Things did not bode well at the start, with a seven-minute greatest hits sequence that never seemed to end, but by the time it was over I found myself grateful for so much action so early on. When the story proper started it was with some very impressive underwater model work (I couldn’t see the seams at any rate).
But what really marked this out as a superior entry in the Godzilla series is the plot. A reclusive discredited scientist is employed by aliens to use his thought-controlled pet Titanosaurus to destroy Tokyo along with the newly-rebuilt Mechagodzilla, their combined might certain to overcome that pesky Godzilla. Meanwhile an Interpol agent and a marine scientist investigate the disappearance of an exploratory submarine, the trail leading them to the scientist’s beautiful but non-too-helpful daughter.
It might sound like the usual gubbins on paper but there’s genuine tension in many of the scenes, it’s logical and exciting, and rather than feeling like drawn-out filler while we wait for the real action to begin it’s successful on its own terms, even managing to pull off genuine pathos bordering on tragedy at the end.
When it does begin it’s hands down the best destruction I’ve seen so far in the series. They’re right in the centre of Tokyo surrounded by skyscrapers ready to be demolished and incinerated. The camera pans across the cityscape as whole swathes of it are destroyed, and it truly is spectacular. What makes it even more powerful is that it’s not a fight sequence for the most part – it’s just two big boys laying waste to the city.
Godzilla himself is given a wonderful entrance, and in those moments it’s a thrill to see this (of all films) so overtly referencing The Third Man (of all films).
They do escape to the country for the final showdown, but there’s still the odd power station to be sat on and let’s face it, we’ve already had our money’s worth with the destruction of Tokyo. The fight is lengthy too, with Godzilla on the back foot for most of it, and while we’re never unsure of the outcome it does get pretty hairy for the big guy.
For the budget the special effects are often superb and always imaginative (like the alien technician walking inside Mechagodzilla’s head or the shot that takes us from his massive, dormant frame as he’s being worked on, through a window, and finishes with the aliens and doctor watching the progress from a lab).
The music throughout is excellent, and the female lead is impossibly gorgeous.
What’s not to love?
Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars:Katsuhiko Sasaki, Tomoko Ai, Akihiko Hirata
Runtime: 83 min