Directed By: Masaaki Tezuka
Starring: Yumiko Shaku, Shin Takuma, Kana Onodera
Tag line: "The Battle of the Century!"
Trivia: 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
Toho’s 27th Godzilla film and the fourth in what’s known as the series’ “Millennium era” (which began in 1999 with Godzilla 2000), 2002’s Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla pays homage to the franchise’s roots while at the same time incorporating modern special effects, resulting in one hell of a kick-ass motion picture!
Some 45 years after Godzilla first wreaked havoc in Japan, another member of its species makes its way out of the sea and decimates a coastal town. The Japanese military does what it can to fight this new Godzilla, but their unpreparedness, combined with an error in judgment by Lt. Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku), prevents them from destroying the beast. In an effort to protect the country form future attacks, the Government assembles a team of scientists, including biologist Tokumitsu Yuhara (Shin Takuma), and asks them to build a giant mechanical monster capable of defeating Godzilla.
Using DNA from the skeletal remains of the original creature, Yuhara and his colleagues construct a robotic monster that they nickname “Kiryu”. Armed with missiles, machine guns, and a superweapon known as “Absolute Zero” (a ray that works on a subatomic level, obliterating the molecules of whatever gets in its way), Kiryu is put into service the very day that Godzilla returns. As expected, the two enormous foes meet each other on the battlefield, but during the fracas, something happens that causes Kiryu to lose control, turning it into a monster more dangerous than Godzilla himself.
I liked how Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla incorporated the original film into its story; along with showing clips from the classic 1954 Godzilla, there’s an awesome scene where Yuhara and the others are taken to an underwater facility and shown the skeletal remains of the first monster. In addition, both Godzilla and MechaGodzilla are brought to life not by CGI, but actors in rubber suits (a tradition stretching back to the beginning). Where Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla does enter the modern age is in the effects department, resulting in plenty of high-tech explosions, dozens of missile strikes, and a handful of convincing destruction sequences (especially in the opening scene, where Godzilla runs rampant in a beachside community, leveling houses and buildings with the greatest of ease).
From its exciting opening to its entertaining finale, Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla is a thrill-packed movie that even gets the quieter moments right (along with Yashiro’s struggle to regain the respect of her comrades, Yuhara, a single father, tries to balance his professional responsibilities with the needs of his young daughter Sara, played by Kana Onodera). Exhilarating and intense, Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla is a whole mess of fun.