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Is that you, Ultraman?? Godzilla Versus Megalon:
Jet Jaguar Is The Robot Who Grows!

Matt - 1.14.02

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I've reached something on an impasse tonight. I've always been pretty careful with the movies I chose to review, only picking the ones that could be properly dissected for your enjoyment, with relative ease. I tend to avoid movies with intense layers of subplots because frankly, when I do these reviews, I don't want to spend eight hours going over every single nuance of them. I usually pick pretty simple and direct flicks. So tonight, I pop in a Godzilla movie, thinking that if there's ever going to be an easy review, this was it. I mean, it's Godzilla, you don't walk into one of his movies expecting to have your mind blown. It's just a guy in a lizard suit breaking buildings or killing other monsters so they don't break buildings. Well folks, I was wrong.

I was wrong, and I attribute it to something I call the Annoying Godzilla Phenomenon.

The Annoying Godzilla Phenomenon goes something like this: when we watch Godzilla movies, we know exactly what we're waiting for, we know exactly what we're there to see. Godzilla wreck shit up. It's such a given that someone, we turn off each and every one of our thought processes and overall sensory input waiting for it. Because of that, everything else that goes on in a Godzilla movie goes in our eyes, through our ears, and right out that tiny little hole in the back of our head that nobody's supposed to know about. We effectively ignore 90% of the flicks without realizing it, and that's a good thing. As I found out tonight, while I sat here trying to soak the entire film in, even the non-monster scenes, Godzilla movies are probably the most frustrating, nonsensical films ever made. When I was in school, evil teachers used to make us read this really inane wordy psychobabbling books just because they took classes that specifically examined them, and they wanted the students to feel stupid. So we had to sit there and cross-examine books like Barnaby Rudge till we could successfully comprehend the ulterior motives in each secondary villain's once-mentioned hand movements in the second chapter. And you know what? After time, I was able to do that. I could do that, but I can't freakin comprehend a stupid Godzilla movie.

And it pains me, it really does.

I mean, talk about a blow to your ego. When you're watching a Godzilla movie and you can't figure out for the life of you what's going on, you know you're in serious trouble in the brain department. But there it was, I watched Godzilla Versus Megalon, and I just sat there drooling on myself, scratching my head as if someone just asked me to run off the periodic table in reverse alphabetical order. But it's not my fault, really. There's four things about these old Godzilla flicks that absolutely prevent you from really getting them....

#1 - Inane setup plots: I understand the need to get things rolling by way of a storyline, but Godzilla storylines aren't exactly your normal fare. In the movie I'm about to review for you, the plot involves some Hawaiian guys from Easter Island who send a monster out into the world because they're pissed about nuclear warfare, and the only way the monster's gonna be stopped is if a robot that can magically grow in size convinces Godzilla to help the cause using nothing but swift hand gestures. What?

#2 - Bad Dubbing: I hope that the dialogue made more sense in it's original Japanese, otherwise there's no way to explain the script of a Godzilla movie except for saying a group of chickens with pencils sewn to their heads drew it up. There's one scene in the flick where this little kid is building a tiny motorcycle. And I mean, he's really building the thing, wrenches, motors and all. His father is standing there watching him do it, and waves to him as he gets the thing running and drives off. And what are they talking about during all this? RED SAND THAT THEY FOUND EARLIER. It's like, I'm watching this, I see the kid building this tiny motorcycle, obviously my brain's telling me that it has to mean something. But no, it's totally ignored as if the kid was just putting jelly on his sandwich during a convo. To top this off, even when they're talking about the sand, half the times their eyes and lips are totally sealed.

#3 - Post-Battle Syndrome: The movie had set up a lot of intangibles along it's way. At least I think they were intangiables - evil Hawaiians at the helm of this really ominous control panel throughout the whole movie kinda called for some sort of closure, right? Nah. See, in Godzilla movies, everything is forgotten once the monsters do battle. There could be a nuclear warhead the size of Cleveland headed towards Tokyo, but as long as Godzilla sprays lightning on whatever stupid costumed moron he's fighting, it's all conveniently forgotten. It's a real pisser when GODZILLA leaves you with more questions than answers. I mean this ain't a work of Adrian Lynne, here. It's just Godzilla.

