Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Class: User
Author: Godzillawolf
Score: (3/5)
September 19th, 2010 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is best described as a great premise with poor execution. The ideas are creative and interesting; but on screen, they aren't handled all that well. In fact, I would go so far as to say this movie had the potential to be one of the best entries in the Godzilla saga; but sadly, it just comes across as average, at best.

In the dark depths of space, a crystal entity speeds through the void, morphing into a hideous monster of awesome destructive power and evil intent. The cosmic horror sets its sinister gaze upon Earth, radiating a cluster of lights as its heralds, which come to a crash on Birth Island, the home of Godzilla and his adopted son.

Meanwhile, the G-force finishes testing on Mechagodzilla's successor, Moguera, a colossal mecha capable of splitting into the airborne Star Falcon and the land based Land Moguera. Meanwhile, Chinatsu Gondo, sister of Goro Gondo (a bazooka trooper who gave his life in the fight against Godzilla years prior) meets with Miki Saegusa to discuss Project T. The plan is for a psychic to be able to control Godzilla, neutralizing the threat of the nuclear menace without the need to kill him.

The situation suddenly escalates when a NASA space craft is obliterated by crystals generated in space. There's only one conclusion upon which they can agree, a space monster is coming...

Miki reluctantly agrees to join Project T after meeting with the Cosmos (the twin fairies of Mothra), who confirm the fears of the scientists. Not only is a space monster coming to Earth, its intent is to kill Godzilla and conquer the world. Sure enough, sensors soon detect the extraterrestrial creature hurdling through the vacuum of interplanetary space. In response to this threat, Moguera is prepared and deployed to intercept and destroy this new threat.

When the Project T team arrives on Birth Island, they meet Akira Yuki, a friend of Goro Gondo, who is attempting to kill Godzilla to avenge his fallen comrade. His weapon: a bullet filled with a special blood coagulant. Miki also encounters and befriends Little Godzilla, who has now grown to 30 meters in height. Godzilla finally comes ashore to visit his son, allowing Project T to be implemented. A psychic amplifier is shot into the back of his head; however, Godzilla's power is too great and the machine is overloaded, injuring Miki in the process.

Moguera finally confronts SpaceGodzilla in the asteroid belt; shots are fired, but the tyrant's cosmic might is simply too much. SpaceGodzilla merely shrugs off Moguera's firepower and easily cripples the mecha with his counterattack, sending it spiraling out of control and barely capable of making its way back to Earth. With Moguera out of his way, SpaceGodzilla continues unabated towards Earth.

After recovering from Project T's malfunction, Miki suddenly detects SpaceGodzilla making his way closer and closer to the planet. Meanwhile, the crystals that the celestial tyrant planted earlier begin spewing geysers of cosmic energy. SpaceGodzilla finally makes landfall, his first act being to mercilessly assault Little Godzilla with his corona beam. Infuriated, Godzilla charges into battle against his cosmic twin. Even Godzilla proves powerless against the super powered terror and is easily defeated. Godzilla can only watch helplessly as SpaceGodzilla imprisons Little Godzilla in his crystals and takes off towards Japan.

SpaceGodzilla leaves chaos and havoc in his wake until he reaches Fukuoka, at which point he transforms the entire city into his own crystal fortress. G-Force deploys a repaired and upgraded Moguera to fight SpaceGodzilla, while Godzilla chases his evil twin, with vengeance keenly gnawing at his mind. Will Earth's defenders be able to stop this cosmic terror?

The plot is... well... it has a lot to be desired. Project T was a great idea; but unfortunately, it ultimately proves to be nothing more than a device whose only function is to set up the Yakuza subplot. Unfortunately, it's a side story that never unfolds to its fullest potential. This is sad, as the idea of a criminal syndicate in control of the Earth's most powerful creature would've made for a fantastic story element. In its current form, this subplot ultimately amounts to nothing more than a confusing waste of time. The return of the Cosmos is the only "human" plot element that works, at all. Yuki's thirst for revenge, while intriguing, suffers from one critical flaw. The scenes where he attempts to take down a nearly indestructible monster, with a bullet, are simply too silly. On the other hand, the monster storyline is much better. Godzilla's motivation for revenge on SpaceGodzilla works perfectly, and it proves to be an interesting angle (especially in this predominantly antagonistic-Godzilla timeline). The climatic battle is probably the one redeeming aspect of the film. Fortunately, it takes up a large part of the film and flows nicely.

Despite the above problems, the acting is (surprisingly) not all that bad. Megumi Odaka once again shows her excellence at portraying the famous recurring role of the Heisei timeline, Ms. Miki Saegusa. Her love for Godzilla and his son works very well, especially in contrast to other characters. She conveys her emotions perfectly and doesn't disappoint. Akira Emoto pulls off Yuki with style, managing to keep the audience's interest, despite the fact that he's given some crazy stuff to work with (i.e. his plan for revenge). And truthfully, of all the actors in the film, those are the only ones who really stand out. Granted, the others do well with what they're given, but what they're given doesn't amount to much. Even Jun Hashizume's role of Koji Shinjo, supposedly a major character, falls flat. The actor isn't really to blame, the script just doesn't develop him, at all.

On the other hand, the monsters are the area where this film really shines. Godzilla is as awesome as always, and you actually feel for him when his son is captured. Little Godzilla is... well... a little too cutesy. However, that notable aesthetic does give you a sense of natural sympathy when he's imprisoned by SpaceGodzilla. Still, I'd have liked him to have a darker skin color; his appearance is too far removed from his infant form in the previous film and his juvenile form in the subsequent movie. The bright green color is a pretty big eyesore when compared to his other stages of growth. On the mecha-side of things, Moguera is quite the excellent suit; it looks high tech and retains some degree of the Showa Moguera of The Mysterians (1957) fame. Its weapons are beautifully rendered, particularly the effect of his plasma maser. The spiral grenade missiles are also a solid effect. When split into Land Moguera and Star Falcon, the former is the best of his two halves. However, the real shining star of the film is the villainous SpaceGodzilla. Where Godzilla comes across as a living natural disaster, nether a force striving for good nor evil, SpaceGodzilla is, for lack of a better term, pure evil. His actions and even his appearance reflect his sadistic state of being. His corona beam is wonderfully illustrated, snaking its way through the air at all sorts of angles, and his gravity tornado is another fine effect. His psychokinetic abilities also fail to disappoint. The scene where he turns Fukuoka into his personal fortress is one of the best in the film, showing off his awesome power while also solidifying his merciless streak. The intelligence of the character is also portrayed by the scene, as he successfully picks out a lair perfectly suited to his needs. The prop used for his flying form, as well as the transformation, are both splendid. One last thing to mention is his roar, which is very haunting and menacing. However, in a very embarrassing sound effect failure, Godzilla is given SpaceGodzilla's roar at one point, which takes away a couple points from the SFX score. Also worth noting is the battle between SpaceGodzilla and Moguera; the fight itself is handled well, but the asteroids in the background look too fake. Having them floating in place makes it even worse...

The soundtrack is well written, and SpaceGodzilla receives a very sci-fi style tune, while Moguera has an up-tempo, heroic theme. Kudos to Takayuki Hattori and Isao Shigetoh. Godzilla's theme is, as always, wonderfully executed.

Also, something I feel worth mentioning are the ideas that didn't make it to the final cut, as they aid in conveying the extent of untapped promise. Originally, Moguera's role was given to a second Mechagodzilla, but Toho chose to replace him with the less powerful Moguera, so the final fight wouldn't be quite so one sided. I agree with this choice, but I also think SpaceGodzilla would've come across as even more powerful had they went with the original plan. If SpaceGodzilla were to dominate a battle against the combined forces of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, imagine how powerful he would have come across. Another deleted scene was to have Godzilla try to free Little Godzilla from his crystal prison. It boggles my mind why this was cut, as it adds a certain extra dimension to the monster drama. Also lying on the cutting room floor was new "battle at sea" footage, which was removed due to noticeable special effects failures and the inability to redo it in time. Still, one wonders how this scene would've played out if accomplished to the filmmakers' likings. Lastly, some of SpaceGodzilla's early designs are quite striking, being quadrupedal and much more crystal-like in appearance. This makes one wonder just how the film would've played out were such an exotic design utilized.

To sum it all up, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla had plenty of potential that it just failed to reach. The subplots could've turned out excellent had they merely avoided the contrive and the silly. In the final cut, these side roads are too bumpy and come across as average (possibly even below average). This is by no means a horrible film, but it simply doesn't live up to the promise to which so many great ideas could have led. Really, it's up to you if you want to see this movie; I can't generally suggest it unless you're a hardcore Godzilla fan (like me).