MovieBob - Intermission
MovieBob Reviews All 29 Previous Godzilla Movies (Part 2)

Bob Chipman | 23 May 2014 12:00
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MovieBob continues his look back at previous Godzilla movies. All 29 of them!

The second wave of Godzilla movies is a little complicated to keep track of, since unlike the mostly self-contained Showa Era (as discussed previously), generations of long-running Japanese films are often grouped into "eras" based on the name of Japan's emperor at the time), it's actually multiple separate continuities - some only one or two films long.

So: What we have here are seven films in a "relaunch" series begun in 1984/85 generally called "The Heisei Era;" followed by mini-arcs usually known collectively as "The Millennium Era" to differentiate them from the earlier series even though Japan was still technically in the Heisei period. Let's have a look...

godzilla 1985

Godzilla (1985)
The first new Godzilla feature in a decade is today best remembered (in the West) for a tongue-in-cheek U.S. ad campaign that "jokingly" treated the monster's revival like a major actor coming out of retirement and a clever gimmick of once again inserting a now-aged Raymond Burr into the action, but it's a worthy entry regardless. It also established what has become a tradition (carried on, sort of, in the 2014 film) in Godzilla reboots: Treating the original 1954 film as "canon" while disregarding the subsequent entries. Godzilla is also the nominal villain once again, setting up a streak of moral ambiguity that would inform the series from this point forward.

godzilla v biollante

Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
1985's direct sequel continues the "darkzilla" arc of its predecessor while adding a Manga-esque spin to the proceedings. It spills over into what might today be called "Gainax territory" with one of Godzilla's most bizarre opponents ever: A gigantic sentient rose (though it takes a more conventionally monstrous form for the finale) blooming in the center of a Japanese harbor that may be inhabited by the soul of a scientist's dead daughter. It's a highlight of the Heisei Era, but the new series didn't catch on at the time outside Japan and for years this was the last "new" Godzilla movie U.S. fans got to see.

godzilla v king ghidorah

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Another hallmark of the Heisei Era was building plots as obvious "homage" to American blockbusters, in this case The Terminator. Time-travelers arrive from the future offering to help prevent Godzilla from ever existing, but it turns out they're actually an evil consortium of American, Chinese and Russian agents whose real goal is to create King Ghidorah in order to prevent Japan's ascendancy to the #1 world superpower in their time (the Heisei Era was nothing if not patriotic).

We also get a reimagined/expanded origin for Godzilla himself: Originally a "normal" (somehow still-living) dinosaur, he's discovered on a Pacific island by Japanese sailors during WWII and helps save them from American naval invaders (this would be the other reason Toho stopped bothering to market these movies in the United States). Decades later, now having been transformed by nukes into Godzilla, he's heavily implied to be attacking Japan to punish the now-aged generation he'd protected for not protecting him (from the bombs) in return. The Heisei Era is weird.

godzilla v mothra

Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
And here's the Hesei Godzilla "cover" of Indiana Jones. Archaeologists discover a ruined civilization and release Earth's guardian spirit, Mothra, and her nemesis, Battra, whose renewed conflict is shaken up by a nosy Godzilla. This brief fantasy interlude is an outlier in the renewed series, as Mothra was spun-off into a trilogy of her own more family-friendly kaiju features after this, while Godzilla continued on a scifi-centric trajectory.

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