Godzilla vs. Biollante (Review)
Godzilla vs. Biollante
aka Gojira vs. Biorante
Directed by Kazuki Omori
Written by Shinichiro Kobayashi and Kazuki Omori
The origins of Godzilla vs. Biollante are not what is usual for a Godzilla film (with the possible exception of Godzilla vs. Megalon) In 1986 Toho held a contest to write the next chapter in the Godzilla saga. The eventual winner was a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi, who came up with a concept about the mutant plant, dead scientist’s daughter, and the psychic girl. The final product is radically different in the other parts, as Shinichiro Kobayashi’s original script also included a rat/fish hybrid monster named Deutalios. The plot also echos parts of the Ultra Q episode The Mammoth Flower, in that there is a giant flower with wacky tentacles. In an interesting side note, the second place winner of the story competition was an entry titled Godzilla 2 by American Jim Bannon, which is set in the future and had a super computer that creates battle machines to fight Godzilla. Toho eventually to this script, yanked the Godzilla out of it, and turned it into the 1989 movie GUNHED. Toho considered using the GUNHED computer to fight Godzilla in subsequent Heisei films, but as we know that never happened.
Since I am mentioning the term Heisei, I might as well explain what it is for those of you who aren’t Gojiraphiles. There are three main eras of Godzilla films. The original series is the Showa series and runs from the original film in 1954 until 1974’s Terror of Mechagodzilla. The second series is known as the Heisei series after the Emperor of Japan during the bulk of the series. It began with Godzilla 1985 (aka Return of Godzilla) and ran through 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. The third series was the Millennium Series, which started with Godzilla 2000 and ran through Godzilla Final War.
Scientist labor to find out if Mister Muffins or Whiskers was the feline who yakked on the couch
Miki Saegusa will become a recurring character throughout the Heisei series. A psychic girl who has a link with Godzilla, she comes in useful when Godzilla resurfaces and causes trouble. Miki starts out as a young girl here (and is really dressed down as a child compared to the later movies where she will be presented more grown up) and matures as the series goes on. An occurring character in so many movies is a rare thing in Godzilla films, and she helped string the Heisei films into a more cohesive group. She is played by Megumi Odaka, who has retired from acting around 2000 and dropped out of public view shortly afterward. Rumors have swirled of illness, but as to what she has been up to it is anyone’s guess.
Biollante represents mankind’s arrogance, which is a theme the film will beat over your head again and again. Yes, we get it, mankind is arrogant and playing God and all that stuff. We know this from the other Godzilla films that say some of the same stuff. So getting an extra layer of shame cake is not a pleasant desert. The next film gets all preachy as well, but about totally different things. As many of the live action sequences are completely forgettable, much of the preaching falls on ears that won’t remember it 90 minutes later. The human story here switches from scientists and ethical dilemmas to terrorist countries and their goons to psychic schoolgirls to untested military officers. It is like four stories in one, plus the monster action. The film debuted dubbed on video and cable in the US, though I have a copy of a Japanese version which will be used in the review. As far as I know there is no real difference.
We start out with a list of the Godzilla alarm systems, the do some flashbacks of Godzilla’s rampage in 1985 (or 1984 if you are Japanese) during opening credits. As you may recall, Godzilla took a tumble into a volcano. Cleanup begins, as well as finding some Godzilla skin cells. These skin cells turn out to be valuable and a firefight soon erupts over them as some random white guys steal them. They defeat the Japanese army, but are then killed by some Scrawny Lorenzo Lamas-looking knucklehead who works for the evil nation of Saradia.
