U.S. release date: December, 1998, direct to home video by Tri-Star Video.
Japanese audience attendance: 4,000,000
Director: Takao Okawara
Screenplay: Kazuki Omori
Sfx: Koichi Kawakita
Musical score: Akira Ifukube
Available on home video by Tri-Star Video.
Several months after his battle with SpaceGodzilla, Godzilla suddenly appears in Hong Kong in a mindless rampage, having grown even larger in size (he is now a full 120 meters in height), his body emitting smoke and giving off a burning red color. Further, his atomic breath seems to be growing increasingly unstable and more powerful in intensity, and appears a flaming red-orange in color.
Seeking to investigate the kaiju’s condition and erratic behavior, G-Force dispatches a scientific team to the creature’s home on Birth Island, only to discover that every bit of flora and fauna on the atoll has been destroyed, and that Little Godzilla is also missing.
An emergency G-Summit is convened, which determines that Godzilla’s radioactive body inadvertently triggered an explosion of Birth Island’s large uranium deposits, devastating the atoll, and causing the Kaiju King to finally absorb a degree of radiation beyond his physical limits, thereby causing the beast to “go critical” like a living nuclear reactor. The resulting physical trauma has caused the monster’s increasingly savage and unpredictable behavior.
A search for Little Godzilla turns up no sign of the peaceful creature, and the young beast is feared dead by a saddened Miki Saegusa.
Meanwhile, a brilliant college student named Kenichi Yamane, the grandson of the late paleontologist Dr. Yamane, who studied Godzilla during the beast’s first appearance 40 years ago, offers his services to the G-Summit committe (his father Shinkichi was an Odo Island native who was adopted by Dr. Yamane after Godzilla wiped out the village on the atoll). The youthful Yamane posted his own theory as to the beast’s current condition on the Internet. As a result of finally absorbing more radiation than his body’s upper limit capacity could handle, Godzilla was now undergoing an increasingly unstable atomic chain reaction that will soon cause the beast to explode with the force of hundreds of nuclear weapons, which would create an incredible worldwide catastrophe. Moreover, if Godzilla happened to be in Japan at the time his body reached critical mass, this would instantaneously eradicate all life on the island nation.
Yamane has been studying Godzilla all his life (as well as being a fan of G-Force psychic Miki Saegusa), and his intensive analysis came to the above conclusion. Due to his excellent academic credentials, the young man’s assertions were taken seriously by the scientific community at large, prompting his invitation to the G-Summit.
Concurrently, Ken Yamane’s older sister Yukari, who is a television reporter, is covering a story about recent studies by Dr. Kensaku Ijuin regarding micro-oxygen, a new type of energy discovered, which appears to be residue left over from the Oxygen Destroyer, the infamous weapon created in the early 50’s by the late Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, which was successfully used against Godzilla 40 years ago, effectively neutralizing the threat of the atomic kaiju for 30 years.
Dr. Ijuin has posited that his studies of the micro-oxygen in the ocean near Japan may enable him to recreate a version of the Oxygen Destroyer, as Kenichi Yamane had suggested, which can be utilized to end Godzilla’s threat once again, since the monster must now be destroyed both quickly and efficiently. Yukari’s aunt Emiko, the former betrothed of Dr. Serizawa, watched the report with much dismay, reiterating the deceased scientist’s firm conviction four decades previous that the terrible weapon never be recreated, a conviction that prompted him to take his own life rather than allow the opportunity for that weapon to ever fall into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, a tunnel being constructed in the Ariake district of Tokyo, an area built up from a landfill in Tokyo Bay, suddenly collapses as if eaten away by an unknown force, panicking the workers in the region. Upon investigating, Dr. Ijuin takes soil samples from the afflicted area, expressing concern that the recent build-up of micro-oxygen, the force unleashed to destroy Godzilla 40 years earlier, may be responsible for the landfill collapse. After analyzing the soil samples, Dr. Ijuin learns that the release of the micro-oxygen decades earlier had gradually resuscitated a prehistoric microscopic life form that was entombed in the ocean strata for eons, as well as mutating the organisms so that they have now become destructive, and he also discovered that they continually physically unite and evolve to form new and larger life forms. A small hole in the test tube containing these creatures indicates that the organisms had eaten their way to freedom, and are now on the loose in the atmosphere.
