Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seen It: Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)

I would have loved to have been at yesterday's SXSW presentation of Gareth Edwards soon-to-be-released Godzilla flick. The Big G and I go way back and this May's film may go a long way to bringing him to even greater prominence (or at least an appreciation of his past greatness). It can do no worse, in most fans' eyes, than 1998 Rolan Emmerich effort. After reading about the presentation on a few fanboy sites, I decided to spend a small part of my day re-viewing 1989's Toho effort, Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).

The seventeenth(!) installment in the Godzilla series, the film is a sequel to The Return of Godzilla from 5 years earlier (one of the series' many reboots that also fit into a larger chronology) and featured a new "monster" called Biollante. I vaguely recall the movie being released in the early Nineties and, at the time a fallen-away-fan, thought the premise of a "killer flower" sort of silly and a bit unworthy of Godzilla's attentions.

Now a decade later, and a little less jaded as evidence by being more willing to accept entertainment-for-entertainment's sake, the error of my ways is clear. Godzilla vs. Biollante is a very solid Toho kaiju flick which does not (like most good Toho flicks) require you to have seen the previous film, though there are plot points for those interested in the scope and sequence of Godzilla's adventures. Much like one of my personal childhood fave "villains," Hedorah (the Smog Monster), Biollante has some fairly noble intentions, especially given the circumstances of her creation, and goes through a series of developmental stages prior to the fighting-form metamorphosis in anticipation of the big finale (**SPOILER: Unlike Hedorah, Biollante actually has a final metamorphoses following her battle with Godzilla thus resolving the conflict END SPOILER**.) These small similarities, as well as the characterization of the King of All Monsters, help to elevate this film beyond that of a pleasurable reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood Godzilla movies.

The human characters and actors in Godzilla movies are often dismissed as being lesser talents by the uninitiated, but the human stars of Godzilla vs. Biollante put in good performances, most notably future series regular Megumi Odaka, while filling the narrative spaces between monster attacks. This movie also introduces and updates (or solidifies if these may have in fact appeared in earlier films I missed) some new Godzilla tropes. What had in my youth been random child characters who just happened to hit it off with Godzilla are now intuitive phenoms under the tutelage of the psychic teacher Miki Saegusa (Odaka). The Japanese tech used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSF) also receives an upgrade from the previous film introducing the Super X II, a forerunner to what will ultimately be, I assume,  the United Nation's designed Moguera bot of later films.

One doesn't watch Godzilla movies for Shakespearean drama or comedy, though smarter fans than I may be able to make the case for that being part of the plan, but rather the be entertained. I continue being entertained by Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), a feeling that has not been diminished greatly despite repeat viewings.

Koji Takahashi (left) as Dr. Genichiro Shiragami and
Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa (right).
Fun Fact: This Godzilla story was the result of Toho Studios' request for fan solicitations of potential story ideas. The contest was won by Shinichiro Kobayashi, a dentist and occasional science fiction writer!

Godzilla vs. Biollante Wikipedia Page

No comments: