Godzilla VS Biollante ~ 1989, Kazuki Ohmori – Japan
Ah, 1989…. The year the Berlin Wall fell. The year Nintendo released the first model of it’s popular Gameboy system, and the year when Godzilla would face off against a gigantic plant monster, cloned from a fusion of his own cells, plant DNA, and the mysteriously captured soul of a dead Japanese woman. Ah, memories! Plus, Batman came out that year!
Yes, over thirty years had passed since Godzilla’s debut in 1954, and Big Green was now going strong in a rebooted franchise, called the ‘Heisei series” by film fans and the terminally nerdy. Godzilla VS Biolante is a direct sequel to Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985, and it’s pretty darn strong. Also, my BluRay informed me that this film was rated PG for “Traditional Godzilla violence,” so that’s a major victory, I feel.
THE PLOT~ Following Godzilla’s attack on Tokyo in Return of Godzilla, numerous little chunks of ‘Zilla flesh which had been blasted off of his leathery hide are found around the now desolated city. These chunks become highly prized because of their applications in science, and terrorism, and thus multiple nations and private entities enter into small scale violent conflicts to obtain them. As is always the case, one particular chunk of Godzilla cells finds it’s way into the hands of a weasely man in fingerless gloves, who returns them to his employer in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Saradia. Saradia has ecological plans for the Godzilla cells, and hands them over to their go-to science man, the Japanese scientist Dr. Shiragami. However, before any sort of crazy biological nightmare can be crafted, the Saradian Institute of Technology is straight up bombed, Shirigami’s lab is destroyed, and his daughter Erika is killed. No big deal, though, cuz somehow he splices her DNA with some flowers. “That outta take care of it.”
So, fast forward a few years, Shirigami is living in Japan again with his flowers, which he believes have his daughters soul in them. Miki, a psychic from Japan’s “Mental Science Exploitation Center” (good name guys) is invited out to pow-wow with Shirigami’s garden, because she apparently can talk to plants really good. Whatever. Long story short, scientists uncover a new application for the Godzilla cells; theoretically, they can be used to genetically engineer a new form of bacteria which like to gobble up radiation, and that could help neutralize the threat of atomic warfare, as well as kill Godzilla himself, if he ever crawls out of that volcano you chucked him in back in the last movie. Again, numerous government and private entities enter into a deadly game of espionage and terrorism to obtain the known Godzilla cell samples, and eventually some find their way into Shirigami’s hands yet again. “I’m totally adding these to my flower/daughter,” he thinks. And he does. Oh my goodness, what do you know, giant Godzilla/plant monster is created. Dr. Shiragami, you have outdone yourself this time. Your efforts to save your daughter have transformed her tortured soul into a towering, hideous insult to God that must be killed. I expect you to toss that “World’s #1 Dad” mug right in the damn garbage, you twisted son of a bitch.
The monster, called Biolante, mostly just hangs out in a lake until Godzilla comes and kicks it’s ass, causing it to turn into glowing spores and fly into space (For real, this is what happens.) Then, it’s up to Japan to defeat Godzilla, which they work really hard to do, but can’t seem to accomplish. Finally, Biolante Spore-Warps back down from space, now in an improved, less plant/more monster type shape, and beats on Godzilla real hard until he just can’t take it anymore, and then he hops back into the ocean.
In case watching giant, awesome monsters scrabbling to kill each other isn’t the reason you chose to watch a Godzilla movie, Toho has your back, and this battle is followed up by what we all have really been waiting for, two adult men in expensive suits fighting clumsily in the mud. Also, at the very end we see Biolante has transformed into a giant rose and is floating around in outer space. Whatever, that’s stupid as hell, but the movie is still pretty cool, and at least there aren’t any aliens in it.
It really is pretty good. The miniature sets are sub-par, but the monster effects are great. Biolante is an excellent monster, the design is very well done, reminding one of The Deadly Spawn more than a little, and the idea behind the creature makes her the most original monster Godzilla has faced since Hedorah, easily. In fact, Biolante opens up the door for the franchise to explore the moral implications of genetic tampering, which is an issue we couldn’t have adequately addressed in the Showa era, yet the theme seems to be very “at home” within the Godzilla metaphor. After all, he’s a damn mutated dinosaur, so in a way, the issue of biological experimentation has kinda piggy-backed it’s way through the franchise, waiting for science to catch up, so we could really get into the nitty gritty. It’s pretty great.
Also, the monster dental work in this movie is first rate. Those teeth look gross, and shiny, and also kinda real. Good job, monster-tooth technician, whoever you are.