Uh...someone can tell Raymond Burr he's late
Godzilla vs. Megalon is directed by Jun Fukuda and stars Katsuhiko Sasaki, Hiroyuki Kawase, Yutaka Hayashi, and Robert Dunham. Shinji Takagi takes over as the role of Godzilla.
The 13th entry in the Showa Godzilla series marks rock bottom for the entire franchise (quite the appropriate number, I must say), representing such a deviation from what Godzilla was when he was first introduced to the world back in 1954, I might argue it's not even Godzilla we're watching here, but instead some other lizard creature with a long tail and just so happens to have atomic breath. The question of, "What is the worst Godzilla movie?" is a question I've been hovering around and mentioning several times before, and this time, I'm throwing the dart right at the bulls-eye: Godzilla vs. Megalon is the worst Godzilla movie of them all. It's a film student's worst nightmare, doing basically nothing right with story, effects, or editing, and borrowing so much from other Godzilla films, the movie might as well be called, "The Ultimate Godzilla Montage, with guest, Megalon." And though this is easily the worst Godzilla from a pure film-making perspective, I can't even say it's the one I personally despise the most. The movie is way too zany to be boring, the monster's performing theatrics unlike any ever seen in the previous twelve films, resulting in one of the most hilarious monster battles to ever be put to film. But we'll get more into the monster fight later.
The story of Godzilla vs. Megalon begins with some narration about nuclear testing and how it's disturbing the monsters on Monster Island. We later find out that these nuclear tests are also affecting the people of an undersea organization called Seatopia. Pissed off by the noise and the damage caused by these tests, the Seatopians call upon their god, the beetle-looking cyborg known as Megalon, to head up to the surface and have a few words with the people living there. The Seatopians also send agents to break into the home of inventor Goro Ibuki (Katsuhiko Sasaki) and steal his humanoid robot named Jet Jaguar, in hopes of using Jet Jaguar to guide Megalon along his path of destruction. Goro, accompanied by his nephew Rokuro (Hiroyuki Kawase) and his friend Hiroshi Jinkawa (Yutaka Hayashi), manage to escape the Seatopians' clutches and regain control of Jet Jaguar. Goro then sends Jet Jaguar to summon Godzilla to help defeat Megalon. However, the Seatopians reach out to the Space Hunter Nebula M, who send their monster Gigan over to help. Everything culminates in a two on two monster showdown: Godzilla and Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon and Gigan.
Godzilla vs. Megalon originally wasn't supposed to be a Godzilla movie, but instead a solo outing for Jet Jaguar. Jet Jaguar was the result of a children's art contest held by Toho in 1972, the winner being a drawing of a robot named Red Aron from an elementary school student. Unfortunately, screen tests and storyboards proved unsuccessful, and Toho suspected that Jet Jaguar would not be able to carry the film on his own nor make the film marketable enough to score big at the box office. Thus, production was halted, and Toho brought in longtime Godzilla screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa to work Godzilla and Gigan into the script, believing the addition of Godzilla would enhance the film's market value. The story is that once the script was revised to include Godzilla, the whole movie took just three weeks to shoot. That should be a surprise to virtually no one who watches this movie. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if the truth was that it only took a week and a half to shoot the whole movie.
- The monster fight at the end is simply hysterical, and it allowed me the chance to bless Godzilla vs. Megalon with the holy title of Unintentionally Hilarious: one of the greatest and most underrated forms of comedy ever. All four monsters are bouncing around and wacking each other in such a wildly inane fashion, it's practically begging for cartoon sound effects and a Benny Hill soundtrack to start playing in the background. An absolute gem of a moment is when Godzilla does a sliding kick on Megalon: one of the greatest moments in all of kaiju history and the one and only reason I might recommend this movie. The fight starts off with Jet Jaguar knocking Megalon around a little, then Gigan comes in and the two start kicking Jet Jaguar's ass, until Godzilla shows up and starts to perform a series of tag team moves with Jet Jaguar. The fight is great, stupid fun, and the one redeeming factor in a movie that can't do a thing to stir up an ounce of excitement in any of the preceding scenes.
- If you haven't guessed already, Godzilla vs. Megalon continues the late Showa series' reliance on stock footage, even going as far as to use stock footage from Godzilla vs. Gigan, which is just downright shameful. Now look, some of the stock footage is understandable, such as Megalon destroying buildings left and right, because Toho didn't have the money to film brand new scenes of a monster trampling buildings. Other moments using stock footage, however, are simply unforgivable, as they represent such an impetuous approach to putting scenes together, that the film becomes a truly sad sight to behold. Two moments of stock footage really stuck out to me. The first one is a scene where Megalon uses his drill hands to destroy a bunch of planes firing at him, except the shots of Megalon destroying the planes are those of Gigan destroying planes from Godzilla vs. Gigan, with Gigan's claw so easily noticeable. The second moment is Megalon laying waste to an industrial area (more stock footage from Godzilla vs. Gigan), which comes mere seconds after we see Megalon hopping his way through an open field. This second moment speaks volumes of the lousy editing on display, giving no consideration towards the monsters' general location. It'd be as if Godzilla was travelling through the sea, and then just a few minutes later, he's rampaging through Tokyo.
- Megalon is a pathetic monster, not only in how he looks, but how he acts as well. Megalon's face doesn't look at all like some creepy insect, but instead like some cute, child-friendly bug that tries to obtain his villainous prowess by making a scrunched up poop face that even a toddler wouldn't find frightening. Megalon also likes to cackle a lot, though this isn't the first time in a Godzilla film we've seen one of the monsters laugh. What takes the cake for worst Megalon moment is a quick shot of Megalon during the climactic battle, where we watch him run away like some little kid who got grounded and got Fortnite taken away from him. I don't know how any sane person can look at Megalon and even conjure up the willpower to try and take him seriously. He is by far the worst monster that Godzilla has ever gone up against, and that's saying something.
The majority of the problems present in Godzilla vs. Megalon aren't new ones for the Godzilla saga; they'e familiar problems that are heightened to such an absurd level, that it defies almost all logic and common sense, whatever logic and common sense were left after Godzilla vs. Gigan. Aside from an amusing monster battle and the awesome sliding kick that Godzilla does during the battle, Godzilla vs. Megalon adds nothing of value to the Godzilla library and represents the most sorry entry in the entire Godzilla series. Godzilla himself has no purpose in this movie other than to show up and save the day, and no other scene that comes before Godzilla's arrival contains anything pleasing to the eye: nothing fun, nothing memorable, nothing to even inspire the tiniest bit of hope. It's the quintessential film of The Dark Ages for Godzilla, and I'm so happy to announce that it gets better for Godzilla from here on out.
Recommend? Find the monster fight and the sliding kick somewhere on Youtube. There's nothing else to see.
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