U.S. release date: May, 1998, direct to home video by Tri-Star Video.
Japanese audience attendance: 3,700,000
Director: Kazuki Omori
Screenplay: Kazuki Omori
Sfx: Koichi Kawakita
Musical score: Akira Ifukube
U.S. version available on home video from Tri-Star Video.
In the year 1992, a mysterious UFO appears over the skies of Japan, and even blasts an investigating military plane out of the sky.
Soon afterwards, the UFO lands in the Mt. Fuji area, and is approached by a wary J.S.D.F crew. Four individuals emerge from the huge craft, and reveal themselves to be Wilson, Grenchiko, Emi Kano, and M-11, three human beings and an android from the year 2204, who had allegedly traveled back in time on a vital mission. After speaking to the Japanese government of the present, the ‘Futurians’ claim that sometime in the 21st century Godzilla will rise from the sea once more and completely obliterate Japan. This would occur due to a nuclear explosion that resulted from the beast’s death at the hands of future military weaponry, thus effectively removing the island nation from the face of the Earth. In order to prevent this horrible tragedy, Wilson explains that the Earth Union, the world government in the early 23rd century, has authorized them to undertake an elaborate trip through time to prevent Godzilla’s existence from ever coming into being.
In the meantime, a young writer named Kenichiro Terasawa has been compiling a book about what he believes to be Godzilla’s origins based on testimony by the corporate executive Chiaki Morimura, who insists that during World War II, his military regiment saw a dinosaur on Lagos Island, and that the creature saved his unit from defeat at the hands of American soldiers (inadvertently, of course). As a result of the book Terasawa will publish in the future on Godzilla, the Futurians want him, along with psychic Miki Saegusa, who has dealt with Godzilla in the past, along with a paleontologist, to accompany them on their trip to eradicate Godzilla from history [unfortunately, and perhaps a bit inexplicably, no one seemed to question the validity of the Futurians' motives in the least, much to their regret later].
Since the Futurians agree with Terasawa’s theory that the Lagos Island dinosaur seen by Morimura in 1944 was Godzilla before he was mutated by the atomic bomb tests, they will travel back to that year and event in order to prevent Godzilla’s origin.
After arriving on Lagos Island during the proper time in 1944 in their time machine, each of the individuals observe what transpired. A young Morimura’s army unit was indeed outgunned by the soldiers from an American battleship, and their defeat appeared imminent, despite their brave attempt to battle the much larger regiment. As the American soldiers flung bombs at the hapless Japanese unit, the resulting savvo of explosions disturbed a 12 meter tall carnosaur, described as a 'Godzillasaurus' (in the Japanese version; the dinosaur’s designation isn’t mentioned in the American or international versions), from his hiding place in a cave, and the irate dinosaur began pursuing the American soldiers with fierce vigor. The Godzillasaurus resisted the weapons of the American soliders, and the creature brutally slaughtered every single one of them on the beach, but was severely injured himself after being shot several times by the heavy weaponry of the battleship. As the injured dinosaur slipped into a coma, presumably to slowly heal his wounds, Morimura and his unit said a prayer of gratitude over the huge saurian’s form.
After that was done, the Futurians teleported the insensate dinosaur to the bottom of the Bering Sea, where he supposedly wouldn’t be exposed to any of the atomic radiation that "originally" mutated him into Godzilla. Before returning to 1992, however, Emi, the only Japanese member of the Futurian crew, released three small reptilian flying animals called Drats (sometimes spelled “Dorats”), animals created by future genetic engineering, onto the island.
