Godzilla Goodness: GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (1991)
By Witney Seibold on May 21, 2014
Installment #20, and we’re finally back on our feet after a reboot and a few shaky first steps. This time around, we have time travel, our favorite evil dragon, and something called Dorats.
The special effects in the Godzilla films have now improved to the best possible degree. In 1991, CGI was just around the corner, and Jurassic Park was about to be made, so we’re kind of at the height of man-in-a-suit style monster effects. Call me old fashioned or traditional, but Godzilla should always be, in my eye, played by an actor in a suit (in the Heisei era, he is played by Kenpachiro Satsuma). There’s something about his heft and his movement that kind of demands it. An actor lends the necessary humanity to our favorite gorillawhale.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is off the hook. This movie has everything your sugar-coated inner child could possibly stand. From time travel, to robots, to dragons, to nuclear accidents, to dinosaurs, to a really, really easy way to create a Godzilla. And Dorats. Can’t forget the Dorats.
This film posits an more complex origin for Godzilla. In the original, it is assumed that Godzilla was formed by a nuclear blast mutating the local sea life into a giant monster, or by that same nuclear blast awakening and mutating a giant ancient creature that had laid dormant on the ocean floor. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah makes it explicit: Godzilla was actually a long-lived dinosaur called – natch – a Godzillasaurus that was, in 1944, exposed to radiation and transformed into a Godzilla. I have been operating under the assumption that Godzilla was more amphibian than reptile, but this film makes it clear that he is the latter.
The story is as follows (and hang on to them hats an’ glasses): Time travelers from the future have been devastated by Godzilla. Even King Ghidorah (an evil dragon that, in this new continuity, is only now being introduced) was destroyed by Godzilla in the future, and in 2204, King Ghidorah, sans one head, lies dead on the ocean floor. The future men, along with their android, propose going back in time to 1944 and preventing Godzilla from being created. Yes, there are WWII soldiers in this film facing off against a dinosaur and time-traveling future men. It’s nice to know we’re finally back on track.
They destroy the 1944 version of Godzilla, but the future men accidentally leave three Dorats behind. Dorats are cute little green-haired winged rodents from a distant planet that future men keep as pets. In 1944, the Dorats are exposed to the same radiation that would have created Godzilla, and they themselves merge to form King Ghidorah. Oops. Returning to 1992, our heroes discover that King Ghidorah has been ransacking the Earth instead of Godzilla. Out of the gorillawhale, into the dragon.
We have learned from previous movies that only a Godzilla can defeat a King Ghidorah, so they (and this may seem hasty) somehow manage to conduct a quick nuclear test and quickly create a new Godzilla that seems to look and act exactly like the old one. I guess that means there’s an element of fatalism in the Godzilla universe. Time travel, nuclear bombs, evil rose bushes, robot clones… nothing can undo Godzilla. He is inevitable. He is the Alpha and the Omega of monsters.
Godzilla does indeed make short work of King Ghidorah, but them proceeds to go on his own rampage. Godzilla, in the Heisei era, is less of a protector and fighting badass than a destructive force (as is traditional). To now take down Godzilla, the Earth men travel to 2204, salvage King Ghidorah’s corpse off of the ocean floor, equip it with a robot head (!) and unleash Mechaghidorah. If you’re not already clapping your little hands in glee, then I have nothing for you.
A fun joke: In the 1944 scenes, an American soldier looks at the monsters fighting and remarks at how amazing it is. His superior officer tells him to recall the sight and tell his unborn son all about it. The soldier is named Spielberg. Prescient of his film, seeing as Spielberg hadn’t yet made Jurassic Park.
Up next: Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)