Tuesday, April 26, 2005

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA / GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S.

The two most recent Godzilla films to make it to American DVD are GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002, GOJIRA TAI MEKAGOJIRA) and GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. (2003, GOJIRA TAI MOSURA TAI MEKAGOJIRA: TÔKYÔ S.O.S. ). Both films are directed by Masaaki Tezuka, and S.O.S. is a direct sequel to the previous film (unusual in the Millennium series).

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA again ignores all the previous Godzilla movies except the 1954 original, but in this continuity, other giant monsters have attacked Japan over the years besides the Big "G," including the Gargantuas, Rodan and Mothra. In response to these threats, the government decides to build a robot Godzilla, incorporating the skeleton and DNA of the beast killed at the end of the 1954 film. (Somehow, they're convinced that this is a smart and sane idea.) Sure enough, not long after the Mechagodzilla is built, a new Godzilla shows up to terrorize Tokyo.

In their first bout, MechaG is handily kicking his counterpart's scaly ass until the lumbering leviathan's roar somehow "awakens the spirit" of the original Godzilla, sending MechaG on a rampage through Tokyo. Confused yet? Don't worry. It sorta makes sense in the film.

GAM is filled with great special effects sequences – by far the best in the series up to this point – and for once, human characters that you actually care about. The pacing and structure of the film is flawless, and it's a remarkably satisfying fantasy adventure film.

TOKYO S.O.S continues the story, with the Japanese government frantically working to repair MechaG before the radioactive lizard returns for a rematch. But this time things are complicated when the fairies of Infant Island (from the original MOTHRA, 1961) show up and warn that unless the soul of MechaG is allowed to rest in peace, great harm will come to the people of Japan.

Um… right.

Anyway, before long, Godzilla, MechaG and Mothra are throwing down downtown, buildings are toppling, tanks are melting, missiles are exploding and the population is running for cover.

The special effects and action are right up there with the previous film. The modern model MechaG itself continues to be an astounding creation, beautifully designed and bristling with high-tech armaments. Mothra has never flown more convincingly, and director Tezuka keeps the battles moving at a brisk pace. The performances are uniformly good, and there's some genuine suspense mounted at the climax. It's great fun.

One more time… Columbia/Tristar delivers high quality, pristine, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers of these two flicks, with the same skimpy extras. But if you haven't seen any of the newer Godzilla flicks, I highly recommend picking these two up – at least for a rental. I think you'll be surprised at just how good these movies are.


BUY: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

BUY: Godzilla - Tokyo S.O.S.