Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)

NOVEMBER 30, 2012


Confession time: apart from the (edited, revised dialogue) US version of Godzilla 2000 that played theatrically (which I know I went to see, but that's my entire memory of it), I've never seen a real Godzilla film in its entirety. I remember one of my local stations seemed to show them often on Sunday mornings when I was a kid, but I'm pretty sure I never watched one start to finish, and even if I did I certainly don't remember it. So, for all intents and purposes, Godzilla vs. Biollante is the first TRUE* Godzilla movie I've seen, and I tell you - I want to see more.

Now, for all I know this is the worst of the lot, and/or radically different from the others and thus I'll never like another one again. That's the problem with watching what is essentially part 17 of a series instead of going in order, now my perspective of what a Godzilla movie should be is forever skewed (I promise I'll make the original one my next stop, at least). But how much different could it be? It actually skewed pretty closely to what my idea of what one of these movies was like - a monster is formed, Godzilla comes back, fights it, there's some downtime, and then they fight again. And throughout the film, humans try to kill them both.

But there was stuff I wasn't so sure about, like lengthy scenes of human antagonists fighting over bio-samples, and psychic children that can temporary distract Godzilla away from destroying a city so that he will wander off and destroy something else. As with the Transformers films, I'm kind of only hear to see giant things destroying stuff and don't really care much about the humans, but after 17 movies I'm guessing that even if this wasn't usually the case, they'd have no choice but to open it up a bit.

Especially considering that the history of "G" attacking the area isn't ignored. Not that I expected people to be like "Wait, WHAT? A giant lizard? Preposterous!" at this point, I WAS surprised at how far in the opposite direction it went - the people of Japan are actually kind of blase about him at this point. There's a Godzilla alert system, where level 1 means that they just heard him or felt a rumble, but didn't actually see him, and level 2 means a sighting. Level 4 (the highest, I guess? No 5?) is when they know exactly where he will strike, so of course every 15-20 minutes in the movie they raise it another level. And when they figure out where he's headed, the emergency broadcast kicks in and the announcer is basically like "Godzilla's coming, everyone follow the usual instructions." And folks are a bit worked up, of course, but there's no real panic - they're filing out of their buildings and such the same way an LA resident might for an earthquake. It's pretty amusing.

I also like how they use the poor bastard as a guinea pig for their ridiculous weapon tests, more or less. At one point in the movie they think they know how to stop him, but when it doesn't work someone theorizes that he needs to be warmer first, so they ward him off into another area so they can bake him with radioactive shields first. This after he's been shot at by them multiple times, not to mention puked on by Biollante. Just put a bullet into his brain and put him out of his misery! Otherwise, I enjoyed how the scientists were used here; the guy who created it was a grieving scientist (his daughter was killed by a terrorist bomb), and thus had conflicting views on what was happening since Biollante actually took out a few of the terrorists. And there's even a good "Godzilla isn't the monster - the scientists who created it are!" speech somewhere in there, so it hasn't forgotten its roots as a warning on the dangers of meddling with science (hey just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean I don't know what it IS).

As for Biollante, I found it to be a pretty cool villain, one who went through a couple stages to keep it fresh. At first we just see its tentacles that have little mouths on the end (kind of like Little Shop Of Horrors' little singing "buds"), and then its basic form in the first fight. But after it is taken down/reborn, it's bigger and more mobile, with more tentacle legs and a far more monstrous body/head. Apparently the movie didn't do too well in Japan back in 1989 and it was attributed to the fact that it was a new monster instead of one of the classic "kaiju", but if so you 80s Japanese folks were silly - this is a damn cool monster. Luckily, while it never appeared in another movie I guess, it has been in a few of the subsequent video games.

This is the first time the film has been available on DVD or Blu-ray in the US, and Echo Bridge has offered some bonus features to make up for the delay. A 49 minute making of piece is actually pretty good, focusing on the creation of Biollante, some new techniques in shooting the Godzilla scenes (a guy in a suit, if you weren't aware), and other typical production type stuff. It doesn't include anything about the movie's post-production or reception, but it DOES have some deleted footage, including part of the nutty original ending, where Biollante would eat Godzilla and absorb his energy (and this would be depicted via anime, as if it wasn't out there enough). There's also a separate 3 minute look at some original designs for Biollante. Both are given subtitles, and the film has TWO subtitle options - the original translation and revised to match the original Japanese. EB has given a few audio options as well - you can choose between the English dub or two Japanese versions (5.1 or 2.0). Not a bad package; the transfer itself is nothing mind-blowing, but compared to the other barebones blus (with terrible transfers0 I've seen from the company, I am quite pleased with this package. Hopefully it's an indicator of things to come.

