Thoughts on Godzilla vs. Biollante (Spoilers)

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This was a bit different of an experience for me in comparison to when I watched vs. Destoroyah. First of all, I watched the previous with English subtitles. I watched this movie with English dub-over. And the English dub-over was fucking awful. I thought a lot about whether or not I would factor in the atrocious voice acting with the overall experience or “inner grade” I would give this movie after it ended, and have decided that I’ll let it slide, as America has a tendency to not give a shit about things as long as it yields a profit. Such is capitalism.

But even without the voice acting, I thought the actual acting within this movie was very off. There were some characters that clearly acted better than others, but there were a large array of characters that just came across as goofy or pretentious. I’m speaking specifically about the scientist who goes on to create Biollante and the foreign smugglers who try to steal the “Godzilla cells” from the Japanese government. At the beginning of the movie, it shows the aforementioned scientist in a research lab with his daughter, Erica. He sends his daughter off to do research in some other part of the lab so that he can talk exposition with another scientist, when suddenly, an explosion occurs. He rushes to the source only to find his daughter dead from the explosion… with her body fully intact so I wasn’t really sure if she were dead or simply unconscious. How does he react to this? By sitting there, stone-faced. He makes some exasperated moans (English dub kills it), but that’s pretty much it. Worse off, he doesn’t really make any muscle movement throughout the entire film. He never looks mad, sad, happy, or anything. He’s just neutral throughout the entire movie. For someone who could easily be someone continuing research in honor, or perhaps for revenge, of their daughter, his face sure doesn’t suit it.

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The other example comes from the foreign smugglers who try to take Godzilla’s cells. I forgot to mention, but this movie takes place directly after a Godzilla reboot movie back in the mid-1980’s, where Godzilla supposedly got sealed into a volcano and he shed its skin or… something. I don’t know the exact details. Fact of the matter is, pieces of its skin or scales or whatever were found around a crash site for people to take in for research. These smugglers, most of them English speaking, did not have the English dub over them (obviously), so I can chastise them for their awful performance, because they were awful. Just the goofiest, cheesiest lines you could muster, and their logic, much like most people’s logic in this movie, isn’t too bright. The action scenes between monsters in Godzilla movies are typically a spectacle, but the human action scenes are really dumb. This movie is no exception.

Continuing on with the plot, after the scientist discovers her daughter dead, it jumps five years into the future in the most abrupt way possible: by simply going five years into the future. It just jumps from one scene to another and then one person says to the scientist, “You’ve been held up here for five years alone!” and I’m like “Huh?” It took me a good five to ten minutes just to confirm that they were really five years into the future. Anyway, some of the smugglers know that Godzilla is trapped in a volcano, for whatever reason, and threaten to release him by blowing up the volcano if they don’t hand over the Godzilla cells. The smugglers die and the explosion occurs anyway and Godzilla is released and starts roaming around and the humans attack him. Wahoo. Meanwhile, the scientist combines a part of a rose with one of the Godzilla cells and it manipulates into itself creating a giant plant monster called Biollante, who also harbors the soul of the scientist’s dead daughter within itself. Okay then.

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I won’t go much further than that plot-wise, but one thing I felt was really weak with this movie was the battle between Godzilla and Biollante; y’know, the title of the movie. In its entirety, the fight is broken up into two parts: Biollante’s first and second form (because they always have another form). Within this span, they fight for maybe ten minutes. They stand still and roar at each other for another five. Biollante’s attacks range from curling its Japanese fetish vines around Godzilla’s masculine frame, or shooting acid in the face of its adversary. Godzilla’s attacks range from laser beams… and laser beams. The entire felt really dry, and Biollante was defeated like it was nothing. Both times. They tried to make it look like an evenly fought fight, but Godzilla just had to shoot its laser at ’em a couple times and that’s it. It explodes and evaporates into the sky through millions of small, golden particles. Just for good measure, they add a random image of the scientist’s daughter’s face in the sky while it happens. I laughed a lot when that happened.

While I appreciate the attempt to incorporate others aspect into the film, a la the smugglers and the foreign bad guys or whatever, it still felt rushed. I didn’t even know who they were for a majority of the movie. I thought one of the smugglers was a good guy until he started doing bad things. There wasn’t a clear explanation as to who any of these people really were. They show up out of nowhere. How do they even get their information about the Godzilla cells? Does Japan rub it in the face of foreign countries that they have Godzilla’s cells? This movie was made in 1989, so I doubt people were tweeting about it. How did these guys get their info? And how did they even manage to find where the location of the labs were that harbored them? It’s very confusing and brings up a lot of questions.

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This was also apparently the first time that weird girl who can supposedly “talk” to Godzilla shows up. In my entry for vs. Destoroyah, I comment about how her empathy towards Godzilla felt really odd and I didn’t know anything about her or her unexplained powers. After watching this movie, I still don’t know much about her powers, but they at one point called her an ESPer. I guess she can communicate with Godzilla and tell him to stop fucking shit up. Whatever else she’s good for, I have no idea, but I suppose someone who can speak directly with something everyone else considers a monster is typically someone who would feel bad for them when they’re in trouble. The token “They’re misunderstood! He’s only trying to play! I can speak with them!” kind of girl. She doesn’t do much in this movie other than talk to Godzilla, talk to plants, faint, and stare at monster battles with the same expression I had while watching this movie.

According to the Godzilla Wiki, this is supposedly “Godzilla fans’ favorite film.” I don’t really see it. Sure, there’s sentimental value concerning the scientist and his daughter, but it felt more like a motivational tool for the scientist’s further research than genuine emotional turmoil for the viewers to struggle with. There’s also the beginnings of Godzilla being painted in a way that doesn’t show it being a mindless monster, but even that is only hinted at. The human action scenes are goofy, the acting varies among actors, the logic is fair in regards to the monsters but dumb everywhere else, and the monster fight wasn’t all too fulfilling. I can really only compare this film to vs. Destoroyah, as its the only other Godzilla film I’ve seen in its entirety in recent years, but I much prefer that one in almost every aspect. The acting, the writing, the special effects (it was a later date, to be fair), and the emotion behind the battle and the monsters’ actions. It felt like it had meaning, like it mattered. With vs. Biollante, it felt more like it tried to do too much on the side. Still an enjoyable watch (if only for the hilarious dub), but not exactly the finest Godzilla has to offer.

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