This is one of the
darkest Godzilla movies since the original.
Honda stepping back up to the plate, it
harkened back in some ways to the original
film. The tone was grim and the special effects
were some of Teruyoshi Nakano’s best.
One of the best Showa films, without a shadow
of a doubt.
The ape aliens have returned with
a fiery vendetta! Not only that, they've found
someone who hates humanity as much as they do.
That someone is Dr. Mafune (played by Akihiko
Hirata), a mad scientist who hates humanity for
rejecting his outlandish claims. Meanwhile, a
submarine in the Pacific is attacked by a aquatic
dinosaur (named "Titanosaurus") while
searching for Mechagodzilla’s remains. Mafune’s
cyborg daughter, Katsura, is used by the aliens
and Mafune as a remote to summon Titanosaurus
on a monstrous rampage. Titanosaurus is assaulted
by Godzilla, and though the aquatic reptile puts
up a good fight, Katsura is nearly killed in the
process, and the Simeon scientists are forced
to implant a control device into Katsura. This
device now allows Katsura to control the newly-revived
Mechagodzilla as well. Titanosaurus is released
on a path of destruction once more, and Mechagodzilla
is sent in to help. Godzilla arrives, and in the
ensuing battle, Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla
are nearly victorious, until the crimson dinosaur's
weakness is discovered. Titanosaurus is bombarded
with sonic pulses, as Godzilla keeps Mechagodzilla
on the ropes, tearing his head off much like he
had one year earlier. However, from underneath
the cold, metal cranium protudes a deadly rotating
energy weapon. Godzilla is almost mortally wounded,
until Katsura snaps back to reality and realizes
Mechagodzilla can only be stopped if she is killed.
In an act of self sacrifice, Katsura shoots herself.
Mechagodzilla is disabled, and Godzilla finally
destroys his mechanical counterpart. With a final
atomic ray, Godzilla kills Titanosaurus and returns
to the ocean, into the unknown. The aliens are
defeated, but so is a wonderful woman.
Honda’s human direction returns
to the serious social commentary of the early
60’s. Self-sacrifice for the greater good
is a central theme. The human direction is grim
in tone, but stereotypical: the greedy mad scientist
who wants to get back at the world for what "they"
have done to him. Other than that, the direction
is fairly good. I am so glad Honda stepped back
into the helm.
The special effects are the best
of the 70’s Showa series. The miniature
work alone should’ve won Teruyoshi Nakano an award. The buildings are very detailed, some
even surpassing the fantastic Diet Building model
in the original 1954 classic. The pyrotechnics
are flashy and amazing, especially the final explosion
of Mechagodzilla. The fiery inferno practically
fills the screen. Lots of eye candy rotoscoping
here, however nowhere near as detailed as the
previous film’s. The monster designs are
great, with Mechagodzilla's appearance still a
very convincing illusion. Titanosaurus looks quite
dinosaurian and menacing. The sheen given off
by the scales of Titanosaurus gives him a very
glossy look. Godzilla’s suit looks menacing
and feral, but still a tad bit comical. Godzilla’s
narrowed eyes give him an angry vibe that floats
throughout the movie. Good SFX all around.
Ah, music. I was relieved that Maestro
Ifukube returned after having to sit through
two terrible Riichiro Manabe scores and a couple
of so-so Masaru
Sato scores. The tonal quality is very dark
and somber, like the movie’s tone. Nowhere
in here will you find a totally upbeat, Destroy
all Monsters (1968)-style SDF march type
track. All of the tunes are very low key and slowly
paced. Mechagodzilla’s theme is certainly
my favorite Monster March of all time. The tune
matches the menace and formidability of Mechagodzilla
well. Titanosaurus’s theme is another highlight.
A shrill and trilling element (much like it’s
cry) is mixed in with a somber string ensemble.
This is a great film, and certainly
the best of the 70’s. I’d recommend
it to Honda aficionados, Godzilla fans, and
general monster movie lovers alike!