Upon returning to 1992, it was discovered that a new dai kaiju, a flying 150 meter high, three-headed dragon-like monster called King Ghidorah, was created by the nuclear fusion of the three Drats during the atomic bomb tests in the 1940’s, and it appears that the three small animals were specifically genetically modified by early 23rd century science to be altered in precisely that manner upon exposure to massive amounts of radiation, and to "hibernate" until summoned by the Futurians' technology back in 1992. Under the control of the Futurians, King Ghidorah began annihilating Tokyo and Fukuoka, and the true plans of these individuals was then revealed. It turns out that Wilson, Grenchiku, and Emi weren’t acting under the auspices of the Earth Union; rather, they were members of a militant organization that was dedicated to removing Japan from becoming an economic superpower in at some point in the 21st century, and they stole a time machine for this purpose. In fact, in their indigenous timeline, Godzilla never even recovered from the anti-nuclear bacteria his body was currently infected with in the 'present' time period. Having King Ghidorah under their control, the Futurians planned to destroy Japan and set up a new nation in its place, one whose future destiny and timeline they could control themselves.
However, Emi wasn’t informed that her native land would actually be destroyed in the process, and as a result, she turned on her fellow Futurians. Although the rebellious Emi and Terasawa are captured by Android M-11 under the orders of Wilson and Grenchiku, she is nevertheless able to reprogram the android to obey only her. In the meantime, the Japanese government decides that since the military is helpless against the might of King Ghidorah, only the power of Godzilla can hope to destroy the new monster [the mere fact that the world still remembers Godzilla suggests that the original timeline was unaffected by the time traveling, and that the Futurians' past activities had actually resulted in the creation of the "mainstream" Heisei timeline, and that they were indeed from an entirely different timeline from the onset; see the Review/Comments section below for my detailed attempt to resolve this temporal conundrum].
Since it was believed that the Godzillasaurus never became Godzilla, and was now lying in a state of suspended animation in the Bering Sea (due to the Japanese government's lack of understanding of time travel mechanics), Morimura allowed the government to use the Musashi II, a nuclear powered submarine owned by his company, to travel to the area and use its radiation to create Godzilla anew. Upon arriving, the submarine crew discovered to their horror that Godzilla had never been eliminated from history [which again shows how little people actually know about the theoretical laws of actual time travel and temporal mechanics, since they assumed that events could be changed, yet leave everyone's memories about the original timeline intact, which makes little sense], but the creature had in fact still been transformed back in the early 50’s to his current state, and was still suffering from the ANB infection (thus, the timeline was not actually altered). Attacking and destroying the sub and absorbing its vast stores of nuclear energy, Godzilla was not only cured of the anti-nuclear bacteria, but his size increased to 100 meters, and his power level was much greater than ever before.
As Godzilla arrived in Hokkaido, the Futurians were alarmed at the threat posed by this more powerful version of Godzilla, and they immediately directed King Ghidorah to attack him. The latter kaiju initially took the advantage, since his electromagnetic gravity beams seared Godzilla’s flesh, while the latter’s atomic breath couldn’t affect his opponent, since the creature was surrounded by a plasma membrane generated artificially by the Futurians' Mother Ship. Managing to sabotage the ship from within, Terasawa, Emi, and Android M-11 defeated the android soldiers aboard the craft and broke the control they had over King Ghidorah, causing the tri-headed kaiju to lose his protective plasma membrane in the process. After a brief but fierce battle, Godzilla downed King Ghidorah with his nuclear pulse as the latter attempted to strangle him to death with one of his serpentine necks, and the Kaiju King then severed the beast’s middle head and neck with his atomic breath. As the severely wounded creature attempted to fly away, Godzilla likewise destroyed one of his opponent’s wings, and the monster fell into the ocean.
Escaping in the small time machine called K.I.D.S., Emi and Terasawa programmed the Mother Ship’s teleportation device to transport the vessel right in front of Godzilla, and the kaiju reacted by destroying the craft with his atomic breath, thus ending the threat of the renegade Futurians.
