Jet Jaguar, Stop!

Nuclear tests begin Godzilla vs Megalon’s story. Those blasts sink Monster Island and suck the water from a lake. Angered by the repeated blasts and resulting devastation, the underground Seatopian Empire sends Megalon to the surface to stop the explosions. That’s a self-defense measure.

Megalon isn’t the hero. Neither are the Seatopians.

That’s how far the franchise fell. Godzilla once represented Hiroshima’s horror. By the early ’70s, he was actively defending nukes – Godzilla vs Megalon is truly bizarre.

And it’s not only breaking one traditional theme. In Invasion of Astro Monster, Godzilla blasted an alien civilization controlled by technology, the film fearing a loss of humanity to electronics. Here, robotic advancements lead to Jet Jaguar, whose internal AI lets him grow in size to become another planetary defender. What luck Jet Jaguar chooses to side with Godzilla. Technology and nukes will save us all, the twisted metaphor Godzilla vs Megalon leaves behind.

Technology and nukes will save us all, the twisted metaphor Godzilla vs Megalon leaves behind

Godzilla vs Megalon does all this in a plot retread. Evil monsters do the bidding of an invading force, a story pulled from Invasion of Astro Monster, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs Gigan, and then two subsequent entries after this. If there’s a creative bottom to Toho’s monster series, Godzilla vs Megalon is it, because at least the follow-up (Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla) had a notable spark.

It’s worthwhile to note Godzilla vs Megalon’s cruddy, shameful end product doesn’t stem from a lack of talent. If anything, Megalon bursting through a dam stands as a glorious example of miniature art, direction, and skill. Toho’s thinning production values forced Godzilla vs Megalon’s end battle on to a studio set with little decoration other than sculpted dirt. That after countless segments employ stock footage in an attempt to add thrills.

That aside though, Godzilla vs Megalon ranks as ludicrously entertaining. In the bad movie pantheon, this ranks high for watchability. Hardly any of this movie makes sense. Rather than calling police or the military to take out a lone Seatopian controlling Jet Jaguar from their house, a father and son steal a model airplane (?) to fly into the invader’s face. During the monster climax, Godzilla and Jet Jaguar find themselves trapped in a ring of fire; when they escape (Godzilla hitches a ride on Jet Jaguar’s back), the next shot zooms to Gigan and Megalon with hilariously stunned postures.

The whole thing is delightfully inept, and certainly never slow as Toho tried outwitting Ultraman on their own terms. That didn’t work, and while offensively stupid in overwriting Godzilla’s core themes, Godzilla vs Megalon is an artifact of Japan’s oil crisis and inflation with a weirdly inspiring, “We’ll make due” attitude.

Video

Criterion released Godzilla vs Megalon. Take a moment to process that.

Previously, Media Blasters issued this one to Blu-ray. Criterion’s effort might use the same source (a release print with visible editing seams), but exhibits stronger contrast. It’s a deeper, richer presentation than before. Depth is achieved even with the lacking black levels. Given the day-for-night employed so frequently, that’s likely the cause.

Primaries stand out, quite dynamic and enriched. Colorful clothing and even cars stand out. Jet Jaguar’s yellow, red, blue, and silver look fantastic with this natural saturation.

While not striking with its sharpness, resolution reaches a respectable tier. Grain looks natural, and small texture becomes visible. For instance, notable veins on Megalon’s translucent wings add to the design. You can easily notice pain melting from Godzilla’s suit while stuck in the fire ring.

Audio

Richiro Manabe’s screechy themes pose a challenge for this DTS-HD track. Mostly, the mix holds up. This is especially true for the violins that make up Jet Jaguar’s theme. Early on, sharp low-end even catches the subwoofer in a smooth, precise transition, doubly so in a mono track.

Generally thin dialog isn’t a surprise, although this never becomes a problem.

Note an English dub is offered.

Extras

Nothing. There are DVD copies out there with a few bonuses if you can find them on the secondary market.

Godzilla vs Megalon
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

While undeniably cheap, dorky, and totally out of sync with series values, Godzilla vs Megalon is still a deliriously entertaining farce.

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