Godzilla vs. Biollante

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Godzilla vs. Biollante
GodzillaBiollante.jpg
Directed by Kazuki Ōmori
Produced by Shōgo Tomiyama
Screenplay by Kazuki Ōmori
Story by Shinichirō Kobayashi
Starring Kunihiko Mitamura
Yoshiko Tanaka
Masanobu Takashima
Megumi Odaka
Toru Minegishi
Koji Takahashi
Music by Koichi Sugiyama
Cinematography Yūdai Katō
Edited by Michiko Ikeda
Production
company
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • December 16, 1989 (1989-12-16)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget US$5 million
Box office US$7 million

Godzilla vs. Biollante (ゴジラvsビオランテ Gojira tai Biorante?) is a 1989 Japanese science fiction kaiju film written and directed by Kazuki Ōmori, based on a story by Shinichirō Kobayashi. It is the 17th film in the Godzilla franchise and the second film in the Heisei series. The film was released in Japan on December 16, 1989 and was released direct to video in the United States in November 25, 1992 through HBO Video. The film was selected as the best Godzilla film, based on a vote by fans and judges, in July 19, 2014.[1]

Plot[edit]

In the aftermath of Godzilla's attack on Tokyo and his later imprisonment at Mt. Mihara. a team of scientists discovers cells left in the rubble by the monster and collects them. A group of American militants takes a sample of their own. They attempt to escape with them, but are killed by a lone assassin codenamed SSS9, who steals the sample and departs. He boards a cruise liner and heads to the Republic of Saradia to deliver the cells to the Saradia Institute of Technology and Science. The president of the institute wants to use the cells to merge with genetically modified plants, hoping to transform Saradia's deserts to vast greenery and end the country's dependence on oil wells for wealth. Dr. Genshiro Shiragami and his daughter, Erika, are enlisted to aid with the ambitious project. However, a terrorist bombing destroys the institute's laboratory, ruining the cells and killing Erika.

Five years later, Shiragami has returned to Japan and has merged some of Erika's cells with those of a rose. He hopes to have Erika's soul continue living in the plant. Psychic Miki Saegusa, who heads an institution for intuitive children, aids him in his research. The JSDF are using the Godzilla cells they collected to create "Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria", hoping it can serve as a fatal weapon against Godzilla should he return. Scientist Kazuhito Kirishima and Lieutenant Goro Gondo are assigned to lead the project. They attempt to recruit Shiragami to aid them, but a mournful Shiragami declines. International tensions are increasing over the Godzilla cells: an American biological corporation called Bio-Major wants the cells for its own personal gains, as does the Saradia Institute of Technology and Science. Bio-Major sends two agents to Japan, while Saradia sends SSS9. An explosion from Mt. Mihara causes tremors across the area, including Shiragami's home. The roses are badly damaged, and Shiragami realizes he needs a drastic plan to save Erika's soul. He agrees to join the JSDF's effort, giving him access to the Godzilla cells. He merges them with the roses at his lab. A night later, Bio-Major breaks into Shiragami's lab to steal the cells, but are ambushed by SSS9. A large, tentacle-like vine emerges and attacks the trio, killing a Bio-Major agent before the other two escape. The creature escapes to a nearby lake, transforming to a giant plant-like being that Shiragami names "Biollante."

The Bio-Major agent, in a desperate attempt to procure the cells, plants explosives around Mt. Mihara and issues an ultimatum to the Diet of Japan, warning that if he does not get the cells, he will detonate the explosives and free Godzilla. Kirishima and Gondo attempt to trade, but SSS9 thwarts the attempt and runs off with the cells. The explosives go off, and Godzilla escapes. He attempts to reach the nearest power plant to replenish his supply of nuclear energy, but Biollante calls out to him. Godzilla arrives at the lake to engage Biollante in a vicious battle, and emerges as the victor. Godzilla proceeds toward the power plant at Tsuruga, but Miki uses her psychic powers to divert him toward Osaka instead. The city is quickly evacuated, and a team of militants, led by Gondo, meet Godzilla at the central district and fire rockets infused with the anti-nuclear bacteria into his body. Gondo is killed in the process, and an unaffected Godzilla leaves the city.

