Friday, October 20, 2017

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (AMERICAN CUT)



When we last saw Godzilla, he was blown to smithereens, EXCEPT for his CGI heart that is still beating on the ocean floor. This leads us to the sequel to one of the best Godzilla films ever made... 



Directed by Masaaki Tezuka, who previously did "Godzilla VS. Megaguirus".

Really, the guy who directed one of the worst Godzilla films in the franchise, and arguably the worst of the "Millennium Era"? Alright whatever, I'll keep an open mind.

Taking place in the same universe as the 1954 film, along with "Mothra" and "War of the Gargantuas" (that I have no idea if the first film "Frankenstein Conquers the World" is part of this continuity since it is a sequel to that film, and yet is never mentioned). A second Godzilla begins attacking Japan, and the Military decides to create a robotic version of Godzilla around the bones of the first Godzilla that died in 1954 (completely changing the fact that Godzilla's bones disappeared too, when he was killed by the Oxygen Destroyer). But after nearly succeeding with killing the second Godzilla, the soul of the first Godzilla is awoken by the second Godzilla's roar, and begins attacking.



Incase if you haven't already guessed, this film is in no way a sequel to the previous Godzilla film, but is instead another reboot! I really don't get why these films are doing this? I'm down with changing up the series and seeing different origins of Godzilla, but with the exception of the first film from this Era, all the other films (including this) are all connected to the 54 film. Why?! Are they too lazy to create a new origins story for Godzilla because the first film has done it so perfectly? Don't get me wrong, Godzilla having almost no origin story in the first film of the Millennium Era was lazy and made no sense, but at least it was something different. Just recycling the same exact backstory for Godzilla in each and every film is now just getting annoying. I don't care if they took one liberty over the original, and claimed that two other monster attacks from two of Toho's movie have happened in the film's universe as well, it still feels repetitive.



However, with all that ranting revolving around the film being another reboot with little to nothing new given to Godzilla's past, how's the film itself? Because in the long run we just want to see monsters beat the living daylights out of each other, and perhaps have likable characters to get us through the moments without them. Well Godzilla's suit for one thing looks very life-like and expressive when it comes to reactions. There are times where he'll look like a plastic action figure, from some close ups of him opening and closing his mouth; and a scene or two of him awkwardly just standing lifelessly in place and getting hit by MechaGodzilla’s missiles, but he for the most part looks great! But his design, unlike how they changed up his in the previous film, he's back to looking similar to how he looks in the first two films of this Era. Not to say that it bothers me, and if you want my reasons why you can read it for yourself in my review of "Godzilla VS. Megaguirus". But the problem that I do have with him is after giving him such an evil and sadistic personality in the previous film, as expressive as he is here, he doesn't have some kind of personality for us to connect to with, which comes off just as dull as it was in the first two films for this Era.



MechaGodzilla (who for some weird reason is referred to as "Kiryu" in the film) is just as powerful and awesome as all the previous incarnation of this machine! It's more flexible, carries a freeze cannon, uses its tail to fight against his opponent, and has just as much fire power as all the others. I even love its design that seems perfectly balanced out by making it look heroic and intimidating, when in all of his other appearances, it looked vicious during the "Showa Era", and friendly in the "Heisei" film "Godzilla VS. MechaGodzilla 2".  On top of it, I admire the idea of building MechaGodzilla from Godzilla’s remains to help construct the device, only to have it backfire when his soul takes over the body and have it go from a good guy, to a villain. However, there are a few issues that I have with MechaGodzilla. The idea of Godzilla's soul taking over MechaGodzilla's body since his parts are now a part of it is a fascinating concept, mainly for how much it reminds of the concept for the Frankenstein monster just done with a giant fighting robot; but it makes little to no sense of why the original Godzilla has been resurrected inside the robot, and only exists as an excuse to pad out the film where it never happens again. People are concerned about what happened and the idea of re-using the robot after being possessed, but that's all we get after this scene, which I feel was wasted and could've been explored so much more. Just think about the possibilities of what they can do with this idea. Think about the emotion that we could've gotten out of it, where the previous Godzilla creature is now confused by both its surroundings, and the new body that it now has. It would've been so much better than being just a mere obstacle. Another thing that I didn't like too much about MechaGodzilla is that it runs on batteries and has to be transported by ships to get to his destination. I know that it's trying to be realistic, and to be fair it does heighten the suspense for the fight scenes that take place, but I find it a tad bit irritating how Toho doesn't want to go full out at making this machine powerful and badass. I mean after all, we're not here for realism in a film like this.



