Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was a changing point for the Heisei series. Two years prior the fantastic Godzilla vs. Biollante came out. It was a great movie, one of the best. The problem? It didn’t do well in the Japanese box office. This forced TOHO to abandon the idea of creating original monsters. So to bring back all those un-loyal fans, they brought in a revamped King Ghidorah for the sequel. It was also considerably light in tone compared to its darker previous installments. This movie is best known for its rather confusing time travel plot. This is not one of the better G films, but isn’t bad either. It’s just about middle of the road.
Admittedly the intro and beginning act was fantastic. The story opens up in the year 2040. It shows a deceased King Ghidorah with its middle head ripped off. The narration states that he did battle with Godzilla in the 20th century. Que the excellent title screen, complete with a remastered King Ghidorah theme from the Showa era. It’s absolutely amazing and a throwback to the classic science fiction years of the franchise when you see the UFO with the theme playing. The story takes an interesting turn when it’s revealed that the individuals in the UFO are actually beings from the 23rd century, complete with an android. (More on this
Terminator ripoff guy soon.) They’ve come to Japan with a plan to save the country from getting destroyed in the future. Their plan is to stop Godzilla from becoming Godzilla by taking his dinosaur form away from Lagos Island where the H-Bomb had struck. Of course, nothing really goes as planned and it comes to a battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah, who has a very peculiar origin.
The story is awesome for one reason: it showcases Godzilla’s true origin. Now, some mind find it odd, but I think it’s rather cool. We have a dinosaur dubbed Godzillasaurus, which looks fantastic on screen. Seriously, the Godzillasaurus is one of the most impressive suits TOHO has ever created. It’s a shame the special effects are a bit bad sometimes, such as the extremely off-looking scenes of G crushing the American soldiers with his feet. The reason why the story is considered confusing is because the ‘Futurians’ transported G from getting created by the H-bomb, it essentially erased the original film in theory. But, since there was nuclear energy in the ocean anyway, it can be inferred that nothing truly changed. But anyways, the time travel plot is definitely a cool one to watch unfold even if the American soldiers have some of the most cringe worthy scenes in the entire franchise.
The cast isn’t particularity strong, but there are worst. One of the more notable characters is Shindo, who was there in 1944 when the Godzillasaurus appeared. There’s a whole emotional subplot involving this guy. Some consider the scene where he meets Godzilla in the 20th century one of the post powerful in the entire series. I suppose it was handled well enough, but at the same time it just felt a little dull and the viewer doesn’t really care when Godzilla incinerates the fellow. Perhaps the most notable character is the Futurian Emmy. She’s nice to have around with her genuine personality. But, later on she doesn’t make much sense. She releases the Dorats fully knowing everything the other Futurians stated to the main characters was a lie, but acts so surprised and devastated later on. She’s a nice character, but the writing could have been better.
We can’t forget about M11! Some of these 90’s films are infamous from ‘grabbing’ some concepts from popular American franchises. Indiana Jones was parodied in this film’s sequel and the Xeonmorphs from the Alien franchise had its inner mouth ability stolen for Destoroyah in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. Here we have M11, parody or whatever you want to call it from The Terminator series. M11 is probably most known for the infamous scene where he runs after Emmy. The special effects here are so awful it makes the film right there a comedy. Add the fact that M11 has a smug look on his face the whole time and we have quite a scene. M11 with his one-liners and sly smile never got old. Sadly the film seemed to have forgotten about him in the end, since we don’t know what happens.
This would mark King Ghidorah’s first appearance since Godzilla vs. Gigan 19 years ago. He’s back with a new origin, roar, and design. First, his beginning. He’s not a space monster like his Showa counterpart. His origin is actially quite interesting. In the future there are these ‘pets’ called Dorats. They’re basically little goblins with Ghidorah wings. So, when the Godzillasaurus is transported away from Lagos Island, Emmy releases the Dorats where the H-Bomb that would have turned the dinosaur into Godzilla actually merged the three Dorats into the Three-Headed Terror. It’s a very ironic and cool concept that’s handled pretty well. Ghidorah himself had a very nice looking new design. I’m not going to say it’s superior to its previous incarnation, but it’s a definitely a solid update. Whether or not it’s an improvement is up to the viewer, but personally I like it a lot, even more than his Showa counterpart.
Godzilla doesn’t technically appear until an hour into the film. He ends up being the antagonist by the ending, which can either be a good or bad thing depending on the viewer. He doesn’t exactly do much that’s worth commenting on. He has plenty of destruction scenes, nothing we haven’t seen before. Watching this film just proves that the Showa Godzilla was just a much better character than this animal-like Heisei one. Mecha King Ghidorah is technically the final boss. He’s remained a popular fixture in the fandom, appearing in all the big console games and even being the final boss in Domination. The concept is quite awesome, and he just looks cool. Sadly, the execution could have been better. Emmy controlling him from the inside took away his mystique. I would love to see this guy brought back someday.
Unlike Return and Vs. Biollante, Akira Ifukube was brought in to compose the soundtrack. This is another reason why this films feels more like a Showa one, the music. King Ghidorah has a fantastic revamped theme from his Showa days. Even the soldiers get a classic sounding March theme. Though it playing during the scene with Ghidorah blowing up the jets felt kinda off. It’s a pretty brutal sequence since he’s literally setting those jets on fire, while there’s this happy tune playing in the background. The first major fight is pretty engaging since up until that point in the series it was the only real one-on-one fight between the two. The beams are definitely overplayed, but still fun. The final battle is alright, definitely not one of the better climaxes in the franchise.
Overall, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is a film full of interesting ideas. For the first time we got to see the origin of the title monster. While the Americans were portrayed rather awfully, it’s still pretty cool to see Godzilla’s dinosaur form. King Ghidorah has a pretty impressive sequence of him destroying Japan, even if some of his flying scenes looked kinda off. The fights are pretty solid, and the Futurians were alright antagonists. Ultimately though, it’s not great and Godzilla’s rather dull portrayal didn’t help matters. The sequels didn’t really raise the bar either.
Daniel is the guy for everything Godzilla related at Unleash the Fanboy. Besides the Big G himself, his favorite monster is Rodan and you can follow him on Twitter: @Destroyer_199