#4 - Monster Noises: Picture the worst sound imaginable. Now multiply how annoying it is by 200. Then put it on repeat. Then multiply it again by 46. Then let lobsters claw at your toes. That's basically what it's like to hear these stupid monsters make their stupid noises. Any chance you had of concentrating on the plot is completely negated when your brain forces a safety shutdown to avoid exploding at the sound of these guys. And don't think it's limited to Godzilla. Believe me, he's the best of the bunch. The other monsters in this movie make sounds that defy the laws of the sound barrier and crush your eardrums with the might of an auditory stun gun set to 'completely annihilate.' I actually have a headache from watching a Godzilla movie.

And Godzilla ain't worth no headaches, let me tell you.

With that, I proudly present a review of Godzilla Versus Megalon, from 1968. I've done the best I can to make sense of what goes on, but I can't promise anything more than the ol' sophomore try. If you doubt my credentials, I should remind you that I got two pages out of Leprechaun IV and four pages out of The Worst Witch, so it's not like pure crap is lost on me.

First, I've gotta introduce you to the cast of characters. There's only three real mainstays, and keeping the number low is something I appreciate, because I can't remember any of their names. You really gotta feel bad for Japanese people having to put up with living on this side of the world - they've got so many awful stereotypes working against 'em. Think about it - if I had to run off the sum total of Japanese people I've seen throughout my life on television and movies, two of them were eating Cup O'Soup at a baseball game, three of them were pro-wrestlers who spit green slime, and the last one was really Chinese. Then, we've got the characters from Godzilla movies: people who speak in avant voodoo tongues, dedicating their lives to the escape of 100' monsters who break down their buildings as soon as they're built.

The good guys here are two scientists and one kid who I guess is one of their sons. It's either that or the guys are lovers who adopted, but I don't think Godzilla Vs. Megalon would produce such new-society issue derivatives. Either way, that kid is riding around a lake using the weirdest type of vehicle I've seen in my life. It's like some giant plastic fish with pedals. Did kids in Japan really get to use those things? If so, we were cheated. Seriously, who wouldn't want to swim around using a giant plastic fishbike? Anyway, we'll call the kid Tigerboy. We'll call his surrogate parents Mechadad and Sushi Tickles. Sushi Tickles isn't too odd, but Mechadad's dressed like he just got back from his one-man BMX trick show.

Earthquake! Or something. We're not totally sure what's going on, but the shaky camera work is intended to mean some sort of natural disaster. Then again, there's shaky camera work even when the two guys are just drinking soda, so who knows. The ground breaks out and all the water goes kaput.

See normally, this is the type of thing that'd have everyone in Japan frightened that they had accidentally formed their entire nation on some great mysterious fault in the landscape. But in Godzilla movies - people know better. They know that no matter how natural this might seem, that lake went under because of something that'll ultimately shoot a big monster out to break down radio towers. And it's happening week after week after week. Can you imagine what home insurance rates were like in Tokyo?

The terrific trio return home, only it's not a home, it's some gaudy laboratory. Nobody in Godzilla-themed Japan lives in a regular house. They're either bad guys who live at the helm of a nuclear bomb control panel, or good guys who live at a lab with a ton of blinking lights. Either way there's just no room for indoor potted plants, or your commonplace kitchen table.

They get attacked by two guys who had been snooping around their lab, and despite being knocked out cold, they seem to take the whole thing in stride. I guess the lab gets broken into twice a week and they're used to it. The only notable thing about the bad guys? The hair on one of them makes him look like an industrial espionage poodle. Anyways, they attack and leave some little red button behind as a clue. Sushi Tickles smashes it and puts it under a microscope, (after an extended sequence involving a blowtorch) realizing that it's origins go directly towards Easter Island. Yes, the place with the big Tiki God statues. This sorta becomes important later, but not really.

