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Godzilla vs. Biollante Reviews

After bringing their celebrated monster back to cinematic life in GODZILLA 1985, the Toho company launched a new series of battling-monster sequels with this 1988 production, a talky and slightly overlong opus that nonetheless delivers the goods for monster fans. While mopping up after Godzilla's destructive rampage through Tokyo (the monster is now imprisoned inside the volcanic Mt. Mihara), a special army scientific unit retrieves some of the monster's oversized cells. A gunman from the Arab Republic of Saradia shoots down the soldiers and steals the cells, which wind up at the Saradia Institute of Biotechnology. There, Japanese scientist Dr. Sherigami, who left Japan after criticism of his radical work, and his daughter, Erica, plan to work with the cells to spawn plantlife hardy enough to grow in deserts. But a terrorist bomb destroys the lab and kills Erica. Five years later, Dr. Sherigami has returned to Japan, where he secludes himself in a small botanical lab. He is occasionally assisted by a young woman named Asuko, whose psychic friend Miki seems to have the ability to "hear" what plants are "thinking." Asuko's boyfriend, young Dr. Kerishima, works for a corporation that hopes to use the Godzilla cells to create a bacterium that can consume radioactive material; Dr. Sherigami is approached to work on this project, but turns the offer down. He then changes his mind, however, provided he can have the cells for a week to do some research on his own. Carrying on the experiments he and Erica had begun, Sherigami grafts one of Godzilla's cells to that of a rose; the result is a bizarre plantlike creature that grows at an incredible rate. After killing a pair of industrial spies that break into Sherigami's lab, it escapes into the nearby lake, where it grows to titanic size. Meanwhile, the American Biomajor Corporation faxes a threat to the company working on the antinuclear bacteria: hand over the Godzilla cells to them, or they'll explode a bomb that will cause Mt. Mihara to erupt and free Godzilla. But when Kerishima and an associate go to the rendezvous with Biomajor, the Saradian gunman intervenes to steal the cells, preventing the remote deactivation of the bomb in the process. The explosive goes off, Mt. Mihara erupts, and Godzilla is unleashed upon Japan once more. Col. Karake is put in charge of the defensive forces, but neither battleships nor a revamped version of the Super-X aircraft that had previously battled Godzilla can stop the monster. He comes ashore and encounters Sherigami's plant monster, which the scientist has dubbed Biollante; an incredible battle ensues, with Biollante battling Godzilla with fanged tentacles, but it is no match for Godzilla and dies in flames, its spores drifting into the air. Returning to the sea, Godzilla heads for Osaka. Meanwhile, Kerishima and a partner raid the Saradian Oil Company headquarters and retrieve the stolen cells. Miki is brought in to try to repel Godzilla with her psychic powers, but she only puts him off for a short time. It is enough, however, for the military and the scientists to come up with a plan. After the Super-X forces Godzilla into position, the monster is shot with the anti-nuclear bacteria. Since the monster lives off radioactivity, this will theoretically kill him. But the bacteria's effectiveness is blunted by Godzilla's cold-blooded nature, and a new plan must be set up. The monster is lured into the midst of a group of heat-generating climate-control devices that will raise his body temperature. But the plan has an unexpected side effect: the storm clouds it creates cause the Biollante spores to recombine, and the two monsters fight another terrible battle. The now more reptilian Biollante is once again defeated, but the bacteria within Godzilla take effect and the monster collapses. But just then the vengeful Saradian gunman shoots down Sherigami. Kerishima chases after him, and their fight leads them into the midst of the heat-generating mines, one of which vaporizes the gunman. Then Godzilla awakens and, apparently tired of wreaking havoc for the time being, returns to the sea. As one can easily infer from its synopsis, GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE is considerably more plot-heavy than previous entries, and in fact is so overstocked with supporting characters that it's 40 minutes or so before any serious monster action gets started. Even though all of the players have some impact on the central storyline, the screenplay seems needlessly complex, and some of the most entertaining characters are the peripheral ones. Chief among these is Col. Gondo of the National Land Bureau, which has been on alert since Godzilla's last rampage for signs of the monster's return. He's been so bored with his inactivity that, as another character points out, he almost seems to wish for the monster's return. When it finally transpires, he dies heroically after firing the lethal bacteria shot into the monster's mouth. There are also some amusing details in the settings: two characters meet in the "Godzilla Memorial Lounge," which bears an enormous, monster-footprint-shaped skylight apparently left by Godzilla's last visit. As expected, the dubbing results in some unintentional humor as well, with lines like, "You think you're Romeo out of Shakespeare's tragedy; well, I'm not going to be Juliet, that's for certain," and, spoken by Dr. Sherigami about the towering Biollante, "What you're seeing is no ordinary plant." Of course, fans know that this is part and parcel of the Godzilla film experience. What they're there for is the monster sequences, which certainly deliver once they get started. They don't belie their man-in-a-suit-on-miniature-sets nature, and the destruction and battle scenes are vivid, exciting and, when the two monsters go at it in nighttime settings, fairly atmospheric as well. The version of GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE released by HBO Video is the full-length original cut of the film and, in a bonus for fans, is letterboxed. Many editions that circulated on the US underground video market prior to this official release were cut by nearly 20 minutes, making an already overcomplicated plot completely incomprehensible. (Monstrous violence, profanity.)