The Republic of Saradia is an Islamic country that makes money off of oil and is now trying to beef up its other industries because eventually alternative fuel sources will leave their country worthless and barren. Hey, this suddenly is more timely than ever! All we need is America bombing crap, but that will happen in a few minutes…
But enough about my wedding night…
Dr. Shiragami and his daughter Erica Shiragami head to the Saradia Institute of Biotechnology to pick up Godzilla cells so they can be quick frozen. Saradia has developed a new weed that can grow in the desert. That’s great, how about a grain that can grow in the desert? That might be better than a weed. But I’m no farmer, just a son of a farmer. The conversation in the Japanese version is in broken English, which is hard to follow, as both Dr. Shiragami and the Saradia official guy have completely different accents. Their goal to make deserts grow plants will worry America, the largest cereal exporter in the world, but that will just be a bunch fo boring tarrifs, right? Wrong again, as there is a giant explosion. Amazingly, the secretary knows the laboratory was destroyed by a bomb a mere 2 seconds after the explosion. Maybe she is in on it! That’s the only explanation. Guess who died in the explosion? Yep, Erica is now dead, which you probably figured out since she was already stated as dead.
It is now five years later. Seventeen-year-old Miki Saegusa is the best psychic they have at the Mental Science Exploration Center (the name of the place she works for will change over the movies.) We are also told that plants have mental energy. I wonder what plant the writer was smoking when he came up with that idea! As exciting as being a plant psychic must be, Miki Saegusa fails to pick up any mental energy from Dr. Shiragami’s roses. I wonder why… Later we find out that Dr. Shiragami inserted his daughter’s DNA into the roses (her favorite plant) as a way to try to have his daughter live forever. Miki is looked after by Asuka Okouchi, a worker at the psychic institute and the daughter of another prominent scientist (Dr. Okouchi), who is very very interested in the semen of Nobel Prize winners. Very Interested.
This display of trying to read the minds of plants is being watched by two bad villain actors in a “Pacific Express” truck. We are told they are named Michael Low and John Lee, thanks to the help of a car computer by a third guy who is watching everyone, the scrawny Larenzo Lamas guy who is now in a business suit. Is anyone watching him? Uatu, the Watcher; The Eye of Sauron; a random Japanese peeping Tom hiding in the bushes; Thor God of Thunder; and The One True God up in Heaven! The two in the truck are part of Bio-Major’s American Genetic Corporation, which is four corporate enterprises with plans to monopolize the genetic market all around the world. I can’t read the names of the four corporations because the subtitles block them. I wanted to make lots of corporation jokes about their names that only three people will read, but foiled again! Those three people will have to read lame puns made about movie screen readouts elsewhere.
Why ever could they be adding lighting while the scientist plays God and creates a horrible mutant monster???
We get an explanation about what a chimera is, with a summary of the Greek myth and how that relates to biology. What is interesting is chimera cell lines are a pretty big deal and very common in modern biological science, but most of the general public has no idea (and thus gets all freaked out when certain presidents ramble on about “animal-human hybrids”) In a nice touch not seen before, there is a Godzilla Memorial. It is built out of debris with Gojira footprints in it (this architecture is actually pretty cool but would probably tick off survivors.) What would make those survivors really made is that the Godzilla Memorial is also a high-class restaurant!
Asuka is at the Godzilla Memorial Cafe (try their scones!) with her boyfriend Kazuhito Kirishima. He has gotten job offer in Massachusetts and wants her to come with. She would be excited, but, Massachusetts? She is a Yankee fan! There is a rumble at the volcano and at the Japan Psyonics Center (we didn’t even make it ten minutes into the film before the psychic place changed names) dozens of kids there are dreaming…and coloring…Godzilla! At least it ain’t Gamera, because it would be lawsuit city!
