Friday, June 5, 2020
Kaiju Watch: Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000)
Directors: Masaaki Tezuka, Ishirô Honda
In general, I like dragon flies. They remind me of lazy summer days and hanging out by the pool. Sometimes they even land on you when you're on a float, and that's kind of fun.
I do not care, however, for the Megaguirus, the giant flying SOB that is the villain of the piece in Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000). Some of the monsters in Godzilla's rogues gallery are jerks - I'm looking at you, Ghidorah - but I straight up want to punch Megaguirus in its toothy face. I can find room in my heart for a space monster that is just doing its thing of domination via rampage, but Megaguirus brings nothing to the table, charm-wise, while also being a real pain.
All the worst things bugs do? Megaguirus is all about those things.
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is a weirdly stripped down Godzilla movie, pre-dating the JXSDF episodes and installing it's own squad of Godzilla defense called the "G-Graspers". Which... come on, Japan. Ask literally anyone from the Western hemisphere if that name makes any sense before you print up hats and paint it on your car.
The G-Graspers were formed in the wake of the events of several events - the 1954 Godzilla attack, a second attack in '66 and another in '96 (these two are not part of any particular continuity). In '96 a defense force ranger, Kiriko Tsujimori, saw her superior officer die as he was saving her from some falling debris (more on this in a minute). By 2000 we find her recruiting a bright young engineer who is an expert in miniaturization, and bringing him in to the G-Grapser squad.
In addition to strategic planning for Godzilla's return, the Graspers are also working on a super weapon that creates a small black hole, in which they plan to trap Godzilla so he'll stop coming back.
Yes, the plan is completely insane and endangers every life on the planet and for several parsecs, but none of that is ever mentioned.
Turns out our chonky boy, Godzilla, has only returned to attack power sources - first nuclear and then in 96', "plasma power". He re-appears, of course in the year 2000, and no one says "hey, someone must be mucking about with plasma".* They just decide it's a mystery. The reappearance drives the group to push forward on the super weapon, with the absolutely bad-ass name of "Dimensional Tide", which I am claiming for my prog-rock band.
The test goes okay-ish, but is witnessed by a young kid named Jun, who is a sexist and idiot, and who claims a large, slimy egg he finds that appears after a dimensional rift seems to open by the test range. He happens to be moving to Tokyo, so he takes the egg with him and then gets rid of it in a sewer where it becomes the birthing location of dozens of horrible horse-sized dragonflies who murder people.
Anyway - in addition to swarming Godzilla and draining our dude of his energy, they flood the city somehow (I never figured it out) to make a place for Megaguirus to incubate.
Then Megaguirus comes to life and fights/ attempts to eat Godzilla.
That's your movie. An idiot boy named Jun ruins Tokyo and the only person who isn't a nerd or making weapons of mass destruction is our fearless Kiriko, who pilots a toy spaceship around Tokyo to save the day.
The movie is weirdly, thin, but has some straight up horror movie sequences thanks to the horrible drone bugs and Jun's callous disregard for the sanctity of life. It's also shot on real streets in some scenes. The character development in these, minus the 1954 original and Shin Godzilla fluctuates around but is never exactly amazing. And this film is no exception, really. Our characters sort of flit across the screen with no real grounding.
The CGI is not great, but the actual Kaiju look pretty good. And, weirdly, the movie does "debris falling on people and killing them" remarkably well. Usually dumping a pile of stuff on people on camera doesn't work, and I don't know how they did it, but it happened twice and - hey kudos where they're due.
Maybe not the world's best Godzilla, but I imagine this felt relatively okay when it came out - it's just not as good as the movies which would follow.
*of course someone is mucking about with plasma