Monday, 16 March 2015

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

Following the success of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, Toho immediately began production of a direct sequel that would see the robotic kaiju return for a rematch.  A perfectly sensible strategy let down by only one factor: the film they made was dreadful.

I don't mean dreadful in the ordinary Godzilla sense of being about a bunch of guys in rubber suits pretending to fight each other.  I mean dreadful in the sense of "ugh this is really, really boring".

The film starts with a submarine exploring the ocean in search of Mechagodzilla's remains.  Instead, they find a gigantic dinosaur.  The submarine is destroyed and the crew goes missing, prompting the authorities to begin a search to find them.  This search leads them to a disgraced scientist.  Or at least to his house: his daughter tells them the man they are looking for has been dead for five years.

She's lying, however.  Her father is alive, and conspiring with the aliens from the last film to restore Mechagodzilla and then unleash it, and his dinosaur - which is named Titanosaurus - upon Japan.  Naturally, Godzilla will have to step in to stop them.

I actually quite like the design for Titanosaurus.  Sure, it's goofy-looking, but it somehow manages to be goofy-looking in a cool, part fish part dragon kind of way.  Alas, that's the last positive thing I will have to say about the film, which fails on pretty much every front.  Firstly, because it takes way too long to get to any kind of action scene.  There's a lot of tedious talky talk that goes on before the mad scientist finally gets as bored as the audience and unleashes Titanosaurus.

Unfortunately the arrival of the "kaiju battle" parts of the film fails to enliven things.  We see a return to the cartoonish action of Godzilla vs Megalon, which drains the fight of any real impact, and reduces it to just more waiting around before Big G wins the day and the movie ends.

Terror of Mechagodzilla deservedly sank at the box office - it sold fewer tickets in Japan than any other film in the series, before or since - and plunged the franchise into a nine year hiatus.  Which is only fair, since it felt nine years long when I was watching it.

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