In 1966, the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) was established to defend Japan from monsters. Not just a bunch of flummoxed army guys wearing white gloves but an élite force—4,072 members strong. But talk about a thankless job. When Godzilla makes landfall, the only profession taking a bigger beating than the AMF is the home insurance industry, which has been busy pushing policies in between monster rampages.
Although the AMF is up to the challenge of a Mothra (yup, they can take on a giant . . . well, moth) or a Gargantuan (sure, it’s big, but it’s difficult to take seriously a monster that eats people–and then spits out their clothes), the AMF, even with it’s flatbed-transported maser guns, is still not up to the challenge of a Godzilla. During their first battle with the Big G, events take a turn for the worse, and the order “Pull back!” is given. I’m guessing this is the first maneuver learned by any new AMF recruit.
Godzilla against Mechagodzilla presents a home front take on giant monster movies. As people run for their lives, a man screams, “My house! My house!” Soon after Godzilla’s first rampage, the prime minister meets with her science advisor and admits that “after 40 years, the people are weary of always rebuilding.” If there’s a growth industry in Tokyo, it’s definitely in construction, and as far as job security goes, Godzilla’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Japanese carpenters.
Over the years, not only has Japan’s infrastructure taken a beating, but its national psyche is also in ruins. Generation after generation has grown up running from Godzilla. It’s very possible that, first, your grandparents, then your parents, and now you, along with your children, have run from this monstrous creature. It’s all you know to do. Run.
But not anymore. The decision is made to build Mechagodzilla. Using the skeleton of the first Godzilla, destroyed in 1954 (yes, there’s more than one Godzilla . . . don’t ask, OK?), a giant biorobot is constructed, and as with any new technology, there are some bugs that need to be worked out. When Godzilla roars in battle, it triggers the DNA in Mechagodzilla’s skeleton, overriding its new programming and sending the giant biorobot on a building-smashing rampage of its own.
Even though Mechagodzilla is armed with an absolute zero gun capable of destroying an object at the molecular level, there’s an unspoken protocol dictating that giant monsters must first be fired upon by tanks, and if that fails, a barrage of missiles is launched, which, if ineffective, is followed by the crackling energy bolts of a maser gun. Then and only then can a new superweapon be activated. Mechagodzilla is armed with its own version of tank shells, missiles, and maser rays, but if the robotic creature had used the absolute zero gun from the get-go, at a minimum, another 10 or 15 city blocks could have been saved—maybe even the entire waterfront.
Godzilla against Mechagodzilla has pretty good direction and a decent script (basically GI Jane meets huge marauding monster), and the special effects are a snappy combination of the traditional guy in a rubber monster suit and CGI. The miniature sets are detailed and fun, and the film focuses more on the human side of the story than most Godzilla movies.
There are two standout Godzilla fight scenes. In the first, Godzilla punts a tank like it’s a football. In the second (something of a callback to 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla), Mechagodzilla grabs Godzilla by the tail and swings him around and around before letting go and sending him flying halfway across town.