Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Gojira tai Mekagojira) Reviews
This new Mechagodzilla is very cool. Instead of looking like a silver, angular Godzilla Kiryu looks like a robot made of black muscles and wires with armor plating holding the whole thing together and protecting the delicate mechanisms. It also feels a bit more realistic of an idea, it's built on the super-strong sketelon of the original Godzilla and in fact uses it's DNA as a base for it's computer system (instead of a 2 base/binary computer, it uses a 4 base computer based on DNA). It's also armed to the teeth: on top of its regular arsenal with a mazer cannons in the mouth and an extremely destructive super-weapon in its chest (an absolute zero gun, capable of reducing pretty much anything to dust), Kiryu has added missiles launchers on its shoulders in the form of a weapon/jet pack as well as retractable blades and guns on its wrists. Kiryu's design also includes rocket boosters to make it more agile in battle, which makes for more dynamic fights. It does have a weakness however: the batteries inside can only run Kiryu for 2 hours at a time, after which it has to recharge. Godzilla's design is pretty much the same as it has been for the rest of the Millenium series, a bit streamlined but not much else is different. Between these two we have some pretty good action sequences, first of Godzilla against the military, then of a malfunctioning Kiryu destroying some skyscrapers and final a climactic battle between the two Godzillas. On top of having plenty of projectiles to shoot at each other there are also some exciting moments where they fight hand-to-hand as well.
The human portion of the plot is also more interesting that in most Godzilla movies. We have three main characters, with Yuhara, his daughter Sara and the alienated pilot Lt. Akane building up a friendship. It's clear that Yuhara, a single dad, is really interested in the Lieutenant romantically and there are some hints that she begins to warm up to him as well, which is fun to follow. The daughter and Akane also actually end up having a lot in common and you get some good character development as the two deal with their grief through friendship. A lot of these monster movies feel obliged to include a little annoying kid for the kiddie audience to relate to and usually every time they show up on screen it's a chore (like in "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus"). Here that annoying kid syndrome is kept to a minimum and Sara actually turns out to be a likeable character. I also found it interesting that this film includes past Godzilla attacks as a major plot point. In this film when people are killed and buildings are destroyed it feels like it has real meaning because people are reprimanded and opinions change after successful and unsuccessful counter-attacks. It helps you swallow the fairly unbelievable concept that Japan would build a super-robot to fight back against a giant radioactive dinosaur. I do have to point out that like "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus", this film shoots itself in the foot a bit by giving Kiryu a weapon so devastating it undermine's Godzilla's threat. When you have a weapon that can accidentally disintegrate whole skyscrapers, Godzilla seems like a harmless storm.
"Godzilla against Mechagodzilla" is one of the better films in the franchise. The giant robot thing is pretty easy to grasp and you can tell the writer really took some time to think the story through. There are moments where the film resembles some popular giant Mecha animes so if you've got a friend that loves something like "Neon Genesis Evangelion" or "Gundam" you can watch this one with them and convert them to a Godzilla fan pretty easily. The effects are a little rough at times with the CG, but overall quite well done, the characters interesting and the action is satisfying too. The Millennium series was off to a really rough start but with this installment and the previous being pretty good, things are looking up. (On Dvd, May 19, 2014)