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Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah Reviews

Toho Studios' series of new Godzilla films, tentatively launched with GODZILLA 1985 (1984) and GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989), kicked into high gear with GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH, which blithely invents a whole new backstory for everyone's favorite giant monster (as well as for popular foe King Ghidorah, aka Ghidrah). Like all movies about time travel, the plot--in which visitors from the future attempt to alter the past in order to take over Japan's history--doesn't stand up to logical scrutiny, but it's twisty and fast-paced enough to compel your interest. Delving into the history of Yasuaki Shindo (Yoshio Tsuchiya), a rich businessman who has created a theme park devoted to monsters, writer Terasawa (Isao Toyohara) discovers that, as a soldier on the island of Lagos in WWII, Shindo and his garrison were saved from enemy attack by a dinosaur. Terasawa theorizes that this prehistoric remnant was exposed to the atomic testing on nearby Bikini and mutated into Godzilla. His theory is proven correct when Japan is visited by three people from the year 2204, Emmy (Anna Nakagawa), Wilson (Chuck Wilson), and Grenchiko (Richard Berger). They plan to prevent the annihilation of Japan in an upcoming attack by Godzilla. Travelling to 1944, they transport the dinosaur to an underwater site far from the upcoming nuclear tests. They also leave behind three Dorats, winged pets genetically engineered to be responsive to their human masters. Returning to 1992, Godzilla has been erased from history; but Japan is now under attack by King Ghidorah, a three-headed dragon produced when the Dorats were exposed to nuclear radiation. Wilson's true goal is to use Ghidorah to take over Japan, the future's leading superpower. Horrified at his plans, Emmy joins forces with Terasawa and the others. Meanwhile, exposure to a sunken Russian nuclear sub has created Godzilla anew, bigger and more powerful than ever. He heads toward Tokyo and battles with Ghidorah. Wilson and Grenchiko are killed when Emmy transports their ship into the middle of the monster fight. Godzilla kills Ghidorah, and then turns his attention to Tokyo. Shindo, who has considered Godzilla a savior since the Lagos experience, is killed when he refuses to flee from Godzilla's rampage. Emmy and the others concoct a desperate plan: returning to the future, she retrieves Ghidorah's corpse and mechanically revives it as Mecha-King Ghidorah, in which she returns to 1992 to stop Godzilla. She and the robot creature overcome Godzilla, and she deposits both her creation and the defeated Godzilla at the bottom of the ocean. Before returning to her own time, she reveals to Terasawa that he is her ancestor. The first of five popular films that went unreleased in the US until the American GODZILLA (1998) sparked a renewed interest in all things Godzillan, GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH will come as a surprise to viewers who have only seen the earlier Toho films. With a substantially larger budget and more sophisticated special effects, this ain't your Dad's Godzilla. Liquidating and recreating Godzilla served a particular purpose: the monster needed to be bigger so as not to be dwarfed by a Tokyo that looms much higher than it did in 1954. While Godzilla himself is impressively lean and mean, the most notable beneficiary of the improved effects is the three-headed King Ghidorah, which for the first time doesn't look like a spastic marionette. Of course, the monsters are still played largely by men in rubber suits, and American viewers accustomed to computer-generated effects are still likely to turn up their noses. But GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH and its successors (beginning with 1992's GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA) make up in imagination what they may lack in verisimilitude. A little suspension of disbelief is an investment that is rewarded handsomely here. On the downside, the English dubbing, while technically proficient, is too often laughably written ("Take that, you dinosaur!" smirks one American naval officer, jokingly named "Major Spielberg.") Too many of the dubbing actors mispronounce "nuclear." Emmy's android sidekick M-11 borrows a little too much from TERMINATOR 2 (1991). And the script's view of nuclear waste as a well-known growth hormone is a bit much to take. The film was also subjected to (sight unseen) criticism in the US in 1991 when it was accused of being anti-American for showing a dinosaur killing American soldiers. (Violence, profanity.)