What’s more of a threat to the world than a Mechagodzilla? Ignoring that Mechagodzilla was the hero character in the last film for a second. Why, a Spacegodzilla of course. Spacegodzilla is big and bulky and has fangs, psychic powers and, when in flight, becomes mostly a giant crystal thing. He has giant crystal shoulders too and the actor in the suit clearly can’t move his upper arms! Spacegodzilla rocks. Click my link below for the review of this big old space monster mash of a film.
In Godzilla Vs Spacegodzilla a giant asteroid is heading towards Earth. Except it’s not an asteroid but a Spacegodzilla! Meanwhile the JSDF, Japan’s defence force against Godzilla attacks, is in the midst of running two plans to deal with the King of the Monsters. One involves using a robot to called MOGUERA to defeat him, because that plan worked so well last time, and the second involves getting Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka) to use some new technology to control Godzilla with her psychic powers. In the process of testing the telepathy based defence method the team sent to test this are joined by Major Akira Yuki (Akira Emoto), who has a strong desire to kill Godzilla himself out for revenge for the death of a friend of his in one of the earlier films. Will Godzilla be killed or can he be controlled? You already know it’s neither of these so let’s just get to the giant monster fights.
The monster fights themselves end up being a slightly weak aspect of the film at first. This is partly down to the immobility of Spacegodzilla and the slow pace at which they’ve been plotted. That said, the final fight may take a while to get going but it builds to quite a crescendo of action and explosive monster based powers. MOGUERA is a goofy but cool looking robot that pretty much operates the same as Mechagodzilla, in that he’s a ranged attacker. It also allows the human characters a more direct role in the film’s final battle, as it did in the previous film. The location for the finale also manages to be pretty damn cool. Spacegodzilla derives power from giant crystals he summons from the ground, allowing him to use telekinetic powers to launch his enemies into the air and control the path of his version of the atomic breath. As such the final battle takes place in a Fukuoka that’s been transformed into a kind of fantasy world/heavy metal album cover by giant glowing crystals protruding from the Earth and through buildings. It’s a set that can sit up there with the one used at the end of Godzilla vs Mothra in terms of being brilliantly crafted and a memorable location.
The early stages of the film could bring about some concern as, for about 40 minutes, the film feels a hell of a lot like Godzilla’s dreaded island adventure films. The majority of this part of the film is set on an island, experiments are being run and there’s a baby Godzilla. The baby Godzilla is Baby from the previous film now grown up slightly and referred to a Little Godzilla. He’s not as grotesque as Minilla was but a young Godzilla looking the way he does always brings up thoughts of the most child centric leg of the Showa era. The design really is out of sorts with the look and tone of the Heisei era films. That all said there is enough going on with the characters, Miki and Major Yuki specifically, to make sure that this first part isn’t tedious. As the characters are mostly brought together in one location, there’s a few minor government and JSDF boss characters back in Japan, the story does feel a lot more focused than some of the more recent entries. Although it should be noted that the story completely forgets about Little Godzilla who spends most of the film trapped in a crystal prison. Not one character mentions him and Godzilla makes no attempt to save him.
The film’s score, this time handled by Takayuki Hattori, takes on a much more adventurous tone than the typical Akira Ifukube score. It very much sounds like the sort of score I’d expect from an early 80s sci-fi like The Last Starfigher. There is also a hint of Japanese Anime space opera to it, which isn’t surprising and he scored the excellent Martian Successor Nadesico. This lends the film a little more of a uplifting feel than usual but it does suit the slightly more flashy and comic book style of Vs Spacegodzilla. If there’s a gripe to be had with the score it would be that it gets a little too close to becoming a distraction at times, nearly overpowering the action on screen with it’s grandiose dramatics.
The film’s plotting follows a formula of keeping the character based stuff in the first half and gradually switching to a monster based finale, as is common of Godzilla films. Like Vs Mechagodzilla 2 though there is still a lot of monster based action early on. This is countered by some fairly efficient writing as far as keeping the character story focused on the core conflicts rather than being distracted by comedic or extra sub plots. As the film focuses mostly on Miki we get a chance to finally learn who she is as a character, 5 films in. She’s always been very quiet and really only defined by her having some sort of attachment to Godzilla. She often barely says more than a handful of lines per film. Here she’s been grown as a character and has developed more of a personality of her own. I assume this is a result of getting an adult haircut. Regardless, it is good to see this character that, that the Heisei series was so keen to feature, actually move on a little. The film even manages to tie in events of Vs Biollante and Vs Mothra whilst escalating the JSDF’s need to defeat Godzilla, which all helps build the world a little further than usual and provides a nice point to leap off from for the next film, Vs Destoroyah.
Overall Godzilla Vs Spacegodzilla isn’t a particularly incredible film, with only a few elements standing out. But it is a well put together adventure with a decent character element and a finale that actually builds to pretty epic and near apocalyptic levels. Spacegodzilla himself is a pretty terrifying design, cutting a very imposing figure. Oddly he was based on a design for Super Godzilla from the SNES game of the same name. Originally there was to be a Spacegodzilla film to follow on from Terror of Mechagodzilla. I’d quite like to see what that design would have been. As it all stand Vs Spacegodzilla is cohesive enough to be better than some of the Heisei series but isn’t engaging enough to stand at the top. As mentioned, the next film will be Godzilla Vs Destoroyah. The finale of the Heisei series.