Monday, July 25, 2011

“It's a pity we can't send Jet Jaguar to go and get Godzilla!”

Ah Godzilla. Haven’t really discussed any of his films here yet, which is a shame, since I’m a fan of giant monster movies. 1973 Gojira tai Megaro (Godzilla vs. Megalon), is considered one of the lesser Gojira films, though.

So, we’re obviously in Japan and the boring human characters we have to follow are an annoying kid, his inventor older brother and another guy who… I don’t really know what he does. Anyway, the inventor has created a robot, Jet Jaguar (he has nothing to do with jaguars), that can fly and do other robot stuff. Unfortunately, the subterranean civilization of Seatopia is pretty angry about nuclear experimentation below the surface of the earth, and they decide they’ve had enough of our nonsense, so they send a giant beetle monster named Megalon up to teach us a lesson by destroying model tanks and buildings. Jet Jaguar is useful to the Seatopians because if controlled, he can help guide Megalon. Naturally, Jet Jaguar breaks free of that control and gets a message to Godzilla on Monster Island. And then suddenly he becomes sentient, taking control of his own programming, decides he has to take things into his own hands, and then grows to kaiju size because he subscribes to the Megatron school of Physics (where the laws of conservation of mass are optional), and he fights Megalon. It goes well too, until another Godzilla foe, Gigan, shows up and he & Megalon double team our hero. Can Jet Jaguar hold out long enough for Godzilla to show up and even the odds?

So its really a Jet Jaguar movie and Godzilla only shows up near the end.

Directed by Jun Fukuda, it provides about what you’d expect from a Godzilla movie, though production values seem a little lower than some others. Regardless, we do get four monsters in a tag team match by the end of the movie, so you can’t say they didn’t deliver on the kaiju. The designs themselves are also fairly interesting. Megalon and his drill hands and Gigan with his hook hands and buzz saw belly are both really damn weird, but that’s why they’re likable. Godzilla doesn’t get much screen time at all, but when he shows up he wrecks some faces and does a really goofy tailslide kick that is so insane that they show it to the audience twice to prove to you that it just happened. And as for Jet Jaguar, I dunno. I just really like the guy, with his Ultraman-like body and giant hammy grin. That grin really adds a lot.

Written by Jun Fukuda, and story credits to Takeshi Kimura (for "Gojira tai Uchu Kaiju") and Shinichi Sekizawa. The plot is ridiculous, but then again, who watches a kaiju film for the plot? The human stuff is boring, the military tries to stop the giant monster of the week, fails and then Godzilla shows up (in this case with an ally). Its not complicated, just thoroughly formulaic.
The score by Riichiro Manabe is totally suitable for the movie. The sound effects work is fine, but I just wish Jet Jaguar had more than just futuristic clanks for when he talks to the monsters. I know R2-D2 was still four years in the future, but something that sounded like robot speech would’ve been preferable.

I know its considered one of the lesser Godzilla movies, but I have an incredible level of fondness for Gojira tai Megaro that I don’t really have an excuse for. No, Godzilla’s not really in it all that much, but Jet Jaguar is a perfect blend of goofy and badass and the two vs. two battle at the climax is really damn entertaining.

I make no excuses for myself.

And then there's this:

How can you hate that??

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