Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
The ultimate battle has only just begun.
Now we start getting into the parts of Godzilla that we all tend to love the most - the monster on monster action! The 1989 entry marks the first step of the Heisei series that involves Godzilla not being the only giant monster to stop around the block - although by far it's certainly not the first ever 'zilla flick to feature multiple monsters (just in this arc). Can the king of monsters hold his ground against the new threat? Will the movie harbor any improvements over Godzilla '85? Did I manage to get the non-Americanized version? Either you are gonna love this like a giant rose, or want nothing more than to burn it with your fiery breath.
The story of this one picks off immediately after the '85 Godzilla flick, with crews picking up little pieces blown off from Godzilla in his battle with the Super X ship. One of these crews is not like the others, however, seemingly being a gung-ho set of american soldiers (based on their use of english) who after a terrible foot chase scene escape with a box full of samples (known through the rest of the movie as Godzilla Cells). As they start to celebrate their awesomeness, an assassin pops out and wipes them out. This starts an entire story of corporate espionage that will continue to play out in the background (and foreground) of the movie. A scientist and his daughter prepare to work on the samples to make an immortal plant to cover the desert, but their plans are cut short when an american corporate terrorist strike blows up the lab, killing the daughter and causing the scientist to leave the project.
Five years later, Godzilla starts to get active. Proof is harnessed from a plethora of sources (including the newly introduced psychic division), and measures are starting to be taken to safeguard Japan against the possibility that Godzilla will escape his volcano "prison." The biggest plan for this involves making anti-nuclear bacteria using the G-Cells, for which the same scientist whose daughter died is recruited. He agrees to help in this research, under the condition he can house the cells in his own lab for seven days - which he uses to try and finish his immortal plant research, as somehow his rose bush actually houses his daughters soul in his mind.
Corporate espionage escalates in the background, forcing the unfortunate release of Godzilla from the volcano when a third party comes to play. After fending off his first appearance using the new Super X2, the plant seems to have grown out of control at the Scientist's house, becoming a huge plant-like creature in the bay. Godzilla proves surprising once again, managing to force the X2 into retreat, and finds himself a bit distracted by Biollante. Here, we get the main monster on monster action - the genetically mutated plant and Godzilla from whence it was spawned.
The iconic theme song returns, to which I am personally quite happy about. The song, although relaying tension and the fact danger is looming, is incredibly catchy and upbeat and the Godzilla movie just doesn't feel right without it. Simple little changes - like an instrument added here or there, or a change of pacing - occur from time to time, if even at all, and other songs still grace the film as well. The second major theme is what I like to call the JSDF theme, in which case it's the "we can do this!" action and response theme for the Japanese side of the human on monster battles. The two work well together, and at points will actually flow into one another seamlessly enough that you barely notice.
On the effects side of things, it's a few steps ahead of the previous movie. No longer feeling of being taped on a VHS, the image is much more crisp and holds up much better on the projector from which I watch movies. The actual effects themselves all are pulled off better, seeming much less like a bunch of toys exploding (although you can still tell they are fake at times), and the cuts work much better to make it more believable. The Godzilla suit itself has seen some improvements - my favorite amongst them being the change of the eyes. No longer does it look like Godzilla is stoned off his rocker groggily staring up into the sky, and the way they work the head in close-ups effectively conveys emotion (whether they meant to or not) to the point that at once scene I can imagine the big old lizard thinking "What the crap?"
Actors do a pleasant job as well, ranging from overly enthusiastic about their jobs, to very professional, to trying way too hard to be really really cool. Some of the parts audio wise can be slightly cringe worthy (Did that assassin tell the corpses "Kiss you boys?"), and there are a few moments where characters understandably converse in english amongst each other, but it can be a little hard to understand (considering it doesn't appear to be either of their first languages). Considering it's the Japanese version, I'm sure this is only a problem for myself considering the part is subtitle in Japanese (much like the rest was subbed in english so I could read it).
Compared to the last entry, this is totally an improvement. From the audio to the visual presentation, nearly everything is improved. The monster on monster battle and heck, even the espionage style scenes are highly entertaining the first time around watching it, even if it does suffer a bit from some of the lines being pretty dated ("We are Lethal Weapon!"). The heavier plot elements still exist, harkening back to the original Godzilla and the dangers of science, as well as introducing plenty of other elements that will most likely crop up in future films (such as the psychic department, and the Godzilla task force). If you had to pick one of these movies to start on (from this story arc), this would probably be it, considering that it even does a brief recap of the end of '85 right off the bat. It puts a bit more excitement into the human side of the story, while also amping up the battle on the monster side of the battle.