The final Godzilla film of the Heisei era, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, redeems itself from the last, but only due to the fact that the monster battles are completely epic in nature and take it to another level. At this point, the UNGCC is pretty much a useless organisation who have failed on every level to do anything to stop any kaiju, much less Godzilla and yet, by the end of the film, they do find a little redemption by helping to save the entire planet in conjunction with the Japan Self Defense Forces. In this film, Godzilla has absorbed the radiation from what uranium was on Birth Island during its destruction and as such, now finds himself overpowered and unable to release said power from his being. He rages and rampages and looks far more fearsome than ever before, glowing red and literally smoking wherever he goes. Come the end of the film, after battling a new monster called Destoroyah, Godzilla is about to go critical and through a combination of the previous mentioned organisations and Godzilla Junior, they manage to stop the world-destroying detonation that would have taken place should The King of the Monsters gone into full meltdown.
After the mess that was Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, Toho rights the ship for the second to last film of the 1990’s and does so with a Godzilla not only facing a formidable foe in Destoroyah, but in himself as well. Director Takao Okawara sets the stage for Godzilla’s last battle and he does it so well that it feels important, he makes it matter. One could not care less for the human cast, many of them holdovers from the last couple of films and it is not so much their fault as it is the makers of this film who simply do not know what to do with them. The story is decent and it wraps things up for both human and monster alike, but it is Godzilla, his kin and the creature he faces that audiences want to see. From that first moment Godzilla appears on screen as if he has just emerged from the pits of Hell, viewers want to know how he got that way, but more importantly, they want to see what he is going to do because he looks ready for a fight and not just any fight, but the biggest one he has ever had. Gone are the ridiculous moments from the last film though Godzilla Junior as he is now referred to is back, fully grown and a monster in his own right. When Destoroyah battles with Godzilla Junior, it turns out to be edge of the seat viewing because while one can guess what is going to happen, averting the eyes is impossible. It also turns out to be one of the saddest moments in the entire film, yet by the end, things eventually turn out for the best, or at least as good as they can for the monsters.
There is a real epic quality to the film during that final half hour as the monsters battle it out between themselves. Not only does Godzilla fight to destroy the creature he faces, but he fights to live and it comes across to the audience as both noble and tragic. Obviously Godzilla does not want to die and seeing him fight to hold it in, seeing him try to stop what is inevitable by the end of it all is almost heartbreaking, but it goes the way as it was predicted from the first. The final shot of the film after the monster has fallen is incredible to say the least and will have viewers jumping out of their seat with questions aplenty, but suffice it to say, though Godzilla might have passed on, he still lives as strong as ever.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah is a film that does Toho proud, is one of the better ones in the series and with continual nods to the original 1954 classic, it not only looks back, but takes the franchise forward for whatever might come next.
4 out of 5