But I don't expect too many more Godzilla releases from them; this was the only one picked up by Miramax to the best of my knowledge, and that's the library all of their newer releases seem to be taken from. So I'll have to poke around for the others; I know the original has a Criterion release but the other sequels I'm sure are scattered among several companies. I don't have much time left for HMAD, so if you're something of an expert and you want to offer 2-3 must-sees, feel free to post them below! I'd like to see at least that many more before I wrap things up in March.

What say you?

*Fuck Roland Emmerich.


  1. The first one is not without it's charms and has a heavier impact from appearing less than 10 years after the ACTUAL atomic bombs, but it has to also be seen in the context of a 1950's monster movie. It doesn't exactly have the monster-on-monster action of the later films, and it can seem a bit slow in parts. Two good ones from the modern era are the two "last" Godzilla films.

    GODZILLA VS DESTROYAH was to be the last one from Toho studios before the U.S. studio took over the franchise, and it's pretty great. When dinosaur Godzilla bombed, Toho started making them again up until the last one, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, on the 50th anniversary. That one has tons of monsters and is worth checking out.

  2. Watch the original version, Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster,

  3. I'd suggest the original Godzilla (1954) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). The only thing I can think of as being close to this film would be the film that came before it Godzilla 1984, which unfortunately is still in the same boat Godzilla vs. Biollante was until this release.

  4. As an unabashed Big G nerd who grew up on his films (and owns all 28 of them*), I've always liked the Heisei series (which this film is part of) because it took Godzilla to darker places. This entry is, along with Godzilla 1985, the best of that bunch. Seek that film out if you can, but with no official R1 release - outside of VHS - you're kinda SOL.

    Of the available releases, check out Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974, plays like a weird Planet of the Apes/Godzilla hybrid film... that'll make more sense once you see it); Godzilla vs. Hedorah (for the awesomely bad theme song "Save the Earth"); and Godzilla vs. King Kong, because it should be required viewing before exiting the halcyon days of youth.

    Back to this film: your thoughts are on par with mine, and I've loved Godzilla for going on 30 years (crap, I'm getting old). I just want to see people/miniatures/other big super-fauna crushed underfoot by a large radioactive lizard. Never cared about human drama, unless we're talking about Raymond Burr chewing scenery in G 1985.

    *Fuck Roland Emmerich AND Devlin... but I still own their version because I clearly have a completist problem.

  5. King Kong Vs. Godzilla, Godzilla Vs. Megalon, and anything with Mechagodzilla. I would also recommend watching Rodan, the first act has a strong horror vibe, at least more so than most of these movies do.

  6. Godzilla 1985 really is worth seeking out. i would rent it from the video store all the time when i was a kid. it's a nice dark "reboot" following all the zaniness of the Showa era.

  7. I actually went and watched through all the 29 movies a couple years ago.

    The first one is actually a pretty serious disaster movie for being about a guy in a rubber suit destroying Tokyo - and sometimes kinda long winded, especially in its japanese original. I'd still recomend watching it.

    A lot of the others (but of course not all) of the Showa series (54-75) I actually found to be a bit too much on the boring or stupid side. The first four or such of the Millennium (99-04) ones are also pretty dull. But the Heisei (84-95) ones are all rather enjoyable.

    As far as three favorite picks go... I'd still say the first, then vs. Destoroya and Final Wars are some of the best picks, one from every era.

  8. As for newer Godzilla flicks, I might go with Godzilla vs Destroyah and Final Wars.

    Older Godzilla movies, perhaps Godzilla vs King Kong and Godzilla vs Hedorah (also known as Godzilla vs the Smog Monster)

  9. Destroy All Monsters (1964)

  10. Ha ha, imagine being hugged by Biolante!

  11. Cinemassacre did an amazingly excellent video overview of the entire series throughout October of 2008 -- Godzillathon. It shows the progression of each of the three separate series. You don't have to worry too much about spoilers, G-films are what they are, and we love them.


    Personal favorites: Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah, and non-Godzilla kaiju films worth mentioning: Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster or any movie with Ghidorah, and War Of The Gargantuas (wonderfully bizarre).

  12. Godzilla vs Biollante is well made with impressive scenes and music. Godzilla here is 80 meters tall and the final stage Biollante is 120 meters tall. Biollante is so massive its overdone. Biollante is very realistically animated for in reality a creature with this kind of tonnage wouldnt be able to move. My favorites are Godzilla vs King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah and Mecha-Ghidorah are awesome. Godzilla vs Destroyah is also awesome but depressing and unpleasant. The final stage 120 meter tall bipedal Destroyah looks like a demon or a gargoyle on steroids and is said to be the most powerful kaiju in history. The music is awesome. King Kong vs Godzilla was cool for the giant octopus scene. Kong here is 45 meters tall and fights the 50 meter tall Godzilla. Godzillas size changes from film to film as does the Godzilla costume.


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