Alternative Title: The one that used all the fireworks in Japan.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla! Where do we start with this one? For some reason, trivia on the development of this movie seems to be much less available on the internet than for the other films, so… well, we’ll have to resort to conjecture for some of this, probably.
What we do know is that the Godzilla franchise had been making largely kid-oriented fare since Destroy All Monsters saw the original creative team leave the series for various reasons. It’d also been waning in popularity for a while, never reaching the lofty peaks of commercial success established by King Kong vs. Godzilla. Meanwhile, other kaiju productions were soundly beating the film in the very genre Big G had established. Some of them were kid-friendly, sure. Others proved there were a sizable audience of adults out there for kaiju films. So, dudes here saw that, and figured, ‘You know, the whole kid thing isn’t exactly working out for us. Maybe we should go after that market. Those who can enjoy the big dumb giant monster battles on a whole other level.
And so, this film was made with that in mind. Adult oriented. Actioned way the heck up. No more stock footage, because they’re not just playing to dumb children for whom they can get away with that. More violent and gory than the series has been before, and possibly has been since. Explosions and pyrotechnics up the giant monster-sized wazoo. Life and death stakes, and people getting straight up killed on screen. And not a single childly shortpant to be seen.
This… ends up being a really weeeeeeeeiiiiiiird movie to watch. Inconsistency is rampant throughout. Do you love explosions? I hope you do, because they are HERE with a statement. The pyrotechnic work here is gratuitous and glorious. The overlays; the beams, atomic breaths, aliens transforming, etc., look cartoonish and absolutely horrible. Mechagodzilla looks amazing! King Caesar is kind of ok, and the aliens are absolutely awful. The action between the monsters is strong and exciting and visceral. Everything going on with the people makes no sense and has way too many moving parts. And a lot of the things that happen just don’t make any darn sense. It’s amazing in parts, and laughably bad in others, and almost never anywhere in between.
Also, I’ll say it again. Explosions. If you love things blowing up in your movies, man, the work here is obscene. There’s one part in particular that had me in awe at just how spectacular it was. There’s corners cut in this movie, yes. But they did not spare the pyrotechnics in any way.
Let’s dig into this bombfest, shall we?
The movie starts with a bunch of dudes in suits watching a shrine maiden dance around in Okinawa. All of a sudden, she has a vision of King Ghidorah destroying some city, and collapses, crying out the prophecy. You know when I said they were done with the stock footage? I lied. I’m sorry. But this is the only part I noticed it in, I swear. It’s a weird selection, too. King Ghidorah isn’t even in this movie. Anyways, there’s a prophecy that a monster is going to come and kill civilization now.
Things disperse, and two of our heroes, Bland-san and Bland-kun, drive away. This write-up’s going to get a bit weird on the names, sorry. This film has way too many characters for the amount of things it has going on. Bland-san is an excavator working in Okinawa. I have no clue what Bland-kun does, but he mentions being in Okinawa for an expo. Bland-kun could probably be written out of the story entirely with only minimal changes. Also they’re brothers. Bland is a family name. Bland-san has to get to work, so he drops Bland-kun off at a cave. As you do with younger siblings. Bland-kun goes inside, and finds an extra shiny piece of metal. Bland-san, meanwhile, does his job and uncovers a new cave, with remnants of ancient civilizations inside. Caves are, like, the hottest things to do on a Friday night in 1970’s Okinawa, so Bland-san has to fend of reporters for a long while who are just bursting to get in, but then an archaeologist, Dr. Rock, shows up, and he decides to give her a guided tour. She finds a shiisaa statue in there, and decides to take it for examination. You know, shiisaa. Like from those Persona games. Otherwise, there’s a mural with a bunch of pictures of Godzilla franchise monsters and something written in an ancient language on it.
That night, Dr. Rock is working on deciphering the ancient writing, and a creepy-looking, yet still handsome guy, walks up to her door and spies on her through it for a bit. Then he leaves, and an even creepier-looking but anti-handsome guy comes up to it and spies on her some more. Meanwhile, Bland-kun flew back to the mainland and brought the metal he found to a scientist there, Dr. Metal, who declares that it’s like titanium, but it’s not from earth, and dubs it the truly awe-inspiring name of “Space Titanium”. Dr. Metal’s daughter, Girl, is there too. Just establishing that for later.
Bland-san gets on a plane to go take his first vacation in years, and coincidentally runs into Dr. Rock in there. She’s taking the shiisaa statue to another archeologist for further fact-finding, but has deciphered part of the prophecy on the mural, and it says that when there’s a black mountain in the sky, a monster will come and destroy the world, but when the moon is red and the sun rises on the wrong side, two monsters will come and kick its ass. The ugly guy that was creeping on her last night is on the plane, and introduces himself as a journalist, asking for an exclusive. Bland-san and Dr. Rock are creeped out by Ugly Creeper. And then all of a sudden there are black clouds out the window in the shape of a mountain.
After their encounter with Ugly Creeper, Bland-san rides with Dr. Rock in the taxi to the archaeologist’s place they’re heading to. She thinks he’s being very kind and chivalrous. But then she’s like “Ok, I’ve totally got it from here.” and then he just ignores her and gets out carrying both of their bags. And she’s like “Oh no, is this another creeper I have to deal with?” But then it turns out that the archaeologist she wants to talk to is Uncle Bland, and Bland-san was just playing a trick on her like a jerk. So they talk, and that night, Uncle Bland and Dr. Rock are working on deciphering the prophecy, and the Handsome Creeper bursts in, holds them at gunpoint, and steals the shiisaa statue. But then Bland-san bursts in, knocks the gun out of his hand, and they start fighting. A really awkward, goofy fight. They roll around on top of each other, and at one point the Handsome Creeper grabs a pillow and starts smacking Bland-san around with it? Doesn’t seem the best way to get things done, guy. Eventually, Handsome Creeper decides this fight is too awkward, even for him, and starts booking it. Bland-san tries to give chase, but he’s not exactly a track star, so the Handsome Creeper gets away. And nobody notices, but Ugly Creeper is there. Creeping.
Meanwhile, Mt. Fuji, where Dr. Metal’s lab is, btw, erupts and spews out a big boulder. The boulder hits the ground and cracks open and inside is GODZILLA! And he’s pissed! He starts stomping around the countryside in the vague direction of Tokyo, smashing stuff up as he goes. He comes up to a building and just punches it! Then the ground starts roiling, as if something’s traveling by burrowing through it, and Anguirus bursts from the Earth because apparently he can do that now. Anguirus attacks Godzilla. Godzilla responds by punting Anguirus through a bridge like the jobber he is. Dr. Metal expresses astonishment that Anguirus and Godzilla are fighting, because they’re supposed to be friends. Bland-san realizes that the monster bash is happening at Dr. Metal’s lab, where Bland-kun is staying, and hops in his car to go rescue them. Anguirus throws himself spine-first at Godzilla, and gouges a chunk out of Big G’s arm. Underneath is glittering metal. Godzilla grabs hold of Anguirus’s face, and wrenches his jaws apart until he starts spewing blood. You know, kind of how he killed Anguirus in the Godzilla Raids Again. You remember? The time Anguirus died? Nobody else does. Anyways, Anguirus doesn’t want to die a second time, so he burrows beneath the earth again now that he can do that, and bugs out for the rest of the movie. Godzilla just kind of wanders away. Bland-san’s car gets blocked by some toppled trees that fell into the road during Anguirus and Godzilla’s kerfluffle. He gets out to deal with that, and also finds a chunk of metal in the road.
So stuff gets dealt with, Bland-san brings the metal up to Dr. Metal’s place. Dr. Metal declares that it’s also space titanium and maybe broke off of Godzilla during his fight with Anguirus, so maybe they should go follow the walking natural disaster. So Bland-san, Bland-kun, Dr. Metal, and Girl all pile into Bland-san’s car, and they go drive to Tokyo, where Godzilla is blowing up some industrial pier up in absolutely glorious fashion. That goes on for a little but, from the ocean, we hear a sound that has been mysteriously absent all this time. Godzilla’s roar. And sure enough, bursting out of a nearby building, is another Godzilla. And this one is pissed. The combined gravitas of the two Godzillas overwhelms the surrounding area, and things explode just because.