Soon afterwards, the microscopic entities had evolved into submicroscopic crustacean-like creatures that began feeding by dissolving fish in a Tokyo aquarium with micro-oxygen, the same manner in which the original Oxygen Destroyer killed living beings in water. Dr. Ijuin then comes up with the above-mentioned theory on the origins of the organisms, and he fears what further transformation the constantly evolving creatures may undergo now that they have become land based. Because of the fact that the creatures have evolved as a result of the Oxygen Destroyer, Dr. Ijuin refers to the creatures as “Destoroyah.”
A short time later, the submicroscopic Destoroyah creatures merge and evolve into numerous 2 meter tall crustacean-like monsters, which are extremely physically powerful (strong enough to smash through concrete), and emit destructive beams of micro-oxygen from their maws. As the Destoroyah creatures wreak havoc beneath a Tokyo expressway overpass, a city SWAT team is sent in to destroy the beasts. After a fierce battle, it’s discovered that the new Destoroyah organisms are seemingly resistant to even high powered gunfire, but they do succumb to flamethrowers.
One of the Destoroyah beings emerges from underground and nearly kills Yukari when it traps the young reporter in her car, and she is saved only after the fortunate intervention of Dr. Ijuin; the Destoroyah organism is then killed by a group of police armed with flamethrowers.
Just afterwards, the increasingly critical Godzilla begins heading towards a nuclear power plant in Okinawa, and as a result of the danger this poses, G-Force’s newest mecha, the Super X3, which is equipped with freezing “masers” (actually, a concentrated sub-zero freezing mist, possibly liquid nitrogen derived) and cadmium missiles designed to temporarily counter Godzilla’s upcoming chain reaction, is sent after the kaiju under the command of Lt. Kuroki (who commanded the Super X3's predecessor, the Super X2, in Godzilla vs. Biollante). After engaging Godzilla in battle, the Super X3 manages to defeat the Kaiju King, and to delay his meltdown by freezing him solid with its cold inducing weaponry.
However, analysis shows that Godzilla’s temperature is still increasingly rising, and that the atomic beast will soon melt his icy prison and continue his march towards the mainland of Japan in search of nuclear energy on which to feed. This further study by Ken Yamane suggests that Godzilla will not truly explode but will actually undergo a nuclear meltdown, his super-heated liquefied remains seeping down into the Earth’s core, thus causing an extraordinarily destructive China Syndrome event. It is suggested that at the moment of meltdown, Godzilla must be sprayed by a barrage of freezing masers and cadmium missiles to prevent this China Syndrome effect.
Thus, the beast’s temperature level is closely monitored by G-Force.
Soon, Miki Saegusa is delighted as she finally locates Little Godzilla when the beast rises out of the water near a beach in Omaizaki. As a result of the radiation the creature absorbed during the Birth Island explosion, the kaiju’s growth has been accelerated to a 40 meter tall adolescent who now closely resembles the adult Godzilla, and he is thus respectfully re-christianed "Godzilla Junior."
Since his home on Birth Island is destroyed, Godzilla Junior instinctively heads towards his previous home on Adonoa Island.
Because Dr. Ijuin surmises from the SWAT team conflict that micro-oxygen can be neutralized by extremely high or low temperatures, the freezing masers are moved into the Ariake district for use against the Destoroyah infestation. As a plethora of the 2 meter creatures emerge from Tokyo Bay and charge the military unit, the latter attacks the mutated crustaceans with its freezing weapons, wiping out large numbers of them. Instinctively changing tactics, the numerous Destoroyah creatures all merge into one gigantic 40 meter high Destoroyah that easily crushes the military forces before it. Promptly metamorphosing into a flying form, the giant Destoroyah glides through Tokyo, causing widespread destruction in the city.
