Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Franchises: Godzilla. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster, Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster) (1974)

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 1974.jpgHere's another one of the Godzilla movies that I saw during my very early childhood thanks to my local video rental store. I'm not sure exactly which one it was but it may have very well been the third or fourth one that I ever saw. This and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero were the ones that I rented the most, especially this one since there was so much about it that I found appealing. I loved the fast pace, the explosion-laden action scenes (this could literally be the most explosive entry in the original series), the idea of Godzilla facing off against a mechanical double of himself, the lush colors of the film's photography, and especially the awesome music score, which to this day remains one of my favorite aspects of the film. It's interesting because I actually shouldn't have liked this film so much as a kid since Godzilla spends so much of it getting his ass kicked (very badly so, I might add) but I think the film's other qualities are so strong that I was able to overlook that and enjoy it. Technically, I also owned this film when I was a very young kid. I say technically because the version of it that I ended up buying on VHS was a badly butchered, and often hard to see, cut known as Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster, whereas the video rental store had the complete uncut version with the original title of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. In my young naivety, the concept of alternate titles was completely unknown to me and I thought that since it had a different title, it was a different film and that it just happened to involve both Mechagodzilla and King Caesar again (I could tell they were in it from looking at the pictures on the back of the VHS). Of course, I quickly found out that was not the case and that what I had ended up with was the same movie that I had always rented, just with a lot of stuff missing (no monster stuff, though, so I was happy enough). Some years later, when I was around ten or eleven, I finally got my own copy of the complete, uncut version of the film, so it was all good then. And incidentally, that Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster was the film that got me back into Godzilla after I'd not thought about it for a while when I was around nine to ten years old. My step-cousin spent the night one time and had us watch it, rekindling my love for it in the process. In any case, while I now think that the completely human-oriented middle of the film goes on a little too long and hurts the film a bit, I still love this flick overall and find it to be very entertaining. It's by far one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite, of the 70's films.

During a ceremony in Okinawa, a priestess who is a member of the ancient Azumi royal family has a vision of a monster destroying a city and killing hundreds of people in the process. Afterward, two brothers who were witnesses to the ceremony, Keisuke and Masahiko Shimizu, each find evidence that something strange is going on. While exploring Gyokusen Cave, Masahiko comes across a strange, shiny piece of metal and Keisuke, who works as an excavator, finds that his crew has uncovered a small chamber that's filled with ancient artifacts as well as a mural on the wall. Keisuke soon meets an archeologist, Saeko, who realizes that the mural is some sort of prophecy and that a small statue there represents the legendary guardian monster of the Azumis, King Caesar. Saeko later translates the prophecy as stating, "When a black mountain appears above the clouds, a huge monster will come forth and try to destroy the world. But, when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west, two monsters will appear to save the people." Unable to solve the mystery of the statue of King Caesar, Saeko travels to Tokyo to get help from Prof. Wagura and while traveling there on the same plane as Keisuke, they meet a mysterious, darkly-dressed man who claims to be a freelance reporter and also see the first sign of the prophecy when a cloud formation takes the appearance of a black mountain. Upon arriving in Tokyo, they head to the home of Wagura, who just happens to be Keisuke's uncle, and there learn about the strange piece of metal that Masahiko found and that he took it to Prof. Miyajima to have it analyzed. At his lab, Miyajima tells Masahiko that the metal is an unearthly type known as space titanium and the lab is then hit by a small earthquake, which Miyajima's daughter, Ikuko, notes is the latest one in a string of them they've been feeling every day for the past ten days. Back at Wagura's house, Keisuke learns from the radio that the latest earthquake has an epicenter that is presently moving south. Later that night, a man wielding a gun breaks into the house and demands that they give him the statue. The man is driven off by Keisuke, who suffers quite a brutal beating by his hands as well, with the whole event having been witnessed by the mysterious stranger Keisuke and Saeko met on the plane. Later on, Godzilla explodes out of Mt. Fuji and goes on a destructive rampage, which is unusual since he had become less hateful towards humans over the years. Godzilla is confronted by Anguirus and the two of them have a short but brutal battle that ends in Anguirus getting his jaw broken but not before scraping off a piece of Godzilla's flesh, revealing shiny metal underneath. While heading into the area to make sure his brother and the professor are okay, Keisuke finds another piece of space titanium, prompting Miyajima to decide to get a closer look at Godzilla. That night, they find Godzilla destroying an oil refinery and are shocked when he's confronted by another Godzilla. This second one proves to be the real one when they engage in battle and he blasts away more of the imposter's flesh, revealing more metal underneath. The imposter then sheds his disguise, revealing himself to be Mechagodzilla, a powerful robot duplicate of the King of the Monsters. While he manages to severely injure his flesh-and-blood counterpart, Mechagodzilla's head controls are damaged in the continuing battle and the aliens who are controlling him bring him back to the base for repairs. Now knowing what's going on, Keisuke and Saeko head to Okinawa in order to awaken King Caesar per the writing on the base of the statue while Prof. Miyajima, Ikuko, and Masahiko head to Gyokusen Cave. However, with the aliens trying to steal the statue at every turn and Miyajima being forced to repair Mechagodzilla after he and the others are captured, it seems that it will take a miracle to stop them from conquering Earth.

My childhood affection for it aside, one cold hard fact that I can't deny about the previous film, Godzilla vs. Megalon, is that it was a major flop at the Japanese box-office. Toho's attempts at catering to the kiddy audience and its love for the popular superhero TV shows, as well as slashing the budget down to the point where they had to create almost all of the effects scenes entirely out of stock footage, had not paid off at all and Megalon had ended up being the biggest flop of the series so far. Toho realized that if the series was to survive, they needed to, as James Rolfe once put it, "Cut the bullshit," and put a little more money into the films as well as stop trying to make them 100% kid-friendly, especially since this was going to be Godzilla's 20th anniversary film. In some ways, I'm kind of glad that Megalon didn't do well because if it had, Toho would have no doubt continued on that same cheap, kid-oriented path and we would have gotten movies that were even smaller in scope and whose effects and action scenes were made up primarily of stock footage, which is one genuine complaint that I do have with that film. What's more, Godzilla would have had an even harder time being taken seriously in America than he already did and still kind of does. In addition, Toho also wanted another highly marketable monster. Gigan was still very popular at the time, especially since he was being kept in the public eye, and, by extension, in the marketplace, by being featuring on their Zone Fighter TV show, but they knew that they couldn't rely on him forever, and since none of the other monsters that had been introduced in the 70's became that popular, they desperately needed to come up with something new that they could easily sell. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla would certainly pay off in that respect since Mechagodzilla himself became a very popular character in the series, with a different iteration of him appearing in every one of the three cycles of films, something that not even Gigan can lay claim to since he didn't appear in another movie until Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. Toho's decision to give this film a bigger budget than had become the norm by this point and not market it as much to kids (but, at the same time, not cut them off completely) also paid off since, while not a blockbuster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla would end up making more money than the last few films and is still one of the more beloved entries to come out of the 1970's, the period where many feel that the series hit its creative nadir.

We once again have to say goodbye to a couple of members of the Godzilla team with this film. First off is director Jun Fukuda, who'd directed some episodes of the Zone Fighter TV show after finishing Godzilla vs. Megalon and who, as with that film, contributed to the screenplay of this one with another writer. Even though he didn't like directing Godzilla movies, I'm sure that this one was a more satisfying experience for him than Megalon was since he had more money to work with and also because he didn't have to cater to kids so much. He definitely got to show off his skills as an action director here, both with the monster battles and with the humans, and I think he balanced some of the more serious and, in some cases, downright violent parts of the movie with its overall pulpy, fun tone rather well. I can easily say that this is probably my favorite Godzilla movie that he directed for that reason as well as just for all the other stuff it has to offer, which we'll get into. I'm not exactly sure why Fukuda never directed another Godzilla film after this, though, despite my knowledge of his disdain for it. I don't know if he himself went to the heads at Toho and said, "That's it. I'm not doing any more of these movies," or if they decided, after three Godzilla films in a row directed by Fukuda, they decided they needed to go a different route, particularly when they realized that they could get Ishiro Honda back for the next film, but whatever the reason, Fukuda put his association with the Big G behind him after this. His directing career didn't have much more steam in it by this point, though. He directed three more films, one of which has a title whose English translation I can't find and I also think may have been filmed before Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla but released after it. The last two were, respectively, ESPY, a sci-fi action film about a race-car driver who is recruited by a group of people who use telekinesis and psychokinesis in order to battle crime, and The War in Space, meant to cash in on the success of Star Wars but had more in common with Toho's earlier film Atragon and the anime Space Battleship Yamato. After directing an episode of a TV series called Monkey in 1979, Fukuda retired from filmmaking. He died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 87.

This is also the last Godzilla movie, or movie period, to have Shinichi Sekizawa involved in the writing. As I've stated before, Sekizawa had grown tired of what had once been his dream job due to the pressure of having to churn out scripts at such a frenetic pace and also because he often said that he was out of ideas. In fact, when Tomoyuki Tanaka approached him about coming up with the story for yet another Godzilla film, Sekizawa is said to have told him, "There aren't any monsters left!" Of course, that proved to not be the case since Sekizawa came up with, or at least conceived the foundation for, two more monsters when he wrote up the story outline and gave it to Jun Fukuda and writer Hiroyasu Yamamura to create a screenplay out of. After this last piece of writing, Sekizawa retired from filmmaking, dying in 1992 at the age of 71.

