After one really good flick and one that was a little less entertaining but still fun, the 80s were over for Godzilla. Not much output for that decade. The 90s would see five more films in this era of the franchise. We’d then suffer through the 1998 American reboot before Toho rebooted the franchise again in 1999. So, we start off with 1991s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. After Biollante failed to win over many Godzilla fans as a new monster, the decision was made to go back to the classics, starting off with King Ghidorah. However, the ride we’ll take is a muddled one at best.
I’ll start off by saying that I’ve really enjoyed watching most of the Godzilla movies up to this point in their original Japanese language with English subtitles. But, I only have these first five 90s films in full screen and dubbed. I can enjoy a dubbed film depending on the source if the original isn’t available to me. But if Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is any indication of what’s coming my way, it’s going to be rough. I thought the dubbing was very amateurish and, at times, distracting and cartoonish. Okay, now that we have the elephant out of the way…
The movie is set after the events of Godzilla vs. Biollante. The big guy was last seen headed out to sea. Kenichiro Terasawa (Kosuke Toyohara) believes Godzilla was originally a dinosaur called a Godzillasaurus and lived on an island occupied by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Reports of Japanese soldiers being saved by the dinosaur have surfaced. The island was eventually destroyed by a hydrogen bomb test before Godzilla attacked Tokyo in 1954. Meanwhile, a group of time travelers arrive at Mount Fuji claiming to be from a future where Tokyo has long since been destroyed by Godzilla. They offer to travel back in time and destroy Godzillasaurus before he can become Godzilla. This supports Terasawa’s claim and Godzilla’s creation is prevented by moving the dinosaur away from the island.
However, the time travelers (called Futurians) true intentions are soon revealed. They place three creatures on the island in the past, which then turn into King Ghidorah after the hydrogen bomb test. One of the Futurians, Emmy Kano (Anna Nakagawa), informs them that Japan is still intact in the future and is, in fact, the wealthiest of all nations. The Futurians plan on using King Ghidorah to destroy Japan and alter history. But, they fail to destroy Godzilla as it was created anyway due to a sunken nuclear submarine. Godzilla arrives in Tokyo to do battle with King Ghidorah. Godzilla eventually blows up the middle head of King Ghidorah as well as the Futurians’ ship. Godzilla then turns his attention on Tokyo before a mechanized King Ghidorah arrives from the future. Both creatures are eventually dropped off in the ocean by Emmy before she returns to her time.
Time travel stories can easily become convoluted and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah suffers greatly from this. There is too much time spent on altering histories that it really didn’t make a lot of sense. I commend writer and director Kazuki Omori for trying to acknowledge the Godzilla back story but this one just didn’t work for me. Visually, it was very appealing and the battle sequences were fun but I missed Ghidorah’s traditional roar. The movie had one strong point and one very weak point. The plot involving the soldier Shindo having a moment with Godzillasaurus on the island and then facing Godzilla in Tokyo was a good touch. Unfortunately, the Futurians were just odd and the special effects used for a robot (running fast, typing fast, etc.) looked horrible.
Despite my displeasure with this entry, it was a box office hit in 1991 and ensured yearly sequels into the mid-90s. It even won a Japanese Academy Award for special effects. American audiences would not see this until 1998 when it was released on home video. It was paired up with Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992). Unfortunately, both were only in Full Screen and dubbed. Despite the fact we’ve never seen a better DVD release, it is still available for less than $15 and can easily be found on Amazon. While you wait for postman, the best scene of this flick is on YouTube.
Next time, we’ll see if Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth can turn things around for the 90s.