If there’s one thing the rest of the family can’t stand during movie night, it’s when I get the urge to start playing with equipment settings after the movie has already started, so I resisted a desire during Godzilla vs. Biollante (with some coercion) to go back and turn off the subtitles, even though we chose to watch it with the English soundtrack on. Fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the recorded narrative did not match the subtitles, often to comic effect. Nothing hysterical mind you, but a hoot nonetheless, almost as if the MST3K guys had gotten a hold of it. This mismatch escaped our eight-year-old, who is of course primarily responsible for us having chosen the English sound track to begin with. Other presumably unintentional funnies, however, did not escape him, such as the proclivity of some characters, whom I can only guess were supposed to be from either the U.K. or Texas, to refer to the big green guy as “Godziller” rather than “Godzilla.”
Is it the best Godzilla movie ever made? No, clearly not. (That honor belongs to Final Wars.) It’s not the worst either though, and I do recommend it to for die hard Godzilla fans and for those looking to spend some quality time with their eight-to-twelve-year-old male offspring. On what basis? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are my three reasons:
1. Godzilla battles a new kaiju, a monster evolved from a–wait for it, wait for it–rose bush. And insofar as kaiju battles go, it comes off quite a bit better than it sounds like it would, given the premise.
2. The movie also features another first, a middle eastern bad guy from–wait for it, wait for it–Saradia. Not the best reason to watch a film, I suppose, but we did think “Saradia” is funny, and plus he’s enjoyable in a classic, smirking, bad guy kind of a way.
3. Originally produced in 1989, it features fun old school special effects and incorporates elements of mysticism, such as the ghostly inhabitation of Biollante, a psychic who communicates with the kaiju using her mind, and Mothra-style reincarnation.
On the other hand and in the strict interest of fairness, here are three reasons from the flip side:
1. The English soundtrack, on the Blu-Ray mind you, is in glorious mono. That’s right, mono.
2. As Joseph Savitski, who reviewed the film for Beyond Hollywood.com, notes “the music as a whole seems derivative of other, more talented, composers.” It does indeed, to the point where we were making a game of it, trying to guess what soundtrack was being borrowed from. Superman, Jaws, and Star Wars all make appearances. Fortunately, Akira Ifukube’s “Main Theme” retains center stage.
3. Despite the considerable amount of action going on, it still manages to seem slow and to drag in spots, sometimes almost intolerably so.