Friday, August 21, 2009

Now Playing: Godzilla vs. Biollante

Godzilla vs. Biollante is a film that I want to like much more than I actually do. It isn't that Biollante is terrible; it's just that the story is much better in theory than in execution. According to Steve Ryfle's "Japan's Biggest Mon-star," the plot was submitted by a dentist who had also happened to have written scripts for the Return of Ultraman T.V. series. That makes sense to me--Biollante would've made for a killer half-hour Ultraman episode. As it is, the movie suffers from lots of padding, a ponderous first-half pace, and an odd lack of dramatic tension.

Fortunately, the scenes featuring the titular characters make one forgive and forget such deficiencies. The "Bio-goji" suit is expressive, exuding power as well as thoughtfulness. The overall quality of the special effects is very high. Most impressive is Biollante herself, whose appearance goes through a number of changes throughout the film, setting a "transforming" trend that would play out in each of the Heisei/1990's movies. The final stage Biollante, with huge, gaping maw and immense size seems to be a fan favorite, and is, by any standard, visually arresting. The monster battles (and Godzilla's city-stomping) are so well staged that they seem to inhabit a movie of their own, which is a tribute to the abiltites of special effects director Koichi Kawakita, who cut his teeth on shows such as Ultraman Ace, Zone Fighter, and Godzilla vs. Hedorah/The Smog Monster.

A streamlined plot may have been able to push Godzilla vs. Biollante onto the short list of the Big G's greatest outings. At any rate, Biollante signalled that the new G-films were going to be ambitious, and the most important element--the kaiju themselves--would be quite memorable.

Incidentally, our copy of Godzilla vs. Biollante is part of a six-movie Video Compact Disc box set that I stumbled upon at a Half Price Books store in North Olmsted, Ohio. Distributed by Mei Ah Laser Disc, a Hong Kong based company, it includes Monster of Monsters, Ghidorah; Destroy All Monsters; Godzilla vs. Gigan; Return of Godzilla; and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah; as well as two super-deformed Godzilla figures. What a find!

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