Now, even though it was probably the most important part of my childhood, I am able distance myself and understand why Godzilla vs. Megalon is so hated by both fans and casual viewers, especially when you put it into context. If you watch the series in order, you will notice quite a change when you get to this one. What started out as a very dark monster movie that also served as a metaphor for nuclear holocaust became a series of increasingly family-oriented but still well-made series of monster movies featuring some very memorable, if ludicrous, creatures and, for the most part, well-written scripts with some clever satire and allegory to them. But then, when we get into the 70's, we see the effects that the collapsing Japanese film industry, rapidly decreasing number of movie audiences, and encroachment of television had on the series: slashed budgets, increased use of stock footage, and, most significantly of all, catering to the one dependable audience that the franchise still had, which was children. Godzilla vs. Megalon is the absolute epitome of the state the series was in by now. It's as cheesy, goofy, and nonsensical as you can get, with little effort put into the writing of both the plot and the characters, a micro-sized budget that forced the filmmakers to rely on stock footage more so than any other time in the series (yes, even more so than Godzilla's Revenge), an obvious attempt to cash-in on the success of the superhero TV shows that were very popular at that time in Japan, and overall tone that's even more juvenile than Godzilla's Revenge. This is the one film where I can honestly say that Godzilla is a superhero. There's no ambiguousness or different sides to his characterization. So, given all that, I can completely understand why most fans to this day look at this film and just say, "Jesus," why rubbing their temples. But, that said, I still have nothing but affection for this movie. Like I said, I realize that it probably is the lowest point of the series by far and I can, and will, poke holes into it until the cows come home, but I can't hate on it. This movie meant so much to me when I was a kid that for me to just lie and say that I agree with the general consensus that it's a piece of garbage would be the biggest insult to my stance to be honest with my opinions as a film-watcher. I still find this movie to be very entertaining. It's cheesiness and "fuck all logic" attitude make it very enjoyable for me to watch to this day. There are just some flicks where you should be able to turn your brain off and have a good time and I think this movie is a great example of that. If I did a top ten Godzilla movies list, the darker, more meaningful and complex entries would certainly be high above this one but I would still put it in there, albeit in the number ten slot, because I still think it's fun and also simply because it sent me down this crazy road that, roadblocks and mockery aside, I wouldn't trade for anything.
It's the early 1970's and atomic tests are still being conducted, with one test near the Aleutian islands being so powerful that it sends shockwaves as far away as Monster Island, disrupting the lives of Godzilla and his fellow monsters like Rodan and Anguirus. One day, inventor Goro Ibuki is having a picnic with his friend Jinkawa (whom his friends call Jinko) and kid brother Rokuro, the latter of whom is out on the lake. Suddenly, an earthquake that eventually drains the lake hits and the two adults struggle to get the young boy safely back to shore. Upon returning home to Goro's lab, they discover that the place has been broken into and are immediately ambushed by the two intruders, with Jinko pulling a strange-colored button off one's suit. While Goro and Rokuro repair the disarray that the intruders caused in their search for whatever they were after, Jinko attempts to chase them down with his car but they use a firebomb to block the road, preventing him chasing them any further. Later, Goro and Rokuro notice that the button Jinko has is the same color as some odd-looking sand that the former two found on the floor in the lab. Some time later, as they try to find the origin of the sand, Goro manages to finish his greatest invention: an advanced, humanoid robot he names Jet Jaguar. One day, Jinko tells him that he discovered the sand is from a strata deep below the seabed and can also be found on Easter Island. Meanwhile, Rokuro, who is out riding a little scooter, is abducted by the two men who broke into Goro's lab, who now know that Jet Jaguar is completed due to an audio device they hid within the building. Heading back to the lab, they force to Rokuro to let them inside and promptly knock all three of them out, taking control of the building and of Jet Jaguar. The main intruder then contacts their home base, Seatopia, a country miles below the floor of the ocean that was swallowed up by an earthquake millions of years ago, that preparations for their ultimate plan are complete. Seatopia has been especially hard hit by the recent atomic tests and have decided to strike back by sending their god, an enormous insect-like creature called Megalon, to the surface to go on a destructive rampage. Megalon is soon awakened and sent to the surface by Seatopia's leader while their topside agents plan to use Jet Jaguar to guide the monster to Tokyo and other cities. They also plan to eventually bring Jet Jaguar himself to Seatopia along with Goro in order for an army to be created. However, Seatopia's plans hit a monkey wrench when Goro, Rokuro, and Jinko manage to escape from the agents' captivity and, after regaining control of Jet Jaguar, send him to Monster Island to get Godzilla, the only one who can stop Megalon. But, with Seatopia gaining the surfaces of Godzilla's old foe Gigan, the King of the Monsters may need some assistance in this battle.
Like Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Godzilla vs. Megalon was originally conceived as a movie that wouldn't feature the Big G. In 1972, Toho held a contest for children to come up with ideas for new robot superheroes, with the winner being the character that would eventually become known as Jet Jaguar but at the time, was called Red Arone. Once he was renamed, the film meant to star him went into production under the title Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon, with Megalon having been in an early draft of the script for Godzilla vs. Gigan but dropped when his inclusion would have proved too costly for such a low budget film. The film made it a little bit into pre-production before Toho decided that Jet Jaguar wouldn't be able to carry a movie by himself and shut the film down for nearly a month, which eventually led to Tomoyuki Tanaka bringing in Shinichi Sekizawa to rewrite the script in order to incorporate both Godzilla and Gigan, who'd become extremely popular after his first appearance the previous year. Because of the hasty schedule, Sekizawa was undoubtedly told not to waste time thinking about logic and to just add these two very popular monster characters into the film whether it made sense or not. It's the reason why Godzilla doesn't come into play here until during the third act. Also, this fast and loose approach to the screenwriting carried over to the actual filming, with the movie being shot in just three weeks in order to make up for lost time. The production was so quick that Teruyoshi Nakano claims that the new Godzilla suit featured in this movie was made in just a week itself. There's no question that the fact that this movie was thrown together the way it was at practically the last minute contributed to how nonsensical, ridiculous, and ultimately, basic and cheap it is. It's also probably another reason why it's so hated by fans; like Godzilla's Revenge, it truly was nothing more than a cheap grab for kids, perhaps even more so than that movie was (although, as I will continuously say throughout this review, this movie is much, much more entertaining than that one in my humble opinion).
Other than his personal opinion that there shouldn't have been any sequels to the original Godzilla, a big reason why Jun Fukuda didn't enjoy doing the Godzilla movies that he directed was the fact that Toho kept giving him very small budgets to work with, which really limited the scope that he and the effects artists probably wanted to bring to these films. As I mentioned in the previous review, he also wanted to come up with some new approach to making Godzilla movies but was never able to do so with the scripts he was given. Because of these factors, I'm sure that Godzilla vs. Megalon was the one that he disliked the most. With a budget of just $760,000, Fukuda was forced to rely very heavily on stock footage and also had to confine the monster battles to a barren countryside, which had been the case for many films in the past but must've been disappointing to do after he'd managed to stage a good chunk of the monster action in the previous film in the middle of Tokyo. He and the effects guys did manage to pull off some nice-looking new optical and miniature effects shots here but for the most part, the tiny budget was about as constraining as a python and didn't allow for much creativity. And like I said, the film's basic, run-of-the-mill script also probably irritated Fukuda as well and made him feel like he was going through the same old routine yet again. Speaking of which, Fukuda actually contributed a little bit to the screenplay. I don't know if he wrote the original script that didn't involve Godzilla or if he added some of his own touches to Shinichi Sekizawa's revised version but he is a credited as a co-writer on the film. I'm sure, though, that since he knew exactly what type of movie he was expected to make, he made little attempt to add anything of depth to the script and was probably just adding stuff to make it somewhat more interesting for him to shoot. I'm also willing to bet that his attitude during filming was one of, "Let's just get this over with." The constraints of this film and his general disdain for the entire thing, coupled with the fact that, after completing Godzilla vs. Megalon, he went on to direct and write some episodes of an equally cheesy Toho superhero TV show called Zone Fighter (which actually had Godzilla, Gigan, and King Ghidorah appear in some episodes), must have made this a very frustrating point in Fukuda's career.
|From left to right: Rokuro, Jinko, and Goro.|
Even more one-dimensional than the good guys are the bad guys from Seatopia, especially in the case of American actor Robert Dunham as the leader of the country (I often see him listed as Antonio in cast lists for the film but he's never given a name in the actual film). He claims that Seatopia does not want to "go to war" with the people on the surface but that they leave them no choice since their nuclear tests have destroyed a third of their country by this point. As many before me have pointed out, the surface world has no idea that Seatopia even exists, let alone that the nuclear tests are playing as much havoc with it as they are up top, but the leader and his people act as if this is a deliberate act of violence against them. Therefore, sending Megalon to the surface to go on a rampage is a very extreme and unnecessary response. It makes Seatopia look much less peace-loving than they claim to be and much more tyrannical... either that or they're just too stupid to go to the surface, which we know that they're able to do since we hear the leader mention an elevator that emerges through a crack in the dried up lakebed, and say, "Hey, we live down below so could you guys ease up on the nuclear tests? It's really making life difficult for us." In fact, there was a deleted scene where the leader ponders if their plot to destroy the surface world was no different than what the nuclear tests up above were doing to Seatopia. I don't know if that makes him less one-dimensional or even more stupid since that statement makes it seem like he still thinks that the nuclear tests were an intentional attack on Seatopia, which they weren't. While I can ultimately overlook how stereotypically villainous and shallow Seatopia and its leader are in order to enjoy the movie, I do think it's a shame that the film was so hastily put together and that the filmmakers' had such low ambitions that it kept them from making the villains more complex and interesting, as we'll discuss later on. Even the cockroach aliens from Nebula Space Hunter M in the previous movie had a legitimate reason for wanting to destroy mankind, whereas Seatopia comes across like a bunch of people who are so tightly wound that they would send Megalon on a rampage if somebody dropped a penny down a well and it unknowingly struck the leader or a citizen on the head! And at least they also had better fashion sense with their bright orange suits, which is more than I can say for the Seatopian leader's ridiculous toga outfit that shows off his hairy chest and that dorky headpiece.
