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Monday, April 21, 2014

Countdown To Godzilla 2014: Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (ゴジラvsデストロイア Gojira tai Desutoroia), is a 1995 Japanese science fiction kaiju film produced by Toho Co., Ltd.. Directed by Takao Okawara, with special effects by Koichi Kawakita, the film starred Takuro Tatsumi, Yasufumi Hayashi and Megumi Odaka. The film also featured a cameo by Momoko Kōchi, reprising her role from the original Godzilla (1954). This twenty-second installment in the Godzilla franchise was the final film in the Heisei, or second, series of films. The film received publicity around the world for Toho's announcement that they would kill Godzilla. Toho ended the series to make way for an American Godzilla film, which was ultimately produced in 1998. Toho would begin a new series of Godzilla films in 1999 with the film Godzilla 2000, which began the Millennium series.

The film was released direct to video in the United States in 1999 by Columbia TriStar Home Video.

In 1996, after the death of SpaceGodzilla, Miki Saegusa travels to Birth Island to check on Godzilla and his adopted son. However, she finds the entire island destroyed. In Hong Kong, Godzilla appears covered in glowing lava-like rashes. He goes on a rampage, causing major collateral damage and killing thousands of civilians. A group of representatives from the Japan Self Defense Forces hire college student Kenichi Yamane, the grandson of Dr. Kyohei Yamane, to come work at the center in an attempt to unravel the mystery of Godzilla's condition. Yamane suspects that Godzilla's heart, which acts as a nuclear reactor, is going through a nuclear meltdown. When Godzilla reaches 1,200 degrees Celsius, he will explode with more force than all of the world's nuclear weapons, taking the world with him.

The JSDF deploys a flying combat vehicle outfitted with anti-nuclear cold weapons to forestall this; the Super-X III. Meanwhile, scientists create a new formula for the Oxygen Destroyer that was created by Dr. Serizawa in 1954. This does not sit well with the JSDF, who fear that the Oxygen Destroyer, which was used to kill the original Godzilla, may have disastrous side effects. This belief is proven when a colony of Precambrian organisms are discovered to have been mutated by the formula. The creatures infest a sewer network and eventually make their way into an aquarium, killing all the sea life inside. They rapidly evolve into monstrous crab-like creatures and begin wreaking havoc. After several deadly skirmishes with the JSDF, the creatures, dubbed "Destoroyah", evolve beyond the military's containment abilities.

Little Godzilla reappears as Godzilla Junior, having mutated further and now closely resembling his father, heads for the island where he was born. Godzilla, who is searching for his son, follows him, but complications arise. Due to his encounter with the Super-X III, Godzilla will not explode but will instead suffer a bodily meltdown. After dying from the meltdown, Godzilla's superheated remains will bore into the planet's core, destroying the Earth. Desperate, the JSDF decide to lure Godzilla into a confrontation with the evolving Destoroyah by hiring Miki and another psychic named Meru Ozawa into telepathically instructing Junior to travel to Tokyo, which Destoroyah is currently invading. Godzilla will no doubt follow, and since Destoroyah was born from the same weapon that destroyed the first Godzilla, he will surely lose the battle, preventing the meltdown.

The psychics successfully lure Godzilla Junior to Tokyo, where he is attacked by Destoroyah, who has now increased in size and sprouted a pair of bat-like wings. In the ensuing brawl, Destoroyah is seemingly killed after being blown into an electrical plant. By nightfall, Godzilla and Junior meet near Haneda Airport. Their reunion is cut short when Destoroyah, having once again evolved and now outmatching Godzilla in height, flies in for another attack. Destoroyah knocks down Godzilla and grabs Junior, dropping him from an extreme altitude that brings the young dinosaur close to death. Godzilla, enraged, attacks Destoroyah and a brutal battle erupts. The two creatures inflict serious wounds upon each other, each calling upon their own unique abilities to destroy the other. Eventually, Godzilla sends Destoroyah spewing up vital fluids, forcing the creature to retreat.

Alone at last, Godzilla tries to revive his son but fails. Overcome by grief, Godzilla's heart continues to fail, accelerating the meltdown. Destoroyah, having recovered from its previous injuries, once again appears. In a fury of rage, Godzilla bombards Destoroyah with a number of supercharged atomic blasts, blowing the creature to pieces. Overcome by the attack and the extreme heat from Godzilla's meltdown, Destoroyah tries to fly away, but the JSDF shoots it down with a number of freeze weapons designed to work against Godzilla. Upon hitting the ground, Destoroyah disintegrates from thermal shock.

