Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, released in Japan as Godzilla × Mechagodzilla (ゴジラ×メカゴジラ Gojira tai Mekagojira), is a 2002 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Masaaki Tezuka, written by Wataru Mimura, and produced by Toho Co., Ltd. It is the 26th installment in the Godzilla franchise and the fourth film to feature Mechagodzilla. Unlike much of the Millennium Series and like Godzilla 2000, the film takes place in continuity with other Toho films, notably Godzilla, Mothra, War of the Gargantuas, Space Amoeba and its successor, Tokyo S.O.S.
In 1999, 45 years after Godzilla's first attack, Lieutenant Akane Yashiro, a mazer-cannon technician, is unable to kill a new member of Godzilla's species during her first fight. She is made a scapegoat for the military's losses during the battle and transferred to a desk job. During the battle, it was discovered that Godzilla is immune to mazer fire, rendering all of the Japanese military useless against him should he return. Scientists, including single father Tokumitsu Yuhara, are gathered to build a bio-mechanical robot from the original Godzilla's skeleton. Four years later, the cyborg Mechagodzilla, named Kiryu, is finished and inducted into the Japan Self-Defense Forces along with its human pilots as the Kiryu Squadron. Akane becomes the main pilot for Kiryu. However, memories of Akane's actions during the original fight still linger, and one of her squadron mates, 2nd lieutenant Susumu Hayama holds her responsible for the death of his brother.
A while later, Mechagodzilla is shown to the world, and the complete system that controls the unit is explained. Controlled remotely from a control craft that resembles a very large jet fighter with VSTOL capabilities, it can be remotely recharged from the ground using microwaves that are relayed through a power system on one of the command aircraft, and then beamed back down to the robot. For the end of the presentation, its greatest and most powerful weapon, the freezing Absolute Zero cannon, is shown. At the same time, Godzilla shows up once again, and Kiryu is launched into battle. In the midst of the first battle, Kiryu's soul is awoken by Godzilla's roar and brings with it the memories of the original Godzilla's death. As if possessed by the original Godzilla, Kiryu proceeds to destroy the city around it after Godzilla retreats to the ocean floor. Horrified, the Kiryu Squadron can only watch and alarm as the rampaging cyborg destroys more city property than Godzilla did. After 1 hour, Kiryu runs out of energy and is brought back to headquarters for further work.
All the while, Akane attempts to settle matters involving Hayama, Tokumitsu, and his distressed daughter, Sara; who sees Kiryu as a being with a right to life and that it should befriend Godzilla rather than battle him. Later, Godzilla attacks again. After repairs are made, Kiryu is released from the air and hits Godzilla with immense speed. At this point, Godzilla and Mechagodzilla face off in a head-to-head battle where each combatant sizes up its opposite and exchange powerful blows that also devastate the cityscape around them. Kiryu gains the upper hand and beats down Godzilla, grabbing his tail and spinning him around, then letting go and sending him flying. Kiryu proceeds to launch the Absolute Zero, but Godzilla fires his atomic breath. During the course of the impact, Kiryu is disabled, and the remote piloting system completely taken offline. In an effort to continue the fight and press what advantage over Godzilla they still have, Akane orders the pilot to land his command craft so that she can make her way to Mechagodzilla and take control from its internal backup cockpit. Now under direct human control, Kiryu rises from the ground one more time and closes in on Godzilla for a final blow, hoping to use the Absolute Zero cannon at point-blank range. The two titans collide, and Akane uses Kiryu`s thrusters to propel it and Godzilla out to sea before the cannon fires, freezing a huge portion of the ocean around them. After the blast clears, Godzilla is shown to be alive but with a huge gash in his chest, steadily walking back into the ocean. Kiryu is heavily damaged, missing its right arm, and the Absolute Zero cannon is devastated. With the Kiryu Squadron successful in defeating the monster,Godzilla retreats. In a post-credits scene, Akane agrees to have dinner with Tokumitsu and Sara and gives Kiryu one last salute for his aid in battling Godzilla.
Mechagodzilla is mostly referred to as Kiryu (meaning "Machine Dragon") throughout this film and the next. This was done to differentiate the character from previous versions.
Japanese Baseball star Hideki Matsui has a cameo as himself in the film, due to his nickname "Godzilla".
As has been done since the early 1970s, Toho had the international version of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla dubbed in Hong Kong. This dubbed version was released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2004.
Budgeted at roughly $8,500,000, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla opened in Japan on December 13, 2002, and earned $2,253,231 in its opening weekend. It went on to gross approximately $16,000,000 in Japan, making it the second biggest hit of the Millennium Godzilla films at the box office. It sold approximately 1,700,000 admissions.
Reviews of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla have been positive. Mike Pinsky of DVD Talk gave the film three stars out of five, saying: "While I did have some minor complaints, [this is] a fine entry in the series." Pinsky said "the plot is more interesting than most giant monster movies," and "the battle scenes, which are the main reason anyone watches these films to begin with, were great." Giving the film a "B+" score, Mark Zimmer of Digitally Obsessed said that it's "a good deal of fun and one of the better entries in the series."
Digital Monster Island gave the film a "B" score, calling it "a fun and exciting film that should please most kaiju fans."
Sony Pictures - R1 America - Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Released: March 23, 2004
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic) [NTSC]
Soundtrack(s): Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English (Dubtitles) and French
Extras: Trailers: "The Medallion", "Returner", "Tokyo Godfathers" and "Tube"
Case Type: Keep Case
Notes: American Title - "Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla" "International Version" 88:29 mins, English opening and closing credits (otherwise same as the original Japanese version)