Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Godzilla X Megaguirus: G Extermination Strategy (2000) movie review

Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The one where Godzilla is green and purple, fighting a giant bug (no not mothra)

The Good: Impressive monster designs, engaging lead character, well crafted miniatures

The Bad: overall cheap look, sub par special effects, serviceable directing, uninspired camerawork, boring battles, more style than substance, lacks any deeper themes in the narrative
With the success of Godzilla 2000, Toho green lit a new Godzilla movie which for some reason is not a sequel to Godzilla 2000. Despite featuring the same Godzilla design, albeit painted a bright green with purple spikes, GODZILLA X MEGAGUIRUS serves as another reboot in the millennium era of the franchise.
Godzilla's many attacks on Japan across the years led to the formation of the G-Graspers, an elite tactical unit tasked with fending off the attacks. By 2001, Japan has invented the Dimension Tide, a weapon capable of opening miniature black holes which can consume anything in its path, and they plan to use it on Godzilla. A test run accidentally transports ancient mutant dragonflies into Japan which take refuge in the sewers.  During this time, a "moby dick/Ahab" style relationship develops between Godzilla and the vengeful Major Tsujimori who is obsessed with taking down the giant beast. 

At first she finds an unlikely ally in the dragonflies, dubbed meganula, who attack Godzilla and drain his nuclear energy. However, unknown to the humans, that energy is used to empower the meganula queen, Megaguirus.
As can be seen by the lengthy synopsis, GXM has many sub plots to resolve. There is the issue of illegal plasma energy experimentation which attracts Godzilla, there is major Tsujimori's journey of revenge, there is the Monster dragonflies, there is the sub plot of professor Yoshino and the Dimension Tide. 
I found Tsujimori's arc of vengeance to be the easiest to follow. She was made out to be a rather sympathetic character despite her tough exterior and it is easy to become invested in her tale. Other than that, the film does drag its feet in many of the human scenes with all the sub plots intertwined nicely but resolved hurriedly. The movie is paced as if the Creative team forgot about the "Megaguirus" in the title and then had her come out only in the third act.
While impressive in design, Megaguirus is essentially Mothra and Battara all over again; an insectile giant monster who is fragile but uses speed and cunning to fight Godzilla. Sadly the tangling between the two titans is quite disappointing. Megaguirus is a puppet on strings and Godzilla is an intricately designed but very stiff suit. 
Do not expect the savage, up close and personal, tooth and claw type duels. These are overly choreographed affairs, complete with a samurai sword duel homage with anime-style visual cues. The fight easily degenerates into distinct formula thanks to the limited movements that the stiff suit and puppet can do. Then the director chooses to have half of the fight done in this choppy jerky slow motion style that too many tv directors abuse.
All this and more give the movie a very cheap "tv episode" kind of feel, barely doing justice to the painstakingly crafted monsters. While GODZILLA X MEGAGUIRUS boasts decent special effects, decent acting and a well written though one dimensional human protagonist, it establishes itself as a mere middling entry into this rich franchise due to uninspired directing, cheesy Monster fights, and a an unevenly paced and shallow narrative.

Entertainment: C
Story: B-
Acting: B-
Characters: B-
Music: C-
Replay value: C+
"Brains": C-

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