The leaders of the advanced subterranean nation of Seatopia, plan to take over the surface world with the aid of their monster Megalon, a springy cockroach-monster with a power drill mounted on his head. To this end, they steal the robot Jet Jaguar, an Ultraman look-alike invented by the amiable Goro, to help guide Megalon's assault. Goro manages to regain control of the robot, who is capable of enlarging himself to Godzilla-like proportions, but remains ineffectual against the big bug, particularly after the Seatopians enlist the off-world aid of Gigan, the buzzsaw-sporting bird-beast.
Directed by: Jun Fukuda
. Starring: Katsuhiko Sasaki
, Hiroyuki Kawase
, Yutaka Hayashi
, Robert Dunham
, Kôtarô Tomita
, Ulf Ôtsuki
, Gentaro Nakajima
, Sakyo Mikami
, Fumiyo Ikeda
, Kanta Mori
, Shinji Takagi
, Hideto Odachi
, Tsugutoshi Komada
. Music by: Riichirô Manabe
I hold GODZILLA VS. MEGALON with aesthetic and sentimental value, not only because it was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw, but the very first movie Mom and the rest of my family took me to see! I had very hazy memories of being taken into the movie theater with lots of people, and I really enjoyed and cheered at seeing Godzilla and his super-robot pal Jet Jaguar fight with Megalon and Gigan on the screen.
But the ironic thing is that many fans considered this to be the worst Godzilla movie ever. They have a right to consider things that way, and I appreciate that this movie is not held in the highest regard in the Godzilla canon, but that doesn't change my opinion on it.
Many fans bitterly disliked the very idea of Godzilla teaming up with a superhero; In this case, the super-robot Jet Jaguar, who can change size. Jet Jaguar resembles both an Ultraman-style superhero (SPECTREMAN, JUMBORG ACE, etc.) and an anime super-robot from the 70s like MAZINGER Z (which was a huge success at the time), GETTER ROBO and other anime robots that got featured in Mattel's Shogun Warriors toy collection from the 70s (which also featured Godzilla and Rodan)! When I was a kid, I actually thought Jet Jaguar was a Shogun Warrior! Like the Shogun Warriors, Jet Jaguar was a major influence in my life - he got me into Japanese superheroes! He did the same "henshin" poses that many Japanese superheroes of the 70s (started by the famous KAMEN [MASKED] RIDER), and I later saw Shaw Brothers' KAMEN RIDER-influenced Hong Kong superhero spectacular, THE SUPER INFRAMAN (or just INFRA-MAN in the US), and I later became aware of Ultraman, Kamen Rider and many other superheroes later on. So for me, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON was the best of both worlds! I really loved the idea of Godzilla teaming up with a super-robot, and the two handshakes they did in the film are heartwarming, IMHO.
Besides Jet Jaguar, this film features a new Godzilla suit (Haruo Nakajima had just retired after GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, even though he tried on the new suit in behind the scenes films), and it has got to be the cutest Godzilla ever! I mean, just look at that puppy-dog face! It's like a demonic charcoal-gray Snoopy as if designed by Gou Nagai! It's one of my personal favorite suit designs. Megalon was a really cool monster! A flying rhino-beetle with drill arms! He shoots napalm grenades out of his mouth and also shoots electric beams from his horn (and when he does, it sometimes cuts to stock footage of King Ghidorah's Gravity Beams)! Gigan is back, though the costume is different from the one previously used in GODZILLA VS. GIGAN. The blue-green color is darker, and he looks somewhat thinner.
The special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano (who I had the pleasure of meeting at Asian Fantasy Film Expo 2002) are still really cool. The dam sequence with Megalon is praiseworthy! The rest is slam-bang action, on the same notch as any giant superhero show from the same period, even though Jet Jaguar doesn't shoot any beams! But if people hate Nakano's FX and slam them for being cheap, the ironic thing is that the effects took 6 months to complete! Riichirou Manabe's music score is much cheerier and more upbeat than his dark GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH score. His Godzilla theme music (the same as the one in Hedorah) is much tougher and less droopy than last time! The Seatopia music is pretty eerie and avant-garde, almost like Karlheinz Stockhausen music! The rest is groovy 70s music (flutes, guitar, banjo, horns, etc.), but another highlight is the theme song, "With Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, Punch Punch Punch!" ("Gojira to Jetto Jagaa de Panchi Panchi Panchi!"), which was sung by my favorite Japanese singer, Masato Shimon, who not only sang tons of tokusatsu and anime theme songs since the 70s, but also sang some Godzilla tie-in albums! If you liked the song, I recommend the full record version (in stereo)! That one is totally more upbeat and just rocks! It's also one of my favorite Shimon songs!
The cast is quite different and unusual from any Godzilla film made before or since. In this one case, there are no females among the lead characters (unless you count the Seatopian dancers), but they are still likable in that bizarre sort of way (and you can tell that this end of the production was rushed)! Katsuhiko Sasaki (who's new to the series, but his father Minoru Chiaki played pilot Kouji Kobayashi in GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) plays inventor Gorou Ibuki, who invents Jet Jaguar. His kid brother Rokuro (nicknamed "Roku-chan"), for children to identify with, is played by Hiroyuki Kawase (who played Ken Yano in GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH two years earlier) wearing a red Snoopy sweater (yep, there I go with the Snoopy thing again)! Yutaka Hayashi (best known these days as a comical, fast-talking reporter in comedy and variety shows in Japan) plays the Ibuki siblings' hot-rodding friend Hiroshi Jinkawa, who gets into all the car-chases with the bad guys! Then, there's the late veteran Robert Dunham as Antonio, the Emperor of Seatopia, clad in a white toga and a tiara with Megalon's head on the center. Every time I think of Antonio and Seatopia, I keep thinking of Sean Connery's movie ZARDOZ (made the same year)! It must be the neo-OlympicGreek style that Seatopia has. Rolf Jessup (who has appeared in some Japanese films) appears as his right-hand man radio operator in a white uniform. Koutarou Tomita plays the Seatopian agent dressed in black (and looks a lot like Alan Rickman's Snape character in the Harry Potter movies), backed by Wolf Ootsuki (who played the villain Professor Hassler in the IshinomoriToei TV series GIANT IRONMAN 1-7) playing agent dressed in brown. And Kanta Mori (who guest-starred as Professor Nakamura in Episode 10 of ULTRAMAN, which, ironically, guest-starred Godzilla as Jirass!) plays the JSDF General (every Godzilla movie's gotta' have 'em).
As for the plot, here's the breakdown: After underwater nuclear tests in the Pacific shake up many islands (including Monster Island), Emperor Antonio, the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Seatopia retaliates by sending their giant guardian beetle Megalon to destroy the surface world. He also dispatches two agents to steal the new super-robot Jet Jaguar from Professor Gorou Ibuki and his kid brother Rokurou (whom they also capture). They're being rescued by their friend Hiroshi Jinkawa, who goes through action-packed car-chases to rescue them, which he does. Once rescued, Gorou manages to regain control of Jet Jaguar, and sends him to Monster Island to call Godzilla for help. In response to this, Antonio calls for Star Hunter Nebula M to send Gigan to Earth to assist Megalon. Jet Jaguar grows to Godzilla-size and fights with Megalon, but Gigan finally comes and makes things hard for our robot hero. But Godzilla arrives in time to help Jet Jaguar beat Megalon and Gigan in a slam-bang tag-team monster match to save humankind...
I don't know about everyone else, but GODZILLA VS. MEGALON deserves more respect than it's getting in the US (In Japan, it's always been released with a beautifully restored widescreen print, regardless of what fans and others think). t has a very special place in my heart! I don't recommend it to the most serious Godzilla fans, but even some Godzilla fans still like it, if not love it. But if you like monsters, superheroes and robots, then I highly recommend GODZILLA VS.
Review by John Cassidy from the Internet Movie Database.