Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 2002 Movie Review

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Movie Information 

  • Director: Masaaki Tezuka
  • Producer: Shogo Tomiyama
  • Japanese Release Date: December 15, 2002, by the Toho Motion Picture Company. Running Time 88 minutes.
  • US Release Date: March 23, 2004, by the Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Running time 88 minutes.
  • Taglines: “The Battle of the Century” “Startup, Resonance, Smash Ice” “Fight till It Smashed up!”
  • Alternative Titles: Godzilla against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla X Mechagodzilla,GXMG

Synopsis

In the year 1999, following a violent typhoon, Godzilla comes ashore at Tateyama, in the Chiba Prefecture. This is Godzilla’s second appearance in Japan [on this timeline], having attacked and decimated Tokyo back in 1954 until the kaiju was annihilated by Dr. Daisuke Serizawa’s deadly weapon known as the Oxygen Destroyer (whose workings are now lost forever due to Serizawa’s suicide). This “new” Godzilla appears to have re-formed himself from the radioactive cellular material left over from the skeletal remains of the “original” Godzilla over the course of the past 45 years.

As later revealed in the film, Japan was attacked by other dai kaiju between 1954 and 1999, specifically by Mothra in 1961 and by Gaila in 1966. To deal with these periodic but highly destructive kaiju incursions, the Japanese government worked on developing highly advanced energy-based weaponry, which included the Atomic Heat Cannon used (unsuccessfully) against Mothra and culminated in the invention of the maser tanks, which were used (successfully) against Gaila a few years later. By 1966, the maser tanks were part of an elite military unit known as the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF), exclusively designed to defend the island nation against dai kaiju, and the unit successfully defeated Gaila during its initial outing that year [in the English dialogue from the American version.

Mothra was incorrectly explained as having been spawned by atomic radiation and destroyed by the atomic heat weapon; instead, she simply returned to Infant Island upon recovering the Shobijin as recorded in Mothra (1961), much the same as in the Showa timeline, as would be revealed in the next G-film; it was implied in both the Japanese and American versions of the film that the events of the movie War of the Gargantuas (1966) occurred somewhat differently in this timeline than in the Showa timeline, as the second Gargantua, Sanda, apparently never appeared to rescue his “brother” Gaila from the maser tank attack in Chiba].

Due to Godzilla’s reappearance in Tateyama in 1999, the AMF was mobilized once again. However, Godzilla proved considerably more resilient than Gaila, and the full spectrum of the formidable military unit’s weaponry proved incapable of neutralizing this newer version of the Atomic Titan (partially due to the difficulty of battling the kaiju in the midst of a typhoon). Godzilla roundly defeated the AMF in battle (not helped by the fact that it was determined that the incessant rain of the typhoon weakened the power level of the maser beams by about 70%!), and one of the maser tank pilots in the unit, Akane Yashiro, blamed herself for the death of her commanding officer, whose vehicle was knocked into the path of Godzilla’s crushing feet. After causing great destruction in Tateyama, the kaiju returned to the darkness of the sea.

Hoping to prevent another such costly failure on the part of the AMF, the Japanese government resolved to construct the most powerful and advanced anti-Godzilla weapon that their present technology could muster. This project progressed rapidly over the following four years with the discovery of the skeletal remains of the “original” Godzilla…it was decided to combine advanced AMF military and robotics technology with Godzilla’s own DNA and skeletal structure to create a greatly powerful cybernetic dai kaiju version of Godzilla himself, who would be under the control of the Japanese government. This was known as the Mecha G Project, and the cyborg kaiju Mechagodzilla, also called MFS-Kiryu, was completed by the year 2003. This project was hastily expedited in anticipation of another attack by the “second” Godzilla, all at the command of Prime Minister Machiko Tsuge.

The technology to cybernetically combine organic material with a robotic exterior was invented by Dr. Tokumitsu Yuhara, who first demonstrated his technical skill on a small scale by building an animated, remote-controlled cybernetic trilobite (this is the second time a trilobite appeared in a G-film; one also appeared in Godzilla, King of the Monsters [1954]…those critters who ruled the primordial seas of the Devonian Period have always been quite popular!). Dr. Yuhara was encouraged by his young daughter Sara to take the job with the Japanese government, since he was initially resistant to using his new bio-technology to build a cybernetic weapon of mass destruction. However, the ever-introspective Sara was saddened by the fact that her father’s technology and scientific skill with genetic engineering could create a new, bio-mechanized version of Godzilla, but couldn’t revive her deceased mother (she died during her second pregnancy, when Sara was four, and Dr. Yuhara was unable to save either his wife or his second child [thanks to correspondant Ken Arromdee for this tidbit of info]).