Godzilla rushes at the other Godzilla, and they lock up, mauling each other before pushing away. One Godzilla fires his atomic breath at the other, and blasts off a bunch of skin, revealing a large patch of gleaming metal underneath. That Godzilla starts glowing, and his skin burns off, revealing MechaGodzilla underneath. Godzilla fires his atomic breath at MechaGodzilla. MechaGodzilla meets that with his eyebeams. The two blasts push against each other, and then explode. Godzilla is knocked back into the water, which bubbles with his blood, and doesn’t emerge. MechaGodzilla is still for a moment. Then we cut to a scene with a bunch of nerds in a lab doing obviously evil stuff, while this guy, Spot, smokes a cigar and drinks some brandy. One of the nerds calls out to Spot that MechaGodzilla’s head is broken from the blast, so Spot orders him to recall, and mentions something about plans and superiors that I don’t really remember and therefore doesn’t matter. He does say that they don’t have anyone that can fix MechaGodzilla, so they need to get an expert in alien technology from Earth. So MechaGodzilla takes flight, and zooms off to in the direction of Okinawa.
So, now we’ve got a couple of things to deal with. Dr. Metal wants to go check out the cave where Bland-kun found the space titanium that MechaGodzilla was apparently made of, and the Godzillaverse doesn’t have, like, a military or anything willing to go to the obviously suspect location, so he, Bland-kun, and Girl fly back to Okinawa to go look at stuff. Meanwhile, there’s still the matter of the statue that someone obviously either doesn’t want them to have or wants to have themselves. It’s pretty similar to some things that dancing priestess from earlier had at her shrine, and the prophecy mentioned big monsters and black mountains and stuff they’ve seen, so they figure they should probably go take care of that. Bland-san and Dr. Rock go to bring that back to the shrine and work out what to do. But it’s not like the whole monsters destroying the world thing is important, so instead of flying straight there, they take a cruise ship.
Dr. Metal et al go to the cave, and look at the metal. But then nerds come and hold them up. Then they take them through a secret door in the cave into their evil lab. Dr. Metal has a unique pipe that he drops in the cave. As established earlier, you can take it apart, and it’ll destroy any electrode placed between its pieces. I have no idea why he made such a thing. I don’t know why anyone would make such a thing. Spot demands that Dr. Metal fix MechaGodzilla for them, because whatever aliens they are sent them here to use MechaGodzilla to destroy civilization so they could move in, but they didn’t think to bring anybody that could actually work on him. And they also didn’t think to just move into any of the many under-populated places on earth, and instead are basing themselves out of a densely populated nation with limited developable terrain. But what do I know. I’ve only successfully invaded and taken over like, four, planets. Totally inexperienced. Anyways, Dr. Metal’s like, “Well, I could enable the demise of everything and everyone I know and love and many more besides, but how about I don’t do that?” And Spot is like, “Well, how about we put these two useless lumps you brought with you in our death chamber and turn it on until you do what we want?” and Dr. Metal’s like “Ok, I’ll do it.” Bland-kun and Girl still get put in the death chamber. They just don’t turn it on.
So Bland-san and Dr. Rock are on a boat. They’re having a nice dinner that would almost look romantic, except Bland-san has all the charisma of a mushed banana, so not so much. Then we see Godzilla however far away he is, in a storm. Do you remember King Kong vs. Godzilla, where it was established very clearly that Godzilla gets weakened by electricity? I certainly don’t! And neither do the creators, because here’s Godzilla standing up and beckoning the storm to him, wherein he gets hit by lightning several times over, which seems to charge him up until he starts to glow with power from within. Then back to the boat. Dr. Rock is sleeping in her room, when Handsome Creeper creeps in and starts going through her luggage. He pulls out a box, then pulls the statue out of it, and starts bugging off. But it turns out Bland-san was creeping on Dr. Rock, too, and is waiting for Handsome Creeper. He’s not on the ball enough to keep Handsome Creeper from pulling a gun, but he does manage to wrestle it from him. Bland-san grazes Handsome Creeper with a shot, and Handsome Creeper’s face starts melting around the wound with some incredibly bad CG. And it turns out Handsome Creeper is secretly an apeman! Bland-san is stunned, and Handsome Creeper runs off with the statue. Bland-san pursues, but not-so-Handsome Creeper ambushes him, and manages to get the gun. He holds Bland-san up at the side of the ship, and a shot rings out. But rather than Bland-san sporting some new holes, it’s the creeper that got shot, and he tumbles off the side of the boat, statue in hand. Bland-san just stands there, dumbfounded for a while. Then, Dr. Rock comes up, and says the statue got stolen. Bland-san explains what just happens. Then the Ugly Creeper comes up nonchalantly, wishes them a good day, and walks off with a smug “I totally just killed a man” smile on his face.
Anyways, the cruise gets to Okinawa, and Bland-san presents Dr. Rock with a box identical to the one she had stolen. Turns out that he had made an identical copy of the statue and planted it in her luggage for exactly this reason, while he kept the true one hidden in the ships safe. And neglected to tell Dr. Rock or foreshadow it for the audience in any way. Anyways, they go to a hotel, and find that Dr. Metal and his crew left the hotel one day and never returned. So he leaves Dr. Rock there to be useless and goes to the cave alone to figure out what happened to them. Also, there’s another creeper that’s not important enough to get a name watching them at the hotel. Meanwhile, Dr. Metal finishes fixing up MechaGodzilla, and asks for Girl and Bland-san to be freed. Spot shows Dr. Metal over to the Death Chamber, where they’re being held. And Dr. Metal’s like “Ok, so let them go.” and Spot’s like, “Nah.” and Dr. Metal’s like “No! I totally didn’t see this coming!” And then Spot shoves Dr. Metal into the Death Chamber, and they turn it on. But the Death Chamber is more like the Chamber of Mild Discomfort. It slowly steams them to death, over the course of apparently hours. It’s like a spa that got turned up too much.
So Bland-san gets to the cave, and finds Dr. Metal’s pipe, then, predictably, gets held up by another nerd. But then the Ugly Creeper shows up and beats down the nerd. And he explains that he’s actually an INTERPOL agent who’s been investigating the nerds, and he’s been stalking our crew because the nerds got interested in them. Anyways, now that they’re here, they use the nerd to get into their secret base, then knock him and another nerd out and steal their clothes. I don’t know why, because taking the uniform doesn’t help them sneak in or anything. Anyways, they get to the Chamber of Mild Discomfort and turn it off, but then a pair of nerds spot them and pull guns on them and force them into the chamber too. But, if you’re going to kill someone and you have guns pointed at them, maybe it’s a better idea to just use those rather than try to cook them a little at a time. They take so long that the Ugly Creeper gets his gun and just shoots them both, even though they had the drop on them. Then the whole group escapes, and gets back to Bland-san’s car. Ugly Creeper figures something’s up, though, and uses a wire to start the car from a distance. Sure enough, it explodes. So they have to walk. Ugly Creeper decides to stay there to single-handedly destroy the entire base. Dr. Metal decides to help him because he knows the equipment and feels responsible for getting MechaGodzilla working again. Bland-kun decides to join them as well, because they need someone around to be useless and do nothing. In fact, from this point forward, neither Bland-kun nor Girl have any impact on anything in the story, so I’m just going to stop referring to them. Imagine they’re there at various scenes not doing anything.
Bland-san goes back to the hotel to get Dr. Rock and the statue, then they go to the shrine. Ugly Creeper and crew break in and do some damage, knocking a bunch of nerds back to Apeform, but then get captured when they get to the control center and a forcefield extends around them. A few more nerds are holding the shrine priestess and her grandfather hostage, demanding Bland-san and Dr. Rock hand over the statue, but the guy that was creeping on them at the hotel kills the gorillas in disguise, then introduces himself as another INTERPOL agent and leaves, never to return to the film. Dr. Rock places the statue in an alcove in a shrine, and the statue fires eyebeams out at a rocky cliff rising from the sea in front of them. The cliff fractures and partially falls away to reveal a monster inside. King Caesar. Except he’s sleeping. Spot realizes his agents have failed, and sends MechaGodzilla to put them all down before King Caesar wakes up. But he’ll be too late. To wake him up, the shrine priestess needs to sing a song, so she does that. For an extended period of time. She’s got a good voice, but there’s no other action going on, and it’s a little weird to have a really simple music video in the middle of a somewhat high pressure scene in a movie. But then he wakes up. Well, it zooms in to the really really cheap looking lights he has for eyes lighting up. If you’re watching this movie for cinematography tips, don’t do that. And then MechaGodzilla is there. Which means the fights on!