However, believing that the Super X3 is more than capable of defeating Destoroyah, G-Force fears that Godzilla is by far the larger threat with his imminent meltdown. As a result, to destroy the monster before that happens, they decide to incite him into battle with Destoroyah. They hope that since the crustacean dai kaiju is the living embodiment of the Oxygen Destroyer that temporarily disintegrated Godzilla 40 years ago, the monster will be able to likewise destroy Godzilla with its micro-oxygen based powers. To ensure an encounter between the Kaiju King and Destoroyah, G-Force decides to lure Godzilla Junior into being attacked by the creature, hoping that the adolescent kaiju’s psychic cries for help will bring the adult Godzilla into the area.
Miki Saegusa is ordered to use her power of telepathy to force Godzilla Junior to change course from Adonoa Island to Tokyo, and despite her serious resignations to using the innocent creature in this fashion, she nevertheless relents, realizing the tremendous threat posed by Godzilla’s imminent meltdown.
Setting out in a helicopter, Miki and another telepath named Meru Ozawa succeed in psychically cajoling Godzilla Junior into entering Tokyo, and he and the 40 meter Destoroyah soon engage in battle. Without prior combat experience, however, the youthful Godzilla appears outmatched, with Destoroyah ultimately leaping on top of him and viciously injecting toxic micro-oxygen into the hapless beast’s throat with its extendible second set of jaws. Reacting in an instinctive fit of agony, Godzilla Junior defeats Destoroyah by blasting the creature with an extremely powerful burst of atomic breath at point blank range.
Sometime afterwards, Godzilla indeed comes to Tokyo after sensing Godzilla Junior’s presence there, and the two meet up at Haneda Airport. Just afterwards, the seemingly inert body of Destoroyah apparently metabolizes the nuclear energy it absorbed from Godzilla Junior, and the creature metamorphoses into his (its?) ultimate form, a 140 meter tall, winged, bipedal monster that instantly takes off in the sky, heading for the airport.
Attacking Godzilla from behind and knocking the great kaiju off of his feet, Destoroyah grabs the helpless Godzilla Junior and flies away with the agonized young creature. Destoroyah brutally slaughters the adolescent monster by dropping him onto a building from several hundred meters high, causing the structure to collapse on him, and then mercilessly blasting the youthful atomic beast with his lethal micro-oxygen beam. Within moments, a tear-struck Miki Saegusa telepathically confirms the obvious, that Godzilla Junior has expired.
Extremely outraged at the death of his only “friend,” Godzilla himself attacks Destoroyah, and the two kaiju engage in a fierce battle. Although Godzilla is initially thrashed by Destoroyah’s array of deadly weapons, such as his micro-oxygen beam and his lethal energy whip known as his variable slicer, the nuclear kaiju’s increasingly unstable physical condition ultimately proves too much for Destoroyah (at one point during the battle, Godzilla’s increasingly powerful and unstable atomic breath blasts his foe into several component 40 meter high Destoroyah beasts, which swarm over the Kaiju King, until he forcibly removes them, after which they retreat and soon re-unite into the ultimate Destoroyah; during this brief interim of calm, in a surprisingly touching scene, Godzilla unsuccessfully attempts to breathe radioactive life back into Godzilla Junior).
Finally, as Destoroyah can no longer handle Godzilla’s exponentially powerful attacks, the monster attempts to retreat via flight, until the Super X3 arrives and blasts the creature with its full power freezing masers. Already severely injured by Godzilla’s enhanced atomic breath, Destoroyah cannot withstand the sudden freezing temperatures, and the evil kaiju falls to the ground to its destruction.
Immediately afterwards, Godzilla’s temperature finally reaches critical, and he begins melting down. In a desperate attempt to avert the China Syndrome effect, the Super X3 and the J.S.D.F. ground forces blast the dying Kaiju King with their full array of freezing masers and missiles. Respectfully removing her hat, Miki Saegusa watches in sorrow as Godzilla slowly melts away into nothingness.
