Sunday, 2 July 2017

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (4 Stars)

After the chaos of the last four films, the Godzilla franchise is finally heading in the right direction. "Godzilla: Tokyo SOS" is a sequel to "Godzilla against Mechagodzilla", which was made a year earlier in 2002. Many of the characters return from the last film, including Akane Yashiro, although she unfortunately only plays a minor role. Mechagodzilla now has a new male operator, Kyosuke Akiba. Could it be that having a female lead character was too much for a patriarchal country like Japan? The main character in this film is the man responsible for repairing Mechagodzilla, Yoshito Chujo.

The film begins in 2004, a year after the events of the last film. Godzilla has disappeared beneath the sea, while Mechagodzilla (whose official name is still Kiryu) is badly damaged. The young mechanic Yoshito is responsible for repairing Mechagodzilla. In the real world he would be leading a team of mechanics, but in "Tokyo SOS" he seems to be doing everything himself, from planning to rewriting software to tightening the nuts and bolts. Yoshito is the son of Dr. Shinichi Chujo, the retired scientist who discovered Mothra in 1961. Multiple references are made to the 1961 film "Mothra", and Dr. Chujo is played by the same actor.

One evening Dr. Chujo hears beautiful singing when he's sitting at home. He finds two pretty little girls on his table, about six inches tall. Wow! I'm never that lucky. After his initial surprise he recognises them as the fairy priestesses of Mothra that he last met 43 years ago. They haven't changed at all with the course of time. The only difference is that they're played by new actresses who weren't born when "Mothra" was filmed, Chihiro Ohtsuka (16) and Masami Nagasawa (15). They bring a message from Mothra. It was a mistake to take the skeleton of the original Godzilla from the bottom of the sea to create Mechagodzilla as a weapon. If the bones aren't returned as quickly as possible Mothra will attack Japan to take revenge. I told everyone in my last review that the bones shouldn't have been touched! Why does nobody ever listen to me? Dr. Chujo says that Japan needs Mechagodzilla, but the priestesses say that after Mechagodzilla's bones are returned to the sea Mothra herself will defend Japan against Godzilla. Dr. Chujo says that he can't influence government policy, but if Mothra successfully battles Godzilla Mechagodzilla will certainly be decommissioned afterwards.

Will Godzilla come back to Japan? Yes. And can you guess why? No, it wasn't just so he could have fun trampling on Japanese buildings. That's just a bit of extra fun for him. Mechagodzilla is now almost operational, so Godzilla can sense his presence as his skeleton grows stronger, and he heads towards the new factory in Tokyo. I keep telling people that it was a mistake to use Mechagodzilla's skeleton, I'm tired of repeating myself. Everyone is evacuated from the area, but Dr. Chujo's grandson (Yoshito's nephew) remains in his school. In the school playground he sets up the school desks and chairs in the pattern of Mothra's sacred symbol.

This attracts Mothra from whatever island she was hiding on. Soon she's flying over the school, and Dr. Chujo points her in Godzilla's direction. Not that it's really necessary to tell her where Godzilla is. All she has to do is follow the trail of trampled houses.

There's a big battle between Mothra and Godzilla, but unfortunately Mothra isn't strong enough. The only solution is to activate Mechagodzilla. Yoshito says that he still needs a few weeks, but there's no time. Mechagodzilla's strongest weapon, the cold ray gun, isn't yet operational, so he can only use the missiles, rockets and tasers that were ineffective in last year's battle. Am I missing something?

That's not a friendly hug between old sparring buddies, it's a fight to the death. It's a fight that Mechagodzilla has no chance of winning. Luckily there's a cavalry. Aided by singing from the princesses, two of Mothra's larvae hatch. They swim to Tokyo while the battle is still raging. It's lucky that Japan has secret, undiscovered islands only a few minutes away from Tokyo.

The larvae fire silk threads at Godzilla which trap him in a cocoon. Is this the end? Not quite. Did I mention that Mechagodzilla contains the skeleton of the original Godzilla inside his outer shell? This means that Mechagodzilla still has Godzilla's soul. The soul lives in the skeleton, we all know that. When Mechagodzilla sees Godzilla lying helpless he realises that they're brothers. He breaks free of the operator's control and rescues him.

"Godzilla: Tokyo SOS" isn't a deep, meaningful film. It's not a film that will make you cry or ponder the meaning of life. That's not why anyone would watch it. If you want to watch a film with giant monsters slugging it out in the middle of a Japanese city you won't be disappointed.

You'll also enjoy the film if you have a tiny fairy priestess fetish. The two girls are what made the film enjoyable to me. Tonight I'll go to bed wishing that I could have two tiny girls to carry around in my pocket.

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