Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Class: Staff
Author: Miles Imhoff
Score: (2/5)
April 9th, 2005 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II is without a doubt one of the most overrated Godzilla movies of all time and easily the most overrated Heisei movie of all time. Its content definitely does not merit its fan base. The movie has a stale and drawn-out plot, poor acting, weak special effects, and a rather ineffective revival of two very beloved Showa kaiju. The excellent music and the interesting fight scenes are two positives aspects of this film, but unfortunately they are basically the only positive aspects.

In the year 1992, the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (U.N.G.C.C.) is formed to deal with the ever-present Godzilla threat. The first weapon they create is Garuda. The highly advanced and bulky jet lacks the fighting capability needed to contend with Godzilla. To rectify this problem, the twenty-third century technology found in the robotic head of Mecha-King Ghidorah is used to create Mechagodzilla.

When the year 1994 rolls around, Mechagodzilla is ready for action. Powered by helium-3 pellets and coated with artificial diamonds, it is the ultimate fighting machine. Several pilots are chosen to operate the vehicle, and among them is the pteranodon expert Kazuma Aoki. The poor scientist is obviously not at home in the intense training environment at G-Force, and his goofiness doesn't help.

Meanwhile on Adonoa Island in the Bering Sea, a party of scientists arrives to investigate something strange. Two eggs, each several times larger than a human, are discovered. One appears to have hatched, and both have ancient vegetation growing on them. As the scientists study the odd phenomenon, an eerie figure looms in the gloomy sky. Rodan, a large form of pteranodon affected by radiation, arrives. The un-hatched egg glows strangely in response to the creature's arrival. Before the monster can do very much damage, a reptilian tail slaps the ocean and the waves give way to a wild-eyed Godzilla. Godzilla and Rodan become locked in combat, and ultimately Rodan is subdued and knocked out by Godzilla's thermonuclear breath. The scientists escape and return to Japan.

In Kyoto, Azusa Gojo studies the egg. After encountering the pteranodon-crazed Kazuma, Azusa learns that the egg glows when it is frightened or uneasy. Also, the psychic Miki Saegusa senses something in the mysterious plant life that grows on the egg. She and the psychic children at an institute for psychic research discover that the plant life transmits a music all its own. The music is reproduced on audiocassette, and something amazing happens! The egg glows and hatches. It isn't a pteranodon at all; it's Baby Godzilla, and it thinks Azusa is its mother.

After Baby hatches, Godzilla appears in Yokkaichi. Mechagodzilla is readied, but Kazuma is nowhere to be found. This causes little hindrance as the crew prepares for battle. Mechagodzilla flies into the sky and lands to face Godzilla. The robot fires beams from its mouth and eyes. The energy it absorbs from Godzilla's beam culminates into its powerful plasma grenade. Finally, it fires missiles into Godzilla, which conduct a deadly energy stream. Godzilla is left on the ground, foaming at the mouth, as the missiles begin to surge energy back into Mechagodzilla! The robot becomes immobile and Godzilla regains his strength. Godzilla continues to destroy more JSDF forces before he journeys into Kyoto, where he wrecks havoc looking for Baby. He retreats when he cannot locate Baby, who has been isolated from Godzilla.

The defeat of Mechagodzilla prompts the creation of a new plan. It is decided that the “G-Crusher” will be formed, a weapon that will focus on immobilizing Godzilla by targeting the secondary brain at the base of his spine. Kazuma, who had been punished to a mediocre parking lot position due to his absence from the first battle, manages to convince Dr. Asimov that Garuda can be modified and combined with Mechagodzilla. The resulting Super Mechagodzilla would be far more powerful. Dr. Asimov agrees, and Kazuma is reassigned to robotics.

Meanwhile, the psychic children from the institute come to visit Baby. The children have made a chorus from the plant music, and when they sing, Baby becomes riled and gains extra strength. Rodan awakens on Adonoa Island, also in response to the chorus. The winged creature's power increases and it becomes Fire Rodan.

In order to lure Godzilla to death via G-Crusher, it is decided that Baby will be used to attract him. Azusa, feeling responsible for Baby, accompanies the creature to their destination, but along the way, Rodan destroys their transport. Rodan grabs their containment box and brings it to the ground, where it proceeds to peck at it. Suddenly, Mechagodzilla appears. Garuda also arrives, piloted by none other than Kazuma Aoki. Garuda grapples with Rodan but the pterosaur sends the clunky craft spinning into a building. Mechagodzilla, forced to pick up the slack, fights Rodan and easily defeats him with its plasma grenade.

The situation becomes far more complicated when Godzilla arrives. A quick exchange of beams causes Mechagodzilla to overheat. Kazuma finally fixes Garuda and he sends the machine back into battle. Garuda merges with Mechagodzilla to become Super Mechagodzilla. The combined mech hovers and hits Godzilla with everything it has. Miki Saegusa, chosen for this mission for the sole purpose of accurately locating Godzilla's secondary brain, hesitates before revealing that she has discovered the secondary brain. The G-Crusher is fired and Godzilla's secondary brain is ruptured, paralyzing Godzilla from the waste down.

As Godzilla is pummeled by Mechagodzilla's technology, Baby becomes distraught. It bursts out of the container and calls Rodan. Rodan rises, but is downed by Mechagodzilla's “mega buster” beam. Rodan falls onto Godzilla and infuses him with his energy. Godzilla regenerates and rises. Godzilla's powerful new spiral blast fires at Mechagodzilla, and it is this new power that overtakes the mech and sends it to the ground. Luckily, everyone inside Mechagodzilla survives the defeat.