There's actually one character in this film who has a little more meat to him than those we've seen in the past few Godzilla movies and I'll get to him shortly but, for the most part, the characters in this movie are once again little more than archetypes. Likable archetypes, mind you, but still archetypes. Masaaki Daimon and Kazuya Aoyama as Keisuke and Masahiko Shimizu respectively are the typical bland male heroes we've seen before in these films... well, Keisuke is, anyway; Masahiko, despite being second-billed, doesn't really contribute much to the film except finding the piece of space titanium in Gyokusen Cave as well as directing Prof. Miyajima to the spot in the cave where he found it later on, which gets them captured by the aliens in the process. He's also insistent in going back in the aliens' base with Interpol agent Nanbara right before the beginning of the third act, but he doesn't do anything in helping him or Miyajima defeat the aliens. He ends up just being another hostage for the bad guys and another person Nanbara has help to escape the place when it's blowing up at the end. But enough about Masahiko (I didn't expect to talk about him first). Let's talk about Keisuke, who does have a little more to him and also does more in the story. He's the one whose excavation crew finds the small chamber filled with the mural foretelling the prophecy as well as the small statue of King Caesar. Because of that, as well as due to his uncle being the archeologist whom Saeko goes to for help in solving the mystery of the statue, he gets caught up in this crazy turn of events and ends up fighting aliens to try to save the world (as Nanbara later says, he got caught in the net). This guy is actually quite resourceful since at one point, he thinks ahead enough to have a fake statue made in case the aliens make a second attempt to steal it, which does happen, and he's more than willing to beat up some bad guys in order to keep said statue out of their hands, even if he doesn't always win those fights. Moreover, he's very close to his brother and friends, seeing as how he goes to Mt. Fuji when Mechagodzilla first appears there in order to make sure that they're alright and does the same later in Okinawa when he learns that they haven't returned to their hotel for several days since they went to the cave. Also, he has a bit of playfulness to him and likes to tease Saeko, either by not telling her that Prof. Waguara is his uncle until they arrive at his house or not letting on that he made a fake copy of the King Caesar statue.  He may be a typically bland, good-looking male lead for this type of film but I still do like Keisuke, as well as Masahiko, perhaps even a little more than the lead characters Akira Kubo played in Son of Godzilla and Destroy All Monsters.

After the virtually female-less Godzilla vs. Megalon, it's nice to see women again in a Godzilla movie, even if the ones here aren't much more developed than most of the men are. The lead woman, Saeko (Reiko Tajima), is the archeologist sent to find out the meaning of the wall paintings and the statue found in the small cave in Okinawa. She's pretty good in her profession since she's able to figure out that the wall paintings are a type of prophecy, let alone decipher what it is exactly that they say, and that the small statue in the cave is of King Caesar, the ancient guardian of the Azumi royal family of Okinawa, but she needs some help with figuring out the ancient text scrawled across the base of the statue and takes it to Prof. Wagura. As I said, she tends to get teased by Keisuke, who travels with her from the Tokyo airport to Wagura's house and only then, when it seems like he's barging in, does he tell her that the professor is his uncle, and also doesn't let her know that he had a fake made of the King Caesar statue made until they arrive in Okinawa and have apparently lost it when the thief got shot overboard. Once Mechagodzilla appears and Wagura translates the statue's inscription, Saeko is relegated to being nothing more than a bystander, as just about everyone else is by the end of the film. Again, likable character but not much to her.

The character with the most meat to him is Prof. Miyajima, who's played by a familiar actor whom we haven't seen since Son of Godzilla: Akihiko Hirata (he's not the only returning classic actor in this film, either). At first glance, when he's analyzing the metal that Masahiko brought him and determines that it's space titanium and later begins putting the pieces together when more of the stuff is found after the fight between "Godzilla" and Anguirus, you may think that Hirata is going to be relegated to playing nothing more than another of the bland scientist characters who typically pop up in these movies to do nothing more than say a bunch of technobabble (a type of role that Hirata himself often found himself playing). That, however, couldn't be further from the proof. Not only does Miyajima take an active part in the proceedings, flying to Okinawa so Masahiko can show him the spot in the cave where he found the metal, but he's also faced with a major moral dilemma. He gets captured by the aliens along with Masahiko and his daughter Ikuko and when the alien commander threatens to kill both of them unless he helps repair Mechagodzilla, he reluctantly agrees. After he and the others are saved by Keisuke and Nanbara, he insists on going back into the base with the Interpol agent, feeling that he must make amends for cooperating with the aliens, even if he did it to save Ikuko and Masahiko's lives. Plus, since he worked on Mechagodzilla, he can direct Nanbara on how to destroy him once they get back inside. That's some really good stuff pertaining to Miyajima's character and Hirata, being the great actor that he was, plays it extremely well. Miyajima is also notable for having an unusual metal pipe whose bowl is made up of an element called astanopkaron (it's hilarious how the subtitles on the Sony DVD for the Japanese version put up several question marks when that word comes up) and that separating the bowl and the tip from each creates magnetic waves that can mess up machinery. The pieces of the pipe are what are used to destroy the aliens' base within the cave after Mechagodzilla is defeated and the commander and his subordinates in the control room are killed. And while we're on the subject of Miyajima, I've never been sure whether he survived the film's events or not. The last we see of him is near the end when he, Nanbara, and Masahiko are running for safety from the exploding base and after it's completely destroyed, Ikuko questions about her father, with Keisuke answering, "It's alright. Your father has achieved a victory." That, along with the fact that he's not present at the very end of the film after the King Caesar statue has been sealed away in the shrine at Azumi Castle, makes it seem as if Miyajima died. I don't know he could have since he got away from the explosion, unless the stress from running caused him to have a heart attack or something similar afterward (we do see him stumble and fall while he's escaping), or how Keisuke supposedly knows that he's died but, nevertheless, Miyajima's ultimate fate here remains a mystery. I personally think it sucks if he did indeed die, though. And in case you're wondering, I don't have anything to say about Ikuko (Hiromi Matsushita) except that she's just a screaming damsel in distress throughout the movie and is the reason why Miyajima ultimately cooperates with the aliens. She's not unlikable and clearly loves her father, as he does her, but she's not memorable in the slightest save for her screaming (to be fair, though, that's more in the English dub).

Hiroshi Koizumi, whom we haven't seen since Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, is here again as Prof. Wagura, Keisuke's uncle and the archeology expert whom Saeko calls on to help her translate the inscriptions on the King Caesar statue. As per usual with his appearances in these movies, he doesn't have much to do here except come across as a scientist and give vital information to the main characters, and he, in fact, disappears from the movie completely after he translates the writing, but Koizumi does his usual best with what he's given to work with and comes across as warm, charming, and very knowledgeable. I really wish that they had given him more to do in these movies, though, since, judging from other films I've seen him in, he's a fairly good actor and could bring more to a role than just the little that was typically asked of him in his science-fiction appearances. And speaking of returning of faces, who could that be playing the captain of the cruise ship that Keisuke and Saeko take to Okinawa? Could it be our old friend Kenji Sahara, whom we haven't heard from since Godzilla's Revenge? Why, yes, it could be! He's only in this one small scene, as he would tend to be for the rest of his appearances in the Godzilla series, but it's nice to see him yet again.

Beru-Bera Lin, who also appeared in some soft-core porn(!), plays Nami, the young Azumi priestess who gets the vision of a monster destroying a city and killing hundreds of people (weirdly enough, the vision she sees is of King Ghidorah), setting the plot in motion in the process. She's also the one who sings to King Caesar in order to wake him up from his slumber and fight Mechagodzilla, a memorable scene because of the song she sings as well as due to the fact that it goes on for about a good two minutes. This is hardly the first time this ever happened in the series, especially whenever Mothra and the Shobijin were involved, but it's been a long time since an entire scene was centered around a song. Even the scene with the girl singing Save the Earth at the nightclub in Godzilla vs. Hedorah was more about Hedorah arriving on land for the first time and the weird place she was singing in than it was actually about her. Plus, that scene didn't go on as long as this one does. Anyway, what's most memorable about Nami for me personally is, one, the colorful priestess outfit she wears during the ceremony at the beginning of the film (her singing there is pretty irritating, I might add) and something else that really has nothing to do with this film. The old VHS of Godzilla vs. Gigan that I owned as a little kid not only had her on the cover even though she's not in that movie, but also had another image of her in a different outfit standing beside the one of her in her priestess outfit, as if they were two different people! That's one of the most bizarre things I think I've ever seen done for the artwork of any movie. Since we're talking about Nami, we might as well mention her grandfather (Masao Imafuku), who's memorable for me, one, because he's one of the most elderly people I think I've ever seen in a movie (the guy looks and sounds like he's on death door) and two, at points displays a personal grudge against the mainland due to how, centuries ago, they tried to conquer Okinawa and the Azumi royal family. In fact, when Nami's vision seems to be coming true when the disguised Mechagodzilla first appears, he goes from being terrified by this turn of events, stating that only King Caesar can defeat Godzilla, to actually praying to Godzilla to, "Destroy the people of Japan who once tried to conquer the Azumi tribe. You will be the instrument of our revenge!" within the span of 30 seconds. Okay, uh, bipolar much? And later on, when he and Nami are being held hostage by a couple of aliens who demand Keisuke and the others hand over the King Caesar statue, the grandfather says that this whole situation is their fault and it wouldn't have happened if they had left the statue alone. After saying that, he seems a little sheepish when they're saved by a second Interpol agent and at the end of the movie when the statue has been locked up within the Azumi shrine, he's now happy that his ancestors can now rest in peace. Yeah, to me that doesn't negate the fact that he earlier had a big enough chip on his shoulder about something that happened a long time ago that he wanted Godzilla to kill everyone in Japan. Gramps, it looks like your country and family are doing just fine, so get over it.

One guy in this movie who is the definition of bad-ass is Nanbara (Shin Kishida), the mysterious, darkly-dressed stranger who tails the main characters throughout the film and eventually reveals himself to be an Interpol agent. Right from the get-go, he comes across as both cool and a little menacing with his black clothes and equally dark sunglasses, although not as much so as the other man who's keeping tabs on Keisuke and Saeko and whom we're also introduced to in the same scene; he turns out to be an alien agent. Nanbara doesn't do anything to directly threaten Keisuke or Saeko but he's constantly popping out of nowhere, be it on their airplane, outside Prof. Wagura's house, or on the cruise ship they take to Okinawa, always intently watching them and making them wonder about his intentions. We start to realize that he's a good guy when he saves Keisuke from the alien agent who tries to steal the statue on the ship (we just see his hand come around a corner with a gun drawn and shoot the agent but since he shows up immediately afterward, we know it was him) and it's confirmed later on when he saves Keisuke yet again from an alien in Gyokusen Cave, revealing who he is to him. From there on out, he proves to be a resourceful, quick-thinking, and awesome secret agent who could give James Bond a run for his money. He beats the crap out of, as well as out and out kills, his fair share of aliens, does some bad-ass stuff like shooting the lock to the execution chamber where Keisuke's friends are being held and then kills a couple of aliens who get the drop on them there in a way that had me going, "Oh, wow!" as a kid, very smartly checks to make sure if Keisuke's car is rigged to blow when they get back to it (which it is), and after rescuing everyone, awesomely says, "I'm gonna go back inside and take care of those bastards." He continues killing aliens and even when he, Prof. Miyajima, and Masahiko get captured, he continues thinking on his feet and begins slipping his ring off of his finger from behind his back in order to use the end of it to force open the lock of his handcuffs, uses the two parts of Miyajima's special pipe to short circuit the aliens' equipment and blow the place up in the process, and quickly unlocks Miyajima and Masahiko's handcuffs before they get the hell out of dodge with the place literally coming down. Just an awesome good guy. I wish he had been the lead of this or any Godzilla movie (Interpol would be featured front and center in the next film and while the lead agent there is kind of cool, he's got nothing on Nanbara). He also has a partner, Tamura (Takayasu Torii), who has far less screentime, just a few lines, and doesn't come across quite as awesome, although he does get to shoot a couple of aliens and save some people in his own right.