Moments later, Godzilla starts to die from the meltdown, but the JSDF are able to sustain him momentarily with the freeze weapons. Ultimately, they are unable to rescue Godzilla and he gives out one last weak roar before he tragically suffers his meltdown. While they succeeded in preventing Earth's destruction, the JSDF have been unable to stop the massive nuclear fallout from rendering Tokyo uninhabitable. All of a sudden, the radiation levels plummet and something can be seen stirring in the mist: Godzilla Junior is apparently revived due to his father's power being channeled into his body and he is now a full-grown adult, ready to take on his father's title of King of the Monsters.

Yasufumi Hayashi as Kenichi Yamane
Yoko Ishino as Yukari Yamane
Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa
Takuro Tatsumi as Kensaku Ijuin
Akira Nakao as General Aso
Momoko Kōchi as Emiko Yamane
Saburo Shinoda as Professor Fukuzawa
Takehiro Murata as Yukari's Editor
Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla, the King of the Monster and the titular protagonist who fights Destoroyah but will meltdown once his body temperature reaches 1200 degrees.
Ryo Hariya and Eiichi Yanagida as Destoroyah, the main antagonist of the film created by the Oxygen Destroyer that killed the Original Godzilla back in 1954
Hurricane Ryu as Godzilla Junior, the Son of Godzilla who helps his father battle Destoroyah.

The original concept of the film that would become Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was to feature Godzilla fighting the ghost of the original 1954 Godzilla. Godzilla would be killed by it, then be revived and manage to destroy it. This idea was scrapped due to the previous two Heisei films featuring Godzilla-like monsters (Mechagodzilla 2 and SpaceGodzilla) as the antagonists. Another idea which had been tossed around featured Bagan, who was the final boss in the Super Nintendo video game Super Godzilla.

Additionally, an alternate ending was filmed for the movie. Destoroyah attempted to escape once Godzilla gained the upper hand, but the JSDF shot him down - however, the monster survived his fall. Godzilla, despite suffering from his meltdown, continued to battle the vicious monster. Godzilla quickly overpowered Destoroyah, grabbing him by his horn and pummeling him repeatedly. As Godzilla melts away, the JSDF rain their beams upon him, as well as Destoroyah. Unable to stand against the immense heat of Godzilla's meltdown and the freezing coldness of the beams, Destoroyah falls and evaporates. However, the scene was removed because it was thought to be inappropriate, since Godzilla's foreseen death was to be the climax of the film. So the scene was re-edited to have Destoroyah die after the JSDF intervenes and helps Godzilla finish off Destoroyah, allowing Godzilla to have center stage as he dies.

English Version
After the film was released in Japan, Toho commissioned a Hong Kong company to dub the film into English. In this international version of the movie, an English title card was superimposed over the Japanese title, as had been done with the previous 1990s Godzilla films.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment released Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah on home video on January 19, 1999. This was the first time either film had been officially released in the United States. TriStar used the Toho dubs, but cut the end credits and created new titles and opening credits for both films. The complete Toho international version of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah has been broadcast on several premium movie channels since the early 2000s.

Box Office
The film sold approximately 4 million tickets in Japan, and earned ¥2 billion in distribution income (around $18,000,000 (U.S)). It was the number one Japanese film at the box office for the calendar year 1996.

Critical reaction to the film has been mostly positive. Toho Kingdom said, "With an elegant style, a powerful plot, brilliant effects, and believable acting, this entry is definitely a notch above favorites from all three timelines, and its impact on the series is challenged by only a handful of competitors. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah is without a doubt a paradigm all its own." Michael Hubert of Monster Zero praised the "spectacular monster battles," calling Godzilla vs. Destoroyah "a great movie" and "one to add to your collection," adding: "Even for non-Godzilla fans, this movie might help dispel some of the preconceptions you have about Godzilla's 'cheese factor'."

Japan Hero called the film "a work of art" and "a must see for anyone who loves Godzilla" that features "something for everyone"  Mike Bogue of American Kaiju felt the film suffered from "several visual weaknesses" and "disappointing editing," but that "the positive aspects of the visuals outweigh the negatives" and praised the film for "treating Godzilla with the same awe, majesty, and terror as [the original 1954 Godzilla]. "

Home Media Release (US)
Columbia/Tristar Home Entertainment
Released: February 1, 2000
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic [NTSC]
Sound: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo)
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Region 1 (DVD)
Case type: Keep Case
Note: As a double feature with Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla

Blu-Ray will be coming out May 6, 2014 as a double feature with Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.

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