Meanwhile, Azusa leaves Baby behind in a touching farewell. She knows that Baby must be with its own kind. Godzilla approaches Baby, but the tiny creature is frightened. Miki uses her telepathy to transmit the plant music to Baby, and Baby's fear subsides. It follows its new guardian Godzilla into the sea.

The acting in this film leaves much to be desired. The absolute worst offenders are the American actors, Shelley Sweeney and Leo Meneghetti. Their dialogue lacks believability, as it comes across far too flat and monotone. Concerning the use of English as a whole in this film, some of the Japanese actors were forced to have English-speaking roles. While they obviously did a satisfactory job with a language they've likely had to use solely in this film, there are moments where the dialogue is difficult to understand. The use of English throughout is obviously a method by which to portray the film's international plot elements, but it is unfortunately very jarring from both the American and the Japanese actors.

As far as the other actors are concerned, Masahiro Takashima's does relatively well with his character. Unfortunately, his role as a rather flat, pseudo-macho stereotype gives very little depth in which to explore. Ryoko Sano's character is likely among the most developed and interesting characters in the movie. She accurately portrays her character's burden of responsibility for Baby Godzilla, and it's her skillful handling of this role that adds dimension to her scenes. Megumi Odaka is really the highlight of this film, even though she plays a rather minor character. Not only does she reprise her role as the enigmatic psychic, Miki Saegusa, but she also really shows some interesting emotion and drama. She excellently handles her character's dilemma of Godzilla's right to live, and it is her excellent acting that helps to create a shift in the audience's view of the monster. Akira Nakao is the last actor worth mentioning. His acting is very straightforward, and his role as the stereotypical military commander has little depth or dimension. Despite this fact, he is one of the few actors who manage to reprise his role in future films. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II is the first movie he would play Commander Takaki Aso, and he would reprise his role in Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).

Humans aside, the monsters were handled with a satisfactory amount of sophistication. Godzilla appears very feral and has a wild-eyed look in this design. As far as the character Godzilla is concerned, he is at first given little more development than a mindless monster. Slowly throughout the film, very human emotions such as love and compassion for his soon-to-be adopted son begin to emerge. The Rodan design isn't too special in this movie. It does resemble a pterosaur more so than its Showa counterpart; however, the prop is still very stiff. The wings aren't used with a great deal of care, and Rodan becomes the victim of an age-old Toho problem, the “hovering flap”. As for the characterization of the creature itself, it is very enigmatic. Not only does the creature treat Baby Godzilla as a beloved brother, but it also aids its archrival Godzilla in order to save Baby. Concerning Baby Godzilla's design, it's a very cutesy form of Godzilla, but it works. Baby's character is also handled nicely. It has a very innocent demeanor, a loveable nature, and emotions with which the audience can easily empathize. Though Minilla had his charming moments in the Showa timeline, Baby is obviously an improvement. Mechagodzilla is yet another “monster” in the film. Its smooth and modern design is an improvement over the Showa Mechagodzilla, but it lacks a lot of character that the original possessed. This Mechagodzilla is far more sterile than the original, and of the three trans-era incarnations, it is the least interesting. Another mech that this film boasts is Garuda. While it is more of an impressive plane than a robotic monster, it does add another dimension of interest to the film. Adding it to Mechagodzilla to create Super Mechagodzilla is a nice touch. It really helps to increase the intimidation factor of the host mech.

There are several noticeable lapses in special effects in this film. The miniatures are unrealistic, and their true size is easily discernable. The countryside fights are embarrassing. The sandy ground with the sparse foliage, meant to portray a perspective landscape, gives little more impression of size than the very similar landscapes of the latter Showa entries. Rodan suffers some special effects faux pas as well. Whenever it crashes into Godzilla, sparks fly. While it does present the visual aid of portraying a crashing blow, it is far too jarring. Also, while Rodan flies above water and it splashes into the air, the lights of the underwater explosions are clearly visible. Finally, “Aoki's pteranodon bike” is a special effect that also deserves some minor criticism. The flight composites can be pretty bad, and it is sad that the only moments where its flight appears natural are when one of the wings is obviously being suspended off film.

This film does excel in one department, and that is the fights. Several Godzilla fans will castigate the makers of this film because the final battle is merely one major beam battle. Those looking for a mêlée fight need only look at the first battle between Godzilla and Rodan. This movie is instead for the fan of beam battles, and while many fans may not like it, it presents a great battle scene for those who do. The beams themselves are sophisticated. From the traditional thermonuclear breath to the technological plasma grenade, the beams in this movie boast few lapses in consistency and style.

Akira Ifukube's music is perhaps the best aspect of this film. Super Mechagodzilla's theme is certainly the earworm of this soundtrack. A traditional, a modern, and a techno-modern sound really come together to boost the intensity of Mechagodzilla's character. Rodan's theme makes a triumphant return in this movie, and unlike several Showa entries, it luckily does not jumble together with Godzilla's theme. It slows down to a wonderfully context-perfect tempo as Rodan dies, as well. Another theme worth mentioning is the chorus, which is haunting, beautiful, and enigmatic. It is a little out-of-place, as it does seem more fit to a movie containing Mothra. Another lovely, haunting, and melancholy string piece accompanies Baby Godzilla. It is far more fitting than the “plant theme”, and it is a very wise addition to the movie. There are several other fantastic themes in this movie, in particular the military themes. The upbeat, yet urgent sound compliments the fights nicely. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II absolutely excels in music, and it is perhaps the movie's greatest asset.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II certainly has its problems. From the poor acting to the special effects flaws, the film lacks in many areas. It does have its pros, such as the fight scenes and the music, and these reasons are crucial for the film's massive fan base. It may not be much with which to rate a film so highly, but it does attract fans. Overall, it is a pretty average film, but the love that many fans hold for it is certainly far above average.