Lieutenant Goro Gondo is one of our military characters, he is in charge of guarding where Godzilla lies at the volcano. Asuka goes to see him, and Miki is flown over the volcano. She picks up a psychic image that Godzilla is awake. We move to First Alarm System! Hooray for us! The army is itching for a fight, because they gots lots of new weapons to try, including Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria! We’re going to abbreviate it ANEB, because half of the plot will involve it and I am too lazy to write out the whole name. The Tsukuba Laboratory of Biotechnology is where the ANEB is being developed. They need Godzilla cells to create it because they are using Godzilla genes to transgenicly alter bacteria to eat radiation (the inspiration is the bacteria that eats oil that was developed around then.) I am going to reserve commenting on how this won’t work except to say it wouldn’t work. Somehow we are now with the Okouchi Foundation, where Kazuhito Kirishima meets with Asuka’s dad Dr. Okouchi as they have some of the Godzilla cells that are very valuable. Dr. Okouchi talks about who the ANEB will change the balance of power as nuclear weapons become useless, because he talks about things that could never happen ever. Then there is an earthquake, because the volcano Mr. Mahara is erupting like a teenager’s face!
Only the best science ever!
Dr. Shiragami realizes the chimera roses he has of Erica are dying, and accepts a ANEB research position, but only if he gets the Godzilla cells in his lab for one week. They agree to this, because only Dr. Shiragami knows anything about transgenic DNA action. Of course, he goes about and combines Godzilla cells with rose cells to make Rosezilla! Luckily it is raining outside so the lightning can tell us this is mad scientist area and it is an act against God. Because we couldn’t figure that out for ourselves.
We go to Second Alarm system! No reason, we just do. Now let me tell you about the Super-X2. It is submersible to 10000 meters, has TA-32 armor, and a Fire-Mirror made out of diamonds that will reflect breath attack and amplify by 1000 times. Diamonds are really a girl’s best friend. Whenever Godzilla attacks, just find someone’s wife and hold her ring finger at the breath attack, and hope the husband didn’t get a cubic zirconium.
The two Bio-Major agents are in Dr. Shiragami’s lab looking for ANEB data, and they get into a gunfight with Scrawny Lorenzo Lamas, until they get tentacled the frak up by the mutant rose. Scrawny Lorenzo Lamas manages to knife his way to safety. The terrorists demand the ANEB, or they will blow up the volcano and release Godzilla. They claim to be part of the ALIEN organization, but no one bothers to explain what that even is. Everything in this movie has like five different names, like the script was a mess and cobbled together without a cohesive rewrite… The Japanese government caves like they are 1940’s France and agrees to surrender the ANEB.
And there is a giant freaking rose in the lake!
Moments later, The Bratz Movie opened in theaters
It is Biollante, and we are told the name comes from the spirit of a plant that appears in Norse mythology. Right. Wait, the one biomajor agent John Lee is still alive, but the dialogue said he was killed…oh, never mind! So it is time to switch the ANEB for the controls to the bomb, but the exchange is interrupted when Scrawny Lorenzo shoots at them! This time he is called the ALIEN agent, so this who corporate espionage thing is far too confusing. I wrote all of it down and I have no clue exactly what is happening. If you ignore all the random associations and just go with it things are much easier. I don’t like doing things the easy way, because I am like Dalton. My way of the highway. Biomajor guy John Lee is shot dead, the truck he drives crashes and there is 2 minutes left to deactivate bomb. Despite the best efforts of our heroes, the bomb goes off and Scrawny Lorenzo escapes with the ANEB! What a lousy day.
Godzilla marches again!
Cue the Akira Ifukube music! Boo-yah! Godzilla will save us from this boring espionage plot. Godzilla heads to Tokyo immediately, and the battleships in his way get smoked quickly. Time to launch the Super-X2. One thing I like about the Heisei series is all the crazy super-weapon vehicles make it a constant “Thunderbirds are Go!” feel. The Super-X2 gets its own theme, which sounds suspiciously like the Superman theme. Hmmmm….
The military action will be lead by Colonel Kuruki, who looks like he just got out of 90210. The Super-X2 is a remote controlled vessel, so no one will die when a building gets dropped on it. They activate the fire-mirror and the Super-X2 is joined in battle with Godzilla! The fight is still in the ocean, so you get these sweeping epic shots of the Super-X2 flying around Godzilla and reflecting his attacks back at him. Godzilla gets blasted up and retreats under the water. The Super-X2 can also dive underwater so follows suit.