The last two characters that I want to spend any amount of time on are the two agents whom Seatopia sends up to take control of Goro's laboratory. Let's start with the head agent (Kotaro Tomita) who actually does occupy the laboratory and take control of Jet Jaguar (he's the one pictured here). He's memorable for being even more stupid than his boss. First off, he ties Jinko up in a chair right across from the control panel, which enables him to hear where Goro and Rokuro are being taken. I know he didn't expect him to actually get loose but wouldn't it have been more practical to lock the guy up in one of the rooms in the building and tie him up in there as well just for good measure. For that matter, I don't even know why they're keeping him alive in the first place since Goro is the one they want to be taken down to Seatopia. Do they know that Jinko is an amateur racecar driver and intend to make him teach them how to race since Seatopia has few pastimes? But what's more is how the agent just ups and tells Jinko about Seatopia and why they're interested in Goro and Jet Jaguar when all he asks is, "Where are you taking my friends?" There was no reason for him to tell Jinko that and it would have been logical for him to just say, "Shut up," and then keep working. Did he just get bored and desperate for conversation sitting there, fiddling with the robot's controls all day? And when Jinko manages to escape, the agent says that he's on his way to rescue his friends and in the English dub, he adds, "He's also aware of the whole story of our mission here." If I was the Seatopia leader, my response to that statement would have been, "And how does he know that? Hmm?" Furthermore, this guy is a total wimp who gets beaten up very easily. He and his partner manage to easily knock around all three of our heroes when they first break into Goro's lab but later on, the lead agent gets the crap beaten out of him by Jinko and then by Jinko and Rokuro. And when they first manage to take control of the lab, the lead agent runs right into Jet Jaguar like a complete dumbass and his partner has to quickly knock out Goro and Jinko. This guy deserves his fate of being crushed by a large rock that Megalon sends flying up into the air (yeah, he got killed by his own god; are you really surprised?) As for the other Seatopia agent (Ulf Otsuki), I don't have a lot to say since he barely says anything (in fact, he says nothing in the butchered American release of the film) but he does seem to be the more competent of the two, able to knock out the main leads more effectively and also comes up with the nice idea to throw a firebomb into the road behind them during the first car chase scene to keep Jinko from following them any further. He also holds a gun on these two truck drivers to ensure that they take the metal container holding Goro and Rokuro to the dried up lake even though they hear that Megalon has arrived on the Earth's surface there. However, I think it would have been a better idea to take Jinko's car with the two of them tied up in the back rather than risk involving two other people from the surface world who might get cold feet about the task at hand, which they do and eventually kick the guy out of the truck, apparently killing him in the process. Still, he seemed to have more brains than his partner.
One guy who really despises Godzilla vs. Megalon is David Kalat. While he does offer some scant praise here and there during his four-page entry on the film in his book, for the most part he stomps it into dust, heavily criticizing the film for, "compromising quality for economy," and for copying the superhero television shows that were very popular at the time and had caused the number of movie audiences to drop. In fact, in the previous entry in his book where he talks about the Godzilla series' relationship with Ultraman, he described the fact that the 70's films borrowed so heavily from Ultraman and other superhero television shows of the time by adding theme songs, having Godzilla battle evil space monsters, and how Jet Jaguar himself is a blatant copy of Ultraman, as well as Godzilla's own appearances on Toho's Zone Fighter series, as a sign of how far Godzilla and his franchise had fallen by imitating its own imitators and that his, "days as a pacesetter were over." He goes on to say that the Godzilla movies needed to do more than their TV competitors and give audiences something that they couldn't get from those shows, concluding that Godzilla vs. Megalon is a product of very desperate times. Now, I've praised Kalat many time over in these reviews for his intelligence and insight into these films, and will continue to do so in those to come, and I do agree with a lot of the criticisms he made that I will presently get into. But, that said, it seems to me that Kalat doesn't quite get that this movie didn't start off as a vehicle for Godzilla, that it began life as a blatant cash-in on the superhero television shows, complete with a robot hero all its own, and that Godzilla was shoved in at the last minute. His criticisms that the 70's films in general borrowed too much from those TV shows are valid in my opinion (except for his saying that Godzilla became a superhero because, as I'll get into, I think this is the only film where he can be described as such) but this movie's original conception didn't involve Godzilla. It involved some of the Godzilla team, with the most notable member being producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, but they didn't go into this movie thinking, "This is our next Godzilla movie and we're now going to rip-off Ultraman and these other shows as much as we legally can." And plus, even though Godzilla is indeed like a superhero in this movie, he's not even the star. The movie may have his name in the title but the real monster stars are Jet Jaguar and Megalon, with the former being the hero and the latter being the villain that he must defeat. And while Godzilla is initially brought into the picture is to stop Megalon, his purpose morphs into helping Jet Jaguar fight the monsters. Godzilla is just a co-star for this film's robot superhero. I guess the very fact that they put him in a movie like this, as they would with the Zone Fighter show, is what Kalat hates but, as I've said, this didn't start out as a Godzilla-oriented rip-off of those TV shows.
I think another thing that gets me about Kalat's angry criticisms of Godzilla vs. Megalon is how, with statements like, "Toho's Godzilla movies had once been the gold standard of the genre," he acts like it was the final nail in the coffin for the Big G, that this movie finished him off and that he was never to be seen again. While it's true that the original series of films only lasted for two more entries after this one, Godzilla has survived and thrived long since this film. After this original series of films ended, Toho rebooted the franchise and brought it back to the dark roots of the original Godzilla, turning Godzilla back into a destructive force of nature and carrying on from this for not one but two more cycles of films, not to mention the fact that Godzilla became a popular enough cultural icon to inspire two big-budget American films by this point. The success of all these other movies may vary from film to film and from viewer to viewer but the point is that, while it may have come about in an uninspired way during an equally uninspired period of time, Godzilla vs. Megalon did not utterly destroy Godzilla and I think people need to quit acting like it did. And finally, people need to realize that this flick simply is what it is. It's not a deep, powerfully allegorical film like the original Godzilla or a wonderfully satirical one like the best of the 60's films but is just a cheap, cheesy kaiju film that doesn't concern itself with complex meanings or even logic and is just meant to be a movie where you can turn your brain off and have fun. Now, the lack of logic and inspired screenwriting is pretty amazing at times and I do agree with Kalat's assertions that there are plotholes galore and that the big conflict of the film could have been better written but, due to the budget and time constraints they were under, those were hardly the filmmakers' highest priorities when making this movie. In conclusion, this film is comparable to Son of Godzilla in that if you go into it expecting a movie that's meant to be more than just pure entertainment, you'll come out hating it. I'm not saying you'll absolutely love it otherwise, I'm just warning you not to expect so much from it. And plus, if you think a movie about Godzilla teaming up with a robot who can inexplicably change his size in order to fight an enormous insect-like monster who has drill-like hands that enable him to burrow into the ground and a bird-like cyborg with a buzz-saw in his chest is stupid and illogical, then honestly, I don't know what to tell you. You're right but I don't know what you're expecting from it then.
What seems to really offend David Kalat about Godzilla vs. Megalon's simple and nonsensical screenwriting is that this was a screenplay that had input from Shinichi Sekizawa. I don't know if I've said this before or not but if I haven't, let me just reiterate that Kalat is the man who really sings Sekiawa's praises when it comes to these films. I myself had always given sole credit to the directors of these films and in fact, before I read A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series, I had no idea who Sekizawa even was. His name may be listed in the credits for these films (although the subtitles for the credits on Classic Media's DVD releases go by so quick that they're virtually impossible to read without hitting the pause button) but I never paid that much attention to it and always felt that these films were 100% the work of either Ishiro Honda or Jun Fukuda. I didn't even know that one man had written the screenplays for a good number of these films. But, after reading Kalat's book and learning about Sekizawa, as well as that Fukuda was a very reluctant Godzilla director, I can see why he gave the man so much credit because his writing gave the series its own unique flavor and voice and it was also his writing that allowed Godzilla and his monstrous co-stars to become characters in their own right rather than just mindless beasts whom the human characters must deal with. Sekizawa's penchant for writing really good satire and commentary into these monster movies is another reason why Kalat gives him so much kudos and is also why he gives Godzilla vs. Megalon so much flack because to him, it comes across as a lack of real effort on Sekizawa's fault. But, despite the aforementioned budget and time constraints the filmmakers had with this film in addition to their own less than lofty ambitions for it, I wonder if Sekizawa is entirely to blame for how one-dimensional and routine the film's writing is. As I said earlier, I do know that Sekizawa was brought in to write Godzilla and Gigan into the script when it was decided that the film would have a better chance at succeeding with them. However, I'm not sure if he was involved with the film from the beginning and was brought in to rewrite his own script after it was temporarily shut down or if this was a project that Fukuda wrote the initial script for and Sekizawa was brought in at the last minute to add those popular monster characters. I do know that by this point, the relentless pace to which he was asked to churn out scripts for these movies and the fact that he himself admitted that he'd run out of ideas caused him to lose his zeal for what had been his dream job. Therefore, it's quite possible that, regardless of the extent of his involvement with this film, he went in to this with the attitude, "I'm not even going to try." The attitude everyone else had about the movie could have possibly affected his effort on it even more. If someone can make it clear how deeply Sekizawa was involved with this movie, please do so but, since I don't have all the facts, I'm not going to go ahead and blame one person for its lack of inspired writing. Let's just agree that nobody had much riding on this film and leave it at that.
Whether Shinichi Sekizawa is responsible for it or not, I do agree with Kalat when he describes how hackneyed the movie's writing can get. When I first read his book, even though I personally disagreed with his hatred for the film, I did find myself reading his criticisms and thinking, "That is right!" I already mentioned how the lead Seatopian agent tells Jinko about Seatopia's history and why they want Jet Jaguar when he has no reason to do so, which is typical of villains in this kind of stuff, but there's also the ludicrous details of said history, with the agent saying that the people not only survived their country being swallowed up by an earthquake millions of years ago but that they managed to construct their own oxygen supply and their own sun. Seatopia's scientists must be both brilliant and fast if they were able to do that, particularly in how they were able to create an oxygen supply in the few minutes that they had before they suffocated. And while we're on the subject of the Seatopian agent, let's talk about Jinko and Rokuro's plan in taking Goro's lab back from him, which has them go to a nearby shop, take a model airplane, and use it to knock him out. Let's ignore the fact that they could have just hit him with a rock instead of going to all this trouble to get this model airplane as well as how they don't knock him out with said plane but rather just whack him in the face and still have to get into scuffle with him and go to what happens afterward. Goro arrives and tells his friends that Jet Jaguar has gone for Godzilla but when they hear Megalon approaching, they realize that they need to get to safety. At first, they try to take the Seatopian agent with him but when doing so proves to be too much of a hassle, and with Megalon very close by, they leave him there... in the very place they were trying to take back from him! Kalat also wonders what doing all this in the first place would accomplish since the agent no longer has control of Jet Jaguar thanks to Goro's miniature transmitter and he also has no control of Megalon but I can rationalize it by saying that they want to take back Goro's home and laboratory (although I do wonder why the agent even stays there after he loses control of Jet Jaguar since, despite what the Seatopian leader says, there's no possible way he can get him under control again). However, leaving the guy there after the trouble they went through to beat him up makes no sense whatsoever. When he was struggling with them when they tried to take him with them, they should have just whacked him on the head, knocking him cold, and carrying him off. I don't know why they wanted to take him with them to begin with but still, it was a better idea than just leaving him there. It's lucky for them that the guy stumbled outside and got himself killed in the process after they ran for cover (Kalat missed that last detail, though).
We can't forget how Jet Jaguar, according to Goro, "programmed himself" to be able to grow to the size of Megalon in order to fight and keep the monster in one spot while waiting for Godzilla to arrive and battle him. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. Really, what can you say? A "survival program" that allows Jet Jaguar to think and make decisions for himself is already pretty farfetched (how would that program even activate itself in the first place) but the robot programming himself to increase his own size? You know the real reason why Jet Jaguar is able to do that? Because that's what Ultraman does, plain and simple. The criticism that Kalat makes that I agree with the most is how shallow the villains are written and the same goes for the brief mentions of nuclear weapons here. Like I said earlier, the people of Seatopia are very one-note villains who have no reason at all for declaring war on the surface world. Even though they did film that scene where the leader ponders whether their actions are just as bad as what the surface world has done to their country with the nuclear tests, that still negates the fact that the surface world has no idea that Seatopia even exists and doesn't know the havoc that they're causing them. It's a shame too because, had there been more time and ambition for this movie, Shinichi Sekizawa could have written the relationship between the surface world and Seatopia the way he did Infant Island and the outside world back in Mothra vs. Godzilla. There are many parallels between the two stories: they both involve civilizations who have suffered as a result of nuclear testing and have a monster god that they call on to defend them. With that in mind, there could have been the potential to make this an interesting twist on the story of Mothra vs. Godzilla, with the rampaging monster in this case doing what it's doing to defend its beleaguered country and Godzilla being the one who has to come in and save the people of the surface world. It would have been ripe enough to make it clear once again that there are no easy answers in this type of conflict and, like Godzilla's defeat of Hedorah at the end of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, it could resulted in a bittersweet, ambiguous wrap-up. But, of course, to have had that, the Seatopians would've needed to have been better written and the story would have required the surface world to refuse to end nuclear testing despite their pleas, just as the offer of friendship by the natives of Infant Island and their request for Mothra's egg to be returned was shot down. Like Kalat says, by dumbing this down to just a case of good guys vs. bad guys, it not only throws any chance for that good stuff out of the window but it also makes it hard to sympathize with Seatopia's plight, destruction or not, and believe that they are a peace-loving country. And as he also adds, it makes Jinko's statement at the end of the movie that the scientists need to be warned to be more careful with their nuclear testing so Seatopia won't have a reason to do this again, as well as the stuff about atomic tests at the beginning of the movie and Goro's speculation that Japan could end up at the bottom of the ocean, feel tacked on and impossible to take seriously. While I still think that you shouldn't expect too much from a movie like this and that Kalat's feelings towards the film are overly harsh, I do agree that this wasted potential is frustrating in some ways.
I feel like I have to mention the production design and some of the props in this movie because I feel that they add to the overall campy, kid-oriented tone. I look at this movie and I not only have flashbacks to my childhood but I also think it fits with the look that those popular superhero TV shows had at the time. I don't how else to describe it except to say that it's like a very hyper comic book. I look the shape of Goro's laboratory and house, with the angled stairs leading up to the entrance, the kid-like drawings on the side down below, and the gadgets like the camera system that allows people inside to see who's at the door and all of the over the top computer equipment in the main lab, Jet Jaguar included. While its scope is limited due to the budget, I think the shots of Seatopia are memorable because they're so over the top and strange, with those weird, blue Easter Island-like statues (apparently Seatopia has "people" on that island, according to the leader), strange light fixtures, women dancing around while wearing nothing but their underwear, see-through nighties, and pointy hats, two women standing on either side of the main altar and holding swords, the hint of a landscape off to the left, which you also see a matte painting of, and the glowing, blue cave high above the main altar, which is where Megalon lives. The bizarre music in this scene makes it all the more surreal. I also have to mention that cheap-looking control room that the leader and this assistant of his are often seen in, which is what they use to communicate to their agents up top and to contact Nebula M Space Hunter. There are a lot of bright colors in this film, from the clothes that our main characters wear, the cars that are featured in some sequences, Jet Jaguar himself, and that odd watercraft that Rokuro is riding on in the lake at the beginning of the movie. I've always thought that was an interesting contraption, with how the main part is shaped like a big, green dolphin and the paddles are two smaller red and yellow dolphins, all of them having big smiles on their faces too. Only in Japan would you see something like that. And while this aspect of the film has been lost in the cleaner version you can now get on DVD, I remember the obvious day for night shots throughout having a blue color to them on the old, crappy-looking prints of it. While I do appreciate that a very nice-looking print of the movie is now available, I wish that there was some way that particular color could have been retained since, again, it just brings back childhood memories (as well as the faded, orange color the opening had to it). I can't help but like the look of this film. It's colorful and comic book-like, fitting perfectly with the very cheesy, light-hearted feel.
This is the film where I can in good conscience say that Godzilla is a superhero. Before when he stopped being a menace to Japan, he was either being controlled and used a weapon, as in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters, did his own thing which inadvertently ended up contributing to things working out well for the human characters, or as had been the case for the past couple of films, had faced other monsters for his own personal reasons, with my money still being on trying to defend the Earth itself rather than mankind. Here, though, Godzilla is directly brought into the situation by the humans in order to stop the monster that's threatening them. They send Jet Jaguar to Monster Island to have him tell Godzilla that there's big trouble going on in Japan and Godzilla, like any good hero, rushes to save the day. He doesn't get there until the third act, making him little more than a costar to Jet Jaguar, but once he does arrive, he proves to be the most skilled fighter and the real hero, narrowly saving Jet Jaguar from being killed by Megalon and Gigan and virtually dominating the both of them in the battle, with the robot mostly acting as assistance (very helpful assistance, mind you). Speaking of which, Godzilla's fighting style and movements are much anthropomorphic in this film than they ever have been. He may have used some boxing and wrestling moves in the past but here, there's nothing at all animalistic or primal about the way he fights. The battle is purely an oversized wrestling match, in large part because of Godzilla, and is hilarious and wildly entertaining as a result. Godzilla is exuberant here, to say the least. Shinji Takagi, the first of three stuntmen to temporarily fill the suit in as many films after Haruo Nakajima's retirement, is all over the place, jumping around, behaving like an oversized and very hyper pro-wrestler during the battle, and making the most hilarious of humanized gestures like smacking his hands together and holding up two fingers to let Jet Jaguar know that they're going to do one routine twice. Only in his appearances on Zone Fighter would Godzilla be as entertainingly crazy as he is here (I was actually surprised to learn that he's played by someone other than Takagi there because it looks like the stuff he would do).
Many absolutely hate Godzilla's design here, saying that it's far too cute and puppy dog-like with its big, friendly eyes and round, short snout but I think it works well for the type of film they were making. I don't how else they could have made him appear in this very kid-oriented flick. Godzilla had become a hero to children now and so, it was necessary to make him more appealing to them. I know that it appealed to me when I saw this at four years old. I already liked dinosaurs at that point and when I first saw the Big Guy here, with his Tyrannosaurus Rex-like body shape, Stegosaurus-like dorsal plates, long, powerful tail, skilled fighting moves, and blue atomic blast, I was instantly hooked, thinking, "This is the coolest dinosaur I've ever seen!" Some people may say that Godzilla is a little too slim here but I think he looks fit and it makes it easier to buy how agile he is (I still think the one time he looked too thin was back in Godzilla Raids Again). One weird thing about it, though, is that, due to the different shades of color on it and the lighting, it looks as if Godzilla has a head of hair in some shots! Other than that, I like this suit and despite what you might think about it, you can't tell me that you'd prefer something like the Son of Godzilla suit. If you sincerely do, power to you but I don't get it at all. Speaking of watch, the more harsh-sounding roar and groans that Godzilla had in the last few films, particularly in the last two, have been replaced by the warmer-sounding one he sometimes made back in Son of Godzilla, as well as the groans and grunts he made there too. There are some times in this movie where the sound quality of his roar appears to have a bit of a higher feel to it than normal. Maybe I'm just looking too far into it yet again but I can note a bit of a difference in some instances.
