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Articles & Reviews by Mike Bogue




A Review by Mike Bogue

Japanese release: December 9, 1995

American release: Winter 1999 (released direct to video by Columbia Tristar)



Direction:  Kensho Yamashita

Screenplay:  Hiroshi Kashiwabara

Music:  Takeyuki Hattori

Special Effects:  Koichi Kawakita

Producer:  Shogo Tomiyama

Executive Producer:  Tomoyuki Tanaka

 

SEE Godzillafs pokey arrival on Birth Island!

SEE Little Godzilla out-cute Talking Elmo!

SEE psychic Miki Saegusa wiggle her ear lobe!

SEE a chandelier with teeth battle a bulbous battle robot!  In space!

All these thrills and more await you in Tohofs 21st Big G film Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla!

          

Yes, it's easy to poke fun at what many fans consider the worst Godzilla movie of the Heisei series -- and perhaps one of the worst period.  It does have a lot going against it.

First, you've got the whole "teen idol" romantic approach, which seems tacked on at best, not unlike taping a poster of She's All That over a poster of Godzilla 2000. The romance tries hard, and it does enjoy the backdrop of a lovely sunset in one scene, but, like a Mafiosi alibi, it just doesnft ring true. 

Second, you've got Mogera, supposedly the "next step" after Mechagodzilla in terms of fighting Godzilla.  Well, we all know that in the previous film MechaG got trashed royally. And Mogera doesn't seem to possess nearly the same firepower, if not to mention its ungainly and awkward body dimensions. Yes, I know it's supposed to resemble the robot from The Mysterians, but there's no reason for it to look this way other than to appeal to Toho Golden Age nostalgists. 

(Actually, the film could have handled Mogera's bulky appearance in a creative manner. Perhaps one of the politicians could say, "Why does the robot look like that?" A general could answer, "Because the inventor is a fan of that old sci-fi movie The Mysterians. Said he wouldnft build it if it he couldnft make it look like the robot in that movie." The politician frowns and mutters, "What's the name of this eccentric inventor?" The generalfs reply: "Ishiro Tsuburaya." Now back to our review in progress.)

Third, you've got the exceedingly lumpy story. For example, the "industrial mafia" subplot comes and goes without leaving a single significant mark on the major plotline.  It could have been dropped from the movie and no one would have really noticed.

Fourth, you've got wildly uneven pacing. Some of the sequences on Birth Island appear to have somehow avoided the editing room, such as Godzilla's overly languid island arrival and Yuuki running around endlessly, hoping to get off a good shot at the beast.

Fifth, you've got bizarre character motivations. We're told Yuuki has vowed revenge against Godzilla because the Big G killed his best friend. Okay. Yuuki feels so strongly about this that he even veers Mogera away from its intended course towards Spacegodzilla so he can take on Godzilla personally, and he does this against military orders. Yet later, Yuuki appears to have lackadaisically switched his sentiments, deciding Godzilla's not such a bad guy after all. Uh-huh.

Sixth, you've got Little Godzilla. Need I say more?

Seventh, you've got uneven special effects. Now most of the visuals are good.  But the space battle between Mogera and Spacegodzilla, staged midst what appear to be Styrofoam asteroids hanging in front of a black backdrop, is undoubtedly the worst effect in the entire Heisei series.

BUT, there are some good things to say in Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla's favor.  As noted above, most of the special effects are pretty fair. Creative new angles of Godzilla are employed as he ritualistically rampages through Japanese real estate. In addition, Spacegodzilla's arrival in Fukuoka is spectacular, as is the cosmic monster's conversion of a major part of the city into a crystal-strewn otherland.  Indeed, Mogera's and Godzilla's battle with the extraterrestrial interloper appears to almost take place on the landscape of another planet.  And let's not forget that great gravity tornado effect.

As for the characters, they are tolerable. Yuuki's abrupt about-face makes no sense, and Miki flounders as the film's intended center. But at least they don't make you cringe -- though some of their dubbed dialogue might, but that's certainly not the actors' fault.

Even some of the music isn't too bad. Now yes, much of the music score sounds tinny and inappropriate. But some of the filmfs sonic strains help to embellish the on-screen action during the monster battles.

I won't say Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla is a good example of kaiju eiga, because I don't think it is. But I don't think it's terrible either. The monster battles are mostly fun. And anyway, who wouldn't want to watch Miki Saegusa's ear lobe wiggle?         




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