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Godzilla vs. Megaguirus - Review

A Review by Mike Bogue

3 Stars - Good

(Released in Japanese theaters in 2000; officially available on North American DVD in 2004)





Direction:  Masaaki Tezuka

Screenplay:  Wataru Mimura and Hiroshi Kashiwabara

Music:  Michiru Oshima

Special Effects:  Kenji Suzuki

Monster Suits:  Shinichi Wakasa

Producer:  Shogo Tomiyama




Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Still. Though not the best of the post-Showa Godzilla movies, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is one of the most entertaining.  As with most of the Millennium Godzilla entries, this particular kaiju epic posits a “parallel earth” history for Godzilla’s rampages.  He attacks Tokyo in 1954, a Tokai nuclear power plant in 1966, and Osaka in 1996.  Radiation attracts Godzilla, so the generation of nuclear power comes to a swift halt in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Nevertheless, the Japanese government creates the G-graspers, a military unit specifically designed to combat Godzilla.  In tandem with the Dimension Tide, a miniature black hole weapon, the Japanese government hopes to do away with Godzilla altogether.  However, a test of the Dimension Tide inadvertently allows a prehistoric Meganeura (a giant dragonfly) to buzz into our world.

The creature lays an egg that multiplies in Tokyo’s Shibuya sewers and gives birth to a whole host of larva that transform into Maganeura, adult dragonflies.  After a swarm of Meganeura attack Godzilla on an uninhabited island, the insect survivors return to Shibuya and impart G energy into a gigantic larva that gives birth to the formidable Megaguirus.  Before long, Godzilla clashes with Megaguirus in Tokyo.  But after the battle, will the Dimension Tide eliminate the Big G via a miniature black hole? 

Filled with bright colors and swift action, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus wastes little time getting down to business – monster business that is.  The film’s opening “newsreel” is clever, depicting the Millennium Godzilla trashing Tokyo in a mixture of new footage incorporated with scenes from the original Godzilla.  Especially nice is a quick scene of the Millennium Godzilla crushing a train car in its mouth.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Still.

The giant prehistoric dragonflies are a refreshing change of pace as opponents for the Big G.  Especially interesting is Godzilla’s battle against a Meganeura swarm.  The monster king has to resort to a number of creative strategies to rid himself of the pesky insects, such as using his tail as a flyswatter. 

The larval Meganeuron, which we never see clearly, introduce an element of horror into the proceedings, especially in a nocturnal scene in which one of the prehistoric insects attacks and dispatches a hapless young couple.  The adult dragonflies are handled quite well in a skillful combination of CGI and models.

However, though the huge Megaguirus looks fearsome, it sometimes glides through the air sporting only minimal wing movement, a less than convincing effect recalling Koichi Kawakita’s problems with articulation of flying kaiju in the Heisei series.  Yes, Megaguirus is much more effective when its wings are moving in fast motion via SPFX blurring, but its wings should move in a more insect-like manner during it regular flight maneuvers.  Still, its sonic wave destruction of flooded Shibuya is impressive, somewhat reminiscent of the original Rodan’s and Mothra’s hurricane-force winds blasting brightly colored miniatures to scattered smithereens.

The monster battle between the Big G and Megaguirus is well-staged.  One novelty is the fact that Megaguirus can flit about faster than Godzilla can often react, resulting in frequent confusion and mistimed attacks on the part of the Big G.  Godzilla’s “flying leap” – reminiscent of his “flying tackle” of Ghidorah on Planet X in Monster Zero – is an apparent nod to some of the kiddie-oriented “monster comedy” of the Showa series.  Fortunately, it matches up well with the rest of the monster battle.

The special effects are generally skillful, but budget strains are readily apparent.  Not all the miniatures are of the same caliber.  Nevertheless, the majority of the effects do work.  One particularly effective scene features an overhead shot of Godzilla stomping down a street in Tokyo – here the composite work is perfect.  The tornadic Dimension Tide effects are also quite nice, especially during the finale.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Still.

The “human” plot is better and more involving than usual.  Mostly, it deals with a young G-Grasper’s determination to help destroy Godzilla because her commanding officer died saving her life during Godzilla’s 1996 Osaka raid.  Misato Tanaka handles the role quite well.  It’s also heartening to see the return of Toho “old-timer” Yuriko Hoshi to the G series; she brings both professionalism and class to her role as Dr. Yoshizawa, creator of the Dimension Tide weapon.  (Hoshi appeared in both Godzilla vs. The Thing and Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster.)

Also notable is Michiru Oshima’s music score.  She provides the best Big G theme since the Akira Ifubuke original.  Indeed, her music cues in general are right on the mark.  Especially effective is the simple “sighing strings” theme for the sinister giant dragonflies.

Of course, credit for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus’s success also goes to director Masaaki Tezuka, who would go on to direct two more G Millennium entries.  The script by Wataru Mimura and Hiroshi Kashiwabara is likewise noteworthy.

Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well in Japan, causing Toho to once again resort to the Big G’s older foes from the Showa and Heisei series for its next three Millennium entries.  Said kaiju included Mechagodzilla, King Ghidorah, and Mothra.  (I’m not counting the as-of-this-writing uncompleted Godzilla: Final Wars, though it sounds as though this alleged “last Godzilla film” will literally overflow with classic Toho titans.)

Although it may not have raked in the yen and didn’t even merit a Western theatrical release, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus nevertheless provides 106 minutes of action-packed fun for every giant monster fan.



DVD NOTES

Sony/TriStar’s DVD widescreen transfer is crystal clear, and viewers may choose between English dubbed or Japanese with English subtitles tracks.  The dubbing is less than stellar, but it is far better than the Heisei series dubbing.  Unfortunately, the original Japanese theatrical trailers are not included.



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