Jet Jaguar (Tsugutoshi Komada) may be nothing more than an Ultraman rip-off but I do think that he's a cool one. He's not my absolute favorite part of this film and I'm not crushed that he never appeared in another movie, but I don't mind him. His look is definitely memorable, with its bright yellow, orange, and silver colors, eagle-like insignia above his waist, pointy head, and the Cheshire Cat-like permanent grin on his face. While the latter aspect of his design, coupled with his dead, blank eyes (which have high-powered lights built into them, enabling him to see in the dark), does make him a little bit creepy in some shots, it surprisingly also seems to go well with every situation he's typically in. The grin fits just as well when he's giving a thumbs up as it does when he's in trouble or thanking Godzilla for helping him. It never changes and yet, it's one of those weird static faces like Michael Myers' mask (yeah, great analogy) that seems to change emotion depending upon how it's lit. As I've already gone into, the science about how Jet Jaguar is pretty out there and illogical. Not only did Goro built in a "survival program" that allows the robot to think and make decisions for himself whenever it's somehow activated (in other words, he's able to become self-aware when the need arises) but along with that also came an ability to program himself to grow and shrink whenever he needs to do so. Like I said, all of this is ludicrous and is more pseudo-science than you would ever see on Star Trek and Doctor Who, so your best bet is to just go with it and not ask questions. Also, Jet Jaguar's ability to fly, the radio antennas that come out of his head while doing so, and his ability to communicate with sign-language that Godzilla can understand makes you wonder what Goro was planning to use the robot for. I doubt he had anything sinister in mind but I still question why he would program that into Jet Jaguar. Again, best not to think too hard about it. That survival program not only enables Jet Jaguar to think for himself but it also turns him into quite a talented fighter, giving him the ability to use judo and wrestling moves on opponents. He manages to more than hold his own with Megalon in the precursor fight to the climactic, four-way monster brawl. When Gigan arrives, Jet Jaguar gets his ass handed to him since it's two against one and when Godzilla joins the fight, he steals a lot of Jet Jaguar's thunder and virtually dominates the two evil monsters throughout the battle. However, Jet Jaguar doesn't become completely useless and proves to be a great partner, not only continuing to take one of the bad monsters on by himself and helping Godzilla dish some punishment out onto them but also saving Godzilla from getting his face blown up by one of Megalon's bombs and flying them both out from the center of the ring of fire Megalon traps them in. I'd say he's a more effective fight buddy for Godzilla than Anguirus was in the previous film, don't you? And, not only is he drive by a duty to help Godzilla save the Earth but when it's all over, he reverts back his normal functions, waiting for the next time when he's needed (which was apparently never since he didn't show up ever again). Finally, his vocalizations, which are some electronic sounds that come across more like musical notes, are also rather unique. Again, I don't absolutely love Jet Jaguar but I don't mind him either and in some ways, I think he's kind of cool.
A monster that I am sad never appeared in another movie is Megalon (Hideto Odachi) himself. Many people find his design to be completely ridiculous, even more out there than Jet Jaguar or even Gigan, but I've always thought he was a cool-looking monster and think that he fits in well with the bizarre opponents Godzilla was facing around this time like Hedorah and Gigan. He's a weird-looking thing, though, I'll give them that. He has the overall appearance of a giant beetle, except standing upright like a human and with only four limbs instead of six, and has some very interesting attributes to his body like pointy, drill-like arms that he can bring together to use to burrow through the earth, a stalk ending in a star-shaped formation on top of his head that he can shoot bolts of lightning from (I guarantee that the only reason he even has that power is so they would have had an excuse to use stock footage of King Ghidorah's lightning), a mandible-covered mouth that he can fire red napalm bombs out of (which don't always explode when they should), and huge yellow, spotted wings on his back that I don't he uses as much as he should. My step-cousin and I always called him the Tool Monster when we were little. I don't know why we came up with that name (maybe because of his drill-like arms and we were too young to understand that his name was Megalon) but we used it quite a bit when we were really little. I always liked his strange roar too. I've learned that it's actually a modification of the loud, droning, and reverberating roar uttered by both Varan back in Varan the Unbelievable and Baragon in Frankenstein Conquers the World (since I've never seen the former movie, I had no idea that Varan and Baragon shared the same roar). They pitched it much higher for Megalon, giving him a sound that you wouldn't expect to hear come out of a creature that looks like him. He also has a reverberating, squeaky laugh that he gives off at certain point as well as a high-pitched, squeaky whine that sometimes comes at the end of his normal roar. That's a sound that I do wish Megalon didn't make it makes him sound like a big baby. His powers make him more than a formidable opponent and we also see that he does have some fighting skill but his intimidation factor is a bit tainted when he's squealing and screaming like a big baby when he fights the military or when he takes a hit during the fight (he doesn't use his powers during the fight as much as he should). The fact that he needs Jet Jaguar to guide him from city to city instead of going around and doing it himself, which, as we see, he easily could, also hurts his character and makes him come across as not particularly smart for a monster god. I do smile, though, during the moments when he and Gigan are positively giddy when things are going their way during the fight and their laughing and gesturing excitedly as well as giving each other their version of a high-five. Megalon may not be an awesome kaiju but I still like him for the most part and wish that he was used in another movie.
Even though he's once again played by Kengo Nakayama, who's still giving it his all, Gigan feels much more kid-friendly here than he did in his first appearance. He's still very much a bully and enjoys beating on Jet Jaguar, either with Megalon or by himself, in the same way he did Anguirus but he doesn't come across as sadistic and mean-spirited as he did before. Even though he beats the crap out of Jet Jaguar and threatens to break his neck if Godzilla doesn't stay away at one point, he doesn't torture his opponents or inflict some really nasty injuries on them this time (unless you count the inclusion of the stock footage of him slicing open Godzilla's shoulder from the previous film; otherwise, he never uses his buzz-saw here). He's more of a wimp here as well, easily getting the crap beaten out of him by Godzilla, the monster he managed to knock around and whose head he pounded until it started bleeding before. Jet Jaguar is also able to knock him around a little too. This, coupled with the fact that he's still very much a coward who will leave the fight whenever things go south for him, going as far as to abandon his partner, makes Gigan seem a little less cool. It's still nice to see him use his sneak attack technique when Godzilla least expects it, though, and you could also say that it's satisfying to finally see Godzilla thoroughly kick Gigan's ass after what he put him through before (he didn't give Gigan a proper beatdown even when he got his second wind at the end of the last movie) but I still wish that they hadn't dumbed him for this movie, kid audience or not. Without that sadistic streak combined with Megalon's abilities, you never feel like Godzilla and Jet Jaguar are in any danger of losing the fight. In the previous film, when Gigan managed to bring Godzilla to his knees and bat him around, you could believe that Godzilla might not survive this battle. As entertaining as it is, the monster battle here doesn't have any tension to it, which is one real strike I give this film. And I can't put my finger on it but I don't think Gigan looks as cool here as he did before. Maybe it's just the different way in which he's lit or maybe being in storage hurt the suit's condition but Gigan's colors look faded here, including the color of his red, visor-like eye. He just doesn't seem as vibrant in appearance as he did previously, which also hurts his cool factor. All in all, I certainly don't hate Gigan in this movie; I just wish he was as bad-ass and sadistic as he was before instead of being toned down for the kiddies.
I stand by my opinion that Godzilla vs. Megalon uses more stock footage from past films than any other entry in the series. Not only is there more here than there was in Godzilla vs. Gigan but that movie itself is also pilfered to fill in some gaps. Fortunately, the big battle at the end of the movie is new material for the most part and also, not much stock footage involving Godzilla himself is used so the switching isn't as noticeable as it has been before but, still, it's a big shame that whenever Megalon is battling the military or attacking and blowing stuff up, the only new footage is of him reacting to it whereas all the shots of the military and destruction are effects shots from past films, mostly involving King Ghidorah's lightning bolts. As a kid, I always wondered why Megalon used the lightning from the stalk on his head more than his napalm bombs and now I know why: it's so they can use shots of Ghidorah's bolts to stand in for Megalon's causing destruction. Isn't it sad that this is the only movie Megalon is in and, save for the dam sequence, we don't get to see any destruction that he himself actually caused? The stock footage also doesn't always mesh well with what they're trying to attach it to. For instance, the use of footage of Ghidorah's bolts to simulate Megalon's doesn't quite gel when you see two or three bolts zapping parts of a city at once since Megalon can only shoot one bolt at a time. Those shots are suggesting that Megalon branch his lightning bolts off into two or three directions but the thing is we never see him do this when he's actually onscreen, making you wonder he doesn't do that all the time. The use of footage from the previous movie sticks out like a sore thumb in particular because they don't edit it enough to keep it from causing huge goofs. The biggest example of this comes when Megalon gets attacked by the air force before reaching Tokyo. When he swipes at and destroys some jets throughout the sequence, you're constantly getting spliced in clips of Gigan's claw doing the same in the previous movie and they're not hidden in the slightest. I noticed that when I was a real little kid and later when I saw Godzilla vs. Gigan, I thought, "Oh, okay." Speaking of Gigan, you can see a little bit of him when Megalon's attacking Tokyo since they're also using footage from the previous film there, such as when Gigan was tearing a building apart from the back and when he kicked an overpass. In the context of this film, it's meant to be Megalon causing the building to collapse with his lightning as well as him kicking the overpass but Gigan can be seen if you look closely. The use of stock footage from the previous movie doesn't stop when Gigan finally does enter the picture. They not only reuse the footage of him slicing Godzilla's shoulder but they also use some shots of Godzilla hitting him with his atomic blast when he's flying, causing him to crash... onto some buildings that were originally part of World Children's Land but have no business being out in the middle of nowhere here! As you can see, they didn't have time to put much thought or care into this.
With all of the stock footage and the monster battles taking place in a barren landscape, you'd think there'd be no point in mentioning Teruyoshi Nakano or his effects team since it seems like they had virtually nothing to do. Believe it or not, though, there are some original effects shots and while a few of them, like some matte shots used to put Megalon amongst some mountains and hills, look about as cheap as you would expect, others are quite impressive for the very small budget they were saddled with. The most notable one is when Megalon attacks a dam soon after he arrives on the Earth's surface. It's a very impressive sequence and has some great miniature-work and water effects, especially when Megalon smashes right through the dam and causes a massive flood. The first real big sequence of the movie, when an earthquake causes the lake that our main characters are having a day of fun at drain, almost pulling Rokuro down with it in the process, is also very well done and quite suspenseful, with the matte-work actually looking quite believable. And even though it takes place in a bland, empty landscape with few details, the four-way monster battle is well staged and entertaining, if played purely for laughs. I also like the effect of Jet Jaguar growing and shrinking in size (it looks much better than when Minya did it back in Godzilla's Revenge) and Godzilla's atomic blast and Megalon's lightning bolts are rotoscoped in very well too. Overall, this may have been a very cheap movie but I do appreciate that Nakano and his team were able to create some fairly good stuff when they weren't being forced to resort to stock footage, even if those moments are few and far between.
