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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Countdown To Godzilla 2014: Godzilla Vs. Biollante

Godzilla vs. Biollante (ゴジラvsビオランテ Gojira tai Biorante) is a 1989 Japanese science fiction kaiju film produced by Toho. The film was written and directed by Kazuki Ōmori, and stars Kunihiko Mitamura, Yoshiko Tanaka, Masanobu Takashima, and Megumi Odaka. The seventeenth installment in the Godzilla series, the film is a belated sequel to The Return of Godzilla from 5 years earlier. This was the first "monster vs monster" film from this rebooted series. It featured a new monster called Biollante, with producer Tomoyuki Tanaka desiring new monster opponents for Godzilla rather than using characters from the original films. As part of pre-release publicity, Tanaka solicited script ideas from the public with 5,000 entries being received. The winning entry that was selected was from Shinichiro Kobayashi, a dentist and occasional science fiction writer. Director Ōmori then adapted it into the film's script.

The film was released direct to video in the United States in November 25, 1992 by HBO Video.

In 1984, a scientific team picks through the ruins of Tokyo, searching for tissue samples left behind by Godzilla. U.S. troops working for the genetic engineering company Bio-Major attempt to escape with a sample, but they are dispatched by a lone mercenary who steals the sample. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, researcher Genshiro Shiragami looks forward to returning to Japan with his daughter, Erika. However, a terrorist bombing destroys his research facility and kills Erika.

Five years later, Shiragami is now a haunted man studying the psychic energy of roses. Psychic Miki Saegusa, who heads an institution for intuitive children, aids him in his research. Two groups are watching Shiragami: a gang of thieves hired by Bio-Major and an assassin from a Middle Eastern country called Saradia. As it turns out, Shiragami is involved in the study of Godzilla cells. It is believed by Shiragami's employers that he is aiding them in figuring out how to utilize the cells' properties to create "Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria", radiation-devouring bacteria meant to be used as a fatal weapon against Godzilla. When the thieves and the assassin catch each other breaking into Shiragami's lab, a gunfight ensues. A giant, mobile plant kills one of the thieves. His partner flees, and the assassin barely escapes from the plant's grasp. They do not realize that they have just encountered the result of Shiragami's secret experimentations. The next morning, the giant flower is seen in a nearby lake, and Shiragami confesses that he combined the DNA of roses with some extracted from Godzilla's cells. He also confesses that he had, in a fit of grief-driven madness, added Erika's DNA to the genetic composite, so that technically, the creature is partially human as well. He names his creation "Biollante".

Meanwhile, Bio-Major anonymously sends a letter to the Diet of Japan, informing them that they have planted several bombs inside Mt. Mihara. If the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria is not handed over, the company threatens to detonate the bombs and release Godzilla from his prison. With the country held hostage, the Diet is forced to comply. The trade-off with the remaining thief goes well until he is killed by the assassin. The thief dies before he can deactivate the timed explosives. Godzilla is released as Mt. Mihara is destroyed. Upon hearing Godzilla's roar, Biollante's blossom opens, and the monstrous plant begins calling out to Godzilla. Shiragami theorizes that this is because Biollante is partially composed of Godzilla's DNA. With Godzilla's destination made clear, the Japan Self-Defense Force, under the leadership of Colonel Sho Koruki, prepare their strategies for dealing with the King of the Monsters. The Super X II, a remote controlled and stronger version of the first Super X, is deployed and, though it first seems effective at combating Godzilla, it is eventually overwhelmed by Godzilla's nuclear breath and forced to retreat.

Godzilla finally reaches Biollante. A huge battle ensues, and briefly it appears that there is a stalemate. However, Godzilla defeats Biollante with his atomic breath, seemingly destroyed her. However, they find out that Biollante is the immortal monster as Godzilla continues on. Godzilla, running low on radioactive energy after the previous battles, heads towards the nearest operational nuclear reactor in Tsuruga. The military is sent out to meet Godzilla at Ise Bay. Godzilla instead surfaces in Osaka Bay, avoiding a confrontation with the JSDF. Saegusa tries to help, attempting to make Godzilla turn away from Osaka. Her efforts distract Godzilla momentarily, but the force of Godzilla's will and his psychic brainpower overwhelms her and causes her to faint. A plan is put into action involving infecting Godzilla with the regained Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria. In its final battle, the Super X II is destroyed by Godzilla after luring it into Osaka's business district. Colonel Gondo and his soldiers use rocket launchers equipped with the bacteria. The operation is initially successful, despite the death of Lieutenant Gondo, with bacteria injected into Godzilla into three points in his body. Godzilla is seemingly unaffected by it, and continues on.

The failure of the bacteria is attributed to Godzilla's low body temperature, which keeps the bacteria in a near-dormant state. If Godzilla is heated up somehow, Shiragami theorizes, then the bacteria should work. The JSDF develops another plan: force Godzilla onto a field of microwave-emitting plates during an artificial thunderstorm, where it will be heated by the microwaves. The operation begins, but it seems that Godzilla is not affected by the microwaves as he crushes them. Just as everything seems lost, a low rumble is heard and Biollante's spores rain down from the sky and she evolved into her final and true form-like Godzilla. After destroying all nearby land forces, Biollante attacks Godzilla, and the two monsters fight to the death with Godzilla beginning to lose. At the last minute, Godzilla blasts his atomic breath into Biollante's mouth. However, Godzilla falls headfirst into the ocean. With Godzilla temporarily knocked out, an injured Biollante dissolves into spores, forcing to retreats that fly upwards into space. As the monster's remains float upwards, Shiragami sees the image of his daughter among the spores. Calling out to her, he walks forward and is killed by the Saradian agent, who is still after Godzilla's cells.