Back in giant rose land, they find out that Erica is no longer controlling Biollante and the monster is calling out for Godzilla. Biollante also has vines with big chompers on the end of it. I get a major Little Shop of Horrors vibe here, and if Biollante starts singing about how she is a mean green mother from outer space…I’m grabbing my hat and heading for the door.
We must destroy science!
Super-X2 has fight two with Big G. This one doesn’t go as well, as the diamond fire-mirror starts to melt and they are forced to switch to missiles. One lucky tail-swipe later, and the Super-X2 is out of action! Godzilla makes landfall, so now the land army gets a chance to lose to Godzilla. Godzilla heads right to Biollante, and Biollante starts to tentacle Godzilla the frak up! This is pretty disturbing. Godzilla blasts Biollante, then the tentacles come back with bitey mouths and spitting up green gooey acid. Are we watching Godzilla or seriously disturbed fetish porn? It could be either one at this point.
Godzilla just breath blasts everything, and then sets Biollante on fire. I agree with him at this point, burn the whole idea of Biollante. Purge it with fire! It is all sad (whatever, movie, I refuse to be sad like the music says I should be) with gold dust floating in the air (this is symbolism of the spirit of Erica, but you already knew that.) Godzilla then wanders off to trash other stuff. Maybe there is a giant begonia in the next lake.
It turns out Godzilla has gone missing, so the military will use Miki to try to find him psychically. How can the military lose the 500 foot tall giant lizard? They do it every movie! Miki figures out Godzilla is heading to nuclear plants to eat, so they will try to stop him in the bay. Lots of ships and troops and the broken Super-X2 go there to fight. The music is pretty neat, I give credit where credit is due.
Godzilla surfaces in the wrong place, so they have to delay his attack, evacuate that city, and let it get destroyed to fight Godzilla in the other city. Great plan there, I am sure no one will mind the major metropolitan area being destroyed. Miki does what the military guys cannot, and slows Godzilla down. She does so by using her magic psychic powers. These powers will be different in every movie and can do whatever (or be limited by whatever) the script calls for at that moment. In this case she just told Godzilla to turn around for a bit. So he does. Miki then collapses.
By the way, we are at 4th alarm system! That’s where Godzilla has landed. Wait a minute, he already landed, you dolts! No wonder none of their plans work! We get a rock version of the Godzilla theme as people flee Osaka. Nice remix, let me break out the iTunes and download it. Meanwhile, Goro Gondo and Kazuhito Kirishima make it to the Saradia building and get the ANEB back. Now, Saradia orders the death of Dr. Shiragami! Saradia is really ramping up the evil here. Godzilla smashes up another town, because that’s what he does best. Oh, Godzilla, will you ever learn? Not the Mitsubishi building! The battle of Osaka is about to begin, as the partially repaired Super-X2 is ready (minus its diamond fire-mirror.) Goro Gondo, Kazuhito Kirishima, and some other guys now have ANEB armed rocket launchers and run around some of the buildings in town looking to shoot Godzilla. The Super-X2 will lure Godzilla close to them, and does so by opening the fire-mirror for the final push. This gets the Super-X2 destroyed, though it allows Gondo and the others to hit Godzilla with ANEB missiles, which are now drilling into Godzilla’s flesh. Gondo fires another missile right into Godzilla’s mouth, so Godzilla smashes the building he is in down on top of him. No more Gondo, he is gone-o.
The ANEB doesn’t work as fast as they wanted, but then they rationalize that his body temperature is low. They need to raise his body temperature, so they will use the Thunder-control system. Yes, they needed to shoehorn in more useless plot and ridiculous gadgets. We get artificial clouds, thunder, and lots of shots of men with machines and generators. Let’s begin the attack, already! Things get blown up, Godzilla gets zapped a lot and is soon is starting to wobble. So helicopters attack, except Godzilla destroys them all and isn’t as defeated as they thought.
