Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Musings on Megalon

I refuse to apologize for my affection for Godzilla vs. Megalon. At the time of its release, I was part of the demographic category for which this kooky movie was intended. I have happy, nostalgic memories attached to it: seeing it in the theater with my dad; watching the infamous "Belushi Broadcast," believing (as only a child can) that this meant Godzilla had "made it" in America.

To this day, there's just a lot I enjoy in Megalon, from Jet Jaguar and his "punch-punch-punch" song, to Robert Dunham's "fabulous" Seatopian Ruler and even the Megarogoji suit. (Reviled by many, this is the Godzilla that I could draw well as a kid, and these days, its "cutesy" features remind me of my cat. No, really.)

While watching Godzilla vs. Megalon recently, I was once again struck by its whacked-out charms, but for some reason I was more aware of its deficiencies. Most obvious was the cost-saving empty battleground near the movie's end and the almost total reliance on stock footage for scenes of urban destruction. At one point Gigan's claw is shown batting planes out of the air, even though Megalon is supposed to be the monster antagonist. That's just sloppy and disappointing. At least the footage from War of the Gargantuas is incorporated with a smidge more creativity, as Megalon appears to hop behind a heretofore unglimpsed stand of trees.
Another thing that seemed more apparent than usual was just how cartoonish the monster action (and interaction) is in this film. Clearly, Godzilla vs. Megalon was never meant to be taken seriously--as if the G-sized drop kicks did not remove all doubt. The Godzilla that ends up shaking Jet Jaguar's hand while shrieking his thanks is so far removed from the nightmare creature of 1954 as to seem like an entirely different character. He is, and yet...he's isn't--and that's one of the things that makes Godzilla "Godzilla." As a character he has not just survived re-invention, but the ambiguity created by his personality changes makes him complex, even vaguely human. In other words, across the series, he's not just one "thing." Fifity years of Godzilla as avenging, unstoppable destroyer probably wouldn't have happened, because of the predictability factor. Paradoxically, this ridiculous incarnation of Godzilla may have helped extend his longevity. The critic might respond, "At what price?" I'll admit I don't have a sound answer to such a question.
As fond as I am of Godzilla vs. Megalon, I am prepared to say that it is virtually impossible to defend it as a "good movie" in objective terms. Subjectively, though, I still respond to this crazy tale with childlike enthusiasm and a great big Jet Jaguar grin, and I doubt that will ever change.


  1. Well said.
    The only Godzilla movie that I didn't enjoy was
    Godzilla's Revenge. Even all these years later.

  2. Thanks for writing. I do have a soft spot for Godzilla's Revenge. Once again it is incredibly far removed from the "original Godzilla." As others have noted, Godzilla's Revenge steps over the line into fantasy, and I guess it works for me on that level.