If you're wondering why those guys infiltrated the lab, look no further, the good guys are making a robot. His name? Jet Jaguar. His game? Heroism. Jet's got the amazing power of being able to grow to massive sizes, like a Power Rangers monster, or me after a big jar of pickles. From here on it, this basically becomes a Jet Jaguar movie. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just weird because Jet can't make noise and we get a lot of scenes with him trying to shake hands with other monsters to indicate camaraderie. You'd swear the guy was lobbying for Monster Congress with the handshake rate he works at. We'll see his friendly fists in action a bit later, but for now, it's time to meet the real villains.

Now I'm not sure if the next scene was set on Easter Island or another planet, but it doesn't matter because it's real stupid no matter where it came from. It was at this next point in the flick where I started questioning my judgment in reviewing it after only one viewing. It's pretty clear that you've gotta watch Godzilla Versus Megalon fifteen times to put together all the intricate puzzle pieces that make this otherwise tangled web of high art make any sense. Then I remembered that I typically enjoy life and I didn't want to fuck with that by watching it twice.


Some cult from Easter Island hold a weird ceremony, reminiscent of the Carousel scene from Logan's Run, only much less cool because nobody's doing drugs or calling out prostitutes from bedroom portals. Apparently, these guys feel that we the people ruined our planet by way of nuclear warfare and whatnot, and they're pretty sick of nature being thwarted by missiles. So they plan to do what anyone would do when faced with ecological issues - call upon a giant alien monster to destroy everything in sight. You'd think they would save that trump card as a last resort, but whatever.

And so, they bring Megalon to the table. He's sorta like this big, winged bug that can shoot bombs out of it's mouth. It'd almost be impressive if his wings weren't made from cut-up kites. Here, take a look...

Megalon's best offense are his hands, simply because they aren't hands, they're steel-edged drills. While he looks pretty silly trying to do battle with 'em, I guess it's better to have steel drills than fists. Know what else is weird? All these monsters in Godzilla movies are the exact same height. Even the ones that get mutated to their giant size - they all end up at roughly 84' tall. And somehow, they always end up battling right next to a bridge, even if there's no water anywhere in sight. It's like an absolute requisite of the famous monster battle - they've gotta destroy at least one bridge to keep their bragging rights.

When the monsters finally do come to blows, it's funny to watch the scenes of Tokyo citizens running for cover. Not funny because they're scared, funny because they do this in every Godzilla movie and you've gotta wonder if they're getting sick of having to evacuate the city every other day. Who would bother decorating their houses? This is probably why the Japanese are noted for keeping their houses in check with the sparse look. Lord knows I wouldn't be setting up my thimble collection in size order if MechaGodzilla was gonna fall through my roof on the 3rd of every month. And even if you were lucky enough to avoid that, Mothra would probably take a big white shit on your roof. No, Godzilla Tokyo citizens were best off being complete homeless nomads.

There's an extensive scene featuring the good guys getting kidnapped, and a car chase that has two cars and a motorcycle chasing each other up and down staircases, hills, and through shacks on a dock. And for some reason, the theme from Benny Hill is playing throughout the whole ordeal. It just went right over my head. I have no recollection of seeing any of the good guys being kidnapped, but admittedly my attention at the time was devoted more to the hole in my sock than the movie.

And to think, but with a slight twist of fate, I could've reviewed Albert Brooks' Mother instead. I'm really kicking myself for thinking that Godzilla would be more fun. At least Mother has Debbie Reynolds referring to expensive jam as 'bullshit.' All we got here is a Halloween costume doing the Irish jig which is somehow supposed to inspire a feeling of menace.

The good guys manage to break free from their captors, and somehow end up directly next to where the monsters are gonna do their battle. How is this done? Well, Megalon for some reason decides to leap about three miles, feet first, into the truck they were being held in - sending the truck about another three miles, shattering it open, and setting them free. Yeah. Yeah! From this point on the bad guys almost become a moot point - they still appear sporadically, but they don't really influence the plot in any major way that I can see. My painstaking research tells me that the bad guys are all from a place called Seatopia, and that Megalon was supposed to be stopping all the nuclear tests. Environmental distress in a Godzilla movie!