In an attempt to cash-in on the success of the Planet of the Apes films, which were just as popular in Japan as they were in America, Toho decided that the next alien race they come up with to control an evil monster would actually be a race of space apes. Like the cockroach aliens in Godzilla vs. Gigan, these guys look like humans most of the time but whenever they're killed or injured, they either partially or completely revert back to their real form. Oddly enough, every single one of the aliens is in disguise as a human, not just the agent they send out to try to steal the King Caesar statue. I get why the cockroaches did it because they were using a public industry as a front for their actual activities but since these aliens don't do that, it doesn't seem necessary for them to be disguised as humans when they're just hanging around their base and controlling Mechagodzilla. I guess they wanted to keep the aliens' real form a disguise for when it's first revealed and they might have also felt that it would look silly for a bunch of green-faced apes to be walking around the base and doing everything, while wearing silver costumes with golden, metal pieces here and there, no less. Can you imagine what the scenes between the alien commander and Prof. Miyajima would have been like if he had been an ape the whole time? In any case, these aliens are probably the most basic of the races we've seen in the Godzilla series so far. They would be a bit more developed in the next film, with an actual reason given as to why they want to take control of Earth (there is a hint of that here when the commander says that they come from the third planet of the black hole), but in this film, they're nothing more than standard, evil alien invaders. They want to take over Earth simply because they're aliens and that's what aliens do. As the alien commander (apparently, his name is Kuronuma but he never calls himself that in either version of the film), Goro Mutsumi plays a pretty typical bad guy. He's actually a very weak villain, though, because there's nothing all that special about him. He's not over the top or intimidating in the slightest. He comes across as just a little bit slimy with how he blackmails Miyajima into helping repair Mechagodzilla by threatening the life of his daughter and how he pushes Miyajima into the execution room with them in order to torture all of them to death, plus I also like this part when Mechagodzilla is dominating King Caesar in their fight and the commander once again thanks Miyajima for his cooperation, just rubbing his nose into it, but other than that, I can't say that he, or any of the space apes, for that matter, are memorable non-monster antagonists. In fact, everything about the aliens here, from their aforementioned costumes to their typical-looking base within Gyokusen Cave is all that unique. I have always wondered about the strange, green birthmark on the commander's left eye and what those orange things are on his face when he turns back into an ape after he's killed but that's it. And speaking of the commander, even though he is killed at the end of the movie, they had Mutsumi come back in the next film and play virtually the same character, just with a different name, so it again shows how keen Toho was on continuity with these films.

Even though they weren't trying as much to completely appeal to kids with it, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is still hardly original in concept and does still have little hints of that mindset. Not only is it another Godzilla movie that features aliens using a monster in order to conquer Earth, but from what I've read, it takes a lot of inspiration from the show Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, known simply as Giant Robo in Japan. I've never seen that show but it does seem like there are similarities between it and this film, with them sharing the idea of a scientist being forced to cooperate with evil aliens through blackmail involving his daughter, an organization of secret agents that is similar to the way Interpol is depicted here, and, most tellingly off all, Mechagodzilla himself shares a lot of the same powers as the robot there, like eye-breams, finger missiles, and a force field. Plus, that show, as well as a bunch of others made around that time, featured the idea of aliens using monsters to conquer Earth, which as I've said, was hardly new territory for the Godzilla series. I already mentioned how the film takes inspiration from Planet of the Apes with the alien race introduced here and let's also not forget to note that the film's lead actor, Masaaki Daimon, starred in both Zone Fighter and a later incarnation of Ultraman. In fact, a lot of the film's cast has ties to superhero shows. Keisuke's brother Masahiko is played by the Zone Fighter himself, Goro Mutsumi had been in a sci-fi/espionage show called Mighty Jack (which this film does indeed have hints of the alien agents and Interpol) as well as the superhero show Fireman, and Shin Kishida had not only starred as Toho's version of Dracula in some films that were meant to compete with the Hammer films starring Christopher Lee but had also been in Ultraman. Even though he ends up being a good guy, Nanbara is a bit like Kishida's Dracula role with his dark clothing and how he's often creeping around in the dark. And as David Kalat mentions, Mechagodzilla also repeats a bizarre running theme of mistaken identity that, intentionally or not, popped up before in Godzilla vs. Gigan. In that film, you had cockroaches being mistaken for human beings and their plan for world conquest being mistook for a plan of peace, the cockroaches themselves mistaking a black and white drawing for the lead characters, the lead guy, Gengo, mistaking a corn on the cob for a gun, and Godzilla himself mistaking the Godzilla Tower for another living creature like himself; here, you have alien apes being mistaken for humans, Godzilla, as a result of Mechagodzilla's charade, being mistaken for the monster that is prophesized to try to destroy the world, a fake King Caesar statue being mistaken for the actual one, and an Interpol agent being mistaken for a villain for most of the film by the film's leads as well as the audience. I don't know if it was intentional or has any real significance but this theme of things being mistaken for something that they're not is a little bit intriguing.

While it's much more well made than Godzilla vs. Megalon, I can still poke holes throughout Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla since, like that film (though, again, as not much so), they didn't really worry or even think about logic and just tried to make an entertaining movie. For one, what was the point in disguising Mechagodzilla as the real Godzilla? While I do think it's kind of a cool idea and it does indeed initially fool people into thinking that Godzilla has gone back to his old destructive ways (although it shouldn't given how "Godzilla" sounds and how his atomic blast is suddenly yellow instead of blue), it ultimately doesn't have any payoff for the aliens' plan because when the real Godzilla does show up to confront his mechanical double, they have Mechagodzilla eventually drop his rapidly deteriorating disguise altogether. They're not even like, "Oh, crap, we've been caught!" when it happens but rather, the commander reveals that they were expecting the real Godzilla to eventually confront his doppelganger and he just says that people of Earth must be shocked. They weren't even planning for something like the military attacking and killing Godzilla because they'd think he'd gone back to his old ways as a result of the masquerade (not that it would have worked, anyway) but rather did this just to sort of screw with both the people of Earth and Godzilla himself. In fact, putting this fake skin around Mechagodzilla seems to limit his destructive capabilities since he can only shoot an imitation atomic blast and use his fists and can't fly, so it ultimately had no practical purpose and just served as a cool gimmick for the first third of the film. I already mentioned how the aliens don't seem to have any real reason for wearing their human disguises when they're at their base. And staying on the subject of the aliens for a minute, let's talk about the moment when Nanbara thinks to see if Keisuke's car has been rigged with a bomb by them, a hunch that turns out to be right. As I mentioned earlier, it's a great moment that shows how intelligent and quick-thinking a guy Nanbara but the thing is, the commander and his subordinates are watching the whole thing on a monitor in the control room and seem thoroughly convinced that they're no longer a problem when they see the car blow up. So, what were they doing when Nanbara and the others rigged the car so they could turn the key with a wire while they hid in some nearby bushes? Were they getting coffee during that whole time? In his book, David Kalat mentions how the weird phenomena foretold in the prophecy such as the clouds looking like a black mountain, the red moon, and the sun rising in the west seem rather inexplicable and aren't caused by the alien invasion, even though Mechagodzilla is obviously the monster that will attempt to destroy the world and be challenged by two others, i.e. Godzilla and King Caesar. I can rationalize his other criticism of why Keisuke made a fake statue even though it was foretold that no matter what, the evil monster would be defeated, by saying that his doing so is simply the untold way that it would come to pass that both monsters would appear to challenge the evil one. However, I have to agree that there is no actual connection between those strange phenomena and what's going on. They just appear out of nowhere and have no untold natural events that cause them to come into being to act as signs of the prophecy. Since the forces behind them are never explained, I guess you just have to view them as bizarre weather patterns and the like that happen to coincide with these events.

Despite the mainly archetypal characters, unoriginal concept and story, and the plotholes, make no mistake, the good far outweighs the bad in this film and makes it one of the most enjoyable Godzilla movies. Not only are the higher production values well appreciated and make for some great effects scenes that don't need to rely on stock footage (for the most part), the film's very look is well executed. It feels very lush and, while not as vibrant as the last couple of films, the colors in this film, particularly Mechagodzilla's laser eye-beams, do stand out. I also like the exotic feeling that this movie has, most of which is probably due to the setting being Okinawa for a good chunk of it. During the opening credits, you get some nice shots of the landscape and the buildings, we later get to see the inside of Gyokusen Cave, which is a major tourist attraction there (although, I doubt they were able to film inside the actual cave), and I like the montage of Okinawa's port city when the cruise ship that Keisuke and Saeko take there arrives and drops anchor, followed by the two of them driving through the city to their hotel. It gives the feeling that is an exotic adventure and the same goes for the countryside around the Azumi castle and shrine, as well as that place itself. You do get the hint that something otherwordly is going on when the signs of the prophecy begin to appear and it ranges from creepy, like when Keisuke and Saeko see the cloud that looks like a black mountain, to mysterious when they see the red moon, and finally, to a sense of wonder when they see the sun rising in the west and realize how that's happening. That latter one is my favorite because the amazing feeling I get there is something I can only get from a Japanese film. And while I will go more in-depth about it later, the film's wonderful music score is what helps give it this exotic, mystical feel more than anything else. It's hard to put into words but what I've just described is a big reason why I really love this flick.

It's interesting to think how in this film Godzilla, who was once the embodiment of nuclear horror for the country of Japan, was prophecised thousands of years in advance as being one of two monsters who would actually save the world from a more powerful threat. I don't know if the ancient people of Okinawa knew exactly that it would be him when they painted that mural but if they did, I would have to think they knew that he would slowly but surely go from being a destructive monster to a reluctant defender of the planet (from the wall paintings, they were sure that King Caesar would be the other monster, so maybe they did know). Regardless, Godzilla (played here by Isao Zushi, who also played him on Zone Fighter by alternating with the main suit actor there) comes across as much more serious here than he was in Godzilla vs. Megalon. He does have some amusing gestures, like when he swings his hand in the air after missing Mechagodzilla with his atomic blast, as if to say, "Damn it!" and when he first battles the disguised robot in the oil refinery and at one point, tilts his head at Mechagodzilla in a curious way, like he's thinking, "What the hell are you?" but other than that, his attitude is very serious and straightforward. The only thing on his mind is to destroy this mechanical clone of himself no matter what. He may take some serious abuse from Mechagodzilla, perhaps even more so than he did Gigan, and is forced to retreat after their first battle in order to heal himself, but he never gives up and keeps coming at him, eventually managing to defeat him. One thing I don't get is how he first becomes aware of Mechagodzilla. We know how he realized what was going on in the last three films but here, he just pops up out of nowhere when the disguised Mechagodzilla is attacking the oil refinery. Was he just hanging around there and the robot's actions woke him up or did he head there with prior knowledge about what was happening and decided to surprise Mechagodzilla? It's possible that Anguirus, after surviving getting brutalized by Mechagodzilla, went off to find Godzilla, informed him of what was happening, and then, there you go.

While they used the suit created for Godzilla vs. Megalon in the last two entries in the series, I think it's obvious that they tweaked it a bit because Godzilla looks noticeably different here than he did in that film. Since he's portrayed much more seriously here and is not acting like the hyperactive goofball he was previously, they gave him a bit of an edge in his look, with his face coming across as sterner and not as cuddly and puppy dog-like it was in Megalon. His eyes look a bit smaller, not as big and cute as they were before (although that could be a result of the harsher contours of the face), he seems to have a bit more bulk and musculature to him than he did in the previous film, and his dorsal plates are quite puffy and more silver in color than they have been lately. Like he did in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla uses a power that we've never seen him do before or since. In this case, it's the ability to absorb the electricity from lightning and later on, use that stored up energy to change himself into a strong magnetic force in order to pull Mechagodzilla's metal body back to him. Again, like his flying ability in Hedorah, this power is never explained or seen again, making you wonder exactly how Godzilla came to realize that he could do that and why he never used it before or ever again. His roar in this film is the same warmer-sounding one we first heard in Son of Godzilla and was used throughout Megalon. We also hear his pained scream quite a bit in this movie since Mechagodzilla really dishes some suffering out on him, especially during the climactic battle when the robot almost manages to kill him. And as I said back in my review of Son of Godzilla, this was the first time I heard him make this noise that sounds like metal screeching loudly and because he does it in a shot when he's down on the ground in front of Mechagodzilla's legs, I thought that's where the sound was coming from! It wasn't until I saw the next film that I realized Godzilla himself was making that noise.

In many ways, a doppelganger of some kind was inevitable for Godzilla and it was quite fitting that the concept would be thought up for the 20th anniversary film in a clever way that, as James Rolfe described it, allowed them to show off Godzilla's old destructive capabilities but still retain the good guy imagined he had by this point. What makes Mechagodzilla (Ise Mori) more than just a mere mechanical clone of the Big G and such a memorable and well-loved monster is a combination of his overall design, his many powers and abilities, and the simple fact that he is among Godzilla's most dangerous foes. Godzilla had been seriously injured before by Hedorah and Gigan but Mechagodzilla is so armed to the teeth with an assortment of powerful lasers and missiles that he manages to turn Godzilla into a blood-gusher and very nearly kill him. In fact, not to jump ahead, but the later two incarnations of Mechagodzilla actually did manage to kill Godzilla in one form or another. As a result, whenever Godzilla faces off against his robotic double, the stakes are raised because we know how much more powerful he is than flesh-and-blood opponent and how tough he is to beat, meaning that Godzilla could win this battle just by the skin of his teeth or, in fact, not at all. When it comes to his various incarnations, I like look of the original Mechagodzilla best. With his silver-colored, space titanium body, angular and sharp-edged shape (there are very few parts of him that are round), mean-looking orange eyes, and hissing screech that sounds akin to a very angry cat, Mechagodzilla is intimidating even before you get down to his weapons. He's got rainbow-colored laser eye-beams, which are what he uses the most and are powerful enough to penetrate Godzilla's skin after just a few direct hits, finger, knee, and toe missiles, missiles that he can also apparently fire from his mouth, a chest laser that can slice through rock with ease, a force field that not even Godzilla's atomic blast can penetrate, and the ability to fly very well (when I was a kid, I thought he seemed to get fatter when he took off) and turn his head around to keep an eye on an opponent behind him while still keeping one in front of him at bay with his other weapons. Oddly enough, when he's disguised as the real Godzilla, he's able to fire his own yellow atomic blast out of his mouth but after he drops the disguise, he never uses it again and instead uses those aforementioned missiles he can shoot out of his mouth instead. However, what's most disturbing about Mechagodzilla to me is how, even though he's just a robot, he comes across as extremely sadistic with how he continues to brutalize Anguirus even though it's obvious early on that he's not match for him and also with how he seems intent on causing Godzilla as much pain as possible during their climactic fight via his lasers and lodging some finger missiles in Godzilla's flesh. The idea that the aliens had to have programmed him to be that brutal and merciless is rather unsettling.

One thing I don't get is why Mechagodzilla is referred to as a cyborg several times in the film, both by the good guys and the aliens. A cyborg is meant to be something that has both organic and mechanical aspects to it, whereas Mechagodzilla is 100% machine and is simply disguised to look like a living creature through the first third of the film. It's the same reason I have a problem with the Terminator being called a cyborg. He may have real human flesh covering him but underneath, he's still an out and out robot. To me, Gigan is much more like a cyborg than Mechagodzilla since he's a flesh-and-blood creature that has mechanical parts of his body like the buzz-saw and the metal hooks for hands and feet. We're getting way off-topic here but I just wanted to bring up how, as far as I'm concerned, Mechagodzilla is a robot. While disguising him as the real Godzilla doesn't benefit the aliens' invasion plans in any way and actually seems to limit Mechagodzilla in fighting the real one (although it doesn't keep him from beating ever-living snot out of Anguirus), it's still an interesting idea because it allows you to briefly go back to when Godzilla was a villain as well as give you the visual of two Godzillas battling it out. When I first saw this movie as a little kid, I wasn't sure what to think during the first part with the disguised Mechagodzilla since, because of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, I knew that Godzilla could be either a bad guy or a good guy in any given movie but in the back of my head, I knew something was up because he didn't sound like Godzilla, looked downright weird when he battled Anguirus (I was too young to understand what the shot of the metal beneath the flesh meant), and his atomic blast looked and sounded different than the way it normally did. (Another tip-off that I also too young to catch at the time was that his footfalls were the sound of metal hitting the ground.) Once the real Godzilla appeared and I heard him roar, I knew that that my suspicions were right and that this first one was indeed a fake. One thing I'm surprised that no one has ever mentioned about the disguised Mechagodzilla is how, after Anguirus scrapes off a piece of his fake flesh and when he battles the real one, he suddenly looks really freaky, with a maniacal, sneering grin on his face and a more artificial look to him overall. I always wondered why he looked that way and it turns out that the reason is that they used a cruder publicity Godzilla costume in order to achieve the illusion of two Godzillas battling each other in the same frame, whereas when Mechagodzilla was by himself, they used the actual suit. Not only is the switch between the two very apparent because that publicity suit looks so much different from the real one but also, it makes no sense for them to use it when Mechagodzilla fights Anguirus. One minute, he looks normal but then after Anguirus scrapes some flesh off, he looks maniacal and more fake-looking. I guess the look on that suit's face gave a greater sense of how much trouble Anguirus was now in than the actual one could but the change is still noticeable and rather jarring. And by the way, that costume was used for publicity tours? Couldn't they have made it look less scary? The poor kids present during those tours must have been traumatized by that damn thing!

Even though I've made fun of Anguirus (here played by Kinichi Kusumi) for being such a doormat and wussy fighter in some of the previous movies, he does not deserve the major brutality he suffers at the hands of Mechagodzilla here. He's the first character that we see in the entire movie, appearing at the beginning in an arctic type of environment where he appears to first sense Mechagodzilla's presence due to a seaside rock that glows a few times before exploding (although, that rock doesn't look like it's in the same area as Anguirus is). It seems as if Anguirus follows Mechagodzilla back to Japan and, as Keisuke states, came out to call on the real Godzilla but ran into the robot instead. Incidentally, since Anguirus is seen digging through the earth here and actually emerges from beneath the ground before he fights Mechagodzilla, it says to me that this was originally meant to be Baragon from Frankenstein Conquers the World but got replaced here as he had been with Gorosaurus in Destroy All Monsters. Able to sense that this is an imposter, Anguirus immediately goes on the attack upon running into Mechagodzilla, cluing the humans into the fact that something's not right. He also manages scrape off a piece of Mechagodzilla's fake skin as well as apparently knock off a piece of space titanium that Keisuke later finds, giving the humans even more evidence that this rampaging Godzilla may not be all that he appears to be. Unfortunately, Anguirus' refusal to back down from any fight blows up in his face in the most horrific way here when he attempts to battle Mechagodzilla but is absolutely overwhelmed by his larger and much more powerful foe and gets a brutal beating before his jaw is snapped open. The shot of blood gushing out of Anguirus' mouth, combined with Mechagodzilla tearing a big chunk of flesh and blood out and Anguirus crawling away with his honking roar now sounding very pained and shaky, really got to me when I was a kid. I actually thought that Mechagodzilla ripped his tongue out and that was what was in his hand but now it seems like he broke his jaw instead. I also used to think that Anguirus died from his wounds since he's not seen again for the rest of the film, with that being reinforced by how he never appeared in another movie until Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. But, since it's possible that he went to inform Godzilla about what had happened, as well as that Destroy All Monsters takes place in the future and is the last film in the original as far as chronology goes, I'm now pretty sure that he just slumped back to Monster Island and eventually healed, probably upset that he couldn't help Godzilla in his fight against Mechagodzilla.

