Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Godzilla vs. Biollante

1989  **

This started out with such promise.  We open with some Godzilla shenanigans from the previous movie and then we cut to a team of government specialists digging through the debris afterwards.  They're looking for Godzilla tissue samples, which thanks to the VHS dub I was stuck with, everybody refers to as "cells."  A guy finds a clump of Godzilla flesh the size of a meatball and he says "Look!  I found some cells!"  I realize that's not technically inaccurate, but I was reminded of the Mr. Burns flashback on The Simpsons in which a worker is hauled off because he has four atoms in his pocket.  My point is, you hear the words "Godzilla cells" in this movie an awful lot.

Everybody wants them, which is depicted right away when a trio of soldiers elsewhere in the rubble bag their own sample and then have to shoot their way out when the government troops spot them.  In several kaiju reviews I have lamented the unfair influence the human characters have on the experience, and for a few minutes I was wicked excited about this flick, with all the machine guns and grenades and running around, all set to overblown rockin' guitar music.  I thought "Yeah!  This is what the humans should be up to!"  I watched gleefully as the mercenaries escaped into the subway, only to be dispatched by a lone trenchcoated assassin, who utters the movie's most memorable line, one of the worst action scene cappers ever:  "Well... (smirks) Thanks, guys!"  (Then he runs away.)

Unfortunately, the movie peaked right there, about five minutes in.  From start to finish, the main focus is the tedious intrigue between the goverment, those other guys, and that other guy.  It's all about "who's got the Godzilla cells?" and later "Who's got the radiation-eating bacteria?"  At one point a scientist mixes some Godzilla cells with the DNA of a rose and his dead daughter, because why not?  It turns into a huge plant that kills a would-be thief, busts out of the lab and slithers outside.  The locals wake up to a colossal plant monster rising out of the middle of their lake.  It's Biollante!  And so the monster action begins!

Wrong!  Godzilla is still dormant at this point and Biollante isn't actually bothering anyone, so the characters turn their backs on the humongous vegetable and go about their lives.  Eventually Godzilla wakes up and Biollante calls him to the lake and they fight for like a minute and Godzilla blows up the plant with atomic breath.

Do I even have to say it?  Not enough monster!  It's the worst sin there is for a monster movie, expecially a Kaiju movie.  Here's a list of what Kaiju flicks are about:

1)  Really big creatures fighting each other and smashing the works of man.

There is no number 2, and if you ask me how much of number 1 a good kaiju flick should have, the answer is too much.  It should feel like when you go back for a third piece of birthday cake, which is why I don't watch too many of them in a short span of time.

Oh, the plant monster comes back and Godzilla fights some tanks and there's this floating remote controlled doohicky called the Super X 2 that flies around and shoots stuff.  I can't say there's a lack of spectacle, but there's far too many cutaways to the peoples' plotlines, whether it be the three Godzilla cellmonger factions, or the scientist, or the girl psychic, or the young soldier who commands the Super X 2.  And it's not a good enough movie to endure all those cutaways, because every time the camera is suddenly pointing at a non-monster your heart dies a little inside.  The ending might be trying to reverse this trend but it fails:  Biollante saves the day and dissolves into a shower of golden light that wanders up into the clouds, upon which we see the face of the scientist's dead daughter, who smiles benevolently.  Ha ha ha, NO, I must be kidding, right?

Ha ha ha, no, I'm not.


AC said...

the screen shot looks great, but after reading your review two stars seems right on the money.

JPX said...

I must admit, Octo, your reviews of these old monster movies only serve to solidify my active avoidance of them. The monster stuff is cool (and I love that screen shot) but the rest seems laborious to get through - are any of them good in your opinion? I am so happy that you are systematically hitting these every year!

Octopunk said...

That’s an interesting question. Kaiju flicks can be hard to enjoy as an adult, and nearly all of them are too goofy to take completely seriously, but behind my general mockery there is an abiding non-ironic love of the subgenre. I bust on them, but most of the ones I’ve reviewed over the past few years are ones I’d recommend if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Off the top of my head, I had a good time with Yog, Monster from Space and Godzilla vs. Gigan. For non-Japanese flicks Gorgo is fun, and so’s good ol’ Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Not this one, though. Feh.

DCD said...

I think you should have used a lamer screen shot to match the lameness of the movie. I think I would dig some of these movies, but I really love your reviews of them. I have to say I think they are often your funniest!

Catfreeek said...

"..because every time the camera is suddenly pointing at a non-monster your heart dies a little inside."
Truer words have ever been spoken. This film is the pits of the Godzilla franchise. I too have a soft spot for monster movies but not this one.