The good guys suggest that Jet Jaguar seek the help of Godzilla - apparently this GZ movie was geared more towards kids, and they wanted to establish ol' Goddy as a hero character. That might just be a studio line though - a way to explain why the movie was so dumb. We're not supposed to understand it, it's for kids! You know, the sad thing here is that this flick makes the other Godzilla movies look like Casablanca by comparison. That's how bad it is.

So, the big robot confronts Godzilla, and wouldn't you know it, the big dragon beast looks a tad friendlier than we're used to seeing him. He's got a permanent grin on his face, and reacts to everything with this really uppity bounce. Essentially, they turned Godzilla into an oversized puppy for the sake of making kids like him. Jet Jaguar lands in front of him, and the thing starts wagging it's tail like it's waiting for a food pellet. We're not sure if Jet got the message across, but that's not our fault - it's impossible to tell what these two guys convey to each other, since Jet doesn't speak, and Godzilla just screams. Watching this flick really makes you appreciate the patience of special ed teachers.

You know, that room the bad guys do there stuff from is fashioned in the same way I always pegged Rod Roddy's private box looking like from The Price Is Right. I keep waiting for one of them to tell me about a great oak wall unit or how Ritz crackers have a new low price, but instead, they just order Megalon to 'destroy the robot.'

And now, the battle!

The Seatopians send out another monster, Gaigan, after Megalon starts losing the fight to Jet Jaguar. Gaigan appears to be a guy in another Godzilla suit with a few pieces of tin foil added on for effect. At first I actually thought it was Godzilla, showing off his new hockey gear. Instead, he's just another lame bad guy monster, because these Seatopians keep dozens of them around in case they ever need to break the world in half to prove a point.

The two evil creatures literally throw the robot back and forth - or more correctly, throw the robot costume back and forth, because there's obviously no one in there. After a seeming thirty-five days of this intense action, Godzilla finally makes his way into the fray, walking towards the battle to the score of really triumphant music, looking like he's skipping towards a candy shop. What have they done to Godzilla? I remember watching the older GZ flicks as a kid, where he'd break every building in sight, crush cars, and take big shits on the ground before heading back to sea. Now he's effectively become Godzippy, friendly purveyor and dragon defender.

If you've ever watched MST3K, you've likely seen the above picture before. Godzilla's mighty four-mile dropkick, where he uses his tail in an antigravity balancing act to kick monsters into outer space. The bad toads have no idea what to make of all this, so they're completely destroyed by the new dynamic duo pretty quickly. Oddly, they don't appear to die, they just scurry off and everyone seems satisfied that they're never going to come back. I dunno, if I was Godzilla, I'd probably slice their heads off just to be certain. But that type of special effect would pull this movie above it's three hundred dollar budget. Good guys win, love abounds.

Jet Jaguar shakes Godzilla's hand in a chilling display of friendship between a 100' robot and 100' dragon monster. I dunno what kind of great karmic vibes lie deep beneath Godzilla's mighty paws, but there must be something there cuz Jet shakes his hand like fifty-five times here. Maybe they're doing a subversive drug deal. Either way, Jet shrinks back to normal size, reunites with his human compatriots, and they all wave to Godzilla as he heads back to whatever slophouse he came from.

Overall Rating: Well, cake or death is easy. Godzilla Versus Megalon or death is not. Suffice to say, I'd sooner rearrange all the letter buttons on my keyboard and try typing out the script of this movie based on memory alone than actually having to watch it again. And here I was, thinking the Broderick version of the movie was the worst flick I'd see this year. From now on, the only things I'm trusting Japan with are automobiles and haircare techniques.

Bonus: CLICK HERE to see Godzilla's record-breaking jumpkick in full, glorious motion! (250 KB) Enjoy.

- Matt
AIM: xecharchar

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