For me, the most disappointing monster in the film is King Caesar (also played by Kinichi Kusumi), the ancient guardian of the Azumi royal family (technically, I should be calling him King Shisa since he's based on an ancient mythical Okinawan creature referred to as such but since most other people call him King Caesar due to a translation error that stuck, I'll do the same to avoid confusion). What's so disappointing about him is that throughout the entire film, they build him up through so many means: recounting his legend, having the main characters trying to solve the mystery of his statue in order to figure out how to awaken him in time to fight Mechagodzilla, having the old Azumi priest at one point say that King Caesar is the only thing that can defeat the supposedly evil Godzilla, and extending it a little bit further even when his resting chamber is finally revealed by having Nami sing a two-minute song in order to wake him up before Mechagodzilla makes it to him in an attempt to kill him. They have all this build-up involving him and what's the payoff? Nothing. King Caesar is one of the lamest monsters Toho has ever created in my opinion. For one, he looks stupid. He's supposed to look like a cross between a dog and a lion like the creature he's named after, the Shisa, but to me, he looks like nothing more than an overgrown, bipedal mutt who has a bad case of the mange and is impossible to take seriously with his floppy ears that stick straight up whenever he's agitated and his curly mane and fur. His hairless tail that ends in a big, oddly-shaped knot of fur is particularly silly-looking. Second, and most importantly, he can't fight to save his life. He comes out of his cave, roaring like he's a bad-ass (his roar is a modification of King Kong's) and while he manages to at first get some good hits on Mechagodzilla by using his ability to absorb the robot's eye-beams through one eye and send it back at him through the other, Mechagodzilla quickly gains the upper hand and dominates King Caesar throughout the entire fight. He's such a wimp that he's virtually no help to Godzilla at all, with the only useful thing he does being a moment where he slams into Mechagodzilla a few times while Godzilla is holding him still. I guess it should be another sign of how tough and deadly a monster Mechagodzilla is that even an ancient guardian monster like King Caesar is no match for him but to me, it comes across like King Caesar is nothing but a pussy and that Godzilla might as well have faced Mechagodzilla on his own. If you took King Caesar out of the fight, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference since he contributed so little. (By the way, according to the alien commander, King Caesar is supposedly able to bring other monsters to life but I sincerely doubt that given how much of a powerless wuss he is).

After the limiting microscopic budget they were stuck with during Godzilla vs. Megalon, I'm sure that Teruyoshi Nakano and his crew relished the bigger budget they had here, allowing them to create effects scenes that, lo and behold, have no stock footage at all, something that we haven't seen since Godzilla vs. Hedorah, as well as the ability to show off, which they do. While there isn't much property destruction here and there are no dealings with the military whatsoever, that didn't stop Nakano, who had to have been on a roll after the effects he managed to create for the previous year's disaster film The Submersion of Japan, and his team from using what must have been every bit of nitro that Toho could afford in this film. There are very few scenes involving the monsters that don't have at least a couple of enormous explosions and fire effects happening around them. The first battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla at the oil refinery is amazingly well-staged, with fire present throughout and gigantic explosions going off in front of and around the monsters as they duke it out. But that's nothing compared to the climactic battle. There are so many pyrotechnics that go off there that I wonder if they didn't actually completely destroy that set by the time shooting was done. The montage of the interiors of the aliens' base blowing up at the end, culminating in a series of big explosions that we see from the outside, is also just amazing. There are also plenty of great optical and rotoscoping effects involving Mechagodzilla's many weapons as well as Godzilla's own atomic blast. It's also colorfully animated and yet, at the same time, matted in so well that you'd swear these creatures really were firing those things. They do some other cool opticals for when the aliens' revert back to their actual ape forms, when Godzilla is absorbing the electricity from the lightning, and for the shots of the red moon and the sun rising in both the east and west, among others. The only instances where people are matted in with monsters is when you see them walking below Mechagodzilla's feet in his hangar but in those brief shots, the effect is completely convincing. Lastly, they used more blood in this movie than they did in any previous one, including Godzilla vs. Gigan. Not only do you have the brutal scene of Mechagodzilla breaking Anguirus' jaw but you have a lot of blood spewing from Godzilla himself, like when he gets blasted back into the water when his and Mechagodzilla's beams collide in mid-air at the end of their first battle, and especially during the climactic when blood is just spewing from Godzilla's neck after Mechagodzilla appears to hit a major vein and when his finger missiles get jammed into his flesh. There's some blood, albeit green instead of red, involved with the aliens and there's a quick but cringe-inducing moment when you see the one alien agent slice open Keisuke's hand with a knife. Again, they had learned their lesson from before and were trying not to cater as much to the kid audience this time around.

Nami's vision. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Like Godzilla vs. Megalon, the first big action scene in this movie involves the human characters rather than the monsters but, unlike that film, it doesn't happen at the very beginning. After an opening where we see Anguirus milling around some sort of arctic environment and an exploding rock formation that leads into the opening credits, we eventually get to, after Nami has the vision (which, again, is of King Ghidorah for some reason), Keisuke and Saeko see the cloud that looks like a black mountain while traveling to Tokyo, and a moment where Prof. Miyajima's lab is shaken by a sudden earthquake, a scene where the alien agent breaks into Prof. Wagura's house with a gun drawn and demands the King Caesar statue. He's just about to take it when Keisuke walks into the room and they get into a fight. Keisuke first tries to get the guy's gun away from him and struggles with him a bit, at one point throwing a pot of hot water from where Saeko was about to make coffee earlier right into his face, causing the gun to go off and shoot the head off a nearby statue as well as the lights on the ceiling above them as they do so. Wagura tells Saeko to get out of the room with the statue and after she does, we see that Keisuke is still struggling with the agent and bashes his hand against a table until he finally drops the gun. That doesn't make the fight any less difficult, though. The two of them end up on the couch and the agent manages to roll Keisuke on his back beneath him and shoves one of the pillows on his face in an attempt to smother him and then punches him in the left cheek a couple times. The agent then repeats the action: first smothers Keisuke and then punches him, this time three times. Keisuke manages to get the guy off of him but the struggle leads to them falling on the floor and grappling with each other. Wagura tries to give Keisuke the gun but is unable to do so with the two of them tangled up the way they are. The agent puts his left arm around Keisuke's neck to hold his throat in place and then punches him twice in the right cheek, hits him in the mouth a couple of times with the back of the arm he's holding him with, and roughly grabs his forehead and shoves it upward in a way that causes Keisuke pain (in the English dub, he makes this rather funny sound like, "Da-hai!") After that, the agent finally throws Keisuke onto the floor and runs out. Wagura tries to see if Keisuke is alright but even after all the pain he's gone through, after he finally gets his wits about him, he runs out after the guy. But, by the time he gets outside, the agent is long gone and the last shot is of Nanbara watching the three of them standing outside of Wagura's house while he calmly lights up a cigarette and keeps a keen eye on the King Caesar statue Saeko is holding.

After that, a series of enormous explosions rocks Mt. Fuji, at one point resulting in an enormous boulder being tossed up into the air and landing over a ridge before a couple of more explosions are followed by the disguised Mechagodzilla making his first appearance (I've heard some theories about how Mechagodzilla may have been inside the rock that got blasted into the air but I'm not sure if something as big as him would have fit in there). After revealing himself and screeching up into the sky, Mechagodzilla walks down the base of the mountain, fooling everyone who sees him, including Masahiko and Prof. Miyajima, into thinking it's the real Godzilla, which they shouldn't since he doesn't sound like him at all (why didn't the aliens bother to replicate Godzilla's roar if they were going to have their robot masquerade as a him?) Upon seeing this on television, since there's apparently a very brave news cameraman standing not more than twenty feet away from the monster, Keisuke decides to head to Mt. Fuji to make sure his brother and Miyajima are alright. And then, after the moment where Nami's grandfather hears of this and goes from saying that only King Caesar can defeat "Godzilla" to praying to him destroy Japan for what happened centuries ago, we go back to Mechagodzilla as he marches through the countryside and completely demolishes an apartment building that he comes across (random place to put an apartment building, though). After smashing through it, he continues walking as something begins emerging from the ground in front of him. Mechagodzilla apparently doesn't seem it or possibly just doesn't care and continues walking until he steps right on it, loses his balance, and falls onto the ground. Anguirus then reveals himself to be the underground creature and, after shaking the dirt off of him, is confronted with a very enraged Mechagodzilla. Anguirus, knowing that this is indeed an imposter, goes on the attack but gets kicked and sent flying up into the air, crashing onto a bridge in the process.

Keisuke, who's heading to Mt. Fuji at this time, knows that something is up since it makes no mistake for Anguirus to be attacking Godzilla. Mechagodzilla then kicks Anguirus, sending him falling backwards, but he gets back up and jumps at the imposter, ripping off a piece of flesh and exposing the metal underneath. Anguirus turns around and now sees that Mechagodzilla looks very pissed and is making a threatening gesture at him before screeching angrily at him. The two monsters then charge at each other and Anguirus tries to stand up on his hind legs to be on the same level as his foe but gets knocked back down and is unable to do anything as Mechagodzilla holds him down and proceeds to beat the tar out of him before kicking him right under the head and sending crashing back down on the ground again. As I said, even though it's clear that Anguirus is no match for him, Mechagodzilla decides to make him suffer some more and imitates a signature move of Godzilla's by lifting him up by the tail and slamming him back down. Mechagodzilla then stands up and appears to dust himself off, even though there's none on him, before grabbing Anguirus' tail again and slamming him up and down four more times, kicking his rear end at one point. Mechagodzilla decides to finish Anguirus off and walks over to his front, lifts his head up, and forces his mouth open to the point where blood begins gushing and then, after a few seconds, tears out of a big chunk of blood and flesh. Anguirus, now seriously injured and with his honking roar now sounding very shaky and pained (the way he sounds is what makes this whole fight disturbing, especially when Mechagodzilla begins to break his jaw because it sounds like he's screaming, "No!"), crawls away and seems to collapse after getting around a ridge, which is why I thought he died when I was a kid. However, upon listening more closely, I think you can now hear him digging away. Either way, the scene ends with Mechagodzilla, satisfied with himself, continuing onward.

Not long afterward, we see Mechagodzilla is blowing up an oil refinery with his imitation atomic blast. This is a really spectacular spectacle because you see Mechagodzilla smashing things, ignite the middle of the place with his blast, creating a massive explosion, and then, with smoke and fire everywhere around him, he targets a couple of other sections of the place, blowing up a bunch of fuel tanks. Keisuke, Prof. Miyajima, and the others pull up nearby but are unable to get too close because of the fire and explosions. Mechagodzilla then heads toward a warehouse that suddenly begins flashing from the inside and causes the robot to step back for a second. That's when, unexpectedly, the real Godzilla emerges from within the warehouse and roars a challenge to his doppelganger. I have no clue what Godzilla was doing inside that warehouse or even how he managed to fit himself in there (I always assumed that he crawled up from the ocean and smashed the warehouse from behind as he rose up in order to surprise Mechagodzilla) but, however he did it, he finally confronts his double, who responds by hitting him a couple of times with his own atomic blast. After the alien commander mentions how the people of Earth must be shocked at seeing two Godzillas, the fight begins. Godzilla and Mechagodzilla charge at each other and after Godzilla pushes his double back, he smacks a piece of a building onto him, setting off another chain of explosions. While everybody gets out of the car to take a closer look, we see glimpses of the two monsters charging at each other again amidst the fire and smoke but then we just see more huge explosions accompanied by the sounds of the both of them roaring. As the battle rages on, we get a wide-shot where Masahiko steps out from under the tower they're using as a cover and has to be pulled back when the explosions being caused by the fight appear to get a little dangerously close to them.

The smoke clears and we see the two of them grappling with and smashing into each, which is a really cool visual of two Godzillas duking it out amidst all the fire and chaos around them. Godzilla smashes more fake flesh off of Mechagodzilla, revealing more metal underneath and causing Prof. Miyajima and the others to realize that Godzilla is indeed a mechanical imposter. Godzilla and Mechagodzilla then have a standoff where Godzilla tilts his head in curiosity at his foe, wondering exactly what it is he's fighting, and then proceeds to blast Mechagodzilla twice. It doesn't seem to really hurt the robot but it does make him flinch a bit. The alien commander then decides show Godzilla what he's up against and throws a couple of switches that result in Mechagodzilla's disguise being completely burned away, revealing his true form. After a montage of shots that pan up Mechagodzilla's body and show off his different special attributes, most notably his finger-missile hands and mouth, the commander activates the robot and goes on the attack against the perplexed Godzilla. Mechagodzilla blasts him in the left shoulder with some finger missiles, sending him falling to the ground as Mechagodzilla fires some more at the spot beside him. Mechagodzilla then stomps over to Godzilla, who's having difficulty standing back up. He then fires his eye-lasers at Godzilla, although they go right past him and blow up a spot behind. Godzilla gets back up just as Mechagodzilla prepares to fire again. As he does do, Godzilla fires his atomic blast and the two beams meet in mid-air, resulting in a large explosion that blows both of them, as well as the still watching humans, off their. Godzilla gets blown back into the water and after he submerges, a large amount of blood surfaces, making the humans wonder if he's actually still alive. Mechagodzilla, meanwhile, is lying on the ground, his screech now sounding messed up. Upon learning that the robot's head control has been damaged, the commander orders him brought back to the base for repairs. His subordinates flip a couple of white switches and Mechagodzilla takes off back to Okinawa.

The next big scene is when we see Godzilla arrive on the shores of an island, probably Monster Island, in the middle of a violent thunderstorm and stands there in the rain, roaring up to the heavens as lightning blows up everything around him and then begins striking his body. You'd think that this would be serious bad luck for the King of the Monsters but, actually, it heals Godzilla who, after several strikes, begins glowing blue as he absorbs the electricity in his body (again, shows how much Toho was for continuity since Godzilla has been vulnerable to electricity in the past). Godzilla then gives off one of the longest roars I've ever heard him do as the blue glow fades and sparks and bright lights begin pouring out of his back, with the camera slowly pushing into his torso as the scene very quickly cuts to the cruise ship Keisuke and Saeko are taking to Okinawa. The alien agent from before makes another attempt at stealing the King Caesar statue, sneaking into Saeko's cabin with the use of a skeleton key and very carefully removing it from her bag before sneaking back out and heading to his own cabin. He opens the box and pulls the statue out but before he can do anything with it, Keisuke quickly enters the cabin and tags him from behind, causing the statue to smack against the floor. The two of them have a bit of a struggle, with Keisuke knocking the guy's gun out of his hand and the guy falling down and putting his feet around Keisuke's head in order to keep him from getting to him. Keisuke manages to shake it off, though, and grabs the guy from behind when he goes for his gun again, which is lying on the bed. He puts the agent in the same chokehold he himself got put in during their first fight and tries to make him say why he stole the statue (which he should already know since Prof. Miyajima has already said that Mechagodzilla is being controlled by spacemen). The guy refuses to talk, despite being choked, and reaches down with his right hand and slowly pulls a knife out of a hidden holster in his shoe. Once he gets it out, he swings around with it and slashes the top of Keisuke's right hand, forcing him to let go. Keisuke has to dodge a couple of more slashes from the guy and when he runs at him, Keisuke dodges and jumps on the other side of the bed, grabs the guy's gun in the process, and fires, hitting in the right cheek. The guy slumps to the ground and that's when we see for the first time that the aliens' true forms are those of apes when 3/4 of the guy's face dissolves, revealing a hideous, green ape-face underneath.

Keisuke looks on in shock after the guy shows what he truly is while the guy, snorting and groaning, quickly grabs the statue and runs out the door with it. Keisuke runs after him down the deck and to the bow of the ship, where the alien fends him off by throwing a bunch of deckchairs at him, which Keisuke has to kick out of mid-air in order to keep from getting hit by them. The alien runs up a flight of stairs and Keisuke tries to follow but gets hit by another deckchair and gets sent rolling back down to the bottom. After a quick moment where we see Saeko wake up and realize that the King Caesar statue is gone, we cut back to Keisuke, who's creeping around the ship's deck, trying to find the alien who managed to give him the slip after hitting him with that chair. After searching around for a little bit, Keisuke gets jumped from behind and kicked on the floor, which causes him to drop the gun. The alien quickly reclaims his weapon and motions with it for Keisuke to stand by the edge of the ship. Keisuke has no choice but to comply and does as he's told, waiting for the alien, who's laughing in his ape vocalizations, to shoot him over the side of the ship. But, before he can get a shot off, he's suddenly shot himself and is sitting screaming over the side of the ship and into the ocean below. Saeko then appears and Keisuke tells her what happened, adding that it seemed like somebody shot the alien and sent him overboard. As Saeko bandages up Keisuke's bleeding right hand, Nanbara suddenly shows up and jokes that they should be talking about love on such a beautiful night (which is very clearly daytime, despite the filter that's applied to the screen). After Nanbara walks off, we cut to when the ship arrives in Okinawa and then learn that the stolen statue was a fake, while the real one was always safely locked up in the captain's safe.

Upon arriving at the hotel and learning that their friends haven't been back for several days, Keisuke has Saeko stay at the hotel (where's she unknowingly watched by the yet unidentified Tamura) while he drives out to Gyokusen Cave and heads inside to look for them. At the same time, Prof. Miyajima has finished repairing Mechagodzilla and when he asks the alien commander to release Ikuko and Masahiko per their agreement, he seems to keep his promise and leads Miyajima down to the execution room where they're being held. But, when he least expects it, Miyajima gets pushed down into the room with the both of them, with the commander ominously telling them that this will be their last night. They soon learn what he means when extremely hot gas begins pouring into the room through vents, followed by the lights in the room turning red as the temperature is cranked up. Back with Keisuke in the cave, he comes across Miyajima's special pipe, which he dropped when he, Ikuko, and Masahiko were captured. Keisuke himself is then ambushed by an alien, who has a gun trained on him. When Keisuke demands to know where his friends are, the guard tells him that they're already dead and is about to kill Keisuke himself when he suddenly gets shot in the hand from off-screen, causing him to drop his weapon. Nanbara then appears and has a brief scuffle with the alien before he knocks him to the ground unconscious, followed by his hand turning to a green, furry, clawed ape hand from the wound. This is when Nanbara finally introduces himself to Keisuke and tells him that he's been following him because Interpol has been trying to track down these guys for a while and Keisuke got caught up in their "net" to find the truth. Nanbara kicks the alien, waking him up, and forces him to get to his feet. He makes the alien lead them to their secret base within the cave, the door of which he activates by pressing a button hidden within a fake stalactite. Grabbing the alien's arm and forcing it behind his back, Nanbara has hid lead them inside the base to the first main door, which is wear you learn that these aliens have a very primitive way of getting into their base. A person on one side of the door has to say, "Alpha," and the other has to respond with, "Cedouris," causing the door to open. Seems like a rather needlessly complicated way to do things to me. Regardless, Nanbara forces the guard to cooperate with the person on the other side of the door and when it opens up, he and Keisuke quickly beat up the two of them and take their uniforms, which ultimately proves to be pointless because it doesn't fool any of the other aliens at all.

In the execution room, Miyajima, Ikuko, and Masahiko are just about dead from the extreme heat when Nanbara and Keisuke arrive outside, knocking out the guard there and then shooting open the lock to the door. When the door first opens up, they're forced back by the heat and Nanbara quickly turns the heat off while Keisuke gets his friends to their feet and tells them that they need to get out of there. Two aliens then rush in brandishing their weapons and order everyone to put their hands up. Nanbara, showing what a bad-ass he is, lifts his left hand up but quickly pulls his gun from out of the back of his pants, shoots the lights in the room from behind his back, and, after telling everyone to get down, makes short work of the two guards. They then head out of the room and run for the outside. After a quick shot back at the hotel where we see Saeko realize that the moon is now red, we see that an alarm is going off within the aliens' base and the commander and his men are watching the humans run through the cave back to the outside (notice how in one shot the back of Keisuke's pants are brown, like he sat in some mud). The commander, however, isn't worried since they've rigged Keisuke's car outside to explode. Out there, everyone scrambles inside of it but just when Keisuke is about to turn the key, Nanbara quickly stops him, realizing what the aliens may have planned. Nanbara pulls a wire out of his inside pocket and we then see a shot of the key being turned with the wire, followed by a shot of it blowing up (a brief bit of stock footage from a similar scene in Godzilla vs. Gigan, the only instance of this in the film besides the curious still of King Ghidorah at the beginning). The commander, confident that they're no longer a problem, switches the monitor off but we then see that everyone got clear of the car and that they turned it over from  safe distance with the wire. Noticing the red moon and that the prophecy is continuing to come to pass, Nanbara tells Keisuke that he's going back inside to take care of the aliens and that he should get the King Caesar statue to Azumi Castle. Masahiko and Miyajima then decide to head back in with Nanbara, with the latter stating the personal reason why he must do. Keisuke then gives him back his pipe, knowing that he might need it.

After Keisuke heads back to the hotel and fetches both Saeko and the statue before heading to the castle, Nanbara, Miyajima, and Masahiko make their way back inside the aliens' base, with Nanbara strangling to death the guard he saved Keisuke from earlier in order to get back inside, causing the guy to revert back into an ape. Meanwhile, Keisuke, Saeko, and Ikuko almost reach Azumi Castle but a couple of shots to the ground in front of them stops them dead in their tracks. Two guards holding Nami and her grandfather at gunpoint show at the top of the steps to the shrine, with the one training his gun on the old man threatening to kill them both if they don't hand over the statue. After the old man gets kicked down in order to make him be quiet when he mouths off at the others, Keisuke reluctantly tells Saeko to give him the statue. However, just as the one guard is walking down the steps to get it, he suddenly gets shot from off-camera, with his partner suffering the same fate as they both fall down next to each other and turning back into apes. That's when Tamura appears and, after making sure the aliens are dead, introduces himself. Upon realizing that's almost 6:00 in the morning, Saeko then sees that the sun is indeed rising in the west, just as the prophecy foretold. But when they look over to the east, they see that the sun is rising there as well and they figure out that the one in the west is simply a mirage. Knowing that it's now time, they place the King Caesar statue atop the shrine and, as the rising sun shines upon it, its ruby eyes slowly light up until they fire a couple of powerful lasers at a nearby cliff-face, blowing open a hole. As the smoke clears, King Caesar is revealed, albeit still in a deep sleep. Back at the aliens' base, they learn that King Caesar has been freed but the commander decides to launch Mechagodzilla again anyway, intending to have the robot kill King Caesar before he awakens. Mechagodzilla then lifts off from his hangar through the opening in the ceiling just as Miyajima, Nanbara, and Masahiko arrive. They realize that they'll now have to destroy the control room in order to stop Mechagodzilla, who arrives on the surface with a screech as they head off to do so. The commander orders Mechagodzilla to kill King Caesar and the robot complies by oh-so slowly walking towards the monster's cave. Realizing they need to wake King Caesar up before Mechagodzilla reaches him, Nami runs to the nearby beach, gets into a prayer position, and proceeds to sing the King Caesar song for two straight minutes, managing to awaken the monster who, like Megalon, does so with a huge explosion. With a loud roar, King Caesar then notices Mechagodzilla, causing his ears to go straight up, and he begins approaching him to fight. The commander orders Mechagodzilla to destroy him quickly and is then surprised to see Miyajima, Nanbara, and Masahiko enter the control room, although they're stopped in their tracks by an electrical barrier.

Mechagodzilla begins the fight by firing his eye-lasers at King Caesar, who absorbs them through one eye and then sends them back at the robot through the other. After the robot is stunned, King Caesar rushes at him but bounces right off his metallic chest and down to the ground, quickly getting back up. Mechagodzilla then tries the lasers again and gets the same result, with King Caesar this time managing to slam him to the ground while he's reeling from the blast. While the humans rush to get a better view of the battle, both monsters get back up and Mechagodzilla tries to swipe at King Caesar but the monster manages to dodge it and then grabs the robot's right arm and slams back down to the ground. King Caesar then tries to beat on Mechagodzilla but he gets smacked away and quickly tries to get back up as the robot does the same. Mechagodzilla tries the eye-lasers again but this time, he manages to dodge the backfire and decides to change his tactics. He shoots King Caesar with a volley of finger missiles, forcing the monster to take shelter behind an enormous rock formation. There's a rather funny part when King Caesar peaks out from behind the rock and when Mechagodzilla steps toward him, he ducks back behind it. Mechagodzilla then uses his chest laser to slice the top of the rock off, exposing King Caesar so he can shoot him with some more finger missiles. King Caesar tumbles over to the ground and Mechagodzilla then stomps over to him and kicks him, sending him flying and crashing against some more rocks. We get a brief bit back in the alien base where the commander and his three prisoners are watching the battle on a video monitor and the commander, impressed with Mechagodzilla's fighting ability, rubs salt in the wound by thanking Miyajima again for his cooperation. As we hear Mechagodzilla continuing to beat the crap out of King Caesar, Nanbara subtly gets Miyajima's attention and makes him see that his pulling his ring off behind his back to use its edge to unlock his handcuffs. Back at the fight, King Caesar is getting back up when Mechagodzilla stomps up to him and gives him a very brutal beating, smacking him and even karate-chopping him a few times as well as standing him back up in order to beat on him some more. He then shoves his hand into King Caesar's mouth in an apparent attempt to gag him to death before he finally flings him behind some rocks. King Caesar then lifts his head up from behind them but slumps back down, clearly down for the count. Mechagodzilla is just about to finish him off when he and everyone else is distracted by a large disturbance in the nearby ocean, followed by some brightly flashing lights. You know what happens next. Godzilla explodes out of the water with a roar and begins swimming to the shore in order to join the fight. Upon seeing that Godzilla is still alive, the commander orders Mechagodzilla to kill him. At the same time, Nanbara has managed to slip his ring off and is starting to work its edge into the lock of his handcuffs, while Miyajima slowly pulls his pipe out of his back pocket.

With an angry scowl on his face, Godzilla slowly walks up the shore towards Mechagodzilla, clearly ready for a fight. Roaring challenges at his mechanical double, Godzilla stops just a few feet from it, getting into a fight stance as he does so. Mechagodzilla lifts his right hand up, ready to fire some missiles, but Godzilla quickly shoots his atomic blast. Unfortunately, Mechagodzilla quickly takes off into the sky, causing Godzilla to miss and blow up the ground in front of King Caesar instead. Godzilla swings his arm in a, "Damn it!" kind of gesture, and is completely unprepared for when Mechagodzilla comes swooping down at him and hits him in the neck with some laser eye-beams, sending him crashing to the ground. We get a quick bit back at the alien base, with Nanbara continuing to try to get his handcuffs as we can hear the battle on the video monitor. Going back to it, King Caesar gets up and we cut to a shot off Godzilla literally at Mechagodzilla's feet. King Caesar then gets up in order to help but Mechagodzilla turns his head completely around in order to keep an eye on him while his right hand aimed at Godzilla. Both monsters square off with Mechagodzilla little bit before deciding to take their chance, only to both get blasted back onto the ground. Mechagodzilla then fires his missiles down to the ground, causing a large chain of explosions. Godzilla gets back up and charges at the robot but he gets swamped with some more explosions, causing him to fall back down. However, as he falls, he smartly fires his atomic blast and manages to hit Mechagodzilla in the chest. Godzilla gets back up and they square off again, with Godzilla roaring in satisfaction about that last attack. Mechagodzilla, however, shows off some powers by quickly spinning his head around, creating a force field that then surrounds his entire body. Godzilla fires at it but even his atomic blast can't penetrate it. He then decides to try to break through it with his hands but they get scorched in the process, sending Godzilla back down with a pained screech. Back in the alien base, Nanbara manages to slip his handcuffs off and subtly lets Miyajima know, with the scientist responding by separating the two pieces of his pipe.

This is when all hell breaks loose during the battle. Mechagodzilla unleashes a relentless volley of lasers and missiles upon Godzilla and King Caesar, who both find it hard to keep their balance from the assault of all that firepower and with everything exploding around them. At one point, the two of them do fall on top of each other, with Godzilla pushing King Caesar off of him as Mechagodzilla continues his attack. This goes on for quite a while, with Mechagodzilla firing again and again and again (he must have the infinite ammo code on because he never runs out) in a montage of close-ups of his different weapons as they continuously shoot, while Godzilla and King Caesar try their best to hold up through the assault. I've noticed in recent viewings that a lot of the shots of Godzilla and King Caesar bristling from the attack is the same action shot from different angles. After getting hit with a countless number of missiles and laser beams, and with King Caesar apparently getting knocked unconscious, Godzilla decides enough is enough and tries to charge Mechagodzilla but he gets hit by another volley of ammo, causing him to temporarily lose his balance. Mechagodzilla hits him in the neck with more lasers before taking off into the air. This is when Mechagodzilla shows how truly sadistic he can be when he begins attacking Godzilla by swooping down at him and firing his lasers at him. He shoots Godzilla on the front of his neck, which results in it starting to bleed, and then comes in for another pass and hits him in the right side of his neck, severing a major artery in the process and causing blood to begin spraying out in torrents. Before Godzilla can do anything to defend himself, Mechagodzilla hits him in the same spot and then knocks him down to the ground. He comes in for a couple of more attacks, causing Godzilla more pain and making him scream in agony as the ground explodes around him. As Godzilla momentarily stops moving, we get a quickly-edited montage of the characters' shocked faces as they watch Mechagodzilla come in for another attack and fire his finger missiles, which stick into Godzilla's flesh instead of exploding on contact like usual (I'm amazed that I never cried from all of this as a little kid who loved Godzilla so much). Roaring, Godzilla gets back to his feet and decides it's now time to use the energy he's stored up from the lightning. He begins glowing, pops the sticking missiles out, and after sparks spew out of his back for a little bit, Godzilla then becomes an enormous magnetic force, causing two high-tension towers to be drawn towards him and stuck to his body. Mechagodzilla then finds his own metal body being drawn to Godzilla. For the next couple of minutes, Mechagodzilla tries with all of his might to fly away from Godzilla but he's unable to resist the magnetism and is eventually brought down to the ground, with Godzilla grabbing him from behind within an instant.