Kirishima recovers the cells and returns them to the JSDF. Shiragami theorizes that if Godzilla's body temperature is increased, the bacteria should work against him. The JSDF forms microwave-emitting plates during an artificial thunderstorm, hitting Godzilla with lightning and heating up his body temperature during a battle in the mountains outside Osaka. Godzilla is only moderately affected, but Biollante arrives to engage him in battle once again. The fight ends after Godzilla fires his atomic heat ray inside Biollante's mouth. An exhausted Godzilla collapses on the beach, and Biollante disintegrates and her spores float to the sky, forming an image of Erika amongst the stars. Shiragami, watching the scene, is shot dead by SSS9. Kirishima chases the assassin and, after a brief scuffle, SSS9 is killed by a microwave-emitting plate. The sea water having cooled him and so stopped the bacteria, Godzilla reawakens and leaves for the ocean.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Pre-production[edit]

Tomoyuki Tanaka announced a sequel to The Return of Godzilla in 1985, but was skeptical of its possibilities, as the film had been of little financial benefit to Toho, and the failure of King Kong Lives convinced him that audiences were not ready for a continuation of the Godzilla series. He relented after the success of Little Shop of Horrors, and proceeded to hold a public story contest for a possible script. Tanaka handed the five finalist entries to director Kazuki Ōmori, despite the two's initially hostile relationship; the latter had previously held Tanaka responsible for the decline in the Godzilla series' quality during the 1970s. Ōmori chose the entry of dentist Shinichiro Kobayashi, who wrote his story with the hypothetical death of his daughter in mind. Ōmori proceeded to modify the story into a workable script over a period of three years, using his background as a biologist to create a plausible plot involving genetic engineering and botany. He openly admitted that directing a Godzilla film was secondary to his desire to make a James Bond movie, and thus added elements of the spy film genre into the plot.[2]

Special effects[edit]

Koichi Kawakita, who had previously worked for Tsuburaya Productions, replaced Teruyoshi Nakano as head of the series' special effects unit after Toho became impressed at his work in Gunhed. Kawakita made use of Gunhead's special effects team Studio OX, and initially wanted to make Godzilla more animal-like, using crocodiles as references, but was berated by Tanaka, who declared Godzilla to be "a monster" rather than an animal. Kenpachiro Satsuma returned to portray Godzilla, hoping to improve his performance by making it less anthropomorphic than in previous films. Suitmaker Noboyuki Yasamaru created a Godzilla suit made specifically with Satsuma's measurements in mind, unlike the previous one which was initially built for another performer and caused Satsuma discomfort. The resulting 242 lb suit proved more comfortable than the last, having a lower center of gravity and more mobile legs. A second 176 lb suit was built for outdoor underwater scenes. The head's size was reduced, and the whites around the eyes removed. On the advice of story finalist Shinichiro Kobayashi, a double row of teeth was incorporated in the jaws. As with the previous film, animatronic models were used for close-up shots. These models were an improvement over the last, as they were made from the same molds used for the main costume, and included an articulated tongue and intricate eye motion. The suit's dorsal plates were filled with light bulbs for scenes in which Godzilla uses his atomic ray, thus lessening reliance on optical animation, though they electrocuted Satsuma the first time they were activated. Satsuma was also obliged to wear protective goggles when in the suit during scenes in which Godzilla battles the JSDF, as real explosives were used on set.[2]

Designing and building the Biollante props proved problematic, as traditional suitmation techniques made realizing the requested design of the creature's first form difficult, and the resulting cumbersome model for Biollante's final form was met with disbelief from the special effects team. Biollante's first form was performed by Masao Takegami, who sat within the model's trunk area on a platform just above water level. While the creature's head movements were simple to operate, its vines were controlled by an intricate array of overhead wires which proved difficult for Satsuma to react to during combat scenes as they offered no tension, thus warranting Satsuma to feign receiving blows from them, despite not being able to perceive them. Biollante's final form was even more difficult to operate, as its vine network took hours to rig up on set and required 32 wires to operate. Visibility in both the Godzilla and final form Biollante suits was poor, thus causing difficulties for Takegami in aiming the creature's head when firing sap, which permanently stained anything it landed on.[2]

While it was initially decided to incorporate stop motion animation into the film, the resulting sequences were scrapped, as Kawakita felt they failed to blend in with the live-action footage effectively. The film however became the first of its kind to use CGI, though its usage was limited to scenes involving computer generated schematics.[2]

Score[edit]

