Godzilla Goodness: GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (2001)
By Witney Seibold on May 28, 2014
Even though we’re onto the third Godzilla continuity, the filmmakers were wise enough to keep the little-kid spirit alive, as evidenced in this 2000 film where Godzilla fights a giant bug. #27: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.
Godzilla 2000 was a relief. An incidental return of a monster proving himself to be nearly immortal in the eyes of cinema. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, however, is a true return to form. By now, the franchise has fully recovered from the American debacle of just two years previous, and feels like a Godzilla film again, no qualifications necessary. It helps that the word “versus” is in the title. In this film, Godzilla fights a giant bug. If that doesn’t whet your appetite for some good old-school Godzilla mayhem, then you are made of sterner stuff than I.
Godzilla is still a villain, however sympathetic. His rampages are destructive and horrifying, and humanity is working its hardest to ensure that Godzilla be destroyed. Since no bombs, lasers, or weapons have yet worked on him, the military has developed a weapon called the Dimension Tide, which will essentially open a miniature black hole right next to Godzilla and suck him in. During a test of the Dimension Tide, a little interdimensional bug sneaks through. It looks like a three-foot mantis. It is called a Meganulon. It’s slimy and gross. Most of the practical effects in this film are delightfully disgusting.
Meganulon eats people and pupates into a creature called a Meganula, which is a nine-foot dragonfly creature. Meanwhile, a young boy has found an insect egg that also fell out of the dimensional portal, and takes it away to hatch it. The Meganula reproduce quickly, and its not long before they’re attacking Godzilla in a big swarm. The humans launch the DT bomb at the swarm and at Godzilla, but it doesn’t work. Because nothing can destroy Godzilla, bitch. The Meganula suck out Godzilla’s nuclear energy and feed it to the egg. The egg hatches, and out spring Megaguirus, the queen of the pack. Megaguirus is thorny, nasty, and kind of awesome. It’s like Battra, but even more badass. Megaguirus is the only other female Toho creature, besides Mothra. During the monster fight, we get to witness the old-fashioned ninja move wherein two foes leap at each other, collide in midair, and both land unharmed, only to then reveal that one of them was killed or injured in the strike.
I have said before that the best way to stage a giant monster fight is with static cameras, few edits, bright lighting, and full-bodied shots. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus knows the rules. Indeed, most of the Godzilla films do. It won’t be until 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars that there will be a slip in the proper monster fight aesthetic.
I’ve been giving short shrift to the human stories in each of these Godzilla films, and the central human in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is a wounded solider (Misato Tanaka) who wants to fir off the Dimension Tide himself. But, as is appropriate for Godzilla, the humans plays second fiddle to the monsters. I don’t need a character-driven Godzilla film. I need a monster-driven Godzilla film.
This film follows Godzilla 2000, but the only other Godzilla films it openly refers to are the 1954 original and, oddly, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster from 1966. The inter-continuity of the Millennium films, we will soon discover, is a tenuous thing. This will prove true with the following film, one of the worst in the series. It has even been posited that, with the exception of two of them, each of the Millennium films stands in its own continuity. I prefer to think that the following film is the only one that stands alone.
Up next: Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)