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By Pete Vonder Haar | July 22, 2004

Really now, is there any point in reviewing a Godzilla movie? The people that really follow the daikaiju stuff are going to rush out and buy the DVDs as soon as they’re released, and the rest of the viewing public will probably never even see them. I’m not saying no one cares (I love the spiny bastard), just that die-hard G-Fans are going to seek out “Godzilla vs. Megaguirus” no matter what I say, and everyone else will go on about their daily lives completely oblivious to the catastrophes befalling our friends in Japan.
Ah well, to business. The good news is that “Godzilla vs. Megaguirus” is a lively entry in the most recent series of Japanese Godzilla movies. It takes place in an alternate dimension where Godzilla’s numerous attacks on Tokyo have caused the government to relocate to Osaka. The attack (which was spurred by Godzilla’s attraction to a newly developed plasma energy generator) also led to the formation of an anti-Godzilla strike team called the G-Graspers. The Graspers are led by Kiriko Tsujimori (Misato Tanaka), a former soldier who watched her commander get killed in the last Godzilla attack.
That’s right: this time, it’s personal. And how many anti-Godzilla strike forces does this make now? Twelve?
The Graspers also recruit robotics whiz Kudo (Shosuke Tanihara), who teams up with a disgraced government scientist to design the Dimension Tide: a space-borne weapon designed to destroy Godzilla by firing a mini-black hole at him.
[NOTE: if you’re sputtering in disbelief at that last little tidbit, you obviously don’t watch enough Godzilla movies. Godzilla movie science is like Star Trek science, except Toho doesn’t try to fool us by using BS expressions like “unstable temporal anomaly.”]
Naturally, the Graspers have to test the weapon, and what better way to simulate live firing at a giant, bipedal reptile than by blowing up an abandoned schoolhouse? I guess after creating an artificial black hole, there wasn’t enough room in the Defense Institute’s budget for a Godzilla-sized target.
But there I go carping about realism, completely ignoring the fact that the Dimension Tide test firing has caused a slew of giant dragonflies from the Carboniferous period to escape (facilitated by Kouchi, a little boy who manages to sneak onto a top secret government test range). Godzilla surfaces soon afterwards, and no sooner have the G-Graspers scrambled to the scene in “Fighter Griffon” (a cool VTOL aircraft vaguely reminiscent of the Phoenix from “Gatchaman”) then the dragonflies (or “meganurons”) attack G and drain him of precious radioactive energy. The reason for this becomes apparent when the meganurons return to a submerged Tokyo (don’t ask) to transfer the energy to Megaguirus…their “queen,” for lack of a better word. Megaguirus – a giant dragonfly with fangs and in serious need of some Visine – emerges from the water and treats the on looking soldiers to a high frequency blast from its wings. Picture Mothra on nitrous.
You know what happens next: Godzilla and Megaguirus meet up in Tokyo (seems Godzilla is attracted to a new secret plasma generator hidden by the token shady government official in the Institute of Science) and duke it out. G looks beaten early on, but we all know what a master tactician he is, and Megaguirus soon learns (like Alexander Godunov in “Die Hard”) that attacking the hero of the movie at close quarters never pays off.
There’s much to like in “Godzilla vs. Megaguirus:” the effects (courtesy of Kenji Suzuki), are top notch. Godzilla’s breath weapon has become truly impressive, and G himself just keeps getting more evil and crocodilian in appearance…and the spines on his back are huge. The shots of Godzilla blended with the various backgrounds look almost realistic, which is saying something, and the film itself is nicely paced, moving us briskly from scene to scene. Michiru Oshima’s score is also the best in a G-film since the films scored by Akira Ifukube.
Overtly goofy stuff (not counting the plot) is thankfully kept to a minimum, meaning we don’t have a repeat of the infamous flying dropkick from “Godzilla vs. Megalon.” Still, I have to ask one thing: why do people in Tokyo even bother building houses anymore? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just put up tents like the Bedouin and pull stakes whenever the G-siren sounds, rather than rebuilding the whole damn city every few years? It’s no wonder the economy over there is in so much trouble.

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