One thing you can't accuse Godzilla vs. Megalon of being is boring. The film is not only short (81 minutes at the longest) and moves at a very quick pace but there's often a lot going on, even if a lot of it is stock footage. The film begins with stock footage of the island being destroyed at the end of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster to simulate the second underground nuclear test of the 1970's, as our ubiquitous narrator describes it at the very start while we're looking at a map. It then moves on to footage from Destroy All Monsters where we see the clips of Godzilla, Rodan, and Anguirus reacting to the gas that fills Monster Island as a result of the Kilaaks taking over, which here is meant to show that the effects of that nuclear test were felt as far away as the island. Not only do we get our first new footage of Godzilla here, as he roars and reacts to the explosions and gas occurring around him, but we also get a couple of new shots of Anguirus, who tries to follow Godzilla but ends up stumbling and falling, apparently into a fissure opened up by the explosions. Godzilla continues to roar and gesture wildly to the chaos happening around him, as we see another series of explosions that lead into the opening credits.
After the credits, we get into the scene at the lake. Rokuro is riding that odd watercraft of his while Goro and Jinko watch from the shore. Everything's fine until, just when Goro is about to take a swig of Coke, the ground begins shaking. Realizing that it's an earthquake, Goro yells for Rokuro to come to shore but the watercraft stalls, leaving him stuck in the middle of the lake. Goro grabs a rocket and rope that they have in order to pull Rokuro to shore but the rumbling makes it hard for him and Jinko to keep their balance in order to fire it. Things get even more sinister when they see a glowing blue light out in the middle of the lake, followed by the water erupting into white, steaming foam. The light begins flashing elsewhere throughout the lake, with more chunks of steaming foam and violent, churning geyser covering the surface. Rokuro begins to get pulled backwards towards this chaos, unable to fight the current with the watercraft's meager paddle-power (again, the long shots of Rokuro being pulled back into the lake look really good). Goro then manages to fire the rocket and rope, which Rokuro ties around the controls of the craft. Goro and Jinko then struggle to pull him in to the shore, with the shaking ground and lack of balance making it even more difficult. Once they manage to get him to the shore, they get him off the craft and head for higher ground. As the guzzling and steaming lake gets more and more out of control, the three of them turn to see Rokuro's watercraft being pulled back into the middle of it before it's sucked down as the water from the lake begins to drain. It drains not only in the one spot but throughout the lake as well, with the water becoming shallower and shallower until ultimately, it's bone dry, with there now being nothing more than a huge, steaming crack in the lakebed. The way everything suddenly becomes very calm and still, as well as just the weirdness of the situation, makes the scene end on an eerie note. However, I've never been sure if the earthquake was caused by the nuclear tests that you hear mentioned on the car radio when our characters are driving home afterward or if it was Seatopia making itself known, which is a possibility since this is where Megalon arrives on the Earth's surface later on, after heading up through an already existing vertical tunnel that leads to there, and also where they plan to bring Goro in order to take him down to the country.
Upon arriving home, Goro and Rokuro notice that the front door is open and when they head inside, they're ambushed by the lead Seatopian agent, who comes out of Rokuro's room and not only knocks Goro out with the butt of his gun but also knocks Rokuro out, grabbing him and kneeing him right in the chin when the kid grabs his leg! Jinko comes in and runs into both the lead agent and his partner. He at first manages to avoid being whacked but when he runs toward the second agent, his partner strikes him on the back of the shoulder with his handgun as well. It doesn't knock Jinko unconscious but it sure puts him in a lot of pain. After noticing the strange-looking button he pulled off the one agent's shirt and making sure that Goro and Rokuro are okay, Jinko takes off after the intruders, getting into his car and chasing them down the road. The ensuing car chase isn't much to write home about. There are no big stunts or anything; it's just Jinko chasing the bad guys down the road, with some quick editing used to make it look faster-paced and more energetic than it really is. The biggest stunt in the middle of the chase when the bad guys unexpectedly go past Jinko in reverse and head down another road, with Jinko having to do so himself in order to keep after them. It keeps cutting back to Goro and Rokuro repairing the mess made back home and after they find the strange red sand the Seatopians left behind, we get the ending of the car chase where, after being chased into a fielded area, the agents head down the road while one of them throws out a firebomb behind them, creating a large wall of flames that Jinko can't get around in order to continue the chase (I don't know why he doesn't just drive through the field until he gets past the fire and back on the road but I guess they're too far away now for it to make much difference).
Later on, when Jinko stops by to visit Goro to tell him about the results of the tests performed on that red sand, we see that the bad guys are cruising around nearby and listening via an electronic bug they left in Goro's lab that Jet Jaguar has just been activated and is working successfully. Knowing that it's now time for them to take control of the lab and put Seatopia's plans into actions, they come across Rokuro, who's riding down the side of the road on his little "Baby Rider" scooter. They drive up in front of him, open the driver's door, causing him to run into it and temporarily stop, and then one of the agents gets out of the back and grabs him before he can get away. He gets pulled into the car and as they drive away, you can see the one agent roughing him up in the back, which is kind of a disturbing shot. Back at the lab, Goro and Jinko continue testing out Jet Jaguar when the electronic tone indicating that someone is at the door goes off. Seeing on the video monitor that it's Rokuro, Goro tells him to come on in. Little do they know that Rokuro is being used by the agents as a way to get inside the lab. After he opens the door, one of the agents knocks him out with a shot of a gun that fires knockout gas. They then barge in and the lead agent runs right into Jet Jaguar, who happens to be bending over in a bow at that time. Recognizing them from before, Goro and Jinko rush to face them but are knocked out by the other agent as well. The two of them then take control of the laboratory and contact Seatopia, informing them that everything is in place. The leader then tells them to get Jet Jaguar ready to guide Megalon to his targets. We then get our weird shots of Seatopia, leading into the leader's speech that they have no choice but to go to war and to give the surface world "a taste of their own medicine." He then prays to and awakens Megalon, who comes to life in a shower of sparks followed by a series of explosions that destroys the underground mountain he was living in. (I guess every time Megalon wakes up, he has to find another place to sleep!) Megalon then rises up, roaring and smacking his arms together while the star-like formation on his head glows. He then spreads his winds and heads upward to the surface of the Earth (the shot of him doing so is rather awkward-looking, though).
We then get our lead-in to the next big scene, with Goro and Rokuro waking up to find themselves inside of a large, metal container that we later see is being driven to the lake by two guys whom one of the Seatopian agents has hired to do so. Back at the lab, with Jinko still unconscious and tied up in a chair, the lead agent sends Jet Jaguar to the lake to wait for Megalon to arrive. In the container, Rokuro is trying his best to untie Goro's hands but the fact that he himself is tied up, as well as that the bumpy road they're traveling along is constantly knocking them around, doesn't make it easy. Just as Jinko wakes up back at the lab and Rokuro finally manages to untie Goro, Jet Jaguar arrives at the lake, with the agent at the lab reporting to the leader that he's done so. We then hear the leader say that an elevator of theirs is on its way to the surface to take Goro and Rokuro down to Seatopia when they arrive at the lake as well. This is when the agent very stupidly tells Jinko about Seatopia and what they're up to, leading into the agent smacking Jinko and getting kicked in the process (in the English dub, you understand why he smacked him because he said that the people of Seatopia are too dumb to build robots themselves but in the Japanese version, all Jinko says is, "Then why kidnap my friends?", making the agent's actions seem inexplicable). After kicking the agent, Jinko manages to struggle and break the chair he's tied to, whacking the agent back down to the floor and fending him off with parts of it when he comes at him again. Relieving himself of the rope tied around his torso and quickly untying his feet, Jinko swings around the equipment, knocks the agent's gun out of his hand, gives him some punches right to the gut, and their struggle leads into Jinko holding onto the rail of the staircase in the lab and choking the agent with his legs before kicking him back down. He then jumps on the agent and grabs him by the neck to try to make him tell where his friends currently are (he knows they're being taken to the lake, he just doesn't know what kind of vehicle to look for). After bashing the agent's head against the floor, he mutters, "Container... truck," before Jinko knocks him unconscious and runs outside to his car. Speaking of the truck, Goro manages to untie Rokuro but they're still getting flung around inside the container. As Jinko races off to find them, the agent back at the lab wakes up and contacts Seatopia, telling them that Jinko has escaped and that they must stop him before he finds the container truck.
Apparently, Seatopia has other topside agents because, as Jinko drives down the road, a red car appears and begins following him. Realizing he's being followed, Jinko accelerates the car until he comes across a truck that's blocking the main road, forcing him to take an alternate route. When he does so, a guy on a motorcycle joins the chase (that guy is played by Robert Dunham, who's also playing the Seatopia leader). While it's not exactly spectacular, there is more to this car chase than the one we got earlier. After being chased down the road for a little bit (more quick editing to make the sequence seem faster-paced), Jinko takes a detour down a dirt path that leads to some stairs. I don't know why there are stairs leading down a forested hill (must be a long-since abandoned public park) but regardless, the other car and motorcycle follow Jinko down them onto another dirt road and into a more barren, rocky desert-like area. After driving down some rather steep slopes, the three vehicles enter into some kind of construction area. The motorcycle takes a detour to try to cut Jinko off but when he shows up in front of him, he hits the front of the car and is sent up into the air before landing safely and turning back around to continue the chase. Jinko then races through the construction area, smashing right through a shack that collapses on top of the other car when it tries to follow him through it. The motorcyclist gets past this but ends up turning too steeply and falls over right outside of another building. The guy quickly tries to get back up but grabs a rope that dumps a bunch of cement all over him (it's supposed to be cement, anyway, but it's always looked like white paint to me) and all the guy can do is sit there and smack the ground in frustration as he continues to get dumped on. Incidentally, it's not Dunham who gets covered in the stuff; they had to use a stand-in because Dunham had to get back to the studio and knew he wouldn't have time to get cleaned up on the way.
