Saturday, July 4, 2009

RV!: Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

RV!: Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) Dir: Jun Fukuda Date Released: March 1977 Date Seen: July 4th, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5

I can't get over the boundless energy of this movie has and just how spazzy it might have seemed in the hands of any other filmmakers that weren't as sure of themselves as Fukuda co. are. Toho Studios' '70s Godzilla movies already had their rhythm down so by the time Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla came long, they already had an accomplished team of effects artists on-tap to make impressive rubber monster fights on a budget. The film's perky, kaleidoscopic color schemes are clearly the product of artists with the knack and the budget to match their wonky imaginations.

And what imaginations they had. The film's story is chockful of weird confrontations and revelations, relying on the childish urgency of its breathless"But then!" logic. It's a jumble of space aliens, sun glass-wearing Interpol agents, do-gooder monsters and super-powers that beg to be pored over by zealous ten year-olds as they might with trading cards that break down the Godzilla-verse into an explosion of nonsense facts and cool poses. Director Fukuda and his three co-writers pull together a twist-filled story with the mastery of men that love to tease their young audience. They know the feverish effect their stories of apes from outer space and rocket fingers have on their audience and they give their pint-sized worshippers something to gasp at almost every five minutes.

They do it so well that years after I was first saw Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, I still felt a little shocked when watching Mecha-Godzilla, disguised as Godzilla, uncharacteristically thrash Megagiurus to a pulp and felt my heartstrings expertly plucked when I saw Godzilla later gasp for breath as he bleeds out just a little bit more before he rallies with King Caesar and turns himself into a living magnet pole. That kind of gonzo wonder is what I like to think I remember from years ago; I'm very happy to see still that it affects me now that I'm a crotchety, uber-jaded young man.

Note: The fight scenes in the film, specifically the human fights, look almost improvised in just how chaotic and unpolished they are. The Japanese grappled with their alien foes like animals, scrabbling for whichever of their opponent's body parts that they can get a hold of more immediately. It reminds me of one of the fight scenes in the original Manchurian Candidate when Frankie is fighting some Communist in an office and it looks like they're really going at it, scoping each other out and breathlessly just pouncing on each other. I was not expecting that in a Godzilla flick at all.

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