Fortunately, the freezing weapons of G-Force and the Japanese Self Defense Force succeeded in preventing the China Syndrome effect, but Ken Yamane muses that the radioactive mist left over from Godzilla’s demise has still rendered Tokyo, and perhaps all of Japan, uninhabitable. Suddenly, however, the radiation levels begin to drop dramatically, and all of the radioactive mist is absorbed elsewhere.
Looking to the horizon, Miki Saegusa smiles as she sees an enormous form silhouetted against the night sky...having absorbed all of the radioactive mist, Godzilla Junior has arisen again, now completely healed and grown to full adulthood, standing 50 meters tall, the height Godzilla originally possessed, as the young kaiju becomes the new King of the Monsters.
For the final entry in the Heisei Era G-series, producers Shogo Tomiyama and Tomoyuki Tanaka decided to end the Big G’s Heisei career with a bang. The much-hyped death of Godzilla doubtlessly contributed to the fact that this exciting movie was second only to Godzilla and Mothra: Battle For Earth (1992) as having the highest attendance record of the Heisei Era G-series.
The film received highly conflicting reviews within G-FAN magazine, such as Modstoon’s viewpoint title declaring the film an “[i]nsulting death for an old friend.” Although Koichi Kawakita utilized the most sophisticated CGI effects ever seen in a G-film until Godzilla 2000 was produced four years later (such as the excellent opening scene of “Burning” Godzilla rampaging through the streets of Hong Kong), some of the sfx was criticized as being sloppy. The best example is probably the scene where the J.S.D.F. confronts the swarm of 2 meter tall Destoroyah creatures. Kawakita utilized several Bandai Destoroyah action figures, moved about on the set by wires to simulate several creatures on the screen at once. Reviewer Ed Godziszewski declared that the scene was “so bad that it wasn’t even laughable.”
Actually, I found the scene to be so brief that the bad effect was hardly noticeable, though that still doesn’t excuse Kawakita for utilizing such a cheap sfx maneuver. Godzilla was in his “Burning” mode throughout the entirety of the film, and according to some initial info about the production that appeared in G-FAN magazine, he reportedly underwent a final growth spurt to 120 meters tall, thus having finally reached the height claimed for him from the beginning of his film career in America (i.e., 400 feet tall).
Admittedly, Kazuki Omori’s screenplay was less than extravagant, and Takao Okawara’s direction less than stellar. The result was sometimes poor dialogue and acting, including unsatisfactory explanations for the events occurring [when you finally see the movie, do not expect the degree of explanations for everything that you read in my synopsis; the latter is partially intended as a supplement to the sometimes spotty info given in the films].
Miki Saegusa’s character was thankfully scaled back from the last movie, and though the idea of human psychics was still included, it was not so prominent as in previous films (particularly in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla).
Momoko Kochi reprising her role as the character of Emiko Kano 40 years later was a welcome sight, and Yoko Ishino (who played Yukari Yamane) may very well be the sexiest actress to appear in a G-film since Tomoko Ai 20 years earlier in Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975).
Unfortunately, the character of Kenichi Yamane came across as an all too typical college nerd.
Further, many characters came and went in the film as the screenplay dictated, such as Yukari Yamane virtually disappearing after the scene of the 2 meter Destoroyah attack on her car. Also, Kawakita continued to take cues from American films, as the SWAT team battle with the 2 meter Destoroyah beasts was clearly inspired by the battle scenes between the Colonial Marines and the deadly extraterrestrial xenomorphs in Aliens (1986); in fact, the Destoroyah creatures even have a second, extendible pair of jaws, just like Ellen Ripley's famous adversaries do, and they even share a serious vulnerability to flamethrowers.
The Super X3 was one of the best mecha ever seen (considering that Kawakita always seemed determined to include one in the G-films he helmed), and it was good to see an invention of humankind finally defeating the prime kaiju menace in the case of both Godzilla and Destoroyah.
