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THN’s Godzilla Countdown #21: Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Godzilla Vs SpaceGodzillaOn 16th May 2014, Toho’s greatest monster will return to the big screen in an American reboot. With just 9 weeks to go, we here at THN are counting down the GODZILLA back catalogue.

Director: Kensho Yamashita,

Starring: Megumi Odaka, Jun Hashizume, Zenkichi Yoneyama, Akira Emoto, Towako Yoshikawa, Yosuke Saito, Kenji Sahara

Plot: A being from space, bearing a striking resemblance to Godzilla, is hurtling towards Earth. Meanwhile, the UN have created a new mechanized foe for Godzilla, while a soldier named Yuki is out for revenge.

The title doesn’t exactly instil confidence in the viewer. This time Godzilla is taking on a counterpart from space. Hardly original thinking on Toho’s part, although the original plot for the next film was even more barrel scraping. Luckily they changed that film around. Perhaps it’s the fact that GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA followed on from Godzilla fighting his mechanical counterpart in the previous film, another doppelganger was just a bit of the same ol’ same ol’. Now, complaining about originality in a Godzilla film may seem  a bit nonsensical, as does complaining about silliness in a Godzilla film, but GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA has more problems than just stretching its material to breaking point.

Godzilla Vs SpaceGodzilla 1

Worldwide the film made back nearly three times its budget, but when the only original monster you can come up with is a mere clone of the original, it’s time to rethink your strategy. In its defence though, SpaceGodzilla is actually quite well designed, pretty much being Godzilla with giant crystals on its back. This was the last film from Kensho Yamashita, and only his third as director. The pacing is where the film really falls down and unfortunately makes it the first truly boring Godzilla feature.

As we journey through space we see a meteorite accompanied by grandiose music. Meanwhile on Earth we’re introduced to a brand new Mecha known as Moguera, an inexplicable replacement for Mechagodzilla, who is probably just there to make sure we didn’t have three variations of the Big G on the screen. Moguera is armed with some exciting drill weaponry, but never really gets a chance to use it. This all leads in to a Counter G meeting, as Earth has had enough of Godzilla’s shenanigans. The most interesting aspect of the film is whether to kill or control the creature. Miki, once again played by Megumi Odaka, is asked to use a mind control amplifier to take control of the beast, but what about the moral implications and free will etc.? Miki realises that her trainees at the psychic institute are nowhere near as skilled as herself, even though they predicted the arrival of Godzilla in GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE and she didn’t, but refuses to help, meaning Godzilla is to be killed once and for all.

Godzilla Vs SpaceGodzilla 2

In a seemingly unrelated sequence, Mothra becomes many tiny Mothras in space, supposedly still on her journey after GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. Meanwhile, we’re headed to an island with two agents of G-Force. Usually an island setting is code for “not enough budget to build a model city”, which may very well be the case here, but only because the entire budget is saved for the third act. As the agents Shinjo (Hashizume) and  Sato (Yoneyama) arrive on the island, their compasses go crazy and they discover a crystlised meteorite landing site. Upon their discovery they are met by the rugged Yuki (Emoto), a man who lives on the island and has made it his personal mission to kill Godzilla. How does he know Godzilla will return to his island? This is the new living area of Baby Godzilla, who is no longer a baby and is referred to as Little Godzilla. And as Little Godzilla is revealed, we’re horrified to see he once again looks like a cartoon. Why couldn’t the previous suit have been reused? Instead he’s all beady eyed and adorable. The only reason for this seems to be the cute factor, as Little Godzilla has taken a shine to Yuki which does result in a few “AAAWWWW”s.

After a NASA meeting, the Cosmos return in albeit ghostly form to warn Miki that if Godzilla is killed then nobody will be able to protect Earth due to Mothra’s excursion in space. They also specify that SpaceGodzilla is planning on killing Godzilla. Miki decides she will use her awesome psychic powers, but little does she know that on the island Yuki is gearing up to take down Godzilla with a single bullet that contains a blood coagulant. It’s a daft plot device considering all the assaults Godzilla has fought against in his day and rivals the amnesia bullets from X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Professor Gondo (Yoshikawa) and her assistant Dr. Okubo (Saito) arrive on the island with Miki and their weapon to fire a psychic amplifier at Godzilla. Just then some of Yuki’s landmines containing tear gas go off, but it’s Little Godzilla who’s set them off. Yuki’s concern over Little Godzilla shows a sort of sweet connection between the two, but it’s never expanded upon, especially when the action leaves the island.

Godzilla Vs SpaceGodzilla 3

Godzilla does eventually show up and Shinjo and Sato have only one shot to make it work. They also have to convince Yuki not to kill Godzilla, and although the singular shot idea adds tension, Yuki’s decision still remains laughable thanks to the idea that a single bullet could kill Godzilla. Godzilla is hit with the amplifier and everything goes according to plan. The scene, on the other hand, is exceptionally drawn out. We get so much of Godzilla walking towards and around the island, which is a dry locale to begin with, that the pace nearly grinds to a halt. The film does cut away to Moguera battling SpaceGodzilla in space, but it looks terrible. It’s the first time in a long time that even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. The endless darkness of space looks like a black curtain, and the polystyrene meteors sway gently on string. It’s a shame because the monsters look so damn good. This, paired with the island setting of a big chunk of the movie, just announces that the budget was going elsewhere.

As SpaceGodzilla arrives on the island, you would expect things to heat up, but the fight is filled with even more shots of walking. The fight ends and fails to be memorable, but we do find out that SpaceGodzilla has been created due to Godzilla spores in space from Biollante. These tenuous connections to previous films are just sort of mentioned in passing, when they could have weaved a rich tapestry of interconnectivity. In the aftermath of the fight Miki is kidnapped by the Yakuza, as it turns out Okubo was been working for them the whole time. This results in the most interesting aspect of the entire film, a huge gun fight rescue. When that’s the highlight of a Godzilla film, then something is definitely wrong. Miki also shows telekinetic powers and shrugs it off with some nonsense about just never having tried it before. You can read minds and speak telepathically, but you never tried to move things with your mind before?

Godzilla Vs SpaceGodzilla 4

Once Miki is saved, Shinjo, Sato and Yuki all come together to pilot Moguera and take on SpaceGodzilla. This could have been something special, as it’s the first time the main characters are piloting the machine and going to fight the monsters. We should feel excited about this, but the film has lumbered along for so long that it’s hard to really care. It’s amazing that the sheer lack of pace or urgency can open your eyes to many of the faults often inherent in Godzilla films. From here we are treated to a battle that lasts for approximately 30 minutes, making it one of the longest Godzilla fights. But there’s a catch, as there is only a tiny amount of physical violence, whereas the rest is shooting laser beams and atomic breath at one another. If the guys in suits aren’t going to wrestle then what’s the point? The fight is too long and too uninvolving, on a set that gradually turns to crystals.

Despite my apparent disdain, the film isn’t a complete write-off. Like I say, the design of SpaceGodzilla is rather nice, and even though the initial concept isn’t exactly original, what he stands for is quite unique. It shows how mans manipulation of nature could span across time and space and create even worse troubles for ourselves in the future. The three male characters are also quite enjoyable at times, but again anything good is swamped in needless nonsense. There is no need for Little Godzilla nor the parts containing psychic ghost Mothra and the cosmos. The budget, despite being quite high, must have been misappropriated because it doesn’t show on screen. A disappointing effort that is a saddening slump for the Heisei era. Thankfully though, it lead into something much greater.

Dub-Misstep: Toho dub once again, but wasn’t utilised for an American release until 1999 (its US release). Strange to think some of these weren’t available until after the Roland Emmerich attempt.

Monsters: Little Godzilla’s appearance is inexplicably cartoonish this time around. SpaceGodzilla could have been a really lazy effort, but his design is different enough to warrant his own existence. However, his fights with Godzilla are epic but are pretty much just light shows. Mothra makes a kind of appearance, but nothing to get excited about.

Notes For GODZILLA (2014): Space Godzilla isn’t a terrible villain in the slightest, but I doubt he’d work in big Hollywood style films. Have nothing to do with an infant Godzilla, it just wouldn’t work today as it didn’t really work back then either. The idea of a man wanting revenge may be a cool story to explore for a sequel. After all, how can you blame such a monster for something so personal?


2 G

 View all the articles in our countdown right here!

GODZILLA will be released 16th May 2014. It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Akira Takarada, and David Strathairn.

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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