Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991) Movie Review

This entry in the popular