Patiño’s Lores and Myths: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

Folks. When I said, “let’s get nuts,” I didn’t think it would get this nuts.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, directed by Jun Fukuda, is the fourteenth film in the franchise and is far removed from its cautionary tale origins. And I do mean far.

Prepare yourself for the ultimate showdown as Godzilla comes face-to-face against Godzilla?! Gasp! Hearsay! It cannot be! Oh, but it is, dear reader. But this isn’t your garden variety double-trouble. No, no, no. This scrupulous imposter is so large and in charge that it’s out of this world. No. Literally. It’s an alien. Mechagodzilla is an alien cyborg created by space aliens from Black Hole Planet 3 whose alien scientists developed cyborg technology to make a robo-weapon Godzilla to take over the Earth. Yup. That’s the story. There are also various B-plots involving a future-seeing priestess, scientists ogling space metals, a pair of archeologists trying to decipher a cave wall prophecy, an Interpol secret agent, and an additional two other kaiju! Oh, and Godzilla. Figure he deserves mention.

Yeah. It’s a lot. And the movie is only 84 minutes long! The crazy thing, though, that despite reading like a cocaine-fueled mad lib, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is precisely the type of over-the-top, fever dream romp that other kaiju flicks wish they could be. You can say it’s dumb, but this movie knows what it is and does not spend a single minute of its runtime apologizing for it. It’s so earnestly silly that I couldn’t help but laugh with and cheer it on. At one point, I scribbled in my notes, “Just go with it.” I ask the same of you, dear reader. Just go with it!

The movie wastes no time setting the tone by playing off the opening studio cards against a groovy, jazz beat, luring you in, letting you know it’s going to be okay, baby. It’s going to be a good time. Then a mountain explodes! Boom! Bam! Wow! Godzilla roars as the title card slaps onto the screen in big, bold red, white and blue! Take that, U.S.A.! That probably had nothing to do with it, but who cares! It’s Godzilla time, baby!!! We’re then treated to a lovely opening credits sequence offset to an uppity, string musical score intercutting establishing shots of landscapes and temples in Okinawa, Japan. The tonal whiplash within these first two minutes alone made me go, “Okay, this is going to be wild.” And for the first half-hour, it is! A glorious testament to the absurd. The original Godzilla’s realism and gritty horror is all but wiped clean from GvM, replaced with a Saturday morning, Monster Energy drink frenzy. The kaiju fights are brightly lit and abandon all sense of physics. Whilst batting with a spiked armadillo kaiju named Anguirus, not-Godzilla Mechagodzilla goes full Henry Cavill with a knuckling up moment that made me jump in my seat and shout. Compare below:

Who mugged it better? You decide.

If you didn’t watch the whole clip, I advise you to. Every kaiju fight in the film has the same WWE level energy. And I’m probably misremembering, but I want to say Godzilla/Mechagodzilla hits a monster with a sweet-ass elbow drop. I’m probably wrong, but I want to be right.

And much like King Kong (1933), you’re only sticking around in this one for the monsters. As ridiculous as the plot is, the middle 38-minute chunk leading to the final battle doesn’t hold up as strongly as the kaiju chaos. It’s not awful, but the movie does slow down considerably to cover the human angle, the apparent Achilles heel of these types of films. I was entertained enough by the pure goofiness of it all, but it may strain other viewers’ attention. The make-up effects are certainly aged, with the space aliens looking like Planet of the Apes rejects. And the plot is sideways shenanigans marked by contrivances and conveniences, but dude, the villains have a room called “The Death Chamber.” Cinematic. Gold.

Look, the thing with the plot is that it’s everything I mentioned in my summary just strung together through the magic of editing. That’s not a dig at the movie! Talking about it would be more plot summary than review and would work better in a RiffTrax style watch-along. Aliens want to take over our world—got it. And rather than infiltrate our governments with the human-disguise technology they use to hide their green monkey faces, they liquidate multi-millions of resources to create a giant robot that blasts rainbow lasers out its eyes. Because…aliens. Makes sense.

That’s about that, dear reader. It’s a big, splashy, silly, loud, nonsensical monster blockbuster that knows its keys and plays them to a tee. If you can’t stand the idea of a royal Priestess awakening an ancient kaiju through song, then I got nothing for you.

Oh, and Godzilla has magnetic powers, too. Don’t ask me how. Just go with it.

Keeping this one brief, but sweet, dear reader. Hopefully, we’ll have a little more meat to chew on when we look at King Kong vs. Godzilla, the 1963 feature that finally bought these two titans face-to-face on the silver screen. It’ll be the final entry in our lead-up to Godzilla vs. Kong, which is just around the corner! Till then, be safe, be strong, be watching!

— Chris J. Patiño, Film Blogger.

Chris’ Bio:

Chris J. Patiño is a senior at Lewis University, working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Inspired at an early age by the late great Roger Ebert, he looks to follow in the footsteps of the acclaimed film critic and add his voice to the choir of movie discourse. As a Tempo reporter, Chris writes film reviews for The Lewis Flyer. He enjoys just about every film genre, but favorites include horror, sci-fi, and action. A lover of books, board games and the great outdoors, he spends most of his free time in worlds of fantasy and thought. Favorite authors include Stephen King and Jim Butcher, with favorite novels being The Dresden Files series, the Harry Potter series, Salem’s LotThe ShiningThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and All the President’s Men.

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