Time travellers from the 23rd century return to 1992 to warn Japan that Godzilla will cause a catastrophic nuclear incident in the 21st century and suggest a way to rid the world of him forever. They intend to go back to 1944, to Ragos Island, where a dinosaur was exposed to radiation from the Bikini H-Bomb test and became Godzilla. Upon completion of this task, King Ghidrah appears in 1992 and the visitors' true plan is discovered. They wish to destroy Japan so it will not become the dominant economic force. Luckily for the Japanese, Godzilla was still created and will now fight Ghidrah.
Directed by: Kazuki Ohmori
. Starring: Kosuke Toyohara
, Anna Nakagawa
, Megumi Odaka
, Katsuhiko Sasaki
, Akiji Kobayashi
, Tokuma Nishioka
, Yoshio Tsuchiya
, Chuck Wilson
, Richard Berger
, Robert Scott Field
, Kenji Sahara
, Kiwako Harada
, Kôichi Ueda
. Music by: Akira Ifukube
Today, I viewed 1991's "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" for the first time since I was in middle school. I've always considered "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah," the third entry in the second-generation Heisei-Era "Godzilla" series, to be this series' low point.
I've always been quite disappointed with this film, and my feelings haven't changed.
"Godzilla 1985""The Return of Godzilla" (1984), the first film in the Heisei series, got things off on the right foot, by reintroducing Godzilla to a new generation of film-goers, since his last appearance in the first-generation Showa-Era film, "Terror of Mechagodzilla" (1975). In that last Showa-Era film, Godzilla was a hero. With "Godzilla 1985""The Return of Godzilla," Godzilla was returned to his roots as a rampaging menace. The next film in the Heisei series, "Godzilla vs. Biollante" (1989), was the series high point, in my opinion, and is my favorite film from this series; it's also my favorite "Godzilla" film after "Gojira" (1954).
The Heisei-Era could only keep going higher, or it could stumble immensely, and "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" ended up being the first misfire the Heisei Era would see. Perhaps one reason for my disappointment was because Kazuki Omori, who wrote and directed "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah," had done such a phenomenal job writing and directing "Godzilla vs. Biollante" just two years earlier. I don't know what happened, but it's generally widely known that despite being well-received by critics and audiences in Japan, "Godzilla vs. Biollante" was ultimately a financial disappointment for Toho - who blamed the lack of familiar monsters and a much darker, adult tone for its poor box office performance. They sought to remedy that by reintroducing one of Godzilla's most famous foes for their next film - in addition to a generally lighter tone.
For "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah," the film opens up like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951), before moving into a confusing time travel plot that's like a combination of the "Terminator" series and the "Back to the Future" trilogy. In 1992, a UFO is spotted flying over the skies of Japan. It ultimately settles in the area around Mt. Fuji. The ship's occupants reveal themselves to not be aliens, but human time travelers from the 23rd century (2204). They introduce themselves as their leader, American Wilson (Chuck Wilson), the Russian Grenchiko (Richard Berger), and the Japanese Emmy Kano (the late Anna Nakagawa). They reveal that in the future, Godzilla will completely destroy Japan, and they've come to the present-day to eliminate him.
To do this, they must travel back in time - accompanied by writer Kenichiro Terasawa (Kosuke Toyohara) and psychic Miki Saegusa (Heisei series regular, the beautiful Megumi Odaka) - to 1944 at the height of World War II, to transport the so-called "Godzillasaurus," the previously undiscovered dinosaur species that 10 years later, would be exposed to radioactive fallout from the American hydrogen bomb testing that took place in the Marshall Islands, and would eventually become Godzilla. However, this same Godzillasaurus had inadvertently saved a garrison of the Japanese Imperial Army that was under attack from Pacific U.S. Naval forces in the area. Yasuaki Shindo (Yoshio Tsuchiya), now a successful Japanese businessman, was the man leading the garrison and who has kept this secret for 48 years.
However, in a plot twist, it's eventually revealed that the time travelers have an ulterior motive for removing Godzilla from history. It turns out that while they are indeed from the future, they are not the saviors that they claim to be, and are actually terrorists bent on destroying Japan because in the future, Japan will become a major world superpower that will remain unchallenged by the United States, the (former) Soviet Union, and even China. To do this, they've created a giant monster of their own, the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah, who took Godzilla's place in history and is now the greatest threat to the country and the rest of the world. The Japanese are left with a horrible predicament, but feel they have no other option: re-create Godzilla, by bombarding the Godzillasaurus with nuclear missiles in the hope that it will once again become Godzilla and stop King Ghidorah.
"Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" has some bright spots. Its special effects, by the late Koichi Kawakita, are top-notch - but are down-right laughable in some spots. I'm not sure how or why some things turned out so cheaply - especially in some of the sequences with the android M-11 (Robert Scott Field). Considering the state-of-the-art effects work that Kawakita supervised for "Godzilla vs. Biollante," I'm amazed at the sharp decline in their quality for this film.
Another plus for this movie, is that it marked the return of long-time series composer Akira Ifukube (who tragically passed away in 2006), who had been absent from the series in the 16 years since "Terror of Mechagodzilla." While it's nice to hear his music in the series again and some of the themes he creates here are indeed quite rousing and familiar, it's clearly not his best work.
There are some inconsistencies with this film's plot, especially with the traveling backward and forward through time. It's a headache to try to describe here, but ultimately the confusion stems from the traveling back in time, changing history, and returning to the exact same present that you originally departed from. And while I have a deep affection for Japan, its culture and people, I WAS a little uncomfortable with its (perceived) anti-American AND anti-Communist subtexts, and was also troubled by its somewhat positive portrayal of the Japanese Imperial Army. Some viewers might find that a little disturbing...
So, today confirmed my long-standing suspicions about "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" being a low point for the Heisei Era "Godzilla" films. I'm glad that the series rebounded, however, for 1992's "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth," which included more impressive special effects and a lush, beautiful score by Akira Ifukube.
Review by dee.reid from the Internet Movie Database.