Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Class: Staff
Author: Anthony Romero
Score: (2/5)
February 6th, 2003 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is one of the more widely disliked Godzilla movies, and while the film itself is far from terrible, there are more than enough problems with it to merit a lot of the heat the movie receives. This ranges from the overly complicated story drafted by writer Hiroshi Kashiwabara, to fairly meek and underdeveloped characters that have hardly any life breathed into them from the actors either.

As for the story, it focuses on a non-terrestrial being dubbed SpaceGodzilla's, whose origin consists of Godzilla cells that traveled through a black hole, as he descends toward Earth. This prompts Mothra's Cosmos to warn psychic Miki Saegusa, as they fear that SpaceGodzilla will aim to destroy Godzilla and then easily conquer the planet. This theory presents a dilemma, though, as G-Force is making great advances toward stopping Godzilla with the creation of the giant mechanized Moguera and the T-Project, of which Miki is apart of. Eventually, G-Force decides to shift their efforts more toward stopping SpaceGodzilla, yet Moguera does little to halt the space monster's advance. Eventually the extraterrestrial being confronts Godzilla on Birth Island. After a brief skirmish, which leaves Little Godzilla locked in a crystalline chamber, Godzilla ventures off after SpaceGodzilla as the space creature makes his way toward the Japan mainland. In the meantime, repairs on Moguera are underway as G-Force prepares the machine to battle the space monster while Godzilla begins to advance toward the same battleground.

Overall, the story itself isn't all that bad. Certainly nothing original, but it doesn't commit any crimes to the character's legacy. Its problem, though, is that it simply takes too many “detours” along the way. For example, the Yakuza side plot feels incredibly out of place and tacked on as it has little to do with the story as a whole. There is also another side plot involving the character Yuki and a blood coagulant that he calls the “Yuki Special” (with actor Akira Emoto getting almost giddy when he says the line to the point where it's hard not to smile). In its defense, it's certainly not a bad concept, as it's nice to see something more scientific utilized against the creature as this has been mostly absent since the ANEB in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). Unfortunately, this plan involves Yuki chasing after Godzilla with an automatic weapon loaded with the coagulant, a concept that is made even worse by the fact that the pacing for this sequence is horrendous as it just seems to drag on. On the bright side, the story also brings back the mech theme from last year's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) with the revival of another of Toho's classic characters: Moguera from The Mysterians (1957). The fact that the mech also participates in the climax, as opposed to Rodan's untimely knock out just before Godzilla arrives in the previous movie, is also very refreshing as these type of battles are so rarely used in the series since the closure of the Showa era.

As for the cast of characters, they are amusing at times, but hardly fleshed out enough for the audience to care about them. The trio of male leads (Koji, Kyo and Yuki) certainly do have some chemistry together. To that point, it's nice to see their different attitudes play off each other, even if they are severally underdeveloped. Of the three, Kyo is the least exposed, as hardly anything is revealed of the character during the duration of the picture. However, his lack of enthusiasm for work and habit of shooting off his mouth play nicely off Koji's dedication to his work and Yuki's hardened veteran sentiments. Unfortunately, this same degree of chemistry does not carry over to Koji and Miki, as their romance seems forced due to their personalities clashing and a lack of development of their eventual relationship, making it seem awkward. It's also a shame to see the Miki character reduced to a “damsel in distress” for this production, as she is given very little to do other than be rescued from the Yakuza.

In terms of acting, nothing remarkable, although nothing much to scorn really either. The leads all do fine with what they are given, even though Jun Hashizume as Koji seems very flat and without much enthusiasm. Director Kensho Yamashita's guidance seems a little flimsy, though, given that none of the performances really stand out positively here. To that point, I am always amazed that director Yamashita was given this project in the first place. He certainly has a preference for focusing more on the romantic angle of his leads, although with not much success. He was certainly very “green” at this point in his career too, as his only prior work was the movie Nineteen (1987), and he seems like an odd choice to helm an entry in the highly successful Heisei Godzilla series.

In regards to the production values, it's a very mixed presentation. On one hand the movie showcases some of the best, and worst special effects scenes of the Heisei Godzilla series. One of the more infamous sequences from the film would be the asteroid scene, which blatantly displays a black background, devoid of stars, amongst immobile clumps of meteors. However, one of the best shots from the movie, and from the series, happens when Godzilla first emerges from the water heading toward Birth Island. The brief shot of Godzilla with the water up to his knees while advancing on Birth Island is breath taking.

Unfortunately, this trend in the production values carry on to the movie's musical score. After Akira Ifukube declined to return, as he disapproved of the idea of Godzilla fighting a clone of himself descending from space, new comer Takayuki Hattori was brought onboard for the production. While Hattori would end up being one of the most infamous Godzilla composers in coming years, he did some of his best work here on Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. SpaceGodzilla has a nice, hectic, theme that suits him and works well when used through out the movie. The Birth Island theme is probably Hattori's best done theme for the film, and adds a carefree tone to that portion of the movie. Sadly, a bulk of the music done for Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is all too forgettable, especially his unremarkable theme for Godzilla that is utilized far too often.

It's also unfortunate that this film was rather rushed, and this shows in the final product. There are two places in the film where Godzilla's roar is erroneously that of SpaceGodzilla's. Not only does this distract from the viewing experience, but it was an error that should have been fixed as it was so obvious and easy to change. The bigger, and more noticeable problem, is the mild use of stock footage for Godzilla's attack against the military in the water. A scene was originally filmed for this segment, but the footage was deemed unacceptable and was replaced with footage from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992).

Overall, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is an underrated movie, but only in respects that it is often unfairly dogged as the worst entry in the long running Godzilla series by more than a few sources. In fact, some have even gone as far to declare it the worst Japanese special effects production, which seems like an incredibly unfit verdict with movies like Kujakuoh (1988) and Gunhed (1989) in that genre. Still, this production is ridden with flaws regardless, and is really only suggestible to more dedicated Godzilla fans.