Unlike the previous film, Godzilla vs. Biollante incorporates themes from Akira Ifukube's original Gojira theme, though the majority of the soundtrack was composed of original themes by Koichi Sugiyama. The score was orchestrated by conductor David Howell through the Kansai Philarmonic, though Howell himself had never viewed the movie, and thus was left to interpret what the scenes would consist of when conducting the orchestra.[2]

English version[edit]

After the film was released in Japan, Toho commissioned a Hong Kong company to dub the film into English. In Early 1990, Toho entered discussions with Miramax to distribute the film. When talks broke off, Toho filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court, accusing Miramax of entering an oral agreement in June to pay Toho $500,000 to distribute the film. This lawsuit delayed the film's release for two years. An out of court settlement was reached with Miramax buying the rights to the film for an unreported figure. Miramax would've had entertained thoughts of releasing the film in theaters, but in the end it was decided to release the film straight to home video instead. HBO released the film on VHS in 1992 and Laserdisc in 1993. Miramax utilized the uncut English international version of the film for this release.[3] Godzilla vs. Biollante was later released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in North America by Echo Bridge Entertainment through Miramax on December 4, 2012.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

In Japan, the film sold approximately 2 million tickets, earning $7,000,000 (U.S).

Critical reaction[edit]

Godzilla vs. Biollante has received very positive reviews, with praise for the story, music and visuals. Ed Godziszewski of Monster Zero said the film is "by no means a classic" but felt that "for the first time in well over 20 years, a [Godzilla] script is presented with some fresh, original ideas and themes."[4] Joseph Savitski of Beyond Hollywood said the film's music is "a major detraction", but added that it's "not only one of the most imaginative films in the series, but also the most enjoyable to watch."[5] Japan Hero said, "[T]his is definitely a Godzilla movie not to be missed."[6]

Influence[edit]

Godzilla vs. Biollante is a turning point in the series. This work was highly regarded then, however, the box-office gross in Japan was less than the previous one, The Return of Godzilla (1984). Therefore, Toho makes a shift from a realistic science fiction line to a fantastic family entertainment featuring star monsters from previous years.[7][8]

In other media[edit]

  • In the 1996 film Mars Attacks! a scene from this film is seen by the Martians.
  • Dr. Shiragami re-appears in the 2007 video game Godzilla: Unleashed. He accidentally creates a new Biollante while attempting to weaponize an alien crystal. Later, he reveals the secrets of the crystals & "Critical Mass".
  • Biollante appears in the Super Nintendo games Super Godzilla (1993) and Godzilla: Monster War (1994).
  • Biollante was featured in the 2014 game Godzilla as a playable character.

Home media releases[edit]

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment/Miramax - Blu-ray A (Region Free) America[9]

  • Picture Format: 1.85:1 (1080p 24fps) [AVC MPEG-4]
  • Soundtrack(s): Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English (translation of screen text), English (for Japanese audio), English HoH (for English audio)
  • Extras:
  • Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" Documentary (49:17)
  • Behind the Design" Featurette (2:58)
  • Case type: Keep Case
  • Notes: All extras are in SD and case incorrectly states the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as DTS 5.1.
  • Other Releasing: Mega-Monster Movies Blu-ray (Set[s]) Contains: Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus / Monster (Also in DVD/Blu-ray Combo)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting Corp. (2014). "THE BEST ゴジラ総選挙 詳細レポート!". 総力特集・ゴジラ (in Japanese). Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting Corp. Archived from the original on 2014-08-17. Retrieved 2014-09-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Kalat, D. (2010), A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series, McFarland, p. 169-78, ISBN 978-0-7864-47-49-7
  3. ^ Ryfle, S. (1998), Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G, ECW Press, p. 258, ISBN 1550223488
  4. ^ Review Ed Godziszewski, Monster Zero, June 10, 2002
  5. ^ Review Joseph Savitski, Beyond Hollywood, August 2, 2004
  6. ^ Review Japan Hero
  7. ^ Koichi Kawakita, ed. (2012-02-01). 平成ゴジラパーフェクション. DENGEKI HOBBY BOOKS (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. p. 147. ISBN 978-4048861199. 
  8. ^ Toho Co., Ltd. (2012-09-28). 東宝特撮映画大全集 (in Japanese). villagebooks inc. p. 227. ISBN 978-4864910132. 
  9. ^ Godzilla vs. Biollante Blu-ray. Blu-ray.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-12.

External links[edit]