Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (Japan 1974)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/18/20
Director: Jun Fukuda
Cast: Masaaki Daimon, Kazuya Aoyama, Reiko Tajima, Akihiko Hirata, Hiromi Matsushita

After the thematic misfires of "All Monsters Attack" (1969), "Godzilla Vs. Hedorah" (1971), and "Godzilla Vs. Megalon" (1973), Toho decided to go back to a more reliable formula and have Godzilla save the planet from invading space aliens. The aliens are gorilla-like creatures that disguise themselves as humans, and they've created a giant robot in the likeness of Godzilla in order to conquer Earth. It doesn't take long for the real Godzilla to show up and unmask the fake one, but the mechanical monster proves to be quite formidable. While the aliens coerce series veteran Akihiko Hirata to repair their damaged robot, another group of people are involved in a drama surrounding a sacred statue that can awaken a monster named King Caesar. The aliens are particularly fearful of King Caesar and go out of their way to prevent his return, but fortunately a couple of Interpol agents show up to help even the odds. Eventually, the humans are able to destroy the aliens' base of operations, and Godzilla and King Caesar destroy Mechagodzilla.

It's nice to see the series get back to basics, and it's refreshingly free of any children. As a result, the action is more adult-oriented and follows more of a spy thriller arc. The film also ditches the goofy music from the more recent entries, which is a huge relief, although there's a bizarre and out of place song that a shrine maiden sings in order to wake up King Caesar. It's a good looking and well-made film for the most part, although the jerky hand-held camera work is extremely dizzying and disorienting. The monster action is fun and it's nice to see some buildings get destroyed, which had been lacking in the series for a while. There's a particularly rewarding scene of an oil refinery going up in flames towards the beginning, while the climax is dominated by tag-team brawling. Unfortunately, things go completely off the rails at the very end when Godzilla turns himself into a giant electro-magnet in order to beat his evil twin. Overall, it's good mindless fun that evokes memories of older Godzilla classics.