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Godzilla vs. Biollante

Godzilla vs. Biollante

Gojira tai Biorante

Kazuki Omori

Japan, 1989

Credits

Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 17 February 2013

Source Miramax BRD

Categories The Compleat Godzilla

Godzilla’s destruction festers like a fresh wound at the start of Godzilla vs. Biollante, although the behemoth has been trapped in the heart of a volcano a reasonable distance away from Tokyo. Flames are slowly burning out, and steam is emitted from every part of the monster’s path; it is hot and charred, the signature of an asteroid. The destruction has summoned scientists from different parts of the world who are intent to extract a sample of Godzilla’s radioactive flesh. These same scientists, it is quickly discerned, move about the location discreetly and with resolve, and once they draw machine guns at rival scientists it becomes clear that the purposes in this pursuit are more political than they are scientific.

The sample, which is volleyed in typically MacGuffin fashion between a pair of U.S. mercenaries and an exemplarily fashionable Middle-Eastern terrorist befitted invariably in sunglasses, arrives in the hands of a Dr. Shiragami, whose research has to do with anti-nuclear biology as a defense against Godzilla. He accepts the sample with some reluctance, for an act of terrorist violence resulted in the death of his daughter, Erika, five years prior. For a moment, his plight is lent an Einstein-like ethical dilemma, and he resumes research as penance for his deceased daughter.

The result is Biollante, a combination of Godzilla’s impenetrable flesh, a rose, and Erika’s DNA. Its hostility is demonstrated in short order, once those mercenaries and that fashionable terrorist – all of whom arrive to steal back the samples at exactly the same intervals throughout the film – arrive at Shiragami’s lab to thieve his research. Its muscular vines pop out from the floor and strangulate the intruders. Biollante was created only a matter of days prior, and given Shiragami’s testimony that its cell structure is developing at an exponential rate, one may excitedly anticipate that the magnitude and hostility of the creature will become equivalent to that of its reptilian biological basis.

Godzilla vs. Biollante is the seventeenth Godzilla film, but like its immediate predecessor, The Return of Godzilla, it has no real basis in any film from the Showa series. Its continuity with Return notwithstanding – in this film the final battle occurs in Osaka, for Tokyo remains in ruins – it features an expressly brand new creature in Biollante, who, unlike virtually every other nemesis Godzilla had heretofore battled, is principally stationary. When it’s seen in its fully developed form, Biollante stands enormous in Osaka bay, like a giant, beanstalk-like flower, but with two pendulous leaf-like appendages. Silhouetted against a setting sun, its peculiar beauty is betrayed by its stature, for it stands hulked-over and armed, as if poised in anticipation of a battle.

In the ensuing face-off we are to root for Biollante for it – or she? – is partially human, given that she is derived in part from Shiragami’s daughter. Godzilla is tangled in her vines and tranquilized by an acidic spray that she emits, but his fiery breath ultimately reduces her – much like the Tokyo horizon – to bits. But it’s here, at the film’s mid-point, where Biollante’s true advantage is first cited, when her material form is destroyed and begins to condensate into the atmosphere. As Godzilla turns away from this battle, back into the ocean and toward Osaka proper, he does so oblivious to the fact that he has enabled Biollante to evolve into an even stronger, more lethal form.

Biollante would not appear in any other film in the Godzilla franchise, perhaps for practical reasons (she’s inherently more ephemeral than other kaiju monsters), but she’s among the series’ most idiosyncratic nemeses. And her defeat has a clear finality, as she is again set aflame and transitioned into the atmosphere. This produces an aurora-like sky of light, and at the center of it – briefly – the image of Erika’s contented face. Godzilla ambulates back to his ocean domain, and his threat remains imminent at the end.

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