There's nothing new that I can say about the action scenes, because much like the last film, they're all incredible scenes that never feel slow moving, or dull. Every single scene involving the two monsters fighting and destroying stuff, I was hooked and in complete awe over the effects, action, shots, and the music holding it all together. Even when the effects look a little fake at times, and when you can tell when they're using CGI and when they're using guys in rubber suits for the monsters it's still cool to watch! The only real cringe worthy CGI effect that I can think of in the whole film is the underwater image of the 1954 Godzilla being destroyed! That's pretty much the only thing I can fully criticize in terms of CGI effects in this film. If there was one thing in the film that had me constantly annoyed, its the use of captions since they're shown for almost every single place and character we meet as if the film thinks that we audience can't figure it out for ourselves. It's just as bad as the captions used in "Carnosaur", there's simply no need for them!



When I talked about the characters in the last film, I talked about how good their acting and chemistry with each other is, but that there was something about them that didn't quite clique with me. I felt that it was because I've seen these characters so many times before in the series that it's getting quite repetitive. And while there is plenty of truth to it, after watching this film, I realized it was also because they lacked charm. The characters in this film are clich├ęd too, such as the awkward scientist, the soldier with a bad past involving Godzilla, and the little girl who is smart beyond her years, but every actor who plays these tired-out characters just gives them a certain charm and likability that made me feel closer to them compared to the characters in the last film. I sincerely loved watching at how they all interact and play-off each other, whether it's played out for comedy or emotional drama. They work just as wonderfully together as the actors in "Godzilla 2000". Now with that said, there are some major problems involving these characters. The first and in my opinion worst one being how rushed everything is. As charming as their acting and chemistry is, everything regarding their backgrounds, story-arcs, and relationship with one another feels so painfully rushed that it hardly feels organic or gives us enough time to really explore and feel what they're going through. It feels like all they do is talk nothing but exposition on either Godzilla or themselves in every single scene they're in, instead of just letting these things play out naturally since the exposition feels so forced. That's not quite the actors fault, it's mainly just the writing. If the pacing and dialogue played out as fluently as it did in the previous film, these scenes and characters could've felt more emotional and real than what we are given.



For me the sloppiest piece of writing that's done so poorly and backfires big time is the little girl Sara who's supposed to be very intelligent, and yet is against MechaGodzilla's bones being used as a weapon to destroy Godzilla, believing that they should both live and be friends. We understand why she feels this way from a flashback, but that for me is one of the stupidest illogical reasons to keep Godzilla alive. She says that all life matters including giant monsters, but does she not see the big picture?! Does she not realize the amount of lives that Godzilla has killed and endangered, and will more than likely destroy many more when he and MechaGodzilla team-up together as friends? She acts as if that they're really like Barney at heart, when they are thousands of miles away from that! And the film never supports her reason because of how they made Godzilla to be nothing more than animalistic killing machine without a gentle side, and ignore the confused elements of the previous Godzilla for when it takes over MechaGodzilla's body. Maybe if she formed some kind of connection with Godzilla it would make more sense, but as it is, the moral falls flat resulting with this "wise" kid being just as "wise" as Miki was in "Godzilla VS. SpaceGodzilla", only with having more likability.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

It seems that Toho took a good look at what made the previous film work, and put most of those elements into this film. The fight scenes never get boring! The monsters are cool! The effects, cinematography, and music are just as incredible! And the characters are carried out through such charming performances to make us feel connected to them. However, the film does have two major problems, and that's a good chunk of the writing and pacing feeling rushed and lazy. And the other being that it doesn't offer anything that new or groundbreaking in the series, which is easy to forget and overlook. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad movie, or not entertaining because it is. And if you want to see these two monsters fight again for the 4th time through some amazing effects, while having good characters support the scenes without them, then you're going to love this movie. But if you're looking for something different, you unfortunately won't find much of that here.