So, let’s talk King Caesar. He’s got his fans. King Caesar should really be King Shiisaa, but nobody in the 1970s western world knew what a shiisaa is, so they went with the closest translation of what the characters were saying they could. Which led to King Seesaw. And then Toho saw it, correctly determined that was super dumb, and set the official romanization as King Caesar. Because they didn’t know what a shiisaa was either, apparently. Anyways, King Caesar, as a shiisaa, looks very beastial, and moves like that as well. His most notable ability is his speed. Whereas all the other Kaiju are huge and lumbering, King Caesar moves very fluidly, and is able to get his kaiju bulk running and charging. He also has the ability to absorb energy blasts through one eye and fire them out the other. He shows both of these in his fight with MechaGodzilla, redirecting a bunch of MechaGodzilla’s own blasts at him, usually narrowly missing, and using his ability to leverage distance to great effect against the metal beast. However, in talking about his abilities, did you notice something he’s missing? That’s right. He completely lacks an ability to do absolutely anything to harm MechaGodzilla. So eventually, MechaGodzilla gets his strategy worked out, blasts and beats King Caesar, and the beast finds himself absolutely defenseless before Metal G. So he gets his butt kicked. So King Caesar hides behind a mountain. And then MechaGodzilla blasts it apart. The MechaGodzilla beats him up and throws him in a ditch. And then Godzilla shows up, all glowing with his lightning powers.
So they face off, two against one. Which sounds unbalanced, but MechaGodzilla has so much going on. Like, they try to split up and pincer MechaGodzilla between them, but then Metal G just twists his robot head around and blasts King Caesar with missiles from his front, and zaps Godzilla with crappy looking eye lasers from his back. Godzilla tries atomic breathing at him, but MechaGodzilla puts up a forcefield that blocks it. King Caesar charges through the forcefield, but he was never able to hurt G-borg before and he’s not able to do anything now. And then MechaGodzilla maneuvers them up against each other, and just UNLEASHES. Absolutely lets everything go on the two of them. It’s an awe to behold, honestly. A big extended sequence of explosion after explosion and really crappy looking eye lasers launched from just about every joint and port on MechaGodzilla blasting at his two opponents. This isn’t my favorite movie in the series. But I think that might be my favorite single scene. I rewound and watched it a couple of times over just here. The best 1970s display of pyrotechnics I think I’ve ever seen.
Anyways, Godzilla pushes through that, but before he gets close, MechaGodzilla takes to the air, and blasts, like, a neck artery or something on Godzilla, as he just starts gushing blood afterwards. MechaGodzilla starts flying away, out of their reach, but then Godzilla learned something new. Apparently, lightning also gives him Magneto powers. So he starts pulling everything metal in towards him, including, slowly, MechaGodzilla. Godzilla grapples him and pulls his arm back, and lets King Caesar tackle MechaGodzilla a few times so he can feel like he did something this fight. Then Godzilla just straight rips MechaGodzilla’s head off. MechaGodzilla is a robot, but it still looks gruesome.
So MechaGodzilla is destroyed, and all the nerds are in disarray. Ugly Creeper uses the opportunity to pick the lock on his cuffs, then grabs Dr. Metal’s weird pipe and uses it to destroy the computer controlling MechaGodzilla. So MechaGodzilla explodes, blasting Godzilla into the water. And then the base starts exploding to. Ugly Creeper gets everyone out, while all the nerds just die. King Caesar crawls back into the mountain to go back to sleep, and Godzilla shows up in the ocean, and walks away. So everyone’s alive and happy except for the nerds. The End.
So yeah, I went really long on the synopsis, but ended up covering some of the things I normally would have in the review section here already, so let’s make this short. As I said, the biggest thing that stands out to me is inconsistency. Parts of the film are really great. The monster action is generally pretty good. The human side is good in parts and really nonsensical in others. It’s definitely not a boring movie, but its excess of moving parts and so many characters that are mostly useless really drags it down. I imagine this is a rather love it or hate it film in general. But I don’t do either. It’s definitely a big improvement over the simplified kid-friendly Godzilla fare we’ve been seeing recently. But I don’t think that really makes it great. Although MechaGodzilla is awesome, and this is a great showing for him here. He looked absolutely powerful and dominant, right up until he wasn’t. I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of him in the coming entries.
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