Thursday, May 31, 2012

REVIEW: Terror of Mechagodzilla

Terror of Mechagodzilla
Director: Ishiro Honda
Year 1975
Terror of Mechagodzilla is a battle royal extravaganza that showcases a trio of giant monsters ravaging the landscape, all in the name of fun. This destructive entry in the lengthy Godzilla series is directed by the father of the genre, Ishiro Honda. Bringing that mythical and larger than life aspect of the creature Godzilla, Ishiro multiples the formula by three, adding two more monstrous creations that usher in a monumental battle that really does amp up the trademark chaos of the series. With a multitude of memorable fights, interesting characters, and enough destruction to satisfy any disaster film connoisseur, Terror of Mechagodzilla brings the pain to the audience and proves once again how much of a badass both Godzilla and his creator, Ishiro Honda, really is. Let’s get it on!
The film centers on a diabolical plot by a race of aliens, who through the use of a traitorous Earth scientist and his cyborg daughter, are able to control and unleash the terrible destructive power of two monstrous creatures, Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla. Their plan is simple, to level Tokyo and then rebuild their own version of the metropolis in their image. The only problem is Godzilla is not too keen on rival monsters stepping in on his turf, so he takes on the two behemoths at once, igniting a devastating battle across the streets of Tokyo, which in the end, leaves the city crippled and scarred. Sounds like a damn good time, so lets get down to business.

As usual for a Godzilla film, the movie follows a number of people over the course of the monster’s destructive romp, but in the case of Terror of Mechagodzilla, the number of people involved is astronomical in size and variance. The standouts are Akihiko Hirata who plays the role of Dr. Shinzo Mafune, Tomoko Ai who portrays Shinzo’s daughter Katsura Mafune, Katsuhiko Sasaki who plays the heroic and love struck biologist Akira Ichinose, and the alien leader named Mugal, played by Goro Mutsumi. Each of these characters has an individual story arc that sets them apart from the rest of the pack, but it’s the father/daughter relationship between the characters of Dr. Shinzo and Katsura Mafune that really brings something interesting to the story.
With this dynamic pairing of characters, we are provided an unusual look into a sympathetic villain’s inner workings and turmoil. After being ridiculed and ostracized over his work on the theory of the Titanosaur’s existence, Dr. Shinzo became obsessed with proving his findings, which eventually led him to despise the human race and form an alliance with the alien race that is at present time aiming to take over Tokyo. What makes this allegiance so intricately complicated is that it includes Shinzo’s daughter Katsura. Katsura can telepathically link to the Titanosaur and control its every movement whenever her father commands her too, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that she is a cyborg. Katsura, once the flesh and blood daughter of Dr. Shinzo, has an unfortunate accident while working in her father’s lab which causes her to be struck dead after a malfunction goes haywire. Seizing the opportunity to sink their claws into the doctor, the alien race swoops in to bring Katsura to life, only in robotic form. From that point on, Shinzo is destined to be under the control of the aliens and this is what makes his story and Katsura’s so compelling and memorable. They’re two heavy hitters that represent the villainous group of the film, but you come to find that they are more complex and complicated than first revealed. The inclusion of this inventive back-story is an added bonus for the depth of these two characters, and both Akihiko Hirata and Tomoko Ai do a great job with the material they’re given.

Now on to the destruction! There’s really no way to write a review on a Godzilla movie without covering the monstrous creatures that show up or the mass amount of mayhem that they inflict on the beautifully rendered landscape, so let’s get right down to it. With the decision to go with three main monsters instead of two, the filmmakers raise the stakes for reckless bedlam by two-fold, and in the process, they raise the viewers’ anticipation for unadulterated chaos by a huge margin. Luckily they have the skill to back these perceptions up, because we bare witness to buildings exploding in a blink of an eye and earthly tremors that literally shake the ground, as we’re presented with a group of colossal giants colliding with each other in violent and entertaining fashion. These chaotic scenes make the anticipated wait for their inevitable confrontation, well worth it, and most of the destruction is the best the series has ever looked. The visual effects are stupendously crafted and the execution is right up there in top notch levels, proudly representing the Toho name. Entire city blocks splinter from cacophony fused blasts that genuinely get the blood boiling from its visceral impact when flashed upon the screen. The overall destruction seems magnified to reflect the number of combatants involved and I absolutely loved the insanity of it all. Once again, Ishiro Honda along with the film crew and Toho have created a masterfully and artistically created world with its destructible miniatures and no holds barred ingenuity.
The creature designs are also rather marvelous, as we’re reacquainted with the now evolved visual look of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, and shown the unique appearance of the interesting, yet somewhat silly, Titanosaurus. Each monster is designed in the traditional Godzilla-world style and each have an array of weaponry in their arsenal that is unique to them. My favorite weapon of choice would be the missiles used by Mechagodzilla that literally level entire city blocks in a blasé of glory. There is one moment in this film that is just so outrageous and overwhelmingly explosive, that you almost question if the filmmakers have gone too far with the destructive nature of these beasts, but in the end it’s all in good fun and entertaining as hell to see play out. The marvelously designed creatures are a hoot, bordering that fine line between hokey and awe-inspiring. Like all Kaiju films, Terror of Mechagodzilla is a wild ride filled with monsters, mayhem and destruction. Who could ask for anything more?

Terror of Mechagodzilla is a thrill a minute Godzilla entry that even when not bombarding the viewer with epic vistas of giant battling monsters, is still an outstandingly enthralling experience to be remembered. With a star studded cast and enough wild concepts to shake a stick at, the move really does go above and beyond the usual constructs for these kinds of films and pushes the limit whenever possible.
Like all Toho produced Godzilla films, this entry is extremely well crafted, showcasing the amazing work that the company can do with miniatures and practical effects. The explosions and mayhem is spectacular to see flash across the screen and the look and feel of the monsters are at their distinguishing best. If you’ve seen your fair share of Kaiju films, then you know what to expect in this entry in the Godzilla series. It has the same quality and respect to the genre as the ones before it, yet it’s amped to the tenth degree. Terror of Mechagodzilla is a blast and it’s definitely……

What the shit are you looking at?

Cheers to the perfect couple.

Hi everybody!

Where can I get a kick ass helmet like that?

Those shades just scream.... I'm grumpy, but cool.

Looks like they're getting ready for an intense game of RISK.

There goes the neighborhood.

That's awesome..... what is it?

Run kids! RUN!

Holy Shit! Holy Shit! Holy Shit!

On guard... I'll let you try my Godzilla style.

Say cheese!

It's ok kids. Grandpa's just having a little heart attack, that's all.

Godzilla the action hero.

That's one way to get a-head.

Not the titty twister laser! NOOOOO! You bastard!

You'll never catch me and my silly hat. NEVER!



  1. This is one of, if not my all time fave Godzilla flicks. More serious and character oriented than most others. The preceding Mecha G movie is pretty rad, too. If you haven't seen it, you'll likely enjoy it too Jay. It has some spy elements in it.

  2. Yeah Brian I had a blast with this one. I've been trying to make my way through all of the Godzilla entries and boy is it a feat. So many enjoyable films, but so little time to cram them all in between other genre viewings.

    I haven't seen the prior Mechagodzilla movie, but if its got spy elements to it, I'm sold! Nothing wrong with adding a little Asiaspy elements into the mix.

    Hell, I'll be Asiaspied out in a few weeks. I ordered four gems that should be arriving shortly, Ironfinger, Ironfinger 2: Goldeneye, Temptress of a Thousand Faces, and Age of Assassins. After checking them out, I'll be posting reviews so stay tuned for those. They look to be loads of fun!