30 Days of Godzilla – Day 17: Favorite Mothra Song and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) Review
30 Days of Godzilla: Day 17: Favorite Mothra Song: All of them? They all are nice listens. In particular the ones sung by The Peanuts and the 90’s Godzilla vs. Mothra and Rebirth of Mothra trilogy.
30 Days of Godzilla- Review: Gojira tai Biorante aka Godzilla vs. Biollante 1989:
The idea of a sequel to The Return of Godzilla seemed rather unlikely, even Producer, Tomoyuki Tanaka was skeptical. The Return of Godzilla didn’t really garner much financial benefit. Also the failure of King Kong Lives that was released in the U.S. made Tanaka more uncertain. Maybe the public wasn’t ready for another Godzilla series. Oddly enough it was the sucess of the 1986 film Little Shop of Horror, that convinced to proceed. He held a story contest for the next Godzilla movie, the story focusing on of course Monster vs. Monster. For directing Tanaka chose, Kazuki Ōmori. The two were not on the best terms as Ōmori blamed Tanaka for Godzilla’s decline in quality. However he took the job and selected the winner from five finalists.
The winning entry was submitted by Shinichiro Kobayashi, a dentist. Kobayashi wrote a story with the dealing not only with the hypothetical death of his daughter in mind but also biotechnology. Kobayashi wanted to create an opponent for Godzilla that could stand equal to him in terms of power and terror, saying that biotechnology aka genetic or life manipulation can be just as dangerous as the threat of nuclear weapons, in the wrong hands. Ōmori modified the story for three years to make it into a workable script as well as using his biology knowledge to make everything feel plausible. He also added that Biollante was also created using Godzilla cells so that the anti-nuclear message of the series would continue.
So how does this film hold up as a sequel to The Return of Godzilla? In a few words, the answer is very well, almost amazingly well. Everything I said about The Return of Godzilla can be said about Godzilla vs. Biollante and then some.
What Godzilla vs. Biollante does is show just how flexible and imaginative the Godzilla series can be. When the previous film dealt with Cold War politics and modernization, this film focuses on power struggles for Godzilla’s cells which are seen as marvels for potential scientific advancements. Each country wanting a piece of the Godzilla pie in order to benefit their nation or their company. Another thing is terrorism and espionage or spy stuff.
In how Godzilla is freed it involved a situation where an agent from a company known as Bio-Major who threatens to set off explosives that will free Godzilla if he doesn’t get the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria (A bio tool created using Godzilla’s cells).
The spy stuff comes from a Saradian agent, SSS9, who carries out the tasks for his nation in a quick, effect, and quiet matter. There’s also ESP or the involvement of psychics, with the introduction of reoccurring character Miki Saegusa, our human voice for Godzilla.
The film also is a marvel in special effects, really pushing what can be done. The late Koichi Kawakita took over for Teruyoshi Nakano as special effects director for this film and he brings his A game to the project.
Every scene involving a special effect was used effectively and strongly in this film. There’s hardly a moment of weakness. Even with brief action scenes, the effectiveness and wasting no time with padding in the fight, made watching the fights with Godzilla against Biollante compelling. Speaking of Biollante, her rose and final form are amazing sights and craft.
They don’t spell out just a rubber suit, they look like pieces of art in motion. The amount of people involved with making Biollante’s final form move the way it does is incredible. For his first Godzilla film Kawakita really knocks it out of the park and his effects are worth watching this movie.
Ōmori as director also is in top form, creating a serious tone throughout the film, keeping true to Godzilla’s roots. Every human scene and bit of dialogue is compelling and you can’t help but watch what will happen next. He keeps you engaged with the story, and even added the spy feeling to the movie. He always dreamed of making a James Bond film and he puts that desire in the Godzilla film and it flows in very nicely in the directing narrative. Koichi Sugiyama of Dragon Quest fame, worked on the music. His music fits in well with the film, adding a nice modernization of some of Ifukube’s original Gojira stuff.
The cast and characters are good to decent, capturing the narrative in mind for the film. You get a sense of something more to these people, who do want to change the world. Kazuhito Kirishima played by Kunihiko Mitamura is a young scientist who wants to help the world the best he can and his interactions with Dr. Genichiro Shiragami, a man driven by grief over his daughter’s death and feels betrayed by science, are interesting. Koji Takahashi is decent as Shiragami, he plays a serious man who is mentally broken but doesn’t want to admit it. The films plays with the idea of what science is for, is it just some political tool for power or is it something that that is for the betterment of mankind, is it both. The film makes you think.
Toru Minegishi as Col. Goro Gondo was memorable to me, stealing every scene he is in. He’s a lax guy who was “demoted” in the military and just sits around wasting tax money for or even if Godzilla returns. He doesn’t like it and actually hopes Godzilla does return just some he isn’t a tax burden.
Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa is young in her role, despite he age she does add the sort of mystical or psychic elements very well in her portrayal and you can tell she can only improve more.
Godzilla and Biollante are both great in this film. Kenpachiro Satsuma returns as Godzilla and improves a lot from the previous film. He captures what and who Godzilla is effectively and provides a nice sense of rage in the character but animistic curiosity and instinct to the character.
Like when he is shot in the mouth by Gondo, he uses that knowledge and does the same thing to Biollante. Also he makes sure to captures Godzilla’s victim aspect and that he isn’t evil, he trying to survive.
It’s those little things that make him great. Biollante is a beast, in both rose and final form. She is a mixture of terrifying monster mixed in with human compassion. It’s with her help the the humans manage to subdue Godzilla in the end. She’s vicious but of a kind heart. She’s a welcomed addition to the franchise. She is the biotechnology version of Godzilla and the film portrays that and the narrative of her to perfection.
I would absolutely recommend this film. Everything The Return of Godzilla did, this movie does and pushes it more. It shows just how many interesting stories Godzilla can tell. It also sets up what will be the rest of the Heisei era and how it approaches Godzilla’s opponents and Godzilla as more than just monsters. There are many layers to them in terms of creation and characterization. Also sets up the Kawakita era of special effects for Godzilla. It’s no wonder it was the Japanese pick for best Godzilla film, beating out the original. It’s modernization and serious atmosphere as well as it’s creativity and imagination all benefit the film. It’s a film for everyone, new and old.
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