Upon the completion of the Mecha G project, the result was the powerful cybernetic replica of Godzilla as intended, which would be remote-controlled by a crew in a nearby AMF warplane known as the AC-3 transport craft, and the cyborg would be armed with a variety of advanced missile and maser weaponry, as well as his most powerful weapon, the freeze-producing Absolute Zero Cannon that was mounted in the cyborg kaiju’s chest region.

Akane was to be part of the Mecha G crew, but she still hadn’t recovered emotionally from her perceived complicity in the death of her commanding officer in the AMF battle against Godzilla a few years earlier. Worse, one of her new teammates was her late commanding officer’s brother Hayato, who castigated her for the death of his sibling, thus worsening her feelings of guilt.

However, during the course of the Mecha G Project, Akane met and worked closely with Dr. Yuhara and Sara, and the two provided her with much needed support and encouragement (when Hayato pushed Dr. Yuhara, who tried to defend Akane from the man’s taunts, she demonstrated her fighting skills by putting him in a painful jiu jitsu hold). Soon after this, Mechagodzilla was unveiled to the public, and presented as the ultimate answer to protecting Japan from Godzilla. Kiryu was able to battle for up to two hours on stored power, after which he could be remotely recharged.

No sooner was the Mecha G project completed, than Godzilla reappeared and began moving towards Tokyo Bay (talk about precision timing!). Kiryu was promptly launched to counter the Kaiju King’s arrival on Japanese soil, with several large cities near Tokyo also being evacuated. As Godzilla came ashore and began wreaking havoc on Tokyo’s mainland infrastructure, the AC-3 finally towed Mechagodzilla into the vicinity. Upon first confronting his cybernetic duplicate, Godzilla appeared so taken aback by the confusing sight that he stood transfixed. Taking full advantage of this, the AC-3 crew programmed Kiryu to assault Godzilla with his shoulder-mounted, computer targeted missiles and the cyborg’s extra-powerful oral maser beam. Though Godzilla seemed resistant to this barrage, the Kaiju King suddenly turned and began to retreat back to the Pacific Ocean. As Akane, piloting the AC-3, attempted to program Kiryu to strike the retreating Godzilla with his Absolute Zero Cannon, Godzilla suddenly turned and roared in protest. For some strange reason, this roar triggered an extreme autonomic response in Kiryu, summoning memories of his organic predecessor being obliterated by the Oxygen Destroyer as if it was imbedded within his genetic “memory.”

Immediately afterwards, Kiryu suddenly broke from the control of the AMF and began attacking their warplanes, as well as striding into Tokyo and beginning a devastating assault on the metroplex, unleashing the full gamut of his weaponry on the hapless city’s infrastructure (which included the cyborg’s shoulder missiles and the rapid fire laser weapons mounted in his wrist gauntlets). The AMF was then forced to begin a military assault on the rampaging Mechagodzilla, who was now acting as savage and bestial as his fully organic predecessor. However, Kiryu easily knocked the warplanes out of the sky, and continued his assault on Tokyo undaunted. When the plane piloted by Hayato was downed, Akane pulled herself out of the wreckage of her own plane, and courageously extricated her late commander’s brother and his co-pilot from their plane before its ruptured fuel tanks could explode, saving both of their lives. This later resulted in the crew insisting that Hayato cease and desist his bitter attitude towards Akane.

AMF Central Command decided that they had no choice but to simply allow Mechagodzilla to run rampant through the evacuated city for the next two hours, until his power supply ran out, and he became immobile. Once this occurred, the cyborg was retrieved and returned to AMF headquarters for a full systems diagnostic, to determine why the cybernetic kaiju ran amok. In the meantime, Godzilla appeared to have vanished from sight.

Upon investigating the apparent design flaw in Kiryu, it was determined by Dr. Yuhara and his team that the reason the cyborg ran amok at the sound of Godzilla’s roar was due to the identical genetic similarity between the two, something that the sound of his fully organic duplicate could somehow influence. It was then decided that by changing part of the base DNA of the cyborg, as well as altering how the computer interacted with the DNA in their interface, this loss of control could be avoided in a rematch. Nevertheless, Sara roundly protested the use of Kiryu in battling Godzilla, since she felt that the Kaiju King was created by no fault of his own, and so was Mechagodzilla; both were life forms with the right to exist, as she was quite sensitive and respectful to all life due to the situation involving her mother’s death. Sara also continued to be a big help to Akane during their conversations, reminding her that all life has inestimable value, and that she was fully capable of redeeming herself.

Godzilla soon resurfaced in Tokyo Bay one evening, and easily ploughed through the attempts of the JSDF and the AMF to stop him with their various weaponry, resisting even the full power of the maser tanks, and soon arrived on land in the Shinigawa district. When the AMF realized that all of its weaponry was ineffective in stopping Godzilla’s rampage through the city, Central Command once again resolved, with much reluctance, to send the reprogrammed Kiryu against his fully organic counterpart.

This time, when the two kaiju titans confronted each other, Godzilla wasn’t taken aback, and Mechagodzilla remained under the control of the AC-3. An extremely grueling battle between the two ensued, with Kiryu proving a formidable opponent, but ultimately falling before Godzilla’s might following an exhaustive battle.

After the cyborg fell and became inoperative, Akane, once again acting with great courage and audacity, entered the mechanized kaiju’s form herself through a specially designed hatch, activated the cyborg’s secondary power unit and effected repairs with Dr. Yuhara’s guidance via commlink, and began piloting the cybernetic kaiju manually. Thus, with Akane now directly in control, Mechagodzilla returned to battle, despite the great risk to the intrepid pilot’s life. Because of Kiryu’s greatly diminished power level, the AMF initiated a plan to have the cyborg’s mechanical systems tap into all available electrical power in the city of Tokyo, not only to recharge to full capacity, but also to enable him to fire his Absolute Zero Cannon, the weapon that the Japanese government hoped could truly defeat Godzilla, at maximum power.

The resumed battle resulted in severe external damage to Kiryu, and the mighty cyborg was again laid low by the Big G. Hayato, who was piloting an AMF warplane, was determined to not only avenge his brother, but also to prevent Godzilla from fully defeating Kiryu with his atomic breath. Thus, in an extremely audacious maneuver, Hayato decided to sacrifice his life by deliberately attacking Godzilla with his warplane, and lodging the flying vehicle in the great kaiju’s maw, thus temporarily preventing him from firing his atomic breath at his recovering cyborg opponent.

The still living Hayato then yelled into his commlink to Akane, telling her to blast the Atomic Titan with Kiryu’s Absolute Zero Cannon while Godzilla was still unable to fire his atomic heat beam. Akane activated the weapon, but she could not bring herself to kill the brave Hayato, her former detractor, as she refused to allow him to be killed as occurred with his equally brave sibling a few years earlier if it was in her power to prevent it. Hence, she deactivated the freeze cannon, and instead activated Kiryu’s shoulder-mounted rocket launcher harness, and flew at Godzilla at high speed, tackling the Kaiju King and wresting what was left of Hayato’s warplane from the creature’s maw, ensuring that the pilot was able to eject safely. Akane then programmed Mechagodzilla to hold Godzilla’s jaw shut to prevent him from firing his atomic breath, and to fly him into the water of Tokyo Bay, where she planned to conclude the battle.

Once the flying Kiryu, carrying Godzilla, crashed into the bay, Akane had the cyborg fire the Absolute Zero Cannon at the Big G underwater at point blank range. A huge mountain of ice appeared above the surface of the water to announce the usage of the cyborg’s ultimate weapon. Moments later, the mountain of ice was shattered from within, and Godzilla arose from the ocean, albeit with a nasty red wound visible on his chest area. The great beast then turned and casually headed away from Japan, back into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Immediately after this, Mechagodzilla likewise rose from the water, visibly damaged but still operating. Akane, at the controls, contacted Central Command and informed them that the Absolute Zero Cannon was wrecked, and Kiryu’s power cells were depleted. She then apologized for her failure to destroy Godzilla, but Dr. Yuhara begged to differ, telling her that though she didn’t kill the monster, she nevertheless drove him from Japan and ended the conflict in a draw, thus proving that humankind could indeed resist the power of Godzilla. She had also fully redeemed herself from her previous failure, having saved both her country and the life of Hayato for a second time.