With a series of explosions, Megalon arrives on the Earth's surface through the crack in the lakebed, landing and shaking the dust and dirt off of himself after doing so. Seeing this, the Seatopian agent programs Jet Jaguar to begin leading the monster to Tokyo. The robot then takes off into the sky and circles Megalon, who watches him in curiosity and, upon realizing his purpose, spreads his wings and begins following him. Megalon's arrival does not go unnoticed, though. The two men driving the container truck with the other Seatopian agent hear of his arrival on the radio, as well as that he's already attacked some villages on his way to Tokyo, and get cold feet about heading to the lake, opting instead to dump the container at the nearby dam. The agent, however, instructs them to keep going and pulls a gun on them to ensure that they do so. After that, we get a montage of stock footage, first the village evacuation from Mothra vs. Godzilla that's meant to show people in Megalon's path being led to safety, and then numerous shots of the military from War of the Gargantuas, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and Destroy All Monsters meant to be them moving in to intercept Megalon. Back at the container truck, the two guys realize that this isn't worth the money they're supposedly going to be paid for their services and when the agent, who's still holding a gun on them looks away, the driver wildly swerves the truck, allowing his buddy to struggle with and take the agent's gun away from him. He then whacks the guy in the back of the head with the butt of the gun and throws him out of the truck, sending him tumbling down the side of a hill, apparently killing him in the process as well. After some more stock footage of the military getting into position and readying their weapons, we see the truck drivers arrive at the aforementioned dam, where they plan to dump the container. They back up and begin raising the back of the truck to do so, with Goro and Rokuro sliding to the back of the container's inside, but the sound of Megalon nearby makes them stop. As Goro and Rokuro try to keep as still as they can to keep the container from falling, the drivers get out to see what that noise was. After hearing his cries getting louder and louder, they then see Megalon appear from behind a nearby ridge, causing them to panic. Jinko then arrives and the two frightened men plead with him to drive them to safety. After finding out that they kicked the Seatopian agent out of the truck, Jinko and the guys turn upon hearing Megalon roar again and watch as he walks up the ridge and then jumps into the water behind the dam, sending it cascading over the top.
Jinko tries to get the guys to lower the container but they're so frightened that all they can think about is getting away. With one holding the Seatopian's gun on him, the other slams Jinko against the side of the truck before the two of them run for his car and drive off in it. Now stranded, and with Megalon looming over the top of the dam, Jinko realizes that he'll have to lower the container himself. He gets inside the cab of the truck and tries to do so but can't figure out the controls. With water continuing to cascade over the dam, Megalon then hunkers down and smashes right through the center of it, sending down a massive tidal wave of water and debris that destroys the small buildings at the base of the dam. Megalon allows himself to be swept down with the water and upon reaching the bottom, stands up and sets his sights on the truck, which is sitting helplessly right next to the bridge in front of him. With the monster approaching and clapping his arms together in a threatening manner, Jinko desperately tries to lower the truck bed but ends up causing the container to slide off down the back. Megalon whacks the container and sends it flying over the top of the mountain, causing Goro and Rokuro to tumble out of it when it lands, unconscious but alive. Megalon then begins walking towards the bridge and Jinko, realizing the danger he's in, jumps out of the truck and runs up the nearby stairs to safety. Megalon smashes the bridge completely and then makes his way past it, although, ironically, he didn't touch the truck! Jinko then comes across his friends and wakes them up. They then see Megalon walking amongst the nearby mountains and then see Jet Jaguar appear in the sky above him. Goro realizes that he must have been reprogrammed and Rokuro says that if they could send Jet Jaguar to go get Godzilla, he'd be able to stop Megalon. Goro then reveals the miniature controller that he wears around his neck but before he can use it, Jet Jaguar flies out of sight, making it useless.
While following Jet Jaguar, Megalon runs right into the military, who promptly open fire on him. We then get a lot more stock footage, this time of the military firing, while the new footage is just Megalon reacting to getting shot. I must say, though, while it's disappointing that the only new footage of here is of Megalon, there are a lot of nice pyrotechnics exploding around him and fake projectiles being shot at him here. Megalon spends most of the attack flinching from the gunfire and screaming and squealing like a big baby, even though, like most kaiju, it's not really hurting him in any life-threatening way. Megalon then jumps behind some brush and begins crawling while the maser cannons fire on him, giving them another excuse to use the footage from War of the Gargantuas of Gaira doing the same. Megalon then decides that he's had enough and pops up from behind the trees in order to blow up and melt the attack vehicles with his lightning, which is stock footage from the previous film of King Ghidorah's lightning doing the same. After that, we see Goro contact the military commander with his plan of taking back control of Jet Jaguar in order to send him to find Godzilla and they depart in order to do so. They get in a helicopter and fly to Jet Jaguar, who is still guiding Megalon, who has decided for some reason to jump across the countryside like a kangaroo instead of fly himself, to Tokyo. As they approach him, Jet Jaguar turns around and sees the helicopter, prompting the Seatopian agent at the lab to program him to fly straight at it (there's a nicely done scene transition there of the camera pulling back from the actual helicopter to the image of it on a video monitor at the lab). The robot turns around and heads towards the helicopter but Goro uses the miniature controller to order him to stop, which he does... just inches from the craft. He then orders Jet Jaguar to head to Monster Island to find Godzilla. After he departs, the agent reports the situation to the leader, who tells him to stay where he is and that he might get a chance to regain control of the robot. The leader then tells his assistant to contact Nebula Space Hunter M (he calls Star Hunter Galaxy M-1 in the Japanese version and Star Hunter Universe M in the English dub) and tell them to send them Gigan. He also tells him to contact their "base" on Easter Island, which doesn't seem to do anything. Meanwhile, Megalon completely loses his mind upon seeing that Jet Jaguar is gone and starts frantically jumping all over the place, trying to find him, all the while squealing again, once again making him seem like a complete pussy who can't do anything for himself. He's not too distressed to defend himself from the air force, though, which are more stock footage from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Mothra vs. Godzilla, and this is also where you get the obvious reused shots of Gigan's claw smashing jets from the previous film. While the only new footage is, again, of Megalon swiping and getting hit by projectiles, as a couple of random jets, I like this one part where Megalon jumps upon seeing some more jets coming at him, as if he's like, "Oh, shit!" Strangely enough, though, this attack ends not because Megalon manages to destroy all of the jets, although he does smash a lot, but because the remaining jets just break off the attack and retreat. I guess they ran out of missiles but still, that hardly ever happens in these movies. In any case, after bearing the brunt of this attack, Megalon hops off, continuing to head for Tokyo, stepping on a burning crashed plane as he goes (I guess he's close enough now to the point where he doesn't need Jet Jaguar, which makes his temper tantrum earlier seem pointless).
After a scene where we see Jinko and Rokuro drive to a hobby shop to pick up the model airplane they'll later use against the agent at the lab (in the Japanese version, Rokuro refers to Jinko as his brother for some reason), we finally get our first look at Godzilla since the opening of the film. He's hanging around Monster Island when he hears Jet Jaguar coming and then sees him land nearby. Jet Jaguar proceeds to communicate with Godzilla via hand gestures and you can actually tell how the conversation goes via their body actions. Jet Jaguar appears to ask, "Are you Godzilla?" and Godzilla responds by nodding and seems to ask, "What's going on?" Jet Jaguar then tells him what's going on and motions for Godzilla to head to Japan. Godzilla then motions for Jet Jaguar to go on and that he'll be right behind him. Jet Jaguar then gestures to say, "Let's go," and flies off, with Godzilla jumping into the ocean (footage from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, only flipped around) in order to follow him. Meanwhile, Megalon has reached Tokyo and completely decimates it with his napalm bombs and lightning, hovering above the city in order to maximum his aiming range. While I liked it as a kid, I must now say that this, unfortunately, is probably the worst city destruction sequence in the entire series because, except for the shots of Megalon, it's comprised of a myriad of stock footage from movies like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Gigan (again, you can actually see Gigan in some of the shots from that film) and also because the music doesn't make it the least bit thrilling or impactful. It just comes across as a very routine patchwork of special effects footage, which it is. We then see that Godzilla is continuing to fellow Jet Jaguar, who flies on ahead back to Japan. We now switch back to Jinko and Rokuro, who drive back to Goro's lab in order to take it back from the agent. After sneaking their way up the stairs they, get into position, with Rokuro preparing to throw the plane at the agent while Jinko draws him outside by smashing the outdoor camera with a rock. I like how, just as in a similar in the previous film, you can hear Megalon continuing to attack Tokyo off in the distance. The agent slowly creeps outside, gun drawn, when he suddenly gets smashed right in the face with the model airplane, dropping his gun in the process. Jinko and Rokuro then jump him and shove him back into the building. Jinko manages to give him some punches to the gut but he gets shoved away and he and Rokuro get thrown onto the floor onto each other when the latter tries to grab the guy's leg. As we see Goro driving back to the lab in a jeep, Jinko struggles with the bloodied agent, choking him, and then having Rokuro put one of the hanging ceiling decorations in his path so Jinko can shove the guy right into it, knocking him cold. Goro then arrives and upon finding his friends there, tells them that Jet Jaguar has gone for Godzilla. Upon hearing Megalon roar nearby and realizing he's getting very close, they head for safety.
After we see the three of them drive to a safe place in Goro's jeep, we see Megalon standing around a village near Tokyo. He then begins flying just a few feet above the ground, hitting an enormous rock up into the air and inadvertently sending it back down onto the Seatopian agent, who stumbled outside in a daze (the shot of the boulder rolling onto him could have been done much more convincingly, though). We cut to see a scene with the Seatopian leader and his assistant, who learn from Nebula Space Hunter M that Gigan has just left for Earth. We then cut to a flashing, growing light in space, followed by a stock shot from the previous film of Gigan's blue-white diamond exploding to reveal the cyborg, who begins heading for Earth. Back on Earth, Megalon is now attacking a port, blowing up ships and nearby building and oil refineries. Again, except for the shots of Megalon himself, this is all stock footage, mostly from Godzilla vs. Gigan, although they also manage to sneak in that shot of the refinery blowing up from Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Jet Jaguar returns to the lab and, after confirming to his friends that he contacted Godzilla, doing so without Goro having to ask, he flies off to keep Megalon busy until Godzilla arrives, ignoring Goro's commands to come back. Megalon is apparently taking a break from destroying stuff in a nearby barren landscape when he hears and then sees Jet Jaguar approaching. The robot lands very close to him and Megalon is quite happy to see him, clapping his arms together as he approaches (he's been doing pretty well on his own, so I don't know why he would need Jet Jaguar back). That's when Jet Jaguar shows off his newfound growth ability, ballooning up to Megalon's height. You got to love how Megalon watches Jet Jaguar do so and when he's tall as he is, screeches in amazement. Jet Jaguar then marches up to the stunned Megalon and decks him right in the face, sending him to the ground. Megalon immediately gets back up and, knowing that Jet Jaguar is now his enemy, goes on the attack and charges at him. Jet Jaguar, however, is ready for him and grabs him and slams him into rock mound behind him. When Megalon gets back up, we see that he's got a big chunk of rock stuck on his arms, which he grinds up with his drill capabilities. He then flies at Jet Jaguar and the two of them fall to the ground, where they struggle with each other.
As our main characters drive to the site of the battle, we see that Megalon is literally flying circles around Jet Jaguar, with the robot eventually making himself dizzy while trying to keep the monster in sight and falling to the ground. Megalon lands just as Jet Jaguar gets back up and they attack each other again, with Jet Jaguar karate-chopping Megalon while he pulls the robot down with him when he falls. With his friends now watching from a nearby hill, Jet Jaguar continues to hold his own against Megalon, grabbing him from behind and pulling him to his feet. Megalon manages to take a swipe at him but Jet Jaguar retaliates by karate-chopping him again. Megalon swings at him a couple of times but misses and then runs at him, only managing to allow the robot to grab ahold of him and, after a small struggle, slam him down to the ground and follow that up with a whack to the shoulder. We then see that Godzilla is continuing to swim to Japan but we also see that Gigan has entered Earth's atmosphere and is heading for the site of the battle. Back at the battle, Megalon manages to fling Jet Jaguar down to the ground and then jumps straight up into the air and straight for the ground, using his drill capabilities to burrow beneath the earth. Jet Jaguar then uses the high-powered lights in his eyes to light up the darkness around him so he can see when Megalon comes back on the surface. After Megalon blasts out of the ground, Jet Jaguar switches off the lights as the monster flies right past him and back under the ground before he can do anything. Jet Jaguar stands around, listening to Megalon burrowing around beneath him, and then is knocked off his feet when Megalon tags the bottom of his foot from beneath the ground with his drill. Getting up on all fours, Jet Jaguar listens to the burrowing more closely and when the drill blasts up through the again, he grabs it and pries Megalon's arms apart before he burrow back down. However, as Jet Jaguar pulls Megalon out of the hole, Gigan arrives and rams into the back of the robot, causing him to fall on top of Megalon. Megalon immediately gets up, smacking Jet Jaguar as he does so, and then sees Gigan land nearby. The two of them proceed to communicate by clapping their appendages together, with Gigan telling Megalon that he's hear to help him (you can see that Megalon was first on the defensive but then relaxed when Gigan informed him that he was his ally). As the monsters continue talking, Jet Jaguar comes to and, getting to his feet, realizes that he's outmatched. He tries to fly up to safety but Megalon brings him crashing back down to the ground with a napalm bomb, laughing when he does so. The two monsters then ominously close in on their helpless target as he gets. They then proceed to whack Jet Jaguar back and forth from each other, with the robot helplessly stumbling from one monster to the other. Megalon then smacks him back down to the ground and after he and Gigan give each other their version of a high-five, Gigan backs up and Megalon kicks Jet Jaguar to him. Gigan then whacks him back to Megalon, with the robot crashing at his feet. Both monsters then close in on Jet Jaguar, who's lying there completely helpless and unable to move.
Little does the robot know that help is on the way. Godzilla has finally made it to Japan and is marching across the countryside, roaring, stomping on, and kicking rocks as he goes, heading for the site of the battle. He's arrived just in time, too, because Jet Jaguar has literally been brought to his knees as he continues to get brutalized by Megalon and Gigan. Megalon kicks him over to Gigan, who holds him in place with his claw as Megalon repeatedly kicks him in the gut. Just as Megalon is about to whack him with his arm, Godzilla enters the are and his roaring catches both evil monsters' attention. They watch as he comes marching down the path towards them and I like how they have different reactions to seeing him: Gigan puts up a battle stance since he recognizes Godzilla from before, whereas Megalon tilts his head back and forth, as if he's saying, "Who the hell are you?" Godzilla then stops just a few feet away from them, pounding his fists together and putting up his own battle stance, prompting both monsters to slowly back away from Jet Jaguar. They continue making threatening gestures towards Godzilla, who makes a low, threatening growl at them as he heads towards Jet Jaguar, never once taking his eyes off his opponents. Once Godzilla's standing right next to him, he gets to his feet and shakes Godzilla's hand, happy that he now has help. Godzilla was correct in never taking his eyes off the monsters because the minute he does in order to look at Jet Jaguar, Megalon charges at him. Godzilla, though, manages to shoulder-shove him to the ground, starting the fight. Gigan then tries to attack Godzilla but he gets whacked as well, first shoved and then punched a couple of times down to the ground. Godzilla swings around to face Megalon, who tries for a sneak attack but gets punched back to the ground as well. Gigan gets up behind Godzilla and tries to attack but he does so right as Megalon gets to his feet and charges at him as well. Godzilla promptly gets out of the way and causes Megalon to slam into Gigan, knocking him down. Godzilla comes up behind Gigan as he tries to get back up and immediately punches him back down, slamming Megalon back down as well when he comes at him from behind. He then trades some more blows with Gigan, actually sending the cyborg stumbling back in a senseless daze before he follows him and gives him some more punches, knocking him out cold in the process. Megalon tries to attack Godzilla from behind again but Godzilla pulls a tree out of the ground and shoves it in his face, knocking him back down while covering his face up.
As Jet Jaguar looks on, Godzilla, standing in-between the two unconscious monsters, throws the tree away and walks over to Megalon, nudging him with his foot. When he gets no response, Godzilla turns around and walks over to Gigan. As he bends down to look at the cyborg, Gigan swings around and whacks Godzilla, sending him tumbling to the ground. Megalon then wakes up and promptly shoots a napalm bomb right next to Godzilla's head, which doesn't explode right away. Jet Jaguar quickly crawls over, grabs it, and throws it back at Megalon, causing it to explode in his face. We then get one of our only instances of stock footage in this fight when they repeat the footage of Gigan slicing open Godzilla's shoulder and then swooping down at him a few more times afterward, making it hard for him to keep his balance. We get a different bit of stock footage from the previous movie right after this, which is of Godzilla blasting Gigan and causing him to crash onto a building (again, why is there a random building out here in the middle of nowhere?) We also see the footage of Gigan flying away for good from the previous film, although here, he doesn't leave the fight yet. We then get a little bit of Jet Jaguar working Megalon over, stomping and karate-chopping the crap out of him and following that up with a kick to the tail. Gigan then suddenly reappears, lands right in front of Godzilla, and hits him in the shoulder. However, Godzilla gets the upper hand and, after grabbing Gigan's arm, throws him to the ground and proceeds to sit on him and beat the stuffing out of him. Gigan manages to get a few hits with his claws but it doesn't affect Godzilla at all. After he whacks him in the head, Godzilla gets off of Gigan, who flies away again while he and Jet Jaguar look on. Godzilla then walks with Jet Jaguar back to where Megalon was in order to finish him off... only to find that Megalon has disappeared. After looking around for him, Godzilla gets tagged from behind by Gigan, falling to the ground in the process, while Megalon explodes out of the ground in-between them and causes Jet Jaguar to lose his balance. Godzilla watches Megalon land nearby and the monster beetle then challenges him, which Godzilla accepts. While Jet Jaguar tangles with Gigan, Godzilla rushes at Megalon but when he reaches the top of the hill he's standing on, he gets kicked and sent rolling back down. Megalon attacks Godzilla from the back with his arms but Godzilla manages to push him away and then grabs his arm in an attempt to slam him to the ground. However, Megalon manages to break free and the two of them grapple, which eventually results in both of them hitting the ground. Megalon quickly rolls them over and gets back, whacking Godzilla several times while he's laying on the ground. Godzilla manages to get back up and punches Megalon so hard that he slams back onto the ground with a pained squeal. Godzilla watches him as he lays on the ground, squealing from the pain just inflicted on him.
Upon hearing Jet Jaguar, Godzilla turns around to see Gigan kicking him while he's on the ground. Godzilla heads over to try to help but Gigan, upon seeing him, gets behind Jet Jaguar and puts his claw around the robot's neck. He then gestures to Godzilla, threatening to break Jet Jaguar's neck if he comes any closer. Gigan, though, forgot about Godzilla's long-range weapon. He gets hit with an atomic blast to the shoulder and falls to the ground. Godzilla then comes over to help the dazed robot, only for a couple of Megalon's napalm bombs to explode right in front of them. Megalon shoots three more in a row (note that it looks as if they just looped the same shot of him firing three times), causing the small fire that he's started to grow. Gigan flies to safety as Megalon continues firing napalm bombs at Godzilla, who's desperately trying to get Jet Jaguar to his feet. Megalon and Gigan laugh and clap their arms with delight as Godzilla struggles with the robot, who's still unconscious and dead on his feet. Finally, after a lot of struggling, Jet Jaguar comes to and gets back up. He and Godzilla then attempt to walk around the fire but Megalon fires more bombs in front and around them, eventually trapping them in a ring of fire. He even fires a few near them in the center of the ring just to taunt them. Godzilla and Jet Jaguar then stand back to back as they assess their situation, while Megalon and Gigan are absolutely giddy about their enemies being completely helpless (I don't know why fire is suddenly such a big deal for Godzilla but whatever), with Megalon in particular looking like he's about to fall over laughing. However, their joy dims when they see Godzilla grab onto Jet Jaguar from behind and then, the robot proceeds to fly them out of the fire, with Megalon and Gigan reacting like, "You cannot be serious!" Jet Jaguar lands them nearby and quickly gets out of the way as Godzilla fires his atomic blast at the bad guys, hitting the ground in front of them several times. Gigan then attempts to fly away while Megalon runs to the right, squealing as he does so. Godzilla puts a stop to that, though, and blasts the ground in front of him, causing him to fall. Somehow, the leader of Seatopia knows that they're about to lose the "war" and commands all energy to be concentrated in sealing the ways down to their country.
