Godzilla Vs. King Ghidora
Kosuke Toyohara, Anna Nakagawa, Megumi Odaka
Though Godzilla is known by everyone, I've decided to
include this particular
movie because it has been hard to find in North America until this
video release. Also because of the fact that most people don't
that the Godzilla series was revived in the '80s and continued on for
After seeing the boring and shoddy Godzilla 1985 and
VS Biolante (1989), I was ready to call it quits with the new
Because I was trying to fill a "5 movies/5 days/five dollars" special,
I picked this one when I couldn't find anything better at the video
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is one of the best
movies made, and ranks just below the first Godzilla (1954).
It has everything you want from a Godzilla movie: a bad Godzilla
(not the "savoir" kind seen in previous films), plenty of kickass
between the first opponents, a ton of explosions and
the right amount of unintentional humor, and improved special effects.
And it has something that most movies of the series don't have: a plot!
The movie starts off with an intriguing prologue set in
the 23rd century.
We then cut to Japan in 1992, with the country being terrorized by
of a U.F.O. Eventually, the Japanese government is contacted by the
people in the spacecraft, two westerner men and a Japanese woman. They
warn the government that in the future, Godzilla will destroy Japan.
request several people to help them travel back to WWII to get
when he was still a dinosaur, and transport him back to 1992.
It's agreed, so the people join the space travelers in
their time ship,
and fly back in time to 1944 to an island close to the Bikini island
A-bomb test range, when the island (containing a Japanese garrison that
was friendly with Godzilla) was being shelled by the U.S. navy. Two
on a battleship see the ship fly to the island. "Maybe you can tell
son about it, Spielberg" says one to the other.
What happens next generated some controversy in the
United States when
the movie was released in Japan. The time travelers observe the
landing team slaughter the defending Japanese troops, and then Godzilla
(still a dinosaur) lumbers in, and slaughters the American troops. Some
people accused this as being racist, but the movie clearly shows the
attacking the troops because it was shot at first. However, the
navy, seeing the slaughter, bombards the dinosaur with shells, and
is badly injured. (The withdrawing Japanese troops that night salute
"bedridden" dinosaur before leaving, thanking it for saving them from
The time travelers lock their teleport beam on Godzilla,
to take him
through time with them - but not before the original crew of the ship
leaves behind three genetically created pets, which look like troll
with wings. The Japanese helpers are taken home, but shortly after,
is attacked by a gigantic three-headed dragon, with lightning for
It proceeds to blow up a great deal of Japan. We discover that Japan
never be destroyed by Godzilla - Japan in the upcoming centuries got
and more powerful, and proceeded to buy South America and Africa. The
western travelers demand that the Japanese government install the new
(its power and purpose never explained) they'll give them - and you
door-to-door salesmen were tough.
It was never explained why the woman of Japanese
ancestry went along
with this (it seems to be suggested that she thought Japan was
by "nuclear pollution"), but she defects from those darn Caucasians,
goes to her friends to help Japan fight off Ghidora. It's decided that
the dinosaur will have to be transformed into Godzilla, in a desperate
attempt to save the country. I won't describe the plot any further;
you might be able to guess the next little part that happens, the plot
eventually twists from the expected and turns into another act! And
the plot twists again, leading to more unexpected developments. Yes,
climax is another fight between Ghidora and Godzilla - but it got there
differently, it proceeds to give us our money's worth by giving us
we can think of, and concludes with a satisfying ending.
Hey, I'm not saying this movie is perfect - lord knows,
there are a
lot of flaws and unintentional laughs. There are several moments where
it feels like scenes (and plot points) are missing; there is some
bad dubbing, like when one character says something like, "How dare
destroy my garden city! I'll get my revenge!", or when the male
utters "Make my day!" before detonating some explosives; a number of
effects are obvious stock footage, cheesy computer effects, fireworks,
or models. (Actually, the models are generally the best I've seen.
the majority of the effects are acceptable or even excellent). And the
climax goes so over the top, that the cliché "must be seen to be
believed" is apt.
But, come on - with this kind of movie, you know full
well what to expect.
The cheesy parts of the production could have sunk the production (like
other Godzilla movies), but here, they have been given a slick edge so
they actually add to the charm. The addition of plot is a great asset.
In other movies, you had to wait through a lot of talk for the big
at the end. Godzilla VS King Ghidora is the first
movie that I remember that has no boring sequences. GVKG
what you want from a Godzilla movie, and gives us much, much more. And
if it's a guilty pleasure to enjoy explosions, fights, and cities being
destroyed, then I guess this rates death-penalty sentencing.
(NOTE: The folks at Columbia/Tri-Star video
release this on EP speed, making the picture quality looking somewhat
I was hoping this traditional penny-pinching practice would have gone
with Godzilla moving to a major American video company, but I guess
UPDATE: Robert Nowaczewski filled me in on the
confusion surrounding the Japanese woman character:
"Great site and lots of fun to read. I just wanted to
comment that in the subtitled version, it sounds like it's a little
more clear why the
Japanese woman was there. It turns out that Japan has become such a
that they are destroying the natural world (thus staying with Toho's
themes against nuclear power and pollution). Although only these three
and the man in the sub in the future are seen, it's hinted that this
resistance movement is multi-cultural and possibly even worldwide.
"After comparing dubbed versions of Godzilla
movies vs. the
subtitled Japanese versions, I would urge everyone to skip the dubbed
whenever possible. The subtitled versions make more sense, they don't
use the goofiest voices they can find, and they don't mangle the
Also reviewed by: Cold
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Amazon for "critical history" of Godzilla
See also: A*P*E, The Crater Lake Monster, King