The stupid humans are saved as sparkling gold dust floats down and turn into Biollante! Biollante in mutated form. Evolved form. What is this, Pokemon? The new, lizard Biollante attacks, and Godzilla blasts some of the tentacle mouths which are still around because they are creepy. Then Biollante charges (you will believe a mutant lizard plant can walk) and stabs Godzilla through the palm! Ouch! Godzilla is stabbed in a few other places, but none of them Jesus-related. Godzilla’s blood is now the same color and consistency as Lime Gatorade, which is a big change from his normal red blood. Maybe this is product placement that I didn’t know about and there was Godzilla-flavored Gatorade released in Japan at the time.
Godzilla does an internal breath blast that electrocutes the tentacles grabbing him, then Biollante pukes up some green slime and sparkles all over Godzilla. Gross to the max! Is this acid breath? Who knows! No one explains anything, and Godzilla is fine soon after. I am chalking this up to more wacky Japanese perversions.
Biollante tries to eat Godzilla, but Big G blasts Big B in the mouth. Then Godzilla lumbers off and collapses near the sea. Dr. Shiragami refuses to do any more bacteria work and starts blaming arrogant scientists. Hey, that’s some nice moralizing, guy who made a mutant rose dinosaur out of his daughter! Biollante then disintegrates herself back into gold dust sparkles and we see the image of Erica, and then Dr. Shiragami is shot dead by Scrawny Lorenzo Lamas. For someone so arrogant and talking down of others being arrogant, he sure didn’t know how to duck! Scrawny Lorenzo Lamas is chased down by Kazuhito Kirishima in a car chase that turns into a car wreck. Hey, there was a better car chase in Godzilla vs. Megalon and no one can be as cool as Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy! Kazuhito Kirishima and Scrawny Larenzo Lamas fight near the energy generators that made lightning, and Lorenzo makes the mistake of stepping on one while aiming his gun and is killed when Major Kuroki turns it on.
More quality family entertainment from Japan!
Godzilla then gets up and goes back to sea, because Godzilla can’t be killed by bacteria unlike those wimpy H.G. Wells Martians. Kazuhito Kirishima and Asuka Okouchi then decides to be together everywhere, starting in bed as soon as they get home (gasp, in a children’s movie?!) The movie is essentially over, but we need a voiceover about the Garden of Eden to further hammer in the subject of mankind’s arrogance. Because we are arrogant. I personally apologize to this film for being so arrogant…NO I Don’t! Up yours, Godzilla vs. Biollante, I’ll be as arrogant as I want! How do you like that?
Oh, and there is a rose in space, how exciting.
Wait, this rose just sits in space for the rest of time?
There is an alternate ending to this film, where Biollante sacrifices herself by turning into a wave of pure energy to defeat Godzilla. But then we wouldn’t get a rose in space, so the whole film had to be scrapped.
I enjoy parts of this, the fights with Super-X2 are my favorite parts of the film. I just don’t like Biollante as a character, and the human plot is incredibly complicated and expanded the plot synopsis above far too much. It is way too confusing and even with notes there are things that make no sense. The writers try to do too much with making a realistic world that is post-two Godzilla attacks. Some touches are nice, but it goes too far and gets too messy. The film also relied too much on super weapons and psychic nonsense that doesn’t incorporate any of the other monster’s origins. It feels like they combined two separate subplots into one, which may be what did happen if they altered part of the original story and added on what they wanted to for themselves. In conclusion, I can do without the monster fights, but enjoy the Godzilla vs. Japanese Defense Force weapons action.
Once in America, the lucky couple soon moved back to Japan after 1998’s American Godzilla film, stating they’d rather live in their destroyed homeland than in a country that would produce a movie so bad.
Rated 7/10 (Fact of the day: Rose DNA is red, Godzilla is getting the heck out of this movie, shedding skin, truck girl, Demon Kogure Kakka, Phone patrol, collapsing psychics)
Godzilla Alarm Systems:
Examples of art from the film: