Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

For the discussion of Toho produced and distributed films or shows released from 1999 to 2015.

GXMG is...

Great
81
31%
Good
107
41%
Okay
47
18%
Poor
20
8%
Awful
4
2%
 
Total votes: 259

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Zarm
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Zarm » Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:57 am

The thing that struck me immediately when watching Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is that it feels more mature than GMK. That may seem a funny thing to say, considering the exceedingly-dark tone of GMK; the body-count, the war-crimes metaphor. But for me- and I only realize this in retrospect, in comparison- that film was indeed dark, gritty, and ominous- but still in some ways cartoony, over-wrought, and over-the-top. It feels like a teenager looking for attention, going through an ill-thought-out Goth phase. Being so flashy and overwrought with its 'darkness' that it feels forced and childish; the way someone who has far less of an understanding of darkness than they claim too imagines darkness would be.

This film- with it themes of guilt, depression, and the nigh-suicidal feeling of worthlessness, even on down to the style of the opening attack scenes- felt like a far more mature take... including being grown up enough to know it didn't have to overdose on darkness. It was free to take a more subtle tack, and it feels like a far more intelligent product as a consequence.

The other observation, which is hardly original but bears repeating, is the way this film is Megaguirus perfected. The guilt-wracked protagonist who got someone killed in the prologue, the goofy scientist with a crush on her helping to develop a horrifically-powerful, implications-unexplored superweapon (though at least this one isn't a planet-killer, and the rest of the world is made aware of it! though form the reactions at the press conference, the PM may have left out the little detail of 'Absolute Zero' until it was too late to stop its construction...), even the ending scene of the hero surveying the aftermath at sunset and coming to peace with herself. The framework is a repeat, a take-two... previously given in service to a flawed work, and now re-purposed with the bugs worked out for a far-superior entry.


Akane as a character was a very engaging protagonist- driven, guilt-ridden, self-confidence shot; rather than vengeance, she's driven by her own need for redemption- and seeing the lengths to which she pushes herself during the excellent time-passing montage, long before she's selected for Kiryu squad, says a lot about her without the need for words.

Yuhara is less prominent a character, in a lot of ways- yet he is infinitely preferable to Otaku goofball Kudo. This guy is a likable goofball because of his slight pomposity and tendency to put his foot in his mouth; his crush is endearing, rather than creepy... and in fact, comprises the only romance in the Millennium series that I actually invest in or believe. (Perhaps it isn't fair to focus each of these analyses on comparisons to Megaguirus equivalents, but the similar structure seems to invite it).

Like Io Shinoda, Sara seems to prove that while little boys can be among the most obnoxious of kaiju film characters, they seldom go wrong with a little girl. Sara is a sensitive and brooding soul, still grieving the loss of her mother- and it is very interesting to watch the conversation dynamic as Akane bonds with her; Yuhara talks to Akane, and Akane talks back to Sara. They two of them share a similar deep pain that is the emotional core of the film... and Sara provides a rather unexpected perspective within a kaiju film. There are plenty of anti-war, military pacifists in films like these... but this is the first kaiju pacifist that we've seen. Her objection to the cruelties visited on Kiryu are uncomfortable- because they don't allow us the ease and freedom of just sitting back and cheering the 'good guy' kaiju against the bad. It raises far deeper questions of how far the government is willing to go to deal with the threat of Godzilla... and does a lot to set up the well-deserved sequel.

The remaining cast- the prime minister, the squad leader, the 'jerk' whose brother was killed by Akane's mistake- do solid work; there are no particular standouts, but it's a good supporting ensemble.

I've seen Kiryu referred to as the weakest Mechagodzilla, and that may be true- but he's darned cool looking, second only to the original in my book... and he has by far the most intriguing origin of the three. Okay, so it requires a slight ret-con that Godzilla's skeleton remained behind in the original Gojira (a change so natural-seeming that it can be hard to remember it didn't happen that way in the film... it feels like it *should* have)- but the result is such an opening up of possibilities and high-concept that the mental gymnastics are well worth it. Kiryu is not much of a hand-to-hand fighter, preferring mostly his missile attacks... but it's evident from the end that he put up a pretty great fight. While the camera doesn't linger on Godzilla's chest, he is MESSED UP- no wonder he had to head back out to sea to recuperate! Despite getting knocked for a loop by the heat ray, Kiryu gives as good as he gets, establishing himself as a worthy opponent to the King of Monsters- as devastating as a Mechagodzilla ought to be... and a tragic, relatable figure this time, rather than an evil menace or a bullying antagonist. Yet at the same time, terrifying, when that fantastic 'oh, skreeonk!' moment of the original Godzilla's awakening comes up, and then the fists tighten... a force to be reckoned with, using everything in its advanced arsenal (save Absolute Zero, fortunately) to lay waste to the city- once again, mankind's 'greatest' achievements in weaponry turning on them; a terrible reminder that ultimate destructive power leads only to further suffering. And all the helpless crew can do is watch and wait for the batteries to run down- a phenomenally helpless moment. The way it's shot and scripted makes it a far lighter moment than the horror and helplessness of the original 1954 rampage, but both symbolically and in terms of man's ability to respond, history is repeating itself.

(I approve of the decision not to portray it in a similar way, however- while the full potential of the horror inherent in this renewed rampage is not explored to the fullest, to do so would be to create far too dark a tone, one that would clash with the themes of the rest of the movie. Once again, subtlety and restraint are better than an outright plunge into overwrought darkness).


Godzilla himself is... a surprisingly passive part of the story, really. His design is back to the Godzilla 2000 aesthetic (a welcome return), but with a bit more of the feline features that he used to have in the Heisei era. (My wife pointed this out; I am oblivious to such details, oftentimes). In terms of action, he is far less active than usual; it is strange, after the last three films, to see Godzilla simply attacking for no stated reason, though that is the overall norm,... and when it comes to battles, he just sits there and takes the hits to begin with. (Due to this, one can't help feeling that if Akane just LED with Absolute Zero, the movie would have been over almost immediately, since Godzilla never really dodges). Still, after being driven off by the surprising barrage the first time, Godzilla is prepared to stick around this time- a bit of a sadist, it seems, and the fight (barring a silly jump or two) is a fairly brutal affair, with both kaiju being hurled around and thrown incredible distances through the air. Though the grappling is halfhearted, the beam-impacts and the physical tackles take a savage toll- and like some of my favorite kaiju battles (Biollante and Orga, for instance, and arguably Heisei King Ghidorah), the fight is short and sweet... showcasing what it wants to, then ending on a high note.

The FX are overall pretty good. Oxygen Destroyer death Godzilla is cartoony and awful, and the miniatures for the enormous transport jets are occasionally lacking- but the setpieces for the rest of the film are dazzling. The CGI for Absolute Zero looks great (particularly the ice blossom in the finale), the initial reveal of Godzilla's bones (just such a geekout moment!), the burning city and Kiryu jetting in toward it (and the wonderfully 'impactful' rescue that opens the battle), the battle in the rain (particularly Godzilla's appearance, and the shot that leads into the title)... this is a visual feast, full of spectacle, yet not lacking a heart to tie it all together. There are a few bad shots- mostly involving the lazy scrolling of 2D images (like cardboard cutouts being pulled across the frame) instead of actual 3D, the downfall of this era... but they're not enough to detract from the overall visual quality.

The score for this film is probably my favorite of the series (though there is an odd appeal to the techno-insanity of Final Wars that comes in a close second- at least, parts of it)... bringing back the excellent Godzilla theme from vs. Megaguirus (which I tend to think of as the 'official' Millennium Godzilla theme), as well as a rousing march for Kiryu (which might come very close to the line of being overused). The battles are well-complemented, and both the opening and finale are quite excellent.

I appreciated the backstory of this anthology-universe, too. While Millennium had a nebulous backstory, Megaguirus had a rather pedestrian 'well, he comes back every few decades to wreck power plants, and that's it,' and GMK had the appropriate 'only the original rampage (and maybe Godzilla 98),' complementing the dark juggernaut feel of that Godzilla with the lack of any other kaiju or battles, this one has a much more retro backstory, implying that numerous portions of the Showa era, or something very much like them, happened here. (Albeit with greater military success against kaiju, including killing Mothra- it will be interesting to see if this reference is retconned or ignored in the next film; barring other evidence, I'll assume that adult Mothra was killed but the larva escaped to become the Tokyo SOS Mothra). It's good world-building, giving us a much more colorful and lively setting than the previous installments... the kind of crazy world a Mechagodzilla fits into naturally (where a more grounded reality would clash with the semi-outlandish concept). Plus, I always love me some Maser Cannons.


Once again, we have a strong and memorable cast of characters and a visual feast- this time complemented by great kaiju designs, a standout score, and an overall plotline that (while it may not be original) strongly improves on its inspiration; the way it 'should' have been done.

In the overall permutations of the Millennium series, this one is either a close second, or a tie with Godzilla 2000- but looking solely at the Japanese originals, this entry easily beats out Godzilla Millennium for me to be the best of the Millennium series.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby MechaGoji Bro7503 » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:08 pm

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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Tyrant_Lizard_King » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:46 pm

This is better than Megaguirus but that's not saying much. Both films bore me to tears. The concept behind Kiryu was neat but the script simply didn't do enough with it. The stiff as a Bandai vinyl of a Godzilla suit just makes things worse by severely dragging the action down. Kiryu is the one and only thing I can recommend this film for.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Godzillian » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:16 am

One thing I dislike is a lot of what happens in the film just happens due to coincidence rather then any other real reason
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby DaruniaDancing » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:41 pm

This was definitely one of my favorite films in the series!

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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby MechaGoji Bro7503 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:33 pm

So ive heard that this Godzilla is the son of the '54 Godzilla, apparently from some article where the director and producer stated it to be a valid interpretation. Does anyone have the source of this article?
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Dv-218 wrote:This is so sad, Alexa play "Bio-Wars".

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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby SonOfGorgo » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:14 pm

I once heard that Anguirus and/or Titanosaurus were considered to appear in this film. I'm not too sure if that's true or not.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby LegendZilla » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:58 pm

I am not sure I've brought this up before, but it's really been getting on my nerves lately. What the hell was behind the creative decision to give Godzilla's character a near 180 degree turn over in terms of sheer power from the last film into little more than a klutzy punching bag for Kiryu? I dare say it is really starting to hinder my enjoyment of the Kiryu films these days. I know it would be boring for Godzilla do be absolutely invincible all the time, but still, I prefer a Godzilla who does not take poop so easily. It's like they are actively trying to punish you for rooting for him.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby GigaBowserG » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:04 pm

SonOfGorgo wrote:I once heard that Anguirus and/or Titanosaurus were considered to appear in this film. I'm not too sure if that's true or not.


Anguirus, yes. Titanosaurus... never heard. There was a precursor to Tokyo SOS's Liopleurodon in the form of a plesiosaur, though.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Wonder9fanboy » Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:56 pm

This movie is the crown jewel of the G2000 Series.

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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Zarm » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:20 pm

I would agree.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby eabaker » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:52 pm

I'd say this is the least painful movie to sit through in the second half of the Millennium series, for whatever little that's worth.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby OpteraKaiju92 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:58 pm

Have just been able to watch this movie fully again and this provided a lot more depth and story than i had originally remembered. The CGI may not be overall impressive when it comes to the locomotion and maneuverability while he jumping over head or anything like that but i still really like the maser cannon and absolute zero cannon. The fights were both entertaining as well Really liked the idea that since those were godzillas old bones in kiryu it had memories of its past life and went rogue :mechagodzilla: :mechagodzilla:
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby SonOfGorgo » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:17 am

15 years old this is now...
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby LegendZilla » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:53 pm

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Found this interesting bit of concept art on Pinterest.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby daveblackeye15 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:08 pm

Something I find bleh about the two Millennium Mecha Godzilla movies. I do like the first a bit more than the second. I dunno, I heard the director really loves Godzilla. I do love the Kiryu designs, Godzilla's look and plenty of the action along with the lead but I can't say I found GXM to be good just okay.

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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby JAGzilla » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:47 am

That concept art is pretty cool, and much more obviously a cyborg that the Kiryu we got. The mouth armor reminds me of one of the Raptors from Extreme Dinosaurs. It would be a good starting point for an alternate take on Kiryu. Could use a touch more bolk, though.
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Zarm » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:19 am

JAGzilla wrote:That concept art is pretty cool, and much more obviously a cyborg that the Kiryu we got. The mouth armor reminds me of one of the Raptors from Extreme Dinosaurs. It would be a good starting point for an alternate take on Kiryu. Could use a touch more bolk, though.


Oh, man. Now there's a show I haven't thought about in almost 20 years... and yet I can still remember the theme song clear as day.
KaijuCanuck wrote:It’s part of my secret plan to create a fifth column in the US, pre-emoting our glorious conquest and the creation of the Canadian Empire, upon which the sun will consistently set after less than eight hours of daylight. :ninja:


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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby Godzillian » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:00 am

I really feel like this film could've used more time at the writing stage to help iron out some of the story problems
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Re: Talkback: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Postby JAGzilla » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:13 am

Zarm wrote:
Oh, man. Now there's a show I haven't thought about in almost 20 years... and yet I can still remember the theme song clear as day.


Yeah, I've still got it memorized, too. It's one of those shows that's probably better left to lurk in the vague, nostalgic mists of the '90s, but heck if it wasn't the coolest thing I'd ever seen when I was nine. :lol:


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