Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Yukiko Takayama
Cast: Katsuhiko Sasaki, Tomoko Ai, Akihiko Hirata, Tadao Nakamaru, Goro Mutsu, Masaaki Daimon, Katsumasa Uchida, Tomoe Mari, Toru Ibuki, Shin Roppongi, Kotaro Tomita, Ikio Sawamura, Kenji Sahara, Yasuzo Ogawa, Hiroya Morita, Kazuo Suzuki, Taro Yamada, Masakazu Hirose, Haruo Suzuki, Saburo Kadowaki, Shigeo Kato, Kazuo Imai, Seiji Yoshida, Toshio Hosoi, Yoshio Kirishima, Masataka Kikuchi, Hiroshi Ishiya, Shizuko Azuma, Toru Kawai, Kazunari Mori, and Tatsumi Nikamoto
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 3/15/1975
MPAA Rating: G
Plotting his revenge on the society that rejected him, Dr. Shinzo Mafune (Akihiko Hirata)—father of Katsura (Tomoko Ai), a female cyborg and love interest of biologist Akira Ichinose (Katsuhiko Sasaki)—joins forces with the Black Hole Planet 3 Aliens, now in possession of the redesigned Mechagodzilla. Only Godzilla can prevent Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus, a giant amphibious dinosaur controlled by Dr. Mafune, from laying waste to the city of Tokyo.
Terror of Mechagodzilla deserves praise for its compelling romance subplot; rousing kaiju battles; and exceptional performances from Katsuhiko Sasaki, Tomoko Ai, and Toho veteran Akihiko Hirata. The languid pacing of this film may, however, evoke criticism from enthusiasts of the Godzilla character, who, prior to the halfway mark, fails to make an appearance except through stock footage of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
Original Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube should be commended for his haunting musical arrangement, which adds an air of ominousness to Godzilla’s conflict with Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla. Especially worth noting is Ifukube’s reuse of the Godzilla entrance theme, reminding viewers of the dark and destructive qualities that once defined the king of monsters.
Though a relatively serious and camp-free installment in the Godzilla franchise, Terror of Mechagodzilla is hampered by one significant flaw: there are times when Dr. Mafune—an otherwise menacing antagonist—erupts into a fit of maniacal laughter, thereby falling into the stereotype of a mustache-twirling supervillain.
Also problematic is that Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus repeatedly send Godzilla (a 20,000-ton monster) flying through the air during the climactic fight scene—a clumsy display that, in addition to defying the laws of physics, will likely prompt snickering from the majority of modern audiences.
Similar to “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” from Star Trek: The Original Series, Terror of Mechagodzilla contains a thought-provoking commentary on whether a person would fail to maintain his or her true essence when separated from an organic host body. Specifically, the character of Katsura retains her capacity for love and emotion despite transforming into a mechanical version of her former self, suggesting that the human species could, with sufficient technological progress, successfully transcend physical barriers and achieve a state of perfection/immortality—a fascinating, oft-explored concept in science fiction cinema and literature.
The final entry in Toho Studios’ line-up of Showa-era films, Terror of Mechagodzilla bids a fond farewell to the most iconic movie monster of all time. Kaiju eiga buffs are therefore advised to view this feature, which, in spite of its ludicrous mad scientist subplot, earns its reputation as a fan favorite.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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