Tuesday, April 26, 2005

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA

This time, we're looking at the original GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974, GOJIRA TAI MECHAGOJIRA), the first of three separate films to carry that title. Originally released in the United States as GODZILLA VS. THE BIONIC MONSTER (until Universal Studios, producers of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN, threatened to sue) and then as GODZILLA VS. THE COSMIC MONSTER, GVM well represents the state of the series in the Seventies.

As was common in the kaiju films of the disco era, alien invaders are the real threat – in this case, green-skinned ape men who employ a robot duplicate of the mighty Godzilla in their plans of conquest. Fortunately, the ancient Okinawans predicted this, and have a prophecy about two monsters that will save the world from the extraterrestrial menace. One is the Big "G," of course, the other… a shaggy, dog-like Okinawan demigod known as King Seesar.

Of the films of this era, GVM is my favorite. The battle scenes are particularly fun, especially when Godzilla first encounters MechaG, who is initially covered in fake lizard skin. Their battle in an oil refinery is appropriately explosive, and visually thrilling. You've got to wonder what it was like to be in one of those heavy costumes while set is erupting in flames around you. I don't think they pay those guys enough.

Godzilla's ally, the mystical King Seesar, is disliked by many fans because of his manic bouncing around, but I rather like him; he's not like any of the other Toho titans, with a distinct personality all his own. The final tag-team battle between the three monsters is full of energy, animated ray beams and explosions. It's fun stuff.

This is going to sound awful repetitive, but once again, Columbia's DVD presentation off this vintage kaiju eiga is astonishing. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is without blemish, the colors are bright and true, and the picture is as sharp as a samurai sword. Like the other discs in this collection, the original Japanese soundtrack is preferable to the English dub, but both are clear and well balanced.

Recommended.

BUY: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla