Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
A super Godzilla, (超ゴジラ)
it was born from Godzilla cells! (それはゴジラ細胞から生まれた！)
— Japanese tagline
The winner of this battle would be the most enormous enemy against human beings. (勝った方が人類最大の敵になる)
— International tagline
The most terrifying monster of all time is back in his greatest movie ever!
The ultimate battle has only just begun!
— North American VHS taglines
Godzilla vs. Biollante (ゴジラＶＳビオランテ Gojira tai Biorante) is a 1989 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the seventeenth installment in the Godzilla series as well as the second in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 16, 1989.
The first Godzilla film to be released during the actual political Heisei period of Japan, Godzilla vs. Biollante picks up directly where The Return of Godzilla left off. In the wake of Godzilla's attack on Tokyo, his cells have become a coveted scientific resource, with governments and the terrorist organization Bio-Major fighting over them. Five years later, Dr. Genichiro Shiragami uses a sample of G-Cells to try and preserve his deceased daughter's cells within a rose, unintentionally creating the hybrid kaiju Biollante. In addition, a botched terrorist ransoming by Bio-Major results in Godzilla being released from his prison within Mount Mihara. As the JSDF prepares to fight back against Godzilla with its new array of weaponry, Godzilla converges on Biollante's location at Lake Ashi, setting up a battle in which the winner will be humanity's biggest enemy.
In 1984, a scientific team picks through the ruins of Tokyo, searching for tissue samples left behind by the monster Godzilla following his rampage there only a few hours earlier. The creature had returned after 30 years, and had reduced Tokyo to rubble. After destroying the JSDF's Super X, the monster had been lured to Mount Mihara, where an eruption had been triggered that sealed the titan within the volcano. The scientific team soon find what they are looking for, but as they continue to search, a team of American paramilitary soldiers working for a United States-based genetics research company called Bio-Major ambushes them and steals the cell samples. As they flee with their prize, they are ambushed themselves by a lone mercenary, who kills the commandos and steals the cells back. The mysterious man, a killer known only as SSS9, then takes the cells to the Republic of Saradia, an OPEC nation in the Middle East, where Japanese geneticist Genichiro Shiragami and his daughter Erika take charge of them. Shiragami is working with the Saradian government on a project to genetically breed a new species of plant capable of living in the arid Saradian deserts. This, the government hopes, will gradually take the country away from relying only on oil exports for profit, and will hopefully make them the world's largest grain exporter. However, before this can become a reality, the lab where the Godzilla cells are being stored is bombed by Bio-Major agents, and the cells are destroyed. Erika is killed in the blast, and the distraught scientist returns to Japan, unwilling to continue his research.
Over five years later, in 1990, Japan has, for the most part, recovered from Godzilla's attack. Shiagami lives in solitude in a laboratory on the shores of Lake Ashi, and has kept Erika's keep-sake roses alive for all this time, and has even spliced her genes into the plants in hopes that she might continue to live within them. After five years of wondering if this is even possible, he calls the Japanese Psyonics Research Center, who sends Miki Saegusa to test the roses for psychic energy. Miki, only seventeen years old, is an incredibly gifted psychic, and as she analyzes the roses, she can hear the voice of a girl calling the name of Asuka Okouchi, a former friend of Erika who accompanied Miki to Shiragami's lab. As the two women leave, they do not know that they are being watched. In the trees rests a truck, and from the window two Bio-Major agents, John Lee and Michael Low, look on. As it turns out, they have been watching Shiragami for several years. Little do they know that they too are under surveillance. Behind them, the Saradian agent that stole the Godzilla cells in 1984 watches in silence.
Asuka Okouchi is the daughter of Seido Okochi, founder and head of the Okochi Foundation, a genetic research institute. Her boyfriend, Kazuhito Kirishima, is a geneticist as well, but has recently become very concerned with the ethics of his work. He believes that if the scientists are not careful, they may create something terrible, something never intended to exist on the planet Earth. He fears that Okouchi's view of science, that being a way to gain power and money, goes against what science is really all about. However, as he is dating Okouchi's daughter and his lab is funded by the Okouchi Foundation, there is little he can do to voice his opinions.
Meanwhile, a small eruption at Mt. Mihara begins to worry the Japanese government. Godzilla has remained interred within the mountain for the last five years, and it is now becoming clear that the creature is stirring within. The Japanese begin their planning for the monster's return, and prepare several defenses. Lt. Sho Kuroki of the JSDF, along with Goro Gondo of the National Land Bureau's Godzilla Unit, begin to organize and prepare. The JSDF has constructed the Super X2, a vastly improved version of the machine that fought Godzilla in 1984. The machine is now semi-aquatic, capable of functioning under water, and now features a vast array of weapons. The new mech also possesses a "Fire Mirror," a gigantic lens composed of synthetic diamond capable of deflecting Godzilla's atomic ray back at him at over one thousand times the force. The government also has another trick up their sleeves: they are planning to develop a biological weapon called the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria (ANEB). The bacteria, designed to break down nuclear energy, was originally intended to clean up atomic waste. However, as the bacteria eats nuclear material, it could, theoretically, be used against Godzilla, who feeds off nuclear energy. However, the ANEB cannot be created without Godzilla cells. As it turns out, the cells of the King of the Monsters contain a special set of nuclear-eating genes that are used to allow the creature to derive energy from nuclear materials. These genes are needed to make the ANEB, and much like snake venom can be used to create an antidote for snake poisoning, it is believed that the G-cells can be used to create a bacteria that can poison and kill Godzilla himself. A group of cells recovered in 1984 are now stored at the Okouchi Foundation, safe from terrorists such as the Bio-Major agents. Kirishima and Kuroki attempt to lobby Dr. Shiragami to join the project, but he flatly refuses. He blames the G-cells for his daughter's death five years earlier, and has no intention of getting involved with them again.
Several days later, Mt. Mihara erupts, spewing lava all across Izu Oshima. The resulting earthquakes are felt as far away as Shiragami's lab. The earthquake damages the terrarium containing Erika's roses. Fearing that Erika may die if the roses perish, he formulates a plan. He joins the ANEB project, but only on one condition: he is to keep the Godzilla cells for the one week until the project begins. On a dark and stormy night, Shiragami sits alone in his lab. Before him lie several rose petals and the Godzilla cells. Under his microscope, he carefully isolates one G-cell and one cell from the rose, and then, ever so carefully, combines the two together. Now, he hopes, his daughter will live forever in a plant given the regenerative properties of Godzilla himself.
Several days later, Bio-Major's agents break into Shiragami's lab. Unbeknownst to them, SSS9 also breaks in. When the thieves and the assassin catch each other, a gunfight ensues. It is interrupted by an attack of a giant, mobile plant that kills Low and attacks SSS9. Lee flees, while the assassin barely escapes from the plant's grasp. They do not realize that they have just encountered the result of Dr. Shiragami's secret experiments. The next morning a giant flower is seen in Lake Ashi, and Dr. Shiragami confesses that he combined the DNA of roses with Godzilla cells, believing he had created an immortal plant species. Furthermore, he confesses to Asuka, Miki and Kirishima that in a fit of desperate grief, he added Erika's DNA to the mutated genetic structure, so that some of the creature is composed of Erika as well. He names his creation Biollante, after a plant spirit from Norse mythology. Miki remarks that she can hear Erika's spirit inside Biollante, crying out in fear.
Meanwhile, Bio-Major anonymously sends a letter to the Diet of Japan, informing them that they have planted several bombs inside Mt. Mihara. If the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria is not handed over, the company threatens to detonate the bombs and release Godzilla. With the country held hostage, the Diet is forced to comply, sending Colonel Gondo and Dr. Kirishima to hand over the ANEB to Bio-Major's agent John Lee. However, the exchange is interrupted when SSS9 opens fire on them before the explosives can be disarmed. Lee tries to drive away in his truck, but is killed by a sniper bullet to the head, causing the truck to be overturned. SSS9 retrieves the ANEB and escapes, while Gondo and Kirishima are unable to disarm the explosives. Godzilla is released as Mt. Mihara erupts. Upon hearing Godzilla's roar, Biollante's blossom opens, and the monstrous plant begins calling out to Godzilla. Miki remarks that Erika's spirit is seemingly no longer in control of Biollante, leaving the creature a violent monster that is part Godzilla and part rose. With Godzilla's destination made clear, the JSDF, under the leadership of Sho Kuroki, prepare their strategies for dealing with the King of the Monsters. The Super X2 is deployed against Godzilla in the ocean, and though it at first seems effective in combating Godzilla, it is eventually overwhelmed by Godzilla's atomic breath, and is forced to retreat. After the battle, Godzilla comes ashore in Japan and approaches Lake Ashi, where Biollante is rooted. Shiragami wonders if Godzilla came all this way to see Biollante because he knew they were made from the same cells. As Godzilla stares at the monstrous plant, Biollante panics and attacks him, and a huge battle ensues, and briefly it appears that there is a stalemate. However, Godzilla seemingly defeats Biollante by burning her alive with his atomic breath, only for it to be revealed that Biollante is immortal as she escapes by dissolving into spores that float into outer space. Victorious for now and running low on nuclear energy following his last two battles, Godzilla heads towards the nearest operational nuclear reactor, which is located in Tsuruga, on the other side of the country. The military is sent out to meet Godzilla at Ise Bay. However, Godzilla unexpectedly surfaces in Osaka Bay, avoiding a confrontation with the JSDF. Miki tries to help, attempting to make Godzilla turn away from Osaka using her psychic abilities. Her efforts distract Godzilla momentarily, but the force of Godzilla's will and his psychic brainpower overwhelms her, causing her to faint. A plan is put into action, involving infecting Godzilla with the ANEB, which was retrieved by Gondo and Kirishima from the Saradia Oil Corporation's Osaka office. Kuroki sends the still-damaged Super X2 to distract Godzilla while Gondo and his team prepare rockets loaded with ANEB. Godzilla destroys the craft with a blast of atomic breath, but Gondo and his team manage to get in position. Godzilla is infected with three rockets, including one fired directly into his mouth, but he kills Gondo and continues on, seemingly unaffected by the ANEB.
The failure of the bacteria to work is attributed to Godzilla's low body temperature, which keeps the bacteria in a near-dormant state. If Godzilla can be heated, Shiragami theorizes, then the ANEB should work. The JSDF develops another plan: force Godzilla onto a field of microwave-emitting plates during an artificial thunderstorm, where he will be heated by the microwaves and a unit of MBT-MB92 Maser Cannons. The operation begins, and while Godzilla does briefly seem to weaken, he easily destroys the JSDF's forces. Just as everything seems lost, a low rumble is heard and Biollante's spores rain down from the sky. Suddenly, Biollante's gigantic evolved form emerges from the ground, obliterating the JSDF's remaining forces. Biollante attacks Godzilla and this time has the advantage. She stabs Godzilla with her spear-tipped tendrils and spits corrosive sap onto him. When Biollante attempts to bite down on Godzilla's head, he fires his atomic breath directly into her mouth, causing it to explode out the back of her head. Godzilla then begins to be affected by the ANEB, due to Biollante's corrosive sap raising his temperature. Godzilla tries to walk away but collapses headfirst into the ocean. With Godzilla temporarily knocked out, Biollante dissolves into spores and escapes into space again. As the monster's essence floats upwards, Dr. Shiragami sees the image of his daughter among the spores. Miki says that Biollante had told them "Thank you" as she floated into the atmosphere. Calling out to his daughter, Shiragami walks forward and is fatally shot by SSS9, who was ordered by his government to kill Shiragami now that the cells were lost. Dr. Kirishima chases the agent and fights him. The agent is at a disadvantage until he is able to grab his weapon again. The Saradian agent attempts to kill Kirishima, but Major Kuroki activates an artificial lightning generator that SSS9 is standing on, disintegrating him. Kirishima and Asuka celebrate their victory when Godzilla suddenly rises, his body temperature lowered by the water. However, Godzilla simply swims away, leaving Japan safe for the time being. Kirishima and Asuka leave together in Kirishima's car. The body of Dr. Shiragami is placed inside a tent, Dr. Okouchi briefly mourning him before leaving. Erika is heard to briefly comment on the recent events. Godzilla is seen swimming away, while Biollante is visible as a giant rose floating near the Earth in outer space.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Biollante/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Kazuki Omori
- Written by Kazuki Omori, Shinichiro Kobayashi
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Koichi Sugiyama, Yuki Saito
- Stock music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Yudai Kato
- Edited by Michiko Ikeda
- Production design by Juichi Ikuno, Shigekazu Ikuno
- Assistant directors Kazuhiko Fukami, Hideyuki Inoue, Hiroshi Kubo
- Director of special effects Koichi Kawakita
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Biollante/Credits.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
International English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Chris Hilton as Dr. Kazuhito Kirishima
- Suzanne Vale as Asuka Okouchi / Breaking Newscaster
- Rik Thomas as Colonel Goro Gondo
- Warren Rooke as Dr. Genichiro Shiragami
- Simon Broad as Seigo Okouchi / Abdul Zalman / Osamu Amezawa / Demon Kogure
Weapons, vehicles, and races
Godzilla vs. Biollante began as a winner of a contest by Toho. The concept was created by Shinichiro Kobayashi, a dentist, though his script was widely different from the final film. The few parts that remained were Erika's death, Biollante's creation, a psychic girl, and for the most part, the ending. This first draft also had Dr. Shiragami create a rat-fish hybrid monster named Deutalios who was quickly killed by Godzilla. This was cut and replaced by Godzilla's battles with Biollante's rose stage and the Super X2. In another ending, Biollante begins to lose and makes a final attempt to kill Godzilla by turning into a wave of pure energy which Godzilla would absorb.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Biollante/Gallery.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Biollante (Soundtrack).
- Big Dinosaurs (大恐龍; Taiwan)
- Godzilla, the Ancient Giant (Godzilla, Der Urgigant; Germany)
- Godzilla 1990 (1990ก็อตซิลลา; Thailand)
- Godzilla 2 (Mexico)
- Godzilla Counterattacks (Godzilla Contra-Ataca; Portugal)
- Godzilla Versus Biollante (Brazil)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - December 16, 1989 [view poster]
- Taiwan - January 26, 1990 [view poster]
- Thailand - 1990 [view poster]
After Godzilla vs. Biollante was released in Japan, Toho commissioned a Hong Kong-based company called Omni Productions to dub the film into English for their international version. In early 1990, Toho entered discussions with Miramax to distribute the film. When talks broke off, Toho filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Federal Court, accusing Miramax of entering an oral agreement in June to pay Toho $500,000 to distribute the film. This lawsuit delayed the film's release for two years. An out of court settlement was reached with Miramax buying the rights to the film for an unreported figure. While Miramax had entertained thoughts of releasing the film in theaters, but in the end it was decided to release the film straight to home video instead. HBO released the film on VHS in 1992 and Laserdisc in 1993. Miramax utilized the uncut English international version of the film for this release. The international version of the film was released on video in the United States by HBO Video in association with Miramax via Dimension Studios on November 25, 1992. The film was released on laserdisc the next year. Godzilla vs. Biollante was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc in North America by Echo Bridge Entertainment through Miramax on December 4, 2012.
Godzilla vs. Biollante was the last new Godzilla film to receive a release in the United States until TriStar Pictures released Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Mothra on VHS in 1998. Godzilla vs. Biollante was also the last Toho Godzilla film to receive its own international English-language title card. For every film since, Toho has elected to simply digitally superimpose the international title over the Japanese title card (except in the case of Godzilla: Final Wars, whose original title card is in English).
Godzilla vs. Biollante had a budget of ¥700,000,000, or $5,000,000. When the film opened in Japan on December 16, 1989, it sold 2,000,000 tickets, earning ¥1,040,000,000, or roughly $7,000,000. Though the film was not a financial failure, it did not perform to Toho's expectations, causing them to place the series on a brief two-year hiatus and elect to bring back King Ghidorah for the next film.
Actor Masanobu Takashima won a Newcomer of the Year Award from the Japan Academy Awards for his portrayal of both Sho Kuroki in Godzilla vs. Biollante and Masato Togura in Yamada Babaa ni Hanataba O.
|14th Japan Academy Awards||Newcomer of the Year||Masanobu Takashima||Won|
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (Dolby Surround and 2002 Remix 5.1)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by writer/director Kazuki Omori and special effects director Koichi Kawakita, "The Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" featurette (50 minutes, SD), four video commentaries on Biollante and the Super X-2, two teasers and two theatrical trailers, photo galleries
Universe DVD (2006)
- Region: 3
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Stereo) and Cantonese (2.0 Stereo)
- Subtitles: English, Chinese (simplified and traditional)
- Special features: None
- Notes: Out of print.
Echo Bridge DVD/Blu-ray (2012)
- Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo) and English (1.0 mono)
- Special features: "The Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" featurette (50 minutes, SD), Behind the Design featurette (3 minutes)
- Notes: Both versions of the film use the same Japanese video track. Reissued by Lionsgate in 2014. Both the Echo Bridge and Lionsgate releases are out of print.
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Surround Dolby TrueHD and 2002 Remix 5.1 Dolby TrueHD)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Trailer (HD), special announcement trailer (HD blow-up), "Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante" (50 minutes, SD), Models & sculptures (SD), audio commentary by writer/director Kazuki Omori and special effects director Koichi Kawakita
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Biollante (novelization).
A novelization of Shinichiro Kobayashi's original story for Godzilla vs. Biollante is included in the 1993 publication Great Monster War (Monster Novel Complete Works II) from the Publishing Arts Company. In Kobayashi's initial story, key elements from the final film such as the Super X2, Miki Saegusa, and the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria are not present. Dr. Shiragami creates a synthetic rat-fish hybrid called Deutalios while in the process of creating Biollante. Deutalios escapes Shiragami's lab and grows to gigantic size, then proceeds to attack nearby ships out at sea. While battling the JSDF, Deutalios is confronted by Godzilla. The hybrid kaiju tries to escape onto land, but becomes weakened when out of water. Godzilla pursues Deutalios and finally kills it, then eats its corpse. A rough sketch of Deutalios by Kobayashi is included in the novelization.
A novelization of the story of the completed film was also published by Kadokawa. While it was developed alongside the movie, it itself contains many original elements. The Super X2 is codenamed the "Angler," and is equipped with a laser cannon instead of the Fire Mirror. Biollante possesses a heat ray in this novelization. Finally, neither Shiragami nor Goro Gondo are killed in the novelization.
Godzilla vs. Biollante received two different manga adaptations. The first, illustrated by Tatsuyoshi Kobayashi and published by Shogakukan, is a mostly faithful adaptation of the film. The battle between Godzilla and Biollante at Lake Ashi plays out somewhat differently, while earlier Biollante's Flower Beast Form kills a human on a boat by crushing him in one of her mouthed vines. The most radical departure is the manga's ending, which utilizes a scrapped sequence considered for the film itself where Biollante finishes off Godzilla after he collapses from the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria. Once the ANEB finally takes effect, Godzilla attempts to fire his atomic breath at Biollante, only for it to fail. He tries to retreat before finally collapsing to the ground. Rather than retreat, Biollante approaches Godzilla before breaking apart into energy spores and flowing into his body, taking the form of a gigantic rose bud surrounding him. As Biollante's essence flows away from Godzilla's lifeless body, Erika's face becomes visible in the sky, with Miki Saegusa reporting that Biollante says "thank you." Despite seemingly perishing, Godzilla revives shortly afterward and wades out to sea, just as he does in the film itself.
A different manga adaptation titled Godzilla 1990 was illustrated by Toshihiro Hirano and published by Kadokawa. In this adaptation, the Super X2's design is drastically different, while Godzilla and Biollante's final battle takes place in Osaka rather than Wakasa Bay.
- While it is the second entry in the Heisei series of Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Biollante was the first Godzilla film to actually be released during Japan's political Heisei period.
- The Oxygen Destroyer makes a cameo in this film - very briefly in Colonel Gondo's office, the camera shot shows a statue of the KingGoji suit on the desk, and the Oxygen Destroyer is shown resting against the wall.
- Special effects director Koichi Kawakita experimented with cell animation and stop-motion for the final fight between Godzilla and Biollante, but neither technique was used in the finished film.
- On March 17, 1992, as pre-production work was under way on Godzilla vs. Mothra, someone sneaked into Toho's special effects department and stole one of the two BioGoji Godzilla suits that was used in both Godzilla vs. Biollante and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, and which was slated to be used in the new film as well. A "Godzilla hunt" was launched for the stolen costume, valued at about $371,000, and it ended when an elderly woman found it in a bamboo patch in the suburbs about a week later (reported in The Hollywood Reporter, March 26, 1992). While the costume was missing, Koichi Kawakita's staff began work on a new one, BatoGoji.
- This is the first Godzilla film for actor Koichi Ueda, who would play a role in every Godzilla film afterward until Godzilla: Final Wars.
- Godzilla vs. Biollante received a PG rating from the MPAA for "traditional Godzilla violence." Ironically, it is one of the most violent films in the series.
- Scified interview with Ed Godziszewski about the making of the film
- List of firearms used in the movie
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