Godzilla was depicted more evil and dangerous than ever before, and the film more or less kept Toho’s promise that this would be the darkest G-film in tone since the first one 40 years previous. His brief scenes of compassion with Godzilla Junior at Haneda Airport, and his attempt to resuscitate the young kaiju, didn’t destroy much of his vile credibility here, and these brief scenes of compassion by a beast who was otherwise destruction personified was both touching and interesting.
However, throughout most of the film, Godzilla was a deadly menace totally unconcerned with the welfare of humanity, and his battle with Destoroyah utilized the evil monster vs. another evil monster trope, as both creatures threatened humanity’s safety. Thus, Godzilla’s “heroic” image that resurfaced in the last film was wisely tossed to the wind in the final entry, insuring that Godzilla went out of the world exactly as he came in, as a living symbol of nuclear devastation, only now to the nth degree.
Luckily, Akira Ifukube came out of retirement to score the last Heisei Era Godzilla film, and his soundtrack was typically fantastic, a fine farewell nod to his distinguished career.
As before, this G-film was compared to the second movie in the revised Gamera series, Gamera 2: The Advent Of Legion, which was released a year later in 1996. Once again, the latter film was largely considered superior to its competition from Toho, and it certainly was in terms of its wonderful screenplay and terrific acting, not to mention the fact that Legion was just as insidious and formidable a foe for Gamera as Destoroyah was for Godzilla.
Still, there were great nostalgic touches given to this G-film, such as the stock footage and photographs of Dr. Yamane and Dr. Serizawa, as well as the stock footage clips from the first film shown beside the ending title credits, the finest nostalgic nod to be seen in the movie.
Destoroyah was a generally well realized original foe for Godzilla (Toho didn’t opt for a classic kaiju revival from the Showa Series in the final G-film of the Heisei Series, alas) and the beast was easily one of Godzilla’s deadliest adversaries, as well as one of the most malicious, although some G-fans have complained that the creature’s ultimate form was too large and bulky to be believable in terms of his ability to fly.
Many G-fans also criticized Destoroyah's utterly brutal slaying of Godzilla Junior, and the cruel treatment that the latter gentle creature was dealt by the various incarnations of Destoroyah throughout the film.
Godzilla Junior is often hailed as the best Godzilla spin-off creature ever, certainly a vast improvement over the juvenile Little Godzilla design from the last movie, who looked like a character you would ordinarily see beside Barney the Dinosaur, rather than the Big G. In fact, the adolescent Godzilla was seen by many G-fans to steal the film entirely.
Regarding Modstoon’s assertion that this film presented an “insulting death” to the King of the Monsters, I must wholeheartedly disagree. The fact of Godzilla dying by the same means as his genesis, nuclear power run rampant, was an ironically appropriate turn of events to end his career. If ever a case of poetic justice in a character’s demise was given, it was in the final G-film of the Heisei Era G-series, perhaps rivaled in the poetically just and appropriate death department only by the demise of the Maestro, the heinously evil alternate future counterpart of the Hulk, in Peter David's excellent Hulk book Future Imperfect (who was also both spawned and killed by radiation, a once popular theme that has since been largely dropped in modern sci-fi and horror in favor of genetic engineering, the new "evil boogeyman" of science credited with inflicting all manner of fictitious deadly monstrosities on a hapless general public).
Finally, the death of Godzilla followed by the resurrection of Godzilla Junior as the new Godzilla beautifully symbolized the age old belief in the cyclical nature of things, of endings always being followed by new beginnings.
The film was released direct to home video by Tri-Star Video at the end of 1998, a few months after Tri-Star’s live action G-film thankfully bid the theaters adieu, and a high quality Japanese version with English sub-titles is available from Video Daikaiju.
Curiously, the film was released to home video in Malaysia well before its American release by Tri-Star, and that version was dubbed in Cantonese. The text on the box appears to imply that Godzilla is the hero of the film, thereby suggesting that America isn’t the only country in which the image of Godzilla has been compromised by the Showa Series films of the '70s.
back to Heisei Series list