For Godzilla’s 20th film, Toho brought the old stalwart MechaGodzilla out of mothballs to serve as the Big G’s adversary. This could be problematic, as MechaGodzilla has appeared in two previous films and two more since. Surprisingly, the result is not the stale monster rehash you’d expect, but rather a fresh and entertaining entry in the series.
Seeking to create the ultimate weapon against Godzilla, the United Nations recovers the body of Mecha-King Ghidorah. Utilizing the salvaged futuristic technology, they create MechaGodzilla, tricking it out with a nasty array of weaponry. Meanwhile, a prehistoric egg is discovered on a remote island being guarded by Rodan. When Godzilla arrives to battle Rodan, the egg is spirited away, where it hatches in captivity as a baby Godzilla. The military plans to use the baby as bait to lure Godzilla to his death, but when Rodan arrives it becomes a kaiju battle royale.
For “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II”, the lead monster is given a more parental look; he doesn’t look as fearsome as before, and instead Godzilla looks ready for fatherhood and not so inclined towards rampant destruction. Rodan also gets a makeover, looking more detailed with highly vibrant colors, with the only drawback being that Rodan is now a wire-controlled marionette instead of a monster suit. This causes him to frequently move stiffly and a bit unrealistically.
A huge improvement over Minya, baby Godzilla looks presentable and a realistic kin for Godzilla. Bluish and cute, you’d be hard pressed to suppress the urge to take him home, even if he’s liable to destroy your town when he grows up. But the biggest improvement is MechaGodzilla II. No longer a gimmick dreamed up by Toho to sell tickets, MechaGodzilla is now a deadly and sleek weapon, boasting armaments such as Mega Buster ray, Plasma Grenade, Shock Anchor cables, the lethal G-Crusher, and an artificial diamond coating to absorb Godzilla’s radiation breath.
Writer Walter Mimura may be a rookie to Godzilla movies, but you’d never know it. His script is a roller coaster ride that wisely focuses on monster action and relegates the less interesting human characters to the background. His finale is a masterpiece of kaiju action, a perfect end to the 107 minutes that could double as a monster highlight reel. His smart concept of Godzilla possessing a 2nd brain is quite imaginative and believable, since many large dinosaurs had the same extra gray matter. But why does Rodan sacrifice himself to save Godzilla? If they were mortal enemies, you’d think he’d rejoice in Godzilla’s death, instead of trying to prevent it.
Back for a second time, director Takao Okawara only improves on his previous effort. “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II” zips along with few dead spots. Okawara also presents the theme of technology vs. nature, giving the movie a deeper meaning than had it just been a monster version of Extreme Fighting Championship. More importantly, Okawara shows a new, softer side to Godzilla. We’re also given a visually scenic final moment that is almost heartwarming.
Akira Ifukube’s score is, in a word, brilliant. The master delivers a fantastic performance that proves he hasn’t lost his ability with age. The musical themes range from haunting, stirring, and slow war marches. His music accentuates the action and does nothing but positively contribute to the film. Once again, Mr. Ifukube deserves a standing ovation.
Special effects by long time contributor Koichi Kawakita and director Takao Okawara are also well done, making you believe that you’re actually watching giant creatures fighting it out. Highly realistic, “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II” features more monster blood than previously, giving the film an extra feel of realism.
A high point in the Godzilla series, “Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla 2” is sure to please even the most hard to please fans. While not always logical, it deftly covers up its faults with a heavy does of slam-bang action. If you like monster movies, this one is for you. If you’ve never seen a Godzilla film, this is one to start with.
Takao Okawara (director) / Wataru Mimura (screenplay)
CAST: Masahiro Takashima …. Kazuma Aoki
Ryoko Sano …. Azusa Gojo
Megumi Odaka …. Miki Saegusa
Leo Meneghetti …. Dr. Asimov