Godzilla is dying and therefore will be unable to escape when the terrorist tries to get the cell. Kirishima chases the agent and fights him. The agent is at a disadvantage until he is able to grab his weapon again and attempts to kill Kirishima. However, Colonel Koruki disintegrates the terrorist. The characters celebrate their victory when Godzilla returns from the sea waters. The body of Shiragami is placed inside a tent, with his superior briefly mourning him before leaving. Erika's voice is heard to comment on the events of the film. Godzilla wades out to sea and Biollante, once again a giant rose, orbits Earth.

Kunihiko Mitamura as Kazuhito Kirishima
Yoshiko Tanaka as Asuka Okouchi
Masanobu Takashima as Colonel Sho Kuroki
Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa
Koji Takahashi as Doctor Genichiro Shiragami
Toru Minegishi as Lt. Goro Gondo
Toshiyuki Nagashima as Director Seiichi Yamamoto
Ryunosuke Kaneda as Seido Okouchi
Kazuma Matsubara as Super X II Coordinator
Yasunori Yuge as Prime Minister
Yoshiko Kuga as Owada, Prime Minister's Wife
Yasuko Sawaguchi as Erika Shiragami
Brien Uhl as SSS9
Koichi Ueda as General Hyodo
Kosuke Toyohara as Super X II Controller
Kurt Cramer as John Lee, Bio-Major Spy
Derrick Homes as Michael Low, Bio-Major Spy
Demon Kakka as Himself
Abdallah Helal as Saradian Scientist
Manjot Beoi as Saradian Plant Director
Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla, the titular kaiju and the primary monster protagonist
Biollante, the primary kaiju antagonist, a plant-like monster made from Godzilla's DNA

Godzilla vs. Biollante began as a winner of a contest by Toho. The concept was created by Shinichiro Kobayashi, a dentist. His script was widely different from the final film, the few parts that remained were Erika's death, Biollante's creation, a psychic girl, and for the most part, the ending. This first draft also had Dr. Shiragami first create a rat/fish hybrid monster named Deutalios who was quickly killed by Godzilla. This was cut and replaced by Godzilla's battles with Biollante's rose stage and the Super X II. In another ending, Biollante begins to lose and makes a final attempt to kill Godzilla by turning into a wave of pure energy which Godzilla would absorb. There was another ending of the film where Biollante dies and the hill sides suddenly exploded into bloom with millions of roses.

English Version
After the film was released in Japan, Toho commissioned a Hong Kong company called Omni Productions to dub the film into English. This international version of the film was released on video in the United States by HBO Video in 1992. The film was released on laserdisc the next year. Godzilla vs. Biollante was released on DVD and Blu-Ray disc in America by Echo Bridge Entertainment through Miramax on December 4, 2012.

English Version Development
In Early 1990, Toho entered discussions with Miramax to distribute the film. When talks broke off, Toho filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court, accusing Miramax of entering an oral agreement in June to pay Toho $500,000 to distribute the film. This lawsuit delayed the film's release for two years. An out of court settlement was reached with Miramax buying the rights to the film for an unreported figure. While Miramax had entertained thoughts of releasing the film in theaters, but in the end it was decided to release the film straight to home video instead. HBO released the film on VHS in 1992 and Laserdisc in 1993. Miramax utilized the uncut English international version of the film for this release.

Box Office
In Japan, the film sold approximately 2 million tickets, earning $7,000,000 (U.S).

Critical Reaction
Godzilla vs. Biollante has received generally positive reviews. Ed Godziszewski of Monster Zero said the film is "by no means a classic" but felt that "for the first time in well over 20 years, a [Godzilla] script is presented with some fresh, original ideas and themes." Joseph Savitski of Beyond Hollywood said the film's music is "a major detraction", but added that it's "not only one of the most imaginative films in the series, but also the most enjoyable to watch." Japan Hero said, "This is definitely a Godzilla movie not to be missed."

In Other Media
In the 1996 film Mars Attacks! a scene from this film is seen by the Martians.
Dr. Shiragami re-appears in the 2007 video game Godzilla: Unleashed. He accidentally creates a new Biollante while attempting to weaponize an alien crystal. Later, he reveals the secrets of the crystals & "Critical Mass".
Biollante appears in the Super Nintendo games Super Godzilla (1993) and Godzilla: Monster War (1994).

Home media Releases
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment/Miramax - Blu-ray A (Region Free) America
Picture Format: 1.85:1 (1080p 24fps) [AVC MPEG-4]
Soundtrack(s): Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Subtitles: English (translation of screen text), English (for Japanese audio), English HoH (for English audio)
Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" Documentary (49:17)
Behind the Design" Featurette (2:58)
Case type: Keep Case
Notes: All extras are in SD and case incorrectly states the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as DTS 5.1.
Other Releasing: Mega-Monster Movies Blu-ray (Set[s]) Contains: Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus / Monster (Also in DVD/Blu-Ray Combo)
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