Review: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
After realising Godzilla is attracted to nuclear power, Japan decides to be rid of its nuclear power plants and turn to clean energy. Yet still the monster is undeterred. What to do? Young inventor Tanihara Shosuke is recruited to join G-Graspers (who mostly just seem like a SWAT team) and help them create something to rid Japan of Godzilla. In a team that includes his former high school science teacher, they come up with the idea of creating a small black hole fired from a satellite to swallow Godzilla never to return. At least that’s the plan. Meanwhile, a young boy discovers a big egg that eventually hatches a giant dragonfly. After a spawning or two, this results in the eventual appearance of Megaguirus, a gigantic dragonfly queen who then gets set to tackle Godzilla. Tanaka Misato plays G-Grasper Commander Kiriko Tsujimori, still grieving the death of her predecessor in an ill-fated skirmish five years back.
While not up to the high standards of the previous “Godzilla 2000”, this follow up from 2000 is nonetheless a good movie. Directed by Masaaki Tezuka (a debutant who went on to direct the next two films in the series), the film has some hold-overs from the previous film, in that energy is once again a factor, this time Japan is on a clean energy kick to keep Godzilla away. Meanwhile, we open with some fascinating newsreel footage recapping the history of Godzilla’s murdering of thousands of innocent Japanese people over the years, who surely have some kind of generationally passed-down form of collective Stockholm Syndrome at this point. It’s the only way to rationalise how from one movie to another Godzilla can be seen as either destructive or a saviour, sometimes even within the same film.
As with the previous film, the lighting and camera angles are effective in making Godzilla properly huge and intimidating, with plenty of close-ups. They don’t always get the scale right, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. The shots of cosmopolitan modern day Tokyo in these first two films really are a fun update of the films from previous eras. Seeing Japanese people flee their flood-and-monster ravaged homes (children included) adds a tiny bit of gravitas you never got from previous eras. The CGI is also among the best I’ve seen in a Godzilla film, if still much lesser than a big-budget Hollywood film. On the downswing, the military strategy here isn’t nearly as solid as it was in the previous film. After 40-50 years since the first attack, someone here finally suggests aiming for Godzilla’s legs. He can’t move much if he can’t walk, obviously. Sadly, 6 minutes into the film and they want to aim at his head after all. Oh well. Things pick up with the arrival of the titular Megaguirus in surprisingly violent fashion. The film is definitely a bit more graphic than any Godzilla film I’ve seen before or since. Megaguirus, by the way, looks like a giant evil dragonfly. Although it looks about as stable in flight as most of the other Toho flying monsters (barely at all), Megaguirus still looks suitably nasty and hellish. It actually looks like something out of a Full Moon Entertainment horror movie. The scene where a bunch of big dragonflies clutching onto a skyscraper is actually a bit unnerving. While, they may indeed be unnerving, the dragonflies also prove useless when Godzilla fire-breathes the fuck out of them. The science behind using a ‘micro black hole’ to swallow Godzilla ‘never to be returned’ sounds like complete ridiculousness to me, but I can’t deny that Megaguirus’ genesis being from that black hole experiment is certainly a fascinating idea.
I do wish the film weren’t so focussed on what I call “G-Force” characters and plotting (referring to the late 80s, early 90s ‘Hensei Series’ Godzilla films), but otherwise the film is fun and the music score by Michiru Ohshima (all subsequent “Godzilla” films in the ‘Millennium Series’) is excellent too, a better score than the previous film had. The one thing the previous film had that this one lacks is a cracking pace. This one’s far more leisurely paced than it really needs to be. I also couldn’t quite work out why the monster-fighting action heroine was such a dick to our long-haired tech-whiz protagonist. That seemed to come out of nowhere and have zero rationale. Otherwise the screenplay by Hirochi Kashiwabara and Wataru Mimura (who both scripted the previous “Godzilla 2000”) is pretty good.
A slight step down from the previous film, but still a really well-made and fun Toho monster movie. The ‘Millennium Series’ is batting 2-2 so far.