Movies and Film

No Rose Without a Thorn – Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)


The second film of the Heisei series of films, Godzilla vs. Biollante, follows in the vein of the first, that being 1984’s Godzilla, with a more serious tone and a new villain for the monster to fight. If finds everyone’s favourite kaiju on the loose once again and mankind playing with things they should never have dared to, creating a strange sort of hybrid, a merger of plant and Godzilla’s very own being. Not only does Toho and the makers of this film stick to its harder, science-fiction direction, but they mix in a little of the philosophical as well making this one of the more unique films to ever star the green behemoth.

With another Godzilla film, one cannot expect the monster to stay trapped in a volcano which is where he was left at the tail-end of the previous movie and so it is that he breaks free. Elsewhere, scientist Kazuhito Kirishima and Lieutenant Gondo are playing with Godzilla’s DNA which was recovered during the clean-up of his last rampage and they mean to weaponize it, hopefully with the help of Dr. Shiragami. While the former two have one thing in mind, the latter is only concerned with saving a sliver of the woman who was his daughter, her cells previously being merged with a rose and now being introduced to the monster’s. Suffice it to say, things do not go as planned as a monstrous creature emerges, one suffused with the soul of a woman, yet dominated by the impulses of a creature far greater and older than she. Director Kazuki Ōmori then takes the film where one expects it to go and he does a great job of it, it never faltering or being less than exciting.

As with the previous films, Godzilla looks just as menacing as always, but it is Biollante that really steals the show with its unique design. Part monster, part flower, with tentacles that end in smaller gaping mouths and a very definitive rose blossom type of head in its first incarnation, Biollante is nothing like any of Godzilla’s former foes and is probably one of the only ones to truly give the monster a real run for his money. Even in its second form, the creature looks completely outrageous, yet not in a manner that would be derided, instead being absolutely imposing and much bigger than Godzilla. The special effects, even though a rubber suit, look amazing and those working on the film really outdid themselves in this outing. Though Godzilla would ultimately come out on top, just seeing all the various things that Biollante did was simply beguiling and almost made the viewer want to see it win, to know just exactly what this creature was capable of.

Though the movie might have had a few slow bits during the first half, once it got going, the pace never faltered. Helping that along would be a great score by Koichi Sugiyama whose music was as much a part of the picture as anything else, punching up those emotional moments and making those battles more than epic. The cast is effective and keep the viewer interested in what they do with a very intriguing story involving not only genetics and the entire man versus nature theme that has continually run through the films, but a little bit of a philosophical plot injected into it as well with a look at the human soul.  As it is, the film is a creature feature and so while it would have been interesting to see the picture go into a little more depth with what happened during that mix of plant, human and monster, a focus upon the star of the show was the right move.

It might be a mixed bag of sorts, but Godzilla vs. Biollante is a film that has it all and remains one of the better movies not only in this series of films, but the entire franchise overall.

4 out of 5

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