Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)
It's a major monster meltdown!
And it comes to this, the final part of the Heisei era of Godzilla. The promise of monster-a-monster battle, and something different about Godzilla draw us in to what we already expect to enjoy (being fans of our giant radioactive dinosaur friend). The defining film that takes it all the way back to the original Gojira, and wraps up the exodus of our monster king's story. Can the plot and characters bring this movie to the top, or will it be a complete meltdown from which we may never recover?
From the get go, the movie wastes no time getting down to business: Godzilla's home island has experienced massive nuclear decay (resulting in it disappearing altogether) somehow and Godzilla has now become unstable. The descendant from one of the original film's characters recognizes this, and it's not long until the G-force is brought up to speed on the risks. If Godzilla pops, the very planet's atmosphere will burn red hot until we all explode. Meanwhile, a scientist has discovered something incredibly similar to the oxygen-destroyer's micro-oxygen that the courageous scientist gave his life to protect from falling into the wrong hands.
Unfortunately, even he couldn't foresee just how right he was. From dirt around the original Godzilla's grave (where the oxygen destroyer was released), a fossil has been mutated and awoken. It continually grows, splitting and multiplying in number, and the JSDF fights themselves in a ground battle against these creatures while the threat of world destruction from Godzilla's near critical mass looms. Hope arises, and a way of dealing with the creatures is found - and much to their dismay the creatures take poorly to losing, joining together to form the enormous Destoroyah!
Little Godzilla is discovered to be alive at this point, and our returning psychic friend is ecstatic, only to be saddened when G-force decides to use him as bait to lure Godzilla into a confrontation with Destoroyah. Once again, science from the past comes back to haunt Japan - having created not just one monster but now two. Can Destoroyah be tricked into killing and preventing Godzilla from melting down the Earth? Will Little G survive his role as bait? How will the JSDF contend with Destoroyah if it does win?
The action wastes no time in getting started. From the get go, things are looking improved, even to the various stages of Godzilla's nuclear meltdown. Suits (including the new Little G) are all looking incredibly well detailed and put together, and the ground forces and vehicles of the JSDF haven't looked better. To see ground troops and cops contending with monsters on their own scale is new to this entry, and the scene gives a very heavy Aliens vibe (from the looks of the flamethrowers down to the phase 2 Destoroyah's punchy-tongue mouth). Likewise, explosions look downright gorgeous, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out Michael Bay loved this movie because of them (they are that nice).
Characters here (nearly all of the major ones) find themselves having direct ties to the original Gojira - two are kids from the adopted son of the original main scientist, one follows the same research as the 'hero' scientist - and others we can recognize from other entries in the era - such as our good hearted psychic friend Miki. Likewise, on the Godzilla side of the suited creatures, it feels a lot more like there is some acting going on with their body movements - something I guess unavoidable considering the emotional content of the movie. If you happen to be a fan, and you don't get at least choked up at some point, you may want to consider yourself the real monster.
Audio has a few standout song moments - mainly the deep and heavy theme rendition, very fitting of the underlying danger of Godzilla's encroaching meltdown. Other songs exist, such as the uplifting JSDF theme that makes you want to play it while rolling in on a charge or the incredibly somber theme used for reflection. Of course, the atmospheric accents songs are playing during battles and reveals, but personally the other three are the most standout. Audio lines are delivered well, and the syncing of the dubs is much improved over some of the other entries. Likewise, the effect soundwork comes off leaving a wonderful feeling that you are surrounded in the chaos on screen.
So what's the verdict? I don't think they could have ended the era in any more serious, better fashion than what they managed with GvD. It ties in to the original, reintroduces a very serious tone even though some of the situations might seem like goofy things to happen. Science comes back to haunt us, yet again, and it does a very effective job of tugging at the heart strings for someone who is already a fan. If you've stuck with watching all the Heisei era films already, you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Although you could watch it stand-alone, it would be best to at least watch the original Gojira, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2, and possibly even Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla before going into this one for maximum results. Also be advised, the monster battles this time around are much more violent, down to bits and parts flying off during them. It's a much more "adult" fight at the end, just something to keep in mind.