The commander orders Mechagodzilla's rockets to be turned up full throttle in order to retreat but Godzilla manages to keep his grip and is lifted off with Mechagodzilla a few feet above the ground. After a shot of Miyajima telling Nanbara what to do with the pieces of his pipe, we see Godzilla force Mechagodzilla back down to the ground, where he holds him in place in order for King Caesar to run at him and bash him with his shoulder several times in a row. Realizing that they're about to lose, the aliens try desperately to regain control of the battle, with the commander even shoving one technician over so he can do it himself, but it's no use now. Godzilla smashes Mechagodzilla from behind and then grabs the front of his face and twists his head around in a slow, agonizing way (for those wondering why this damages Mechagodzilla since he spun his around quite well before, I think it's because Godzilla is forcing it to go around, which tears the internal mechanics up). After a lot of turning, he gets Mechagodzilla's head turned completely around and then tears his head off, finally defeating his mechanical clone. With Godzilla and King Caesar celebrating and with the alien commander in shock, Nanbara sneaks up behind the aliens and throws the two pieces of Miyajima's pipe at both ends of the control panel. The alien to the commander's left spots him and Nanbara quickly grabs another alien from behind and has him shoot his own comrade. The commander swings around with his own gun and Nanbara manipulates his hostage so that they end up shooting each other, with the commander's neck gushing green blood after being shot there. The two aliens fall down dead and both revert back to their ape forms. The professor's pipe begins shorting out the equipment and after Miyajima warns them that it's dangerous, they proceed to escape but not before Nanbara unlocks their handcuffs. Mechagodzilla's body then blows up, sending Godzilla down into the ocean and a snow-shower of the robot's remains into the sea as well. As Godzilla emerges from the water, Miyajima, Nanbara, and Masahiko scramble out of the rapidly exploding cave and run for safety. We're then treated to a montage of the base falling apart and exploding from the inside-out, with several remaining aliens being caught up in the blast. The pyrotechnics here, as the rest in this film have been, are very impressive and a great example of Teruyoshi Nakano's talent of blowing things up. With the battle won and the prophecy fulfilled, Godzilla heads home while King Caesar heads back into his cave and seals himself back up. The movie ends with the statue of him being placed inside the Azumi shrine, where it's locked away for all time, and Nami happily running through the yard as the others look on with smiles.

For all of its action and spectacle, I don't think that Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla would be nearly as entertaining as it is without its awesome music score. For his final foray into Godzilla, Jun Fukuda decided to bring back his old buddy Masaru Sato for his fourth, and what would also prove to be his final, involvement with the series and in my humble opinion, he far surpassed the previous scores he'd done. His scores for Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla were pretty good but this score stomps both of them into dust. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that this music rivals some of Akira Ifukube's work. It's so fun, bouncy, and catchy that it not only works perfectly with the film's visuals and tone but it's great by itself as well. It's almost impossible for me to simply sit down and listen to some of these tunes. I feel like I have to get up and jump around, especially when listening to my favorite track, which is Mechagodzilla's theme. You first hear it when Mechagodzilla and Anguirus fight and it's just incredible. It's epic, bouncy, and incredibly energetic all the same time and, strangely, fits very well as the signature music of this brutal, mechanical monster. There are several different versions to it throughout the film. When Mechagodzilla drops his disguise and reveals his true form for the first time, you get a harder, more saxophone-oriented short version of it and throughout the big climactic battle between the three monsters, you get a version that sounds almost exactly like the one heard during the fight with Anguirus, just a little bit faster and with a subtly different accompanying sound. I especially like the way it goes with the middle part of the fight when Mechagodzilla is firing everything he has at Godzilla and King Caesar and then really lays into Godzilla himself. Bottom line, I dare you to try to listen to any version of this theme without getting up and dancing to it. It's that catchy and energetic. However, that's hardly the only good part of this score. Godzilla himself has a nicely powerful and ominous theme that is actually first heard when Mechagodzilla appears disguised as him but as his true nature is revealed, it switches over to being Godzilla's music. It's especially effective during the scene in the thunderstorm where Godzilla absorbs the lightning. There's also some nicely exotic and yet, slow and calm music for some of the film's quiet moments, like when Prof. Wagura finally translates the inscription on the King Caesar statue and when Saeko is sitting around the hotel, waiting for Keisuke to return, as well as some stranger-sounding and yet quiet music for the mysterious moments and a truly ominous one you hear when Nanbara is watching three of our main characters after Keisuke fights the alien agent for the first time. There's some really peaceful, scenic music during the film's opening credits, the latter part of which serves as great cap for the film's ending, a beautiful bit for when Keisuke and Saeko arrive in Okinawa (I think that's actually from a score Sato composed for something else), and an amazing mystical and mysterious bit that you hear when they see the sun rising in the west, leading to them revealing King Caesar. As for the King Caesar song that Nami sings, some may feel that it goes on for far too long and I would kind of agree with that but I like the exotic, mystical way it sounds so much that I don't really care. And I lastly, I want to just mention the great theme you hear when the battle's over and Godzilla and King Caesar go their separate ways. It's just so peaceful-sounding and perfectly sums up the aftermath of this hard-won battle. To me, Sato really outdid himself with this score and I think it was a great sendoff for him as a Godzilla movie composer.

Cinema Shares released Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla in America in 1977, the same year that they released Godzilla vs. Gigan, and like that film, they retitled and edited it quite a bit as well. They originally retitled it as Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster but when Universal threatened to sue them since they claimed it sounded too similar to the title of The Bionic Woman (such a ridiculous notion, by the way), Cinema Shares quickly changed it to Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster. As I mentioned in my introduction, while our VHS rental store had the original, uncut version of the film that retained the Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla title, I ended up owning The Cosmic Monster version of it on VHS for many years when I was a kid and it's a good thing I had seen the uncut version because otherwise, even as a little kid, I would have been confused to death about what was going on. While I can't speak for the Godzilla On Monster Island version of Gigan, I do think that it was more horribly edited than their release of Godzilla vs. Megalon because at least that film still ended up more or less coherent. That cut was so horribly butchered and the print was so dark that it would make you think that Jun Fukuda was a very incompetent director. I don't have much to say about the dubbing in the international version they once again used except that, like the previous few, it's not as bad as some of the others. There are too few voice actors, with Masahiko and Nanbara having the same voice, as do Prof. Miyajima and the ship captain Kenji Sahara plays, and I don't care for the "urghh!" type of old man voice given to Nami's grandfather (although, it does rather fit that guy in many respects), but other than that, it's not horrible.

Like their cut of Megalon, it started off with no lead-in to it and all of the opening credits were removed, with a red title card covering the explosion that threw the original title at the camera (you still hear the explosions and Godzilla roaring, though). It then abruptly cut to the middle of Nami's song during the ceremony at Azumi Castle. They did the same thing later on when we see Saeko being spied on in her office at the university. Just when Nanbara rounds the corner of the hall, it cut to the moment on the plane when Keisuke and Saeko see the cloud that looks like a black mountain, which was very confusing. For some reason, they removed the scene where Keisuke listens to the radio in his room at Prof. Wagura's house as well as the beginning of the following scene with Wagura and Saeko and some pieces of the fight between Keisuke and the alien agent. They also removed the moment after Mechagodzilla first appears where Nami's grandfather tells her about it... save for the end of it, resulting in the film cutting from Keisuke telling Wagura that he plans to go to Mt. Fuji to check on his brother and Prof. Miyajima to a random shot of Nami while her grandfather loudly croaks out, "Oh, Godzilla!" off-camera. Later on in the film, they also abruptly cut from Miyajima being blackmailed by the alien commander to the sign with Godzilla and the lightning, bypassing an entire section on the cruise ship with Keisuke and Saeko, and from the shot of the one alien's hand starting to turn into that of an ape to Keisuke and Nanbara opening the door to the execution room. Weirdly enough, they awkwardly edited around some of the violence concerning the humans and the aliens, showing only the beginning and aftermath of Nanbara strangling the one alien and doing the same for the part at the end when he kills the commander and the other two in the control room (I think they also removed the close-up of Keisuke's hand getting slashed at one point), as well as muted some strong language, but they left all of monster violence, including Anguirus' jaw getting broken and Godzilla's neck spraying blood, intact. I don't know how they could have gotten a G-rating with that but then again, I've never understood the MPAA. One downright sloppy piece of editing happens after they've escaped the aliens' base and Nabara tells Keisuke that he's going back inside to take care of the aliens. Originally, he says that and then Masahiko says he wants to go with him. In The Cosmic Monster cut, they put Masahiko saying that in the middle of Nanbara's statement to Keisuke (no doubt to cover up the word, "bastards,"), with the scene now going like this: "Shimizu, I'm going to go back inside..." "I want to go inside with you!" "You go to Azumi Castle." The ending was also messed up, with it cutting from the shot of King Caesar's sealed up cave to a red THE END title card, completely removing the nice little epilogue that originally followed. Like Godzilla vs. Gigan, the completely uncut version of this film got released on video by New World Pictures in 1988 and I'm really happy that it did, because this version doesn't cut it. Unfortunately, though, this film is currently a little hard to get without paying a ton of money for the out of print Sony DVD.

It may not be a deep or thought-provoking film but Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is certainly a fun one. The film moves at a good pace, the characters are archetypal but likable, the special effects and action scenes, including some of the stuff with the human characters, are absolutely amazing, there's a great, exotic feel to it with the setting of Okinawa and some of the elements involving the prophecy, the tone has a great mixture of campiness and some suspense and urgency, Mechagodzilla himself is an awesome villain, and the music score is one of the best the series has seen in a long time. There are some flaws, like the aforementioned underdevelopment of the characters, the aliens this time around having no real motivation for wanting to destroy Earth, the film not exactly being original in concept, and some unexplained, the middle part of the film being a little slow, as I mentioned at the beginning, weird, unexplained stuff like Godzilla's magnetic powers, but the film is so enjoyable and entertaining as a whole that all of those flaws are completely negligible. Needless to say, this is one Godzilla film I highly recommend. I can't see any reason why you shouldn't have a very entertaining 85 minutes with it.

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