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The Godzilla Reviews - Page 7

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

Year: 2002
Era: Millenium
a.k.a. Godzilla X Mechagodzilla

THE JIST: A disgraced soldier is recruited to pilot a newly built Mechagodzilla, named Kiryu, to defeat Godzilla.

THE VERDICT: This movie has a very strong character story and features as its heroine one of the best human characters in the canon (not counting anybody played by the late, great Akihiko Hirata, of course). And though the final battle is truly spectacular, the story as a whole is a bit long-winded and the fight scenes are far too short.


Year: 2003
Era: Millenium
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

THE JIST: Following directly from the events of the previous film, a rebuilt Kiryu is revealed by Mothra's fairies to be responsible for Godzilla's current attacks since humanity used the original Godzilla's bones in its construction. Unwilling to discard the project and leave Tokyo defenseless, humanity faces war with both Mothra and Godzilla.

THE VERDICT: This is unquestionably the best of the Millenium series, and the only film in it that isn't a reboot. While it quickly discards the excellent characters from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, it's hard not to like the new ones, even the slacker hero, Chujo. There is a nice conundrum at the heart of the plot and some thematic punch built-in, but the bulk of this movie is delicious action that isn't tied down by excessive exposition or meaningless digressions.

Godzilla: Final Wars

Year: 2004
Era: Millenium

THE JIST: Um... Okay, I can do this... Let's see... Aliens from Planet X come to Earth in the false guise of peace after weakening Earth's defenses with an all-out attack by several giant monsters. When they reveal their plans to turn human beings into cattle and release the monsters a second time, only a rogue squadron from an elite group of superhuman mutants who possess a special alien DNA base can stop them, so they free Godzilla from an Arctic prison to bring the fight to the giant monsters running amok while they infiltrate the alien mothership.

THE VERDICT: It doesn't get much sillier or convoluted than this, but the orgy of fan service is hard not to enjoy. Final Wars is best seen as a remix of Godzilla's greatest hits (with some random anime plot staples and Japan's best Keanu Reeves impersonator thrown in for no reason at all). Indeed, the core plot is essentially the same as Invasion of Astro-Monster, one of the most memorable Showa era flicks. Alas, in the final analysis, it's not much more than guilty pleasure entertainment, a self-indulgent celebration of Godzilla's rich history without anything interesting to say or do with itself. Don't get me wrong--I love it--but I can't call it a great Godzilla film on its own merits.

Different people respond to different things when it comes to Godzilla, and I'm sure the scores above will not be without controversy. The easiest way to think of it is as a spectrum, where you've got the campy, silly, ridiculous Godzilla movies on one side and the serious, scary, and ponderous Godzilla movies on the other. Each fan prefers one spot on that spectrum, be it on one extreme or somewhere in the middle, and it is virtually impossible to have a Godzilla film that will please them all. For me, I tend to prefer the serious end, but I have no trouble enjoying the campier movies when the mood strikes me.

These last few weeks of being a Godzilla glutton--building up my DVD collection and tracking down some version of each and every Godzilla movie--has been both fun and therapeutic. Sure, it's sparked by my fanboy excitement over the upcoming American reboot (which looks amazing so far), but it also reminds me of my father, the man who first introduced me to Godzilla. Nobody else in my family feels the same way about these films as he did, and perhaps my neverending desire to keep his spirit alive in me has been one of the things motivating this madness.

At least, that's what I say to my wife, because there's no other way I can explain it that makes sense to her. She did express her opinion this morning that you can't have Mothra without the twin fairies, though, so maybe it's getting through to her after all.

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-e. magill 4/22/2014


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