Of all the films in the
nearly-60 year old Godzilla franchise, this
is one of the most infamous. Criticized as
being one of the worst and ruining the Big
G's reputation, I'd call it an
enormously guilty pleasure. Being a huge fan
of Henshin Heroes such as Ultraman and Kamen
Rider, I find the concept of Godzilla working
with a superhero to be utterly delightful.
Nevertheless, I AM analyzing this
film on a critical basis.
The undersea kingdom of Seatopia
wants retribution for the destruction caused
by humanity's reckless use of nuclear
weapons. To serve as their agent, they send
forth Megalon, a giant beetle monster. Meanwhile,
near a dam, young Rokuro Ibuki is playing
with a water toy, when a mysterious earthquake
occurs that nearly destroys Monster Island.
When the dust clears, inventor Goro Ibuki
is attacked by two Seatopian agents and the
controls to his android are stolen (the film
insists it is a cyborg... but Jet Jaguar simply
does not fit the definition). The Seatopians
use the controls to guide Megalon to do destructive
deeds throughout Japan; however, Goro has
a trump card, his voice-activated backup controller.
He uses it to get Jet Jaguar to fly to Monster
Island and summon Godzilla. The Seatopians
decide to step up their game by calling for
the cyborg monster Gigan to be loaned to them
by the Space Hunter M Nebula aliens. Jet Jaguar
grows gigantic and joins Godzilla in facing
off against the two creatures.
The biggest problem with the
plot is that it's too thin; however,
this can be chalked up to the naturally formulaic
nature of Sentai shows and heroes. This was
largely a factor in why the film didn't
do so well in theaters in Japan, why pay for
something you can see at home? The Seatopians
aren't too convincing as villains. Although
sympathetic, the concept was pulled off much
better in the classic Atragon (1963). As for the acting, it's not memorable
at all. No one turns in an adequate performance,
but the least I can do is give Jun
Fukuda props for putting some effort into
the stunt choreography early in the film.
Wolf Otsuki is one of the more long-lasting
actors here, and even appeared as late as
2003 in Super Sentai Abaranger. His
stunts are fairly well done, thanks in part
to the filming methods used by cinematographer
Yuzuru Aizawa. As for the two lead actors,
they're performances are completely boring.
What is the relationship between Goro and
Hiroshi? Are they friends? Cousins? The film
just throws these characters in with little
The effects fare fairly better.
Although much of the destruction sequences
are stock footage from the previous films,
the newly filmed dam destruction sequence
is an impressive feat. Teruyoshi Nakano has
said he always takes extra care with fire
and water, and it shows; however, it's
not nearly as impressive as his work in Submersion
of Japan (1973). The battle sequences
are nicely filmed and choreographed, and it's
a real shame there wasn't a bigger budget
to work with. I'd say the effects are
the highlight of the film, but that isn't
saying much considering what's come
Finally, we go to a love-it-or-hate-it
topic, Riichiro Manabe's score. As a
musician myself, I am intrigued by the variety
of instruments used by Manabe in his compositions.
I personally find the military themes very
intriguing. One sounds very formidable and
could be put to a force of invading aliens
with much the same effect. The other sounds
almost like a parody of the famous Dragnet march, especially mocking when Megalon destroys
the maser tanks; it plays rather dullish.
I also like the theme song of the film, “Godzilla
and Jet Jaguar Punch, Punch, Punch!”
sung by one of my personal favorites, Masato
Shimon. Bringing his usual energy into the
theme, it's actually quite nicely composed.
This score also carries the rare privilege
to have a few tracks on my MP3 player, especially
the serene and rather fitting “Highway
Road”. It's a nice, if somewhat dated
theme, using lots of flute and a unique guitar
passage; it runs for a brisk minute. One aspect
I dislike is the infamous Godzilla theme.
Played rather comically on the trumpet, it's
not very fun to listen to. Overall, I think
the score is a nice break from the famous Akira
Final thoughts, I feel the film isn't
as bad as people say it is. I find it enjoyable,
like the average Ultraman or Sentai episode.
However, the plot and acting, not to mention
the overuse of stock footage, make the film
not that great in comparison to other films
in the series.