The 1980s was a barren time for Godzilla fans. While Japan saw two films released, the American audience had to suffice with only one. Godzilla 1985 was badly re-edited and not well received. So, it comes as no surprise that Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) went straight to video in 1992. Despite an early release on laser disc, the movie has been widely overlooked until it finally hit DVD and Blu-Ray late in 2012. Now, the movie is getting a second chance to impress Godzilla fans.
Godzilla vs. Biollante is a direct sequel to 1984s The Return of Godzilla. It opens with a montage of battle sequences from the 1984 film, and then shows a cleanup crew going through the wreckage in search of tissue samples from Godzilla. A bio-engineering company has hired US troops to do their dirty work before they are taken out by a lone gunman. We are then introduced to research scientist Genshiro Shiragami (Koji Takahashi), who is working on mutating plant life before his facility in the Middle East is attacked and his daughter Erika is killed. Flash forward five years and Shiragami is still studying the ESP qualities of roses. He is also involved in the study of the Godzilla cells, which makes him a wanted man by the bio-engineering company and the terrorists. He has created anti-nuclear bacteria that plays a key part in Godzilla’s return. The bacteria interact with a rose to create Biollante, a giant plant creature with the DNA of Godzilla and from his daughter Erika.
Meanwhile, after some corporate espionage results in explosives destroying Mount Mihara, Godzilla is awakened and released. Biollante reacts to Godzilla’s roar and psychically calls out to Godzilla. While enroute to Biollante, a new version of the Super X (the aircraft seen destroyed in The Return of Godzilla) engages Godzilla in battle. Like its predecessor, it has little success. Once Godzilla reaches Biollante, the two battle it out with Godzilla eventually destroying it. However, Godzilla is growing weaker and needs nuclear energy to survive. With Godzilla threatening Osaka, the anti-nuclear bacteria are deployed in an effort to destroy him. After a series of moves resembling a giant chess match, including the return of Biollante (now closer resembling the big guy), Godzilla wins out with Biollante returning to spore form and Godzilla heading out to sea.
Yes, Biollante has to be one of the more unique members of the Godzilla rogues gallery. It was actually the winner of a contest by Toho as part of an effort to come up with a new monster to confront Godzilla rather than reusing what we had already seen before. It certainly is different, if not a little odd. Unfortunately, it also plays a part in this film seeming just a little off. It did okay business in Japan but without the American market, it was quickly forgotten. It’s odd in that it was something new and overall entertaining, just not one of the best films in the series. Following on the same dark tones present in The Return of Godzilla, it makes for a nice double feature but go in with some lower expectations.
With the 2012 DVD and Blu-Ray release at incredibly cheap prices, American audiences can finally throw away those old VHS tapes and judge for themselves where Biollante ranks in the best and worst Godzilla adversary categories. Check out the trailer and brace yourselves. The 1990s are around the corner and some old favorites are ready to come back and battle Godzilla anew.