As the sun comes up, Godzilla continues beating on Megalon while Jet Jaguar flies in front of the escaping Gigan and knocks him down, causing him to hit a bridge down below (more stock footage from the previous film). Godzilla then charges at Megalon, knocking him down, and then atomic blasts him three times in a row. As Godzilla then walks over to Megalon, we can hear him wheezing and gurgling in pain. Godzilla looks down at Megalon, who then tries to hit him with a bomb. However, Godzilla dodges it, causing it to drop right back down Megalon's throat and his mouth immediately begins smoking as a result. While Godzilla watches this, Jet Jaguar walks back over while forcing Gigan to do the same, holding his arms behind his back to ensure he does. Godzilla motions for Jet Jaguar to hold Gigan up and the robot then knees Gigan in the side to make him bend down, grabs him in the back of the head and then, with his other hand on his back, lifts up above his head. Godzilla motions for him to throw the cyborg up, which he does and Godzilla then atomic blasts Gigan mid-air. After crashing to the ground, Gigan decides that enough is enough and flies away. Godzilla and Jet Jaguar then both look down at Megalon and, after exchanging knowing glances, Godzilla runs a short distance and then turns around while holding up two fingers. Jet Jaguar then grabs Megalon from behind and holds him up for Godzilla to perform what can only be described as a flying dropkick on him. He runs and then balances and slides on his tail while holding his feet out in front of him to hit Megalon. He then scuttles back and waits for Jet Jaguar to get Megalon in position for another one (remember, he held up two fingers). Once he does, the robot motions for him to go ahead and Godzilla, after smacking his fists together, performs another flying dropkick, sending Megalon crashing back down again. Godzilla then proceeds to go up to Megalon, grab his tail from behind, and slam him up and down, which was something of a signature move of his by that point. He does this five times in a row before Megalon finally gives up and flies away, burrowing back down to Seatopia through the crack in the lakebed as Godzilla and Jet Jaguar watch. The leader then orders all of the entrances to the country be sealed up and they are in a series of explosions. With the battle over, Jet Jaguar and Godzilla shake hands, thanking each other for their help. Some may find it dumb but I've always liked that gesture of friendship and gratitude between the two of them. Godzilla then heads back home while Jet Jaguar shrinks back down to his normal size and rejoins his friends, with Rokuro riding on his shoulders as the movie ends.
Another genuine strike that Godzilla vs. Megalon has against it is the music. When I first saw this movie as a very young kid, I didn't mind the music that much but now, especially after having heard many, many Godzilla scores that are infinitely better, I think the music is genuinely one of its weakest attributes. The music was composed by Riichiro Manabe, who did the music for Godzilla vs. Hedorah and while some hate the music in that film as well (Manabe, despite having had a very long career, is considered one of the worst composers Toho ever had), I think it worked for that film's bizarre tone and visuals. His score here, though, is not only very pedestrian, especially coming off the Akira Ifukube greatest hits compiled score for Godzilla vs. Gigan, but downright obnoxious with its combination of brass horns and string and percussion instruments. First off, I will say that I actually like the Jet Jaguar song that you hear at the end of the movie, although I very much prefer the instrumental versions of it that you hear over the opening credits and when he and Godzilla shake hands after they've won the battle. I think it has a very nice, fun, and surprisingly peaceful sound to it in those instances. I also don't mind the music that plays when the water of the lake drains at the beginning of the movie because it nicely highlights the eeriness of the whole thing, especially after the water's been completely drained and everything is suddenly calm and still. And I don't mind the music you hear when Megalon, after destroying the dam, is looming over the truck with the container either. Unfortunately, those are the only compliments I can give the score. Everything else either just sounds too pedestrian or is out and out unpleasant to listen to. Manabe reuses the same brass horn theme he created for Godzilla back in Hedorah and while I liked the way it sounded there, here it's modified to sound rather ho-hum, without the over-the-top parts of the original version that I really liked. The music when you first see Seatopia is especially bizarre and irritating to the ears. I don't know how to describe it, really. It sounds like a constant, "Reerong," as if someone's strangling a cat. Watch the scene yourself to get what I mean. The military theme is just generic, going, "Dun, dun, dun-dun," in a couple of different tones, and the same goes for the music in the chase scenes and during a montage early on when you see Goro putting the finishing touches on Jet Jaguar. The music for when Megalon is attacking stuff, like I said earlier, doesn't make it exciting or impactful in the least, and the same goes for the music that plays during the battle. Granted, the battle is played mostly for laughs but even when things get kind of serious, like when Godzilla and Jet Jaguar get trapped in the ring of fire, the music doesn't step up to compliment it any better and near the end of it, you can even hear the casual, flute-whistle that's heard that's common to both of Manabe's scores, undermining the situation even more. I could go on but I think you get the picture. I still have affection for and enjoy this film but the score could have been much, much better. Don't worry, though. Manabe never scored another Godzilla film.
This was the first of the three Godzilla movies that Cinema Shares acquired the American rights to (the others being Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla) that was released over here. As they did with their other two acquisitions, Cinema Shares kept the "international dub" (which, while fairly flat, is passable, although the limited number of voice actors used causes two or more characters to have the same voice) but trimmed the film of violence and crudeness in order to get a G-rating. They took out the shot of Rokuro actually being kidnapped by the Seatopian agents (which, as I said earlier, is rather disturbing), the agents knocking the kid out before heading inside the lab, shots of the front of the container truck's cab where you could see pin-up posters behind the passengers (these are the only times when the second Seatopian agent originally spoke, causing him to become completely mute in this version), the fight between Jinko and the lead agent, the other agent getting thrown out of the cab, the moment where Jinko gets shoved against the truck, the shot of the lead agent's bloody face after he gets hit with the model plane as well as some of the ensuing fight between him and Jinko and Rokuro (oddly enough, they left in shots of his clearly bloody face during the fight), and the moment when the agent is crushed by that boulder thrown up into the air by Megalon. These cuts made the film a little bit confusing at one points. Without the dialogue during the shots of the container truck's cab, you don't know why the agent is suddenly pointing a gun at the drivers; without the shot of Rokuro getting knocked out, you don't know what happened to him after the agents barged into the lab; and without the shot of him being killed by the boulder, you have no clue what happened to that lead agent. Strangely enough, though, they also removed the opening credits save for the title and the credit, "Produced by Toho-Eizo Co., Ltd.," and the movie starts immediately, with no lead up to it or anything; it's just, "Bang!" and we're off and running.
Despite the confusing cuts, the film was quite successful when it was released in American theaters in April of 1976 (it made more money here than it did in Japan, where it bombed hard), mostly due to a big marketing campaign. They came up with a nonsensical but nonetheless cool-looking theatrical poster of Godzilla and Megalon facing off on the Twin Towers (meant to cash in on the famous poster for Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong, which came out the same year) and also released buttons with each of the four monsters' faces as well as a comic book based on the film at theatrical showings, among other promotions. However, Cinema Shares did make some dumb mistakes in their marketing, like when they apparently said that this was Godzilla's first color and widescreen film(!) and how in the comic book, Gigan was called, "Borodan" and Jet Jaguar, "Robotman." It didn't matter, though, since the film was successful and got another the following year when it premiered on NBC and was hosted by John Belushi wearing a Godzilla costume. The film was cut even more drastically in order to fit into a one-hour time slot but nevertheless, this was a high-profile, primetime premiere that brought in a lot of viewers. Years later, a copy of the edited Cinema Shares cut fell into the public domain and video companies across America immediately took advantage of this, selling low-quality editions of this cut just about everywhere you could find videos (when I was still fairly young, I once saw it a Dollar-General Store in my hometown, which, back then, probably didn't get much except public domain stuff). It instantly became a best-seller and prompted video companies to completely ignore the fact that Toho had an uncut, much better quality of the film readily available to them. I didn't even know there was a longer cut of the movie until Sci-Fi Channel began playing it in the mid-2000's and I caught a glimpse of it in 2006. When I saw it, it was unbelievable. It was like watching the movie for the first time since I was seeing all these shots and scenes that I was never aware of at all during my life. I eventually did get my own copy of this version of the film on a great-looking DVD-R and this was quite a while before Media Blasters officially released the film on DVD in 2012. I'm kind of irritated that, like their intended release of Destroy All Monsters, they messed up and didn't wait for Toho's approval of the intended release. However, along with the widely available bare bones release, some special feature editions of it did get released but they're very rare and go for a great deal of money, which sucks because I would have loved to hear the commentary on it by Steve Ryfle and Stuart Galbraith IV, as well as seen the interview with an English voice dub actor. Well, sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles, as they say.
Godzilla vs. Megalon is certainly not a great film by any stretch of the imagination. I can't even say that it's a good film, to be honest. It's cheap, cheesy, as nonsensical and illogical as a movie can get, and caters to the kiddie crowd like no other Godzilla, not even like Son of Godzilla or even Godzilla's Revenge. But, despite all of this, I still have a soft spot for it. Not only is it the film that introduced me to Godzilla when I was a wee lad at the four-years old and made me a lifelong fan of the Big G but I think that its rampant cheesiness and juvenile tone that's not taking itself in the least bit serious makes it a very entertaining film. There are some strikes I can level against it, like the shallow way the villains are written, the fact that there's no tension to the big climactic monster battle even when there should be or that Megalon doesn't get to really cause any destruction himself because of the stock footage, and the obnoxious, amateurish music score, but other than that, I think this movie is fun, very fast-paced, has a colorful look to it at points and some monster battles that are very entertaining, has some memorable-looking introductory characters in Megalon and Jet Jaguar, and, even though he's basically a co-star here, has Godzilla being a legitimate bad-ass fighter. So, in conclusion, it's true that this film is far from being a high-point in the series and probably is the absolute worst on a technical and storytelling level but, I personally don't care. This is the movie that entertained me to no end when I was a young kid and made me a Godzilla fan and so, for that, I will always be grateful to it and have nothing but affection for it as well.