The young woman then stoically stood atop the immobile standing form of Kiryu and watched the mighty Godzilla slowly wade into the horizon, away from the shores of Japan.

What I like about This Movie

Let’s start out with the fact that because Mechagodzilla is a moneymaker for the Toho Company they think they need to use it of their time to me if you do something too much it can be a bad thing. I will say that this Mechagodzilla has a truly beautiful design and very detailed however he has his flaws is not like the original cyborg it can fly with this Mechagodzilla cannot fly which is not the worst thing about this. He does have a tendency to assume Godzilla’s identity simply because the bones of the original Godzilla were placed around the cybernetic skeleton of this Mechagodzilla. One flaw here the original bones from the 1954 Godzilla dissolved with the rest of Godzilla, so how they found the bones is beyond me unless it’s another Godzilla they found. Godzilla typical design for the Shinsei Series I do like the colors of the suit and his spines fit well with the color of his suit and they are reminiscence of the Godzilla 2000 suit except without the purple color it does look sharp. One more thing is when Godzilla gets attacked I did not like the fact that he stood there like a puppet when he should’ve been moving white attacked but I guess is because the rocket pack that Mechagodzilla has I guess is supposed to be extremely accurate and very fast for he can see it. But this is why I’m assuming why he stood still or maybe they were just too lazy to put someone in that suit and make him move.

Trivia

  • Famed Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui, a member of the New York Yankees from 2003 to 2010 and a member of the Los Angeles Angels since 2010, appears as himself. He hits a massive home run as Kiryu is flown toward Godzilla for the first time and helps a group of children get to a safe place during the sequence when Shinagawa’s population is evacuated to make room for the fighting monsters. Matsui’s nickname in Japan is Gojira (Godzilla).
  • Mechagodzilla’s nickname is Kiryu, which means machine dragon or mechanized dragon.
  • In Dr. Yuhara’s first scene, he is showcasing a mechanical Trilobite and then is asked to help construct Kiryu from the first Godzilla’s bones not long after. In Godzilla (1954) a Trilobite was discovered in the first Godzilla’s footprints.
  • Like the other films in Toho’s Millennium Series, this was intended to be a standalone film. After production had completed, director Masaaki Tezuka approached producer Shogo Tomiyama with the idea for a sequel. It was filmed the next year as Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). Contrary to popular belief, a second sequel was never intended.
  • All the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) Ground Forces Soldiers and Officers are wearing U.S. Army Ribbon Awards.

Cameo

  • Takehiro Murata: Man picking up cans. Murata has had roles in numerous Godzilla films, including the lead role in Godzilla 2000 (1999) (“Godzilla 2000″).
  • As a typhoon is raging across Japan, a loud roar alerts the populace that they are once again being visited by a rampaging monster. The military manages to drive the beast back into the ocean, but another attack looks inevitable. In preparation, the Ministry of Science designs Kiryu, a enormous lizard-like robot based on the DNA of the previous giant lizard that attacked Tokyo almost fifty years earlier. Sure enough, just as the finishing touches are being put on Kiryu, the real lizard comes back to settle some old scores. Will the team of crack soldiers at Kiryu’s controls have what it takes to keep Tokyo monster-free?
  • New York Yankee Hideki Matsui appears as himself (the baseball player who hits the massive home run as Kiryu is flown towards Godzilla for the first time). Matsui’s nickname in Japan is “Godzilla”.
  • Director Cameo: [‘Masaaki Tezuka’] the maintenance worker who walks past Akane in the scene following the end credits.

Closing Statements

I will say that this movie has its discrepancies to me anyway, but it has its good points as well is a typical machine against monster type fight however in the 2nd installment of the series it does get better. Towards the end of this movie they use the special major weapon that Mechagodzilla has is supposedly supposed to freeze Godzilla in which it does but on a temporary. It does come out of it extremely injured because in the next movie you see the chest scars.

The last thing I want to mention is that they mentioned Mechagodzilla as Kiryu however in the 2nd part of the series of movies that has him and it is not mentioned at all. He is called Mechagodzilla why they called him this other name it baffles Kaiju fans. Is definitely want at your collection and I am pretty much fantasy that about every one of these movies if you’re a Godzilla but if you’re not you will find this one interesting as well stop one of the best ones however the 2nd one does tying a little bit better and it does a better job in the storyline.

Written by Barney Buckley

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