Now, however, Japan was threatened by the new and improved Godzilla, who rampaged through Sapporo, the evil creature easily resisting the J.S.D.F.’s puerile attempts to stop him [in a tragically touching and unforgettable scene, Godzilla notices and seemingly recognizes Morimura, who is looking at the kaiju through his office window, which is level with the monster’s head; despite the recognition and the friendly gaze of the executive, Godzilla gives in to his violent nature and blasts the still grateful businessman with his atomic breath]. Promising to do everything she could to save Japan, Emi returns to her own time period in her own timeline. While traveling under the ocean in an underwater vessel accompanied by a scientist indigenous to the year 2204, she locates the now two-headed corpse of King Ghidorah, and learns that the nuclear powered creature wasn't truly dead, but was merely in a state of cellular stasis [it appears that a similar event somehow occurred in her own timeline, or that perhaps she actually traveled to a new timeline that branched off from her own, yet was nevertheless very similar to it, in order to locate the 'corpse' of a temporal counterpart of King Ghidorah; otherwise, I am at a complete loss to explain how there was a King Ghidorah 'corpse' with identical damage to that incurred by the one in the "mainstream" Heisei Toho Universe in Emi's native timeline].
Using 23rd century technology, Emi reconstructs the creature as Mecha-King Ghidorah, a cyborg version of the beast, replacing the creature’s severed head and neck with a bionic one, and replacing his shattered wings with solar panels, as well as adding many other bionic accoutrments. Returning to 1992 as she promised, Emi, inside the now metallic belly of Mecha-King Ghidorah, and controlling the cyborg kaiju through the computerized ‘consciousness’of Android M-11, she launches an attack on Godzilla. Although sustaining heavy damage, Emi, through Mecha-King Ghidorah, manages to remove Godzilla from Japan, and the mighty cyborg is finally destroyed by a final point blank blast of atomic breath as it reaches the sea, and the cybernetic carcass falls into the water, temporarily immobilizing Godzilla under its massive bulk.
Escaping from death in the miniature time machine, Emi pays one last visit to Terasawa, where she reveals that she is his descendant, and then returns to her own time period in her native timeline.
This technically fabulous entry into the Heisei Era G-series greatly enhanced the attendance record at the theaters, particularly due to the long-awaited return of King Ghidorah. Although series executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka initially vowed to avoid returning any kaiju from the Showa G-series in updated form, the sluggish attendance of the previous G-film prompted him to change his mind. This proved to be a wise decision, as a golden oldie (pun intended) like King Ghidorah was far more appealing to G-fans than unsatisfying newcomers like Biollante. In fact, King Ghidorah was voted the most favorite Showa Series revival for the Heisei Series in G-FAN magazine.
The transformation to the cybernetic Mecha-King Ghidorah was excellent and much favored by G-fans. The human direction by Kazuki Omori was well done, and the gaijin (non-Japanese) actors were entertainingly terrible in their performance, as always. At last, we saw Godzilla in his original, pre-mutated form, and the Godzillasaurus became a favorite among the fans [see the Godzilla Event Timeline and the Glossary, both elsewhere on this site, for an explanation regarding the anachronistic presence of exceptionally large dinosaurs living on various Pacific islands in the 20th century]. References in various texts to the Godzillasaurus being a leaf-eater is probably ludicrous, since the dinosaur clearly resembled a carnosaur in every respect, and heretofore unknown species of flesh-eating dinosaurs are being discovered with regularity by scientists in the “real” world. In fact, it's recently been stated by paleontologists that numerous large carnosaurs from the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era resembled the T. Rex in form, general size, and power, including the dreaded Gorgosaurus (in fact, the Showa Era Toho kaiju Gorosaurus was likely a greatly oversized Gorgosaur).
The idea of dinosaurs twice the size of any known dinosaur surviving in small numbers on remote islands has been a popular cinematic (and later comic book) idea that goes all the way back to the 1933 version of King Kong, when the giant ape battled a carnosaur (i.e., the 'Tyrant King') twice the size of any dinosaur known to have actually existed. Of course, movies about dinosaurs in general are even older, going back as far as the second decade of the 20th century, beginning with Winsor McCay's interesting hybrid live action show and animated short known as Gertie the Dinosaur (1914; and quickly followed by an imitation called Gertie and an official sequel known as Gertie On Tour), but the first of the great dinosaur films was the classic Willis O'Brien extravaganza The Lost World (1925), the first movie to make extensive live action usage of dinosaurs, and the first of many movie adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's popular novel featuring explorer Prof. George Challenger's discovery of the hidden South American plateau known as Maple White Land. All prior live action films involving dinosaurs, such as The Dinosaur and the Missing Link (1916), and the slightly more extensive early stop motion dinsosaur showcase for O'Brien, The Beast of Slumber Mountain (1919), were all 5-15 minute shorts.
Believing that 80 meters still wasn’t an impressive enough size in the contemporary world for Godzilla, his height was now increased to 100 meters, making the Atomic Titan fully twice the size he was in the first film and the entire Showa Series, and creating even greater headaches for Koichi Kawakita’s sfx staff regarding the construction of accurately detailed miniatures. Nevertheless, Kawakita gave us his best work ever in this film, as he rendered King Ghidorah better than ever before, and the tri-headed kaiju's violent conflict with Godzilla was wondrous, if a bit too brief. This was the first, and so far only, time Godzilla faced King Ghidorah one-on-one, and surprisingly, he took the tri-headed beast down easier by himself than he ever did with kaiju allies at his side in the Showa Series (even easier than he did in GMK, where the Big G greatly overpowered all three of his kaiju adversaries in that unique G-flick).
Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, King Ghidorah’s unique trademarked trill was replaced with a Rodan-like cry, taking much away from the three-headed monster (curiously, the creature retained his original distinctive trilling in the Japanese coming attraction trailer for this film). The return of maestro Akira Ifukube was much welcome, and his theme for King Ghidorah was one of my absolute favorites in the Toho Monster March collection.
The concept of Japan’s economic position and imagined prosperity in a capitalist world was well explored here, and the idea of time travel was utilized for the first and only time in a G-film. In fact, the latter point is where the oft-criticized problems in Kazuki Omori’s script are always heard. Many articles have been written in G-FAN in attempts to explain the plot holes created by the time travel inconsistencies, none of which shed much light on the matter, in my opinion. One of the aforementioned articles claimed that time travel is believed to be totally impossible by modern scientists, and that there are no real theories concerning time travel. Thus, according to this assumption, when sci-fi writers utilize time travel as a plot device, basically anything goes, and the laws governing time travel need adhere to nothing save what the writer chooses to invent. This is a common misconception that is totally untrue.
There are actually two separate notions of time travel theory cavorting through the hands of sci-fi writers, one of which is consistent with real scientific theory on the topic (usually formulated by quantum physicists), the other being a common belief among most people that isn’t supported by the scientific community who have truly developed these theories.
The first notion (i.e., the one usually supported by real time travel theorists) is the multiple timeline theory, which suggests that many possible timelines, each with a separate universe and history, exist simultaneously in seperate quantum reality continuums, that attempting to travel into the past will actually result in the creation of a new alternate reality, and that nothing you do there will affect the events in your indigenous timeline, both of which will co-exist at the same time, but remain completely distinct, and exist in seperate dimensional planes. This theory also holds that there are many possible co-existing alternate futures at any given point, each following the path of a different timeline (or time track).
Although it goes into no detail whatsoever, Omori’s screenplay seems to follow the multiple timeline theory (as do films such as the first two Terminator films, prior to the third film screwing up the entire premise, along with all the writers for time travel stories Marvel Comics as policy), whether he intended it or not. It appears that the Futurians were aware of this theory, although they obviously never mentioned it to the Japanese government of 1992. In fact, their mission actually depended on them not doing so. Hence, the history of the “mainstream” timeline wasn’t changed, and Godzilla never ceased to exist, since that was never actually the goal of the Futurians in the first place (who actually appear to have diverged the "mainstream" Heisei timeline by their intereference). Rather, their goal was to diverge a timeline separate from the one they were native to, which they could mold and manipulate to their heart’s desire, and to create King Ghidorah to assist them in that end. The three-headed kaiju didn’t even appear until after they departed in 1992, underscoring the fact that it was coordinated for this delay in the creature’s appearance to occur. The cellular structure of the Drats were obviously manipulated by 23rd century science to react to 20th century atomic bomb radiation in precisely that manner, to develop over the course of several decades, and to be susceptible to control by the Futurians' technology. All of this appears to have been meticulously pre-planned.
In fact, it was later shown in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994) that the battle with Biollante still occurred, and was still remembered [it probably wasn’t just a “residual memory” of a now eliminated event, as J.D. Lees has suggested, especially considering that it was discussed among an entire room full of people in that film].
For those who would like to read an excellent article discussing the multiple timeline theory by an actual quantum physicist, Dr. David Deutsch, which is an article "scaled down" for the layman who may be put off by heavy physics jargon and uber-complex mathematical equations, check out this article from the New Scientist web site.
This will help put to rest the popular but incorrect belief that theories concerning a multiverse of numerous different timelines are not part of actual quantum theory and are simply an invention of sci-fi writers, even if quantum physicists are often considered maverick scientists, and quantum physics a relatively new, maverick science, due to their challenges to how we are culturally conditioned to view and conceptualize reality.
Granted, the article and theory doesn't have anything to do with time travel per se, but it does touch upon the multiple timeline theory that is often integral to time travel theorizing, and would have profound implications for real time travel (assuming that it's actually possible). And if this is theoretically sound in regards to real world physics, then it can be applicable to sci-fi theorizing about time travel and whether any given reality is part of a multiverse or if it's purely a single timeline continuum. And yes, I'm well aware that any ultra-rationalist, whether they like or loathe the sci-fi genre, are likely to scoff at the article and the very conceptual notion of time travel itself, but that's not important, since this web site deals with a fictional topic anyway.
The second time travel notion is the single timeline theory, which purports that there is only one timeline, with one universe that has only one inevitable future, and not infinite possible variations (as seen in movies such as Timecop, and often suggested by various writers of DC Comics in the past). In this theory, the single timeline can be changed by time travel, and memories of these changed events will vanish from people’s minds. Most non-scientifically oriented people in our world seem to assume the latter theory of time travel to hold true, so it’s valid to assume that most people in Godzilla’s universe also presume this, which is why they believed everything the Futurians told them about what time travel would do.
It should be noted that the multiple timeline theory can explain why King Ghidorah was still at the bottom of the ocean in the 23rd century in his fully organic state, when this bit of history should have been “altered” when Mecha-King Ghidorah’s partially robotic body was dropped in the ocean in 1992, if the single timeline theory actually held water, which it obviously doesn't in that universe. Emi’s future was in a completely separate timeline than the one we saw in the majority of the film. It has even been said that the tampering of the Futurians may have split the timeline off from the one that contains the Showa Era G-series, and this is certainly "possible."
All in all, Omori’s screenplay lacked any such explanation, and the above descriptions in this entry only represents educated conjecture on my part; other G-fans and authors will doubtless choose to believe everything the Futurians actually said in the film to be gold, and offer you entirely different explanations (just read several old issues of G-FAN to see what I mean). The absence of any such detailed explanation for the time travel discontinuities aroused the ire of many logical minded G-fans (including myself), and brought the storyline of the film down several notches.
However, if you ignore the highly flawed time travel premise, the movie can be considered extremely good, and is certainly one of the best films of any G-series. Kawakita began the trend here of blatantly borrowing scenes from American sci-fi films. Android M-11 was obviously based upon the Terminator cyborg from the eponymous American film series. The android (portrayed by gaijin actor Robert Scottfield) was perhaps the most interesting character in the movie, despite sloppy special effects being utilized to portray his bionic prowess.
This movie, despite its shortcomings in realizing the time travel storyline, nevertheless restored the fledging Heisei Era Godzilla movie series to the top, thereby guaranteeing the creation of several more G-films.
For many years, this film was denied release in the U.S. until the English dubbed version, previously released in Britain by Manga Video, was made available to American audiences by Tri-Star Video just before the release of Tri-Star’s unbearably awful rendition of the Kaiju King to U.S. theaters in 1998. The sub-titled Japanese version is affordably available from Video Daikaiju.
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