stern is never explained.

The second monster from the old series is MechaGodzilla himself. In the old films, MechaGodzilla and MechaGodzilla 2 were both built by aliens trying to conquer the Earth. The new MechaGodzilla was built by G-Force, a international organization trying to rid the world of Godzilla ("Give sanctions time to work!"). The new MechaGodzilla was built with technology recovered from MechaKing Ghidorah, last seen in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.

And finally, we see the long-awaited, much clamored-for revamp version of Minya, son of Godzilla! The old Minya hatched from an egg in Son of Godzilla and embarrassed Godzilla fans everywhere by appearing in Godzilla's Revenge and Destroy All Monsters. The new version of Minya, actually called Baby Godzilla throughout this film, hatches out of an egg from the same nest as Rodan, and they are linked by some sort of psychic connection. Baby is about man-sized and herbivorous, not to mention cute.

Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla catapults Masahiro Takashima to a level of Stomp Tokyo stardom shared by only a few other actors. He has starred in three films that we have reviewed, the others being Gunhed and Yamato Takeru. The only other actors to manage this are Tim Thomerson and Chow Yun Fat. We quite like Masahiro as Aoki. He is a very engaging actor and he exudes a weird everyman aura, even if he is playing an everyman who is obsessed with pteradons. It seems a shame that some of the funniest scenes he had in the film were left on the cutting room floor. (The unused scenes included at the end of our import tape prove this.)

The cast meets Baby (far left).
The actors that needed to be left on the cutting room floor are unfortunately front and center. In order to maintain the illusion that G-Force is an international group (as if Godzilla ever attacks any other country than Japan), there are two very uncomfortable-looking occidentals hanging around. As we have mentioned before, the makers of the Godzilla movies tend to cast American actors in roles not based on their acting skill, but on the basis of their looks and their availability. Most are people in Japan for unrelated business reasons. So Leo Mangetti plays Dr. Asimov (Yes, Dr. Asimov) because he looks kind of like a scientist, especially when he wears a white coat and looks intently at a clipboard. But whenever he opens his mouth, you know this man is not an actor. In all fairness, it probably doesn't matter to the Japanese audiences the movie is geared towards, but for those of us on this side of the Pacific it's mighty funny. Poor Leo fares well, acting-wise, compared to the blonde woman who plays one of MechaGodzilla's pilots. In some scenes you can hear the assistant director saying, "Someone poke the American! It's her line!" Most of her dialogue is along the lines of "Yes sir," and "Passing point Delta-9," but that's understandable when you hear her deliver her only dramatic line at the end of the movie. Her line delivery is so wooden you could build a house out of it. Her peformance is so stilted, it belongs in a circus parade. Her acting is so bad, Mike Nelson would feel sorry for her. You get the idea.

Now we don't really mean to cut on this poor woman (we have yet to find her real name). We're sure she's probably a wonderful person, and a mother to happy children. She probably always pays her taxes early every year and gives freely of herself to charities of great merit. When she dies, a long time from now, she will be remembered fondly by those whose lives she touched.

But that doesn't change the fact that she's a really bad actress.

A couple of interesting points of trivia: Sayaka Osawa and Keiko Imamura, who cameo as teachers in this film, were the Cosmos twins in Godzilla vs Mothra (1992). Also, Mashahiro Takashima was in Godzilla vs Biollante, though he played a different character.

How does this film fit into the Godzilla family? The story is pretty standard Godzilla fare: lots of city destruction, unexplained cosmic events, and people standing around looking relieved at the end of the movie. On that score, it's really nothing new. But we're happy to see that the effects for the big G are getting steadily better. Although Gamera: Guardian of the Universe still puts most Godzilla films to shame, we've come a long way from the days of yore when you could see the zipper running down the front of the suit.

Review date: 11/21/97

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