Thursday, November 24, 2011
Godzilla vs. Biollante Review
I hope you've all had a great Thanksgiving. Usually on these big holidays, I watch a film. I was in a Godzilla mood, (then again, I always am) so I wanted to check out one I haven't seen in awhile. With the recent rumors that the rose monster would battle the big G in the upcoming reboot, I had this incentive to check out this film. (That, and it's been over twelve years since I've last watched it, lost the VHS awhile back.) It was one of the few Godzilla films I've only seen once, and was very small when I first popped it into the VCR. So without further ado, onto my Godzilla Thanksgiving special review.
Wow, I literally remembered almost nothing about this film while watching it, which made it a fresh experience. The Heisei era is known for going back to the original 1954 film's route of having a very serious tone and none of the light-hearted fun of the late Showa era. (Save for Terror of Mechagodzilla, that was a pretty serious one.) A lot of fans have a fondness for Godzilla vs. Biollante, which one of the reasons is that to this day, it still doesn't have an official DVD release. (C'mon Media Blasters, if you're gonna do Godzilla vs. Megalon, you should also do The Return of Godzilla and this film.) Anyways, I wanted to see just exactly why a lot of the fans appreciate this entry so much, and I got my answer.....well, I'm still trying to figure why it's regarded as one of the best.
The story follows the Japanese's governemt plan of creating a bacteria that could destroy Godzilla. However, one scientist decides to combine Godzilla's cells with that of a rose. The rose grows into a giant monster dubbed "Biollante," which is said to be exactly like Godzilla. Not only that, but she has the human spirit of a girl. Even though they are blood-related, when Godzilla and Biollante meet, there will be no happy family reunions.
A rather unique concept, you'll see a monster with a giant rose for head in this film. The problem was that the first half of the film was very interesting, yes, but in the second half, the plot kinda vanished for a bit. The early scene with Biollante's tentacles was intense and well-done. And just when you're getting a bit tired of the human characters, Godzilla shows up and makes his way to Biollante. After a very interesting confrontation resulting in Biollante's "death," the film takes a bit of a dull turn. See, the concept of Biollante was what made this film supremely interesting and different when compared to the rest. Once she was defeated in the first battle, she wasn't mentioned until toward the final act. What we have to do is endure the human subplot of Americans, (they never really look good in these films, do they?) attempting to steal the Godzilla cells. When Godzilla appears, he battles the Super X II, which was quite dull, being nothing more than back and forth beams. Don't misunderstand me though, it'still a pretty solid entry with a very interesting concept.
The Heisei era gave the human characters more of a focus, with deeper plots for them. The people we got here were pretty well-acted and well-scripted. There were some obvious and cringe-worthy dialogue, ("I think I've made a mistake") but was a very solid effort. The problem is that they get a bit too much screen time when we want to see the monsters. This was fan-favorite Miki's first appearance, not a bad performance at all. The problem is that they introduced a bit too many characters to give equally solid performances.
Godzilla himself looked pretty good, there are some amazing closeups in his face. Biollante's design is truly a unique one, the most unique since Gigan at the time. However, one flaw was that Erica, the girl whose spirit is in Biollante, isn't explained very well. It was never said exactly how her spirit went into Biollante's, it didn't make much sense. The final battle, while short, was definitely very well-done. Every move the monsters made was felt, truly epic. The scene where Godzilla stands in front of Biollante's evolved form was truly awe-inspiring. I also liked the scenes with Biollante somehow walking toward Godzilla, gave off a creepy feel.
One of the things that killed this film was the awful soundtrack. My goodness, a lot of these songs belong in some cheesy 70's flick. The sad part is, this film has a very serious tone, and these cheesy themes remove the tension in some scenes. (Especially in the first chase scene with the stairs, where this Scooby Doo-like theme plays.) The soundtrack is definitely one of the worst in the franchise. Biollante's theme might have been the only good theme, (aside from Akira Ifukube's Godzilla theme of course) giving off an eerie feel.
Overall, I think Godzilla vs. Biollante is a bit overrated. Too little monster sequences, too little Biollante, some poorly developed human side-plots, and an awful soundtrack. It had a dull atmosphere at times. (Apparently TOHO realized this, cause in the next film, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, became more fun and followed the Showa route of craziness.) Still, this film has some solid acting, a cool monster in the form of Biollante, and the final battle is supremely epic, especially when Biollante attempts to eat Godzilla's head. (Which Orga would attempt ten years later.)