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Godzilla's worst Showa era film - and he's hardly even in it
on 11 May 2012
Godzilla Vs Megalon should really be called Jet Jaguar Vs. Megalon, since Godzilla racks up barely one minute's screentime in the first hour. In fact, that was the originally intention: robot giant robot Jet Jaguar was the winning entry in a fan competition to create a new character and Godzilla and Gigan were drafted in at the last minute to add some star power after a worried Toho halted production. It may have helped the box-office - this pulled in just under a million admissions in Japan - but it's not enough to save this from being by common consent the worst of Godzilla's films.
When nuclear tests cause massive earthquakes that destroy part of their undersea kingdom, the toga-clad Seatopians send Megalon, a giant hopping beetle to give the surface dwellers a taste of their own medicine but for some reason need to use newly invented robot Jet Jaguar to control it. The Seatopians also summon Gigan, not because of his unimpressive track record in the last outing but because Toho have still got the suit and they can use lots of stock footage from the previous film that way (including the shot of Gigan drawing blood as he slices Godzilla's shoulder in a flyby). Luckily, Jet's inventor regains control and even more luckily Jet turns out to have the ability to increase his size to take on the monsters while waiting for the big feller to arrive - which takes an eternity. When Godzilla finally turns up with not much more than 17 minutes of the film to go, it's hard not to think "Well you took your bleeding time," especially since he only hangs around for 12 minutes or so. It's very noticeably a new man in the suit, Shinji Takagi, with a completely different body language - mostly drunken Glaswegian asking if you spilled his pint with a bit of little kid in bunny suit when running thrown in for bad measure (unsurprisingly this was Takagi's only outing as Godzilla). There's one good moment when Godzilla and Jet are trapped in a ring of fire, but for the most part this is pretty slim pickings even in its uncut Japanese version (some extremely mild moments of child endangerment were cut to get the film a G rating in the US). Still, Jet Jaguar's untranslated theme song at the end ("Punch! Punch!") is fun.
Tokyo Shock's oft-announced US Region 1 DVd and Blu-ray release ran into various legal problems that delayed its release for a couple of years, supposedly waiting for Toho to approve an extras package, before finally emerging as a disappointing Region A-locked version with no extras at all - not even the trailer they'd included on other titles - and with average picture quality, though it did included both subtitled Japanese and dubbed English soundtrack options. The best bet if you have to fill in that gap in your Godzilla collection is Madman's Australian Region 4 PAL DVD, which offers a fine widescreen transfer with Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles.