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Godzilla may have turned 49, but he shows no sign of slowing down. In the initial part of a planned trilogy, he battles an enemy very familiar to fans of the kaiju genre. An enjoyable entry in the Godzilla series, that previous outing shows the filmmakers are as adept at recycling old ideas as creating new ones.
After Godzilla ravaged Tokyo in 1954 and was killed by the Oxygen Destroyer, the Japanese government formed an elite strike force to defend their nation against the impending threat of giant monsters. Outfitted with advanced weaponry, they are successful in protecting their country until 1999, when a new Godzilla emerges. Encountering the creature in the midst of a raging typhoon, they meet with failure for the first time. Chastened by their defeat, the government sets out to create the ultimate weapon to eliminate Godzilla.
Their efforts result in Kiryu, essentially a cyborg version of Godzilla. Created by encasing the salvaged bones of the original beast in machinery, it boasts a formidable array of sophisticated weapons as well as the ability to engage Godzilla in mortal combat. When Godzilla rises from the oceanintent on destruction, the stage is set for a cataclysmic battle between technology and nature.
Director Massaki Tezuki is no stranger to the Godzilla series, having previously helmed “Godzilla X Megagirus”. Under his direction, the film has a brisk pace with kinetic battle sequences that are well choreographed. The script by Wataru Mimura (“Godzilla 2000″) is inventive, and has well-developed characters. Special effects and matte work is also particularly well-done, and gives the film an added dose of realism. Orchestrated by Michiru Oshima and performed by the Moscow International Symphonic Orchestra, the music does a superb job of complimenting the action onscreen.
Godzilla has faced Mechagodzilla before in three earlier films, and while the novelty has long since worn off, the filmmakers have added some ingenious aspects to the re-imaging of Mechagodzilla. This is especially true with the concept of using the original Godzilla as the basis for the cyborg, an idea that has destructive consequences when the two first meet. But as tricked-up as Mechagodzilla is now, it would be nicer to see Godzilla face a new monster with new abilities. New enemies give Godzilla a new challenge to overcome, and give the series a creative breath of fresh air.
Probably the only drawback to the film is the rather inconclusive ending, which is anti-climactic considering what has gone on before. Since this is the first act of a three-film storyline, audiences can expect to find resolution in 2004’s Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: SOS Tokyo! And 2005’s The Godzilla. Until then, viewers can be content to enjoy a worthy entry in the Godzilla series.
Masaaki Tezuka (director)
CAST: Yumiko Shaku …. Akane Yashiro
Shin Takuma …. Tokumitsu Yuhara
Kana Onodera …. Sara Yuhara