Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Class: User
Author: Chaos
Score: (1.5/5)
August 9th, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, along with All Monsters Attack (1969) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), is one of those Godzilla films that have garnered a pretty nasty reputation among fans over the years, even though it's part of a film series in which coherency of plot isn't much of a strong point. Among those four films, SpaceGodzilla is easily the worst; the script is one of the messiest seen in the series to date, the characters are paper thin, the acting leaves much to be desired as do the special effects, and the score is unmemorable.

G-Force, in an effort to get rid of the King of the Monsters once and for all, creates two projects, T- Project and M-Project, the first of which will control Godzilla and the second of which will kill him with Moguera, G-Force's latest mech. Miki Saegusa opposes both projects, but agrees to be a part of T-Project when she receives a warning from the Cosmos that a powerful space monster is approaching Earth with plans to kill Godzilla. If Godzilla is killed, the Earth will fall to the monster. The T-Project experiment is conducted on Birth Island, where Godzilla and his adopted son reside.

Meanwhile, Moguera is sent into space to intercept the monster. The mech fails and the monster continues its advance toward Earth.

Back on Birth Island, the T-Project experiment fails and the space monster, this bears a strong resemblance to Godzilla lands on the island and confronts the King of the Monsters. Godzilla is defeated and Little Godzilla is trapped in a crystalline prison. The monster, dubbed SpaceGodzilla, leaves a wounded Godzilla on Birth Island and flies to Fukuoka, turning the city into a fortress of crystals.

A vengeful Godzilla and a newly repaired Moguera converge on SpaceGodzilla's location in an effort to destroy the cosmic saurian and save mother Earth.

The Godzilla series isn't known for strong scripts, but compared to this film, the others are like works of Shakespeare. In fact, calling it a script is giving it way more credit than it deserves. It's really more of a series of underdeveloped subplots that never really go anywhere. The T-Project is a good example of this. In the end, what does the whole thing amount to? Nothing. It's just one of the many “filler” subplots of the film designed to keep the audience “entertained” up until the final kaiju battle. It would have made the script much more cohesive had the project been responsible for luring SpaceGodzilla to Earth. There's also a subplot involving the yakuza, who plan to use the T-Project to bring Godzilla under their control. We never really get much of an idea why. Do they want to use Godzilla to take over the world; crush a rival gang? The subplot itself is extremely tacked on and amounts to less than the T-Project subplot. Then of course, there's the love story involving Koji Shinjo and Miki Saegusa. The whole subplot is surprisingly devoid of any development whatsoever, but of course, by the end, Miki and Koji have all their differences resolved although there was never a turning point in the relationship.

The kaiju angle of the plot is handled a bit better, but not much. For instance, if SpaceGodzilla was so bent on destroying his doppelganger, why did he leave him on Birth Island when he could so easily have killed him right there and then? As a kaiju though, SpaceGodzilla is written pretty well. He's given a unique and cool display of powers and a very vicious personality. It's a shame such a great kaiju had to be featured in such a bad movie. Godzilla pretty much plays second fiddle to SpaceGodzilla and isn't given much personality other than being protective of Little Godzilla. Speaking of Little Godzilla, his role in the film is pretty much acting cute; there's nothing too memorable about him at all. Moguera, last seen in The Mysterians, makes an appearance and plays a fairly large role in the final battle. However, the mech gets pummeled by SpaceGodzilla rather easily and the moments of dignity it gets are very few in number. Mothra also makes an appearance in this film. However, her role is almost completely nonexistent! She plays no role in the film's mess of a plot whatsoever other than send the Cosmos back down to Earth to warn Miki of the coming arrival of Spacegodzilla.

The acting is one of the better aspects of the film, but it's still pretty mediocre. Hardly any of the actors have any charisma whatsoever and play their roles pretty much by the numbers. Akira Emoto portrays his character, Akira Yuki pretty solidly, unlike most of the cast. I do have to tip my hat to Megumi Odaka though. Aside from getting kidnapped by the yakuza and rescued, she does almost nothing other than preach to Shinjo not to harm Godzilla. She could have come across as annoying if acted wrong, but Odaka manages to avoid for this and get the audience to slightly feel for her dilemma. The other performances are nothing to write home about, but could have been better in the hands of a better director.

Like most of the actors, the characters they portray come across as pretty dull and flat. Akira Yuki serves as the film's most developed character with his intense hatred of Godzilla and his desperation to kill him so strong that he'll ignore his orders and mission in order to do so. The character loses all credibility however, when he does a complete 180 in regards to his hatred for Godzilla. Miki Saegusa is confronted with the dilemma of trying to keep the JSDF from harming Godzilla so Earth will not fall to his clone from the cosmos. Thanks to Odaka's performance, I was actually feeling for her and hoping she'd succeed. Unfortunately, this didn't last long. After she's rescued from the yakuza, Miki and her dilemma fade into the background until the end. As for the other character, the audience only gets to learn a thing or two about them and those things we learn aren't enough to make us feel for them. Koji Shinjo develops some kind of attraction to Miki, Kiyo Sato's a happy-go-lucky guy and Chinatsu Gondo has a thing for Yuki.

As with most of his work on the Heisei series, Koichi Kawakita's special effects are quite a mixed bag. This time around however, they're more awful than good. One of the worst offenders is the asteroid field in the battle between Moguera and Spacegodzilla, which is nothing more than some immobile, styrofoam asteroids against a blank, black background. For God's sake, it couldn't have hurt to put a few stars here or there! The most intolerable thing about the effects for me though, was the beam wars. Even in the previous two entries in the “Beam Wars Trilogy” (Godzilla vs. Mothra [1992], Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II [1993]) had a bit of tooth and claw fighting here or there. This film however, is severely lacking in physical fighting; the result is one of the dullest, most unimaginative fights in the Godzilla series' history. I only counted two instances where Godzilla and SpaceGodzilla make physical contact. That's right, two. Kawakita does manage to sneak in some good shots though, such as Godzilla advancing toward Birth Island. As for the suits, Godzilla looks no better or no worse than he has in the past 5 films, SpaceGodzilla' suit is a little stiff and those crystals on his shoulders look totally artificial, Little Godzilla looks like an updated (and much less crappy looking) version of Minilla and Moguera is a passable suit, although he does look a little like a mecha Woody Woodpecker. Yes I know that comment's been done to death, but it's true.

One aspect of the film that's been the subject of much criticism is its score by Takayuki Hattori. Although unmemorable, it's certainly not bad. There are 3 themes that really stick out in my mind. There's SpaceGodzilla's theme, which sounds pretty badass, there's Moguera's heroic theme, which is pretty catchy and there's that theme that plays when Godzilla tears through the city to get to Spacegodzilla, which gives the scene a real sense of urgency. Other than those themes, the rest are pretty unmemorable.

Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla for me is one of the worst Godzilla films, if not the worst. The story is horribly written and executed, the actors and the characters they portray are extremely bland, the special effects are some of the worst seen in the series and the score, while decent, is almost entirely unmemorable. This film could have been much better if it didn't try to take itself seriously. Much of the same criticism could be applied to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), but what saved that film was the fact that it just had fun with itself. Nevertheless, director Kensho Yamashita was convinced he could make a serious, emotional film and he failed entirely.