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My Year with Godzilla
Week 45: 'Godzilla vs. Megaguirus' [2000]
Is Godzilla in it? Yes.
Sub or Dub? Sub

Godzilla: Radioactive Mutant, Force of Nature, Pest Controller

Another Millennium movie, another Godzilla timeline. Here, Godzilla was not destroyed in 1954 but continued to wreak havoc upon Japan over the decades. Such was the devastation that Osaka became the new capital and nuclear energy was outlawed, lest it attract the giant lizard. In the meantime, a new form of energy is created, which leads to the invention of Dimension Tide, a mini portable black hole, designed to eliminate the Big G once and for all. However, a trial run inadvertently produces a mutant bug which multiplies and feeds the larger 'Queen' - the titular Megaguirus. Much fly-swatting ensues.

'Godzilla vs. Megaguirus' is a strange mix of old and new which just barely works. The blend of CGI and practical effects is a good example; when it's good (such as the scene of hundreds of bugs attacking Godzilla) it's very effective, but unfortunately there are more scenes that aren't. The climatic battle between the two kaiju is a camp retelling of any of the wrestling matches from the 70s. And yet there is also the gruesome deaths of a couple which could have come from a straight horror film. It leaves the impression that this film doesn't know what it wants to be.

The suits are good: Megaguirus is a cool-looking kaiju, though I wasn't so keen on the purply-pink tints on Godzilla's scales. Like the rest of the film, the miniatures can look great one minute and then cheap and ridiculous the next. The third act pours on the cheese in terms of action, acting and especially dialogue, but I was along for the ride by this stage. This film is unlikely to be in anyone's Top 5 Godzilla films, probably not even in the Top 10, but it has a certain charm, if you can get past its eclectic tone.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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BONUS: 'Kaiju Mono' [2016]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: Features kaiju
Sub or Dub? Sub

A giant beast emerges. A super serum turns a nerd into a muscle-bound giant pro wrestler. Silly but fun antics ensue.

'Kaiju Mono' pokes fun at the kaiju genre in a ridiculous yet charming way. Kaiju Mono looks like a Chinese dragon, with a purposely ill-fitting suit, and the miniatures are similarly basic. But this film isn't trying for realism, capturing the spirit of the genre instead. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments here, though I felt that I was missing a lot of the more culturally specific jokes. It seemed as though there were Japanese celebrities peppered throughout the film, mocking themselves, but these went whizzing over my head. No matter - I enjoyed it nonetheless. Yes, some of the targets are obvious (the protesters who immediately spring up in defence of the kaiju, for example) and the jokes telegraphed by a mile, but it was silly enough to keep me entertained. A few more jokes or a tighter runtime could have helped a saggy middle, though.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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BONUS: 'Negadon' [2005]
Is Godzilla in it? No. Godzilla connection: Showa era homage
Sub or Dub? Dub

This CGI short film sets out to capture the feel of the Showa era kaiju films and almost succeeds. The animation is excellent - in fact, too good to mimic the practical effects of the 60s - and the film overall is too dry and serious. It needs a healthy dose of camp, or at least some element of fun, to truly feel like a Ishiro Honda film, for example. A nice concept, but could have done with a lighter touch.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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Week 46: 'Shin Godzilla' [2016]
Is Godzilla in it? Yes
Sub or Dub? Sub

In a formerly kaiju-less Japan, a beast rises from Tokyo Bay. The aquatic beast confounds the experts by swiftly mutating and rampaging on land. The government, scientists, private sector and foreign powers combine to try and stop the beast they named 'Godzilla'.

This was not the film I was expecting. The newest Toho reboot cherry-picks certain elements of the Gojira legend and places them inside a pseudo-documentary of a nation in crisis. 'Shin Godzilla' is a disaster movie first and foremost; the fact that the disaster relates to a giant sea beast is secondary.

This is a Godzilla we haven't seen before. He has been created by the reckless disposal of nuclear waste rather than the atomic bomb, and has alarmingly quick mutating abilities. When first seen, he is a floundering sea slug with googly eyes, and it takes another three mutations until a more recognisable shape emerges. Even so, this iteration can produce radioactive blasts from various parts of it body and has a creepy-looking tail.

If the original 'Gojira' from 1954 was an analogy of the horrors of the bomb, this Godzilla seems to be channeling more recent disasters - typhoons, nuclear plant meltdowns - and chaos management. It's not a bad idea, and it's an interesting way to convey it, but ultimately it doesn't 'feel' like a Godzilla film. Godzilla spends a large chunk of final act asleep while the humans bicker over the most effective and least destructive way to deal with him. Again, the film brings up some interesting points, especially regarding America's involvement and the morality of another nuclear strike over Japan. But it becomes like a thriller in which the murderer is less important than the procedures used to capture him.

The effects are excellent with nary a rubber suit in sight, which makes the use of the classic Godzilla roar and theme tune seem anachronistic. I watched the subtitled version, which may have been a mistake - there is a lot to read, this being a very talky film, not counting the on-screen name, occupation and location for seemingly every one of the 100s of characters and settings.

That being said, I still enjoyed it, and would probably enjoy it again (dubbed this time) now I know what to expect. It may not be your father's Godzilla, but it might actually have been your grandfather's.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
I'm writing a book! Check out my progress at Good Morning, Page
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