GODZILLA VERSUS DESTOROYAH
Pros: A pretty rock-em, sock-em fight! And a better presentation than the older DVD
Cons: Shameful, but not everyone loves Godzilla as much as they should.
Back in 1995, Toho Pictures decided that Godzilla versus Destroyah – the 22nd film of the series – would put the King of the Monsters to bed once and for all. Box office returns had been slumping for a while and Sony pictures was looking to start the franchise over in America. And so Toho took Godzilla out with a bang, tying events into the first Gojira film from 1954 and book ending the series. Was it a worthy end to the saga? Lets find out.
We open our movie with some hot Kaiju action as jumbo jet takes off almost directly into the mouth of Godzilla when he bursts up from the waters of Hong Kong. However something’s not right – he’s glowing red, with an orange atomic beam rather than his bluish-white one he normal has. Very odd. Anyway, after flattening some buildings, Godzilla stomps back into the ocean.
The Japanese Godzilla Experts notice this strange behavior too, and turn to the only logical Godzilla expert: a kid! In this case, the kid in question actually IS named Kenny – well, Kenichi Yamane, grandson of the original Dr. Yamane who saw Godzilla’s very first rampage back in 1954. Since then Ken has been studying Godzilla and formulated a theory.
When we last saw Godzilla in Godzilla versus Space Godzilla, he was swimming back to his native island. However, Godzilla’s timing was poor, since the island – sitting on a huge uranium deposit – blew up on his arrival. That massive atomic explosion supercharged Godzilla, sending him into overload. If Godzilla’s condition is not reversed – and soon – the monster will explode and take most of Japan with him.
As you can see, science has never been this series’ strong point.
Anyway, G-Force (the Japanese Anti-Godzilla Task Force) scrambles to intercept Godzilla with the new Super X-3, a flying attack vehicle upgraded from the Super X last seen in Godzilla 1985. The plan – use the Anti-nuclear Supercold Laser on the X-3, freeze Godzilla and prevent his meltdown.
Like I told you – science and Godzilla don’t mix.
Meanwhile Another one of Yamane’s descendents – Yukari Yamane (played by Yoko Ishino) is conducting a television interview with Doctor Ijuin (Tatsumi Takuro), who has invented “micro-oxygen,” a substance related to the oxygen destroyer that Dr Serizawa used in the original Gojira.
Meanwhile, we cut to a subway expansion construction site running right through the heart of Tokyo Bay where the original Godzilla died forty years previous. It would seem that there was a pre-Cambrian era microscopic organism that was exposed to the oxygen destroyer and mutated – and now it’s loose. Dubbed Destroyah (who comes up with these names, anyway?) the Japanese military struggle to contain the 10 foot tall creatures, with the usual results. And that’s BEFORE the swarm of Destroyahs merge into one really big Destroyah.
Attempting to solve two problems at once, the G-Force attempts to get Godzilla to fight Destroyah by luring Godzookie into the combat zone. Godzookie is mortally wounded, but pappa Godzilla shows up to deliver a first class beatdown on Destroyah. Created from the weapon that first defeated Godzilla, Destroyah packs quite the punch – but as Godzilla’s atomic reaction continues to run out of control (and soon into total meltdown), his power has been increased beyond anything previously seen.
Godzilla managed to obliterate Destroyah moments before going total China Syndrome. As the monster begins to liquefy from the heat, the Super X-3 bombards him with the freeze lasers and shells, successfully neutralizing the full effect and preventing Godzilla from destroying the earth. As the Godzilla vaporizes, the immense radiation revives Godzookie – now grown into a Godzilla proper, and the cycle begins for the next generation. The End and roll credits.
As you can see, it’s quite a blowout. I rebuke the reasoning behind Toho resting Godzilla as being worn out with no new ideas left to explore. Godzilla vs Destroyah was chocker block full of interesting and ideas – sadly none of them are really explored fully or used to their potential. Interesting characters fade into the background in the second act in favor of weaker ones. The moral dilemma of re-creating the Oxygen Destroyer is brought up before falling to the wayside. Several scenes look like they could be edited into Aliens without missing a beat.
However, I’ve always contended that Godzilla movies aren’t about plotting or moral dilemmas and introspection. They’re about men in rubber suits beating the stuffing out of each other while wracking up lots collateral damage along the way. Judging by that criteria, Godzilla versus Destroyah delivers the goods.
While it may not work on a logical level, it fires on all pistons on other fronts. Toho brings back Akira Ifukube one last time to score the final hurrah, and it’s great stuff. Toho took several nods to the Godzilla legacy, bringing back Sho Kuroki (Masashiro Takashima) from Godzilla vs Biollante as it’s the Super X-3 pilot or the cameo by Momoko Kouchi from Gojira as Emiko. Sadly no Raymond Burr anywhere to be found. While the plot is standard issue Kiaju fair, it’s respectful of what has come before. It’s refreshing to see a film studio actually care about their property, getting the details just right.
It’s just a damn shame that the next Godzilla flick was that shitty american version from Dean Devlin and Rolland Emmerich. . . .
THE GODZILLA SCORECARD –
AND THE WINNER IS:
Godzilla triumphs over his enemy, but dies – so that’s not a total victory. The SDF can only divert Godzilla, not destroy him, so that’s not a clean victory for them either. Still with Godzilla Junior standing tall, I’d put a check in the W box.
AND NOW YOU KNOW:
The morality of soulless, relentless science is addressed again, but the message is not nearly as effective as it was back in ’54.
THE END. . . . ?
With Godzookie picking up the torch to carry on the legacy, clearly this isn’t The End.
THE DVD –
The new Blu Ray from Sony Pictures is a solid all-around visual effort. The details are clean and clear, the colors are good throughout, the blacks are nice and deep and the flesh tones are realistic. All in all, a good looking disc. Even better ; the end credits, so long omitted on the previous American releases are intact and complete.
We also get the original Japanese soundtrack with a reasonably accurate translated subtitle track (unlike the Dubtitles that we got on the previous DVDs), and we get the Toho’s International track, a dub in English.
Quick side note – I find it interesting that the default audio settings for the blu-ray is Japanese with subs and not the English dub track. That’s a nice nod to the hard core fans of the series that prefer to watch the original language.
THE EXTRAS –
Sadly unlike the Classic Media or Criterion discs that get loaded down with extras, the Sony offerings are pretty meager. We get teaser trailer 1, teaser trailer 2 and the original theatrical trailer – all in Japanese with English subtitles.
Mind you, with another entire movie in the package, a uncut film, new accurate subtitles, I’m willing to overlook the lack of extras. Of course I’d love more extras and commentary, but I’m pretty satisfied with what we got.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Godzilla vs Destroyah is a really good – if not outstanding – Godzilla film, which is a shame because a monster this big needs a HUGE blowout to wrap up his run on. Still, it’s got some good action, great effects and one hell of a fight.
I give it 4 ruined Tokyos out of five.