GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE
Directed By: Kazuki Ōmori
Story By: Shinichirō Kobayashi
American Distribution By: HBO Video (Cassette) Echo Bridge Entertainment (DVD)
This movie is, arguably, one of the first Godzilla films I had seen as a kid. I say arguably because in all honesty I can’t remember specifically which Godzilla movie I had seen first of my grandfather’s collection. Still, regardless of whether or not this film was first, Godzilla vs Biollante has a special place in my heart like the rest of my top five personal favorite Godzilla films. In point of fact, much like my favorite films, my top five were chosen in their order entirely by chance and all of them could easily place first at any given moment.
Godzilla vs Biollante is a unique film in the franchise. The second film to follow Godzilla 1985 (otherwise known as The Return of Godzilla) and is the premiere appearance of the popular Heisei Godzilla, both in his physical appearance that was used throughout the era and the series as a whole. It is also the film that had recently been voted as being the best Godzilla movie to date by Japanese fans and I can’t dispute this fact.
The special effects might be somewhat dated, but the story is one of the most original, and sensible, of the entire Godzilla series bar a select few. The film begins in the immediate aftermath of Godzilla’s last attack, and subsequent imprisonment in the heart of the volcanic Mt. Mihara.
Living samples of Godzilla, simply named as G-cells, are found and boy is the world all but declaring the start of World War III over them. The first samples of the G-Cells are first stolen by a group of American militants but are almost immediately stolen by a lone assassin codenamed SSS9 who kills them rather easily and takes the G-cells with him to the Republic of Saradia to deliver them to the Saradia Institute of Technology and Science.
There a father and daughter pair of scientists, Genshiro and Erika Shiragami are tasked by the president of the institute to merge the G-cells with plant life to try and transform Saradia’s deserts to a vast greenery, ending the nation’s dependence on oil wells for money. Unfortunately, terrorists strike at the institute, either against the country or against the use of G-cells, and Erika is killed.
In his grief, Genshiro returns to Japan and in the five years since his daughter’s death has managed to not only successfully merge her own cells with that of a rose plant but has somehow managed to ensnare her very soul to the plant. Of course, he does not know this, only hopes for it most fervently, even going so far as to get the aid of a young psychic-in-training Miki Saegusa who is trained/employed at an institution for similarly intuitive children.
Meanwhile, the JSDF are trying to use the G-cells they have to create a “Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria” in the hope of using it as a fatal weapon against Godzilla should he somehow manage to return. The additional benefit of the bacteria being able to, essentially, “eat” nuclear radiation also makes it a humongous boon for radioactive waste management as well. Unfortunately, the scientists have hit a bit of a snag and they try and enlist Doctor Shiragami to aid them but the man turns them away.
A freak explosion at Mt. Mihara quickly changes the man’s choice though as the result earthquake nearly kills the roses that house Erika’s soul. He agrees to help create the bacteria but only if he is given the G-cells for a week’s time in his own laboratory. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the heroes of our tale, the explosion was by no means an act of nature but a test by the American biological corporation of Bio-Major who want the G-cells, the bacteria in particular, for their own personal gain while the Saradia Institute of Technology and Science have sent SSS9.
The agents of Bio-Major and SSS9 break into Shiragami’s lab but only SSS9 makes off with the G-cells while one of the agents is slain by the result of the good doctor’s attempt at saving the plant he hopes houses his daughter’s soul.
By merging the G-cells with the roses, Doctor Shiragami unwittingly created a malformed clone of Godzilla, one whose mutation is in a constant state of flux as it first emerges in the nearby lake as a massive rose plant, silent and seemingly without Erika’s soul.
The remaining agent of Bio-Major issues an ultimatum to the government of Japan. They deliver him the G-cells and the ANEB or he blows the charges around Mt. Mihara, releasing Godzilla back into the world once more. Though the government goes through with the trade, SSS9 arrives and kills the Bio-Major agent, severely damaging the guy’s truck in the process, and he makes off with the G-cells whilst Godzilla breaks free of Mt. Mihara.
Back at the lake, Doctor Shiragami’s monster, Biollante, suddenly seems to come to life, crying out both physically and psychically to Godzilla. Though Godzilla doesn’t hear the calls at first, he eventually does and is turned away from a nuclear power plant to the lake that houses Biollante. Curious at the creature that is and is not of his own blood, Biollante immediately goes on the attack, but is quickly destroyed by Godzilla’s radioactive heat beam.
Eventually, the JSDF manage to infect Godzilla with the ANEB but soon realize that Godzilla’s body temperature is not high enough for the bacteria to effectively kill him before he grows immune to it. In an attempt to raise his body temperature, the military implement one of the most die-hard plans I’ve ever seen in a Godzilla film.
Using giant microwave emitting plates, the military use the plates alongside an artificially created lightning storm to try and raise Godzilla’s body temperature by way of, essentially, getting his body pumping for battle. Unfortunately, even the military’s best attempts do little to get the Big G’s body temperature up until the arrival of a newly mutated Biollante.
The monstrosity of science manages to not only hold her own against Godzilla but manages to actually defeat him even if that victory came with the aid of the anti-nuclear energy bacteria. As Godzilla lies dying at the lapping tides of the ocean, Biollante vanishes upwards into the sky, her body disintegrating into a massive cloud of pollen with one last message to the man who gave her life, both as Biollante and as Erika Shiragami…
Of course, as we all knew he would, Godzilla does not in fact die but emerges alive and well for though the bacteria had nearly drained him dry, his powerful regenerative cells —to be explained at a later date— were given enough time to make him become immune to the ANEB because of his little face-plant into the ocean lowering his body temperature back down, thus slowing the ANEB’s effects.
Though I only touched lightly upon it, this is one of the few Godzilla films that really invests into the human side of the story and it is further aided by the fact that not only do a majority of the actors and actresses look distinct from one another, but the voices that were chosen for the English dub are equally diverse. Honestly, this is one of the few Godzilla films where I can’t help but watch the human scenes and not skip straight to the good stuff.
As to the monster fights… I think I’ll save that for when I review Biollante in further detail but I will say that the effects and the fight itself are one of the most amazingly brutal one’s in the entire series.
Overall, this is a Godzilla film that has a true-blue story from beginning to end with enough action throughout that even the scenes without action are filled with tension and build-up. If you want a recommendation to one of the best Godzilla films, this one will always be amongst the top five of my list.