30 Days of Godzilla – Day 22: Worst Godzilla Movie and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) Review
30 Days of Godzilla: Day 22: Worst Godzilla Movie (Emmerich Does Not Count): Worst? I’m not sure, I don’t think I have one. I know All Monsters Attack seems like the popular chose for understandable reasons but I still enjoy it for what it is, so it’s hard to say it’s the worst. I guess if I was going by personal preference I guess GMK? But like I said I don’t really have a worst Godzilla film.
30 Days of Godzilla- Review: Gojira tai Desutoroia aka Godzilla vs. Destoroyah 1995:
There’s a lot to talk about and really I’m not sure what to say. I could talk about how this became the last film because Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla didn’t bring in the audience attendance numbers of Godzilla vs. Mothra. I could bring up that one potential idea was Godzilla vs. Godzilla aka Godzilla vs. GhostGodzilla which would of had Heisei Godzilla fight against the spirit of the Original Godzilla. It would of also had the Heisei version of Anguirus apparently, but Toho felt having three consecutive movies where Godzilla fights another version of himself would of been much.
I bring this up that because they still wanted to bring it back to the original, so instead they brought back the weapon that killed Godzilla, the Oxygen Destroyer. I could bring all this up, but really what I want to bring up and talk about is the death of Godzilla.
Indeed being the last of the Heisei films, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was promoted simply as “Godzilla dies.” Toho went all out in it’s promotions, even erecting a bronze statue of Godzilla on the Hibiya cinema district. Other events like Koichi Kawakita retiring from Toho and becoming a bandai designer and rumors of the Toho’s big pool being turned into a parking lot. Everything done and said by Toho, was indicating this would be the last Godzilla film.
This film I love a lot, when I say love, I mean I LOVE it a lot. It’s an emotional roller coaster for me. To me it’s my “Death of Superman”, my favorite fictional character in his “final” movie and his death before my eyes. It’s a glorious ending, that feels bittersweet. With the Showa era, it ends with a peaceful feeling that everything for Godzilla and the other Kaiju are going to be alright. Heisei’s ending is like how it started, bitter, serious, tense, it’s a feeling of tragedy.
Like with the rest of the Heisei series, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah delivers in special effects, directing, casting, music, etc. Everything is on point with this film, fitting the narrative and providing everyone with a well deserved but tragic end to Heisei Godzilla. In this film Godzilla is dying, but it’s much worse than that, his death could potentially destroy the world. Over the years we’ve learn that Godzilla feeds on radiation and his body is basically like a nuclear reactor. This comes back as the reason for Godzilla going through his meltdown. Godzilla absorbed more energy from uranium deposits that were on Birth Island (Bass Island) and it overcharged him to where he can’t handle it anymore.
Meanwhile Dr. Kensaku Ijuin who is a chemist who discovers a chemical known as Micro-Oxygen. He wants to study this chemical further, Micro-Oxygen being very similar to Dr. Serizawa’s own Oxygen Destroyer.
To top it all off, Little Godzilla is thought to be dead as a result of the explosion on Birth Island. It seems like a lot but it all comes together in the end.
What I love about this movie, is how dire everything is. Humanity can’t do a whole lot given what is happening. They try to use Super X3 to hopefully slowdown Godzilla’s explosion, only now he’s going to meltdown with enough power to burn into the Earth’s core.
If that isn’t enough Dr. Ijuin’s research on Micro-Oxygen has him go to the site of the Original Godzilla and find something in the soil. Life that survives without oxygen and worse, that life has now mutated due to Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer. That is who Destoroyah, a life form mutated by the only weapon to kill Godzilla.
I feel like the cast does a good job with the material and the directing helps with making the tension and situation feel like something out of the Original Godzilla. Director, Takao Okawara and Screenwriter, Kazuki Ōmori really do capture the hopeless, heavy feeling that the people working on the original did. They cast is able to promote it well and make us feel for the situation.
I particularlly like the return of Momoko Kōchi as Emiko Yamane. Just seeing her again and what’s she has been going through after the original movie, and the kind of nightmares she still has, is moving.
Akira Ifukube provides a wonderful sound track. Giving his all in this movie. He took the job for this film stating that since he was part of Godzilla’s birth, it’s only fair to be part of his death. The music he gives us is reminiscent of the Originals. The somber, horrible feeling in your gut. It’s some of his best work. The music he plays during Godzilla’s death, was perhaps one of the most difficult things he had to do and even harder to listen to. Not because it’s bad, but because of all the emotions involved. According to Ifukube he didn’t want to use the theme from the Original’s death since he wanted to focus on something else, the dark side of humanity, the one that gave birth to nuclear weapons and the tragic being, Godzilla. He approached it with the mindset he was writing the theme for his own death.
Koichi Kawakita goes out in spectacular fashion, using his great skills one last time to give a really impact special effects galore for Godzilla. Using some CG to appropriate and satisfactory degree and creating the legendary, Burning Godzilla suit as well as the bizarre creature of Destoroyah and the brutal action scenes of when Godzilla and Godzilla Junior fight the massive beast. Everything looks top notch and what craft in special effects is all about.
Finally there’s our Kaijus, the stars, Godzilla, Destoroyah and Little Godzilla who is now Godzilla Junior (due to radiation from the Birth Island explosion causing him to rapidly grow). What can I say about all of them? They all play their part wonderfully and particularly Godzilla and Junior’s relationship steals the show for me. Destoroyah feels like a devil, like his creation was the Devil’s work. When he becomes his final form, the music and the massiveness of it all and the lighting which feel like the gates of hell have opened. This creature means business and in action he’s on par with Showa Ghidorah on just how menacing and destructive he is.
Junior is great in this movie, showing off his spunk and determination as he fights Destoroyah alone and is able to provide some good hits. Throughout this film and most of Heisei, Junior was kind of like the kinder Godzilla that we cared about, like a pet. He experienced human kindness and was loved.
His involvement in Godzilla’s life perhaps changed the creature in a way we may never understand fully. The creature from The Return of Godzilla to now has changed and Junior may of been a reason for this. It’s made even more tragic when Destoroyah in his final form kills Junior.
Breaking Godzilla’s heart, Kenpachiro Satsuma shows off just how great of a Godzilla suit actor he is, capturing the saddened emotions of Godzilla. When Godzilla breathes on Junior’s head to try to get him up. It’s depressing and heavy. This causes Godzilla to meltdown even faster in both grief and rage.
Godzilla in this film gets a proper send off, throughout most of the Heisei we’ve seen this creature progress film to film. We saw that it’s a creature of pain and rage. It never seem to catch a break, no peace for him. Whether he’s a Godzillasarus defending his land only to be shot multiple times, or mutated beyond belief and dealing with the heat from magma, to all the opponents he has thought.
Everything has been nothing but combat and war. A creature who didn’t ask for this and wanted just to sleep and peace is constantly fighting. We know now, that this Godzilla isn’t evil, he’s a neutral force of nature who was trying to survive in this work but had to deal with conflict, which resulted in even more conflict as him defending himself made everyone else even more aggressive and determined to stop him. The tragic end to a life is in pain with no peace. Throughout the film he’s in pain from overheating as his body is literally killing him from the inside. Emotionally after Destoroyah kills Junior, it feels all is lost for Godzilla. He gives it his all and brutally beats down Destoroyah, using the last of his energy to make this monster pay. He is successful as the military delivers a decisive blow.
With Destoroyah dead, Godzilla’s meltdown begins. The haunting music plays and humanity does everything it can to prevent the meltdown from destroying the Earth. Even as he dies, Godzilla can never get peace. As you see the ice weaponry do everything it can to hinder the expansion of the radiation. Godzilla begins to melt, his skin and bones, radiation bursting from his body. His roar gets weaker as death is taking place.
The military was able to stop Earth’s destruction but Tokyo wasn’t so lucky. All the radiation has spread and now Tokyo is a ghost town on the scale of Chernobyl. That is how it ends for the Heisei era…
Or is it?
Radiation levels are dropping? But how? As the camera pans closer, through the lights and fog, a shape in the distance. We hear nothing but air. As we move closer we see the figure clearer. A monster, a child grown up, as his final act, Godzilla doesn’t destroy but gives life, Junior, his son is given a second chance to live. His existence saves Tokyo and a father’s love saves him. So as the Heisei series ends, we end with one more thing, Junior’s roar, no now the new Godzilla’s roar as we fade to black.
…Yes I love this movie, I recommend it to anyone. It’s an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the Heisei series and I think even if you started with this film it still leaves an impact. But if you watched the Heisei series from beginning to end it leaves even more of an impact. It’s a thrilling and heartfelt end, it stands alone and stands among its peers as a great film. It was considered by Japanese fans the third best Godzilla film. If you give it a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Final Thoughts on the Heisei Era of Godzilla:
So that’s the last of the Heisei era of Godzilla films. How do I feel about the era as a whole? Overall, I love the Heisei era of Godzilla, it like the Showa era opened the door to a lot of creativity, special effects, craft, and effectively modernize Godzilla to the 80’s and 90’s. It’s an era with a lot of fun and love put into it mixed in with a lot of ideas. You can tell that this era was made by fans of the Showa and they expressed it well. It like the Showa era I’d recommend to anyone who wants to get into Godzilla or have fun. It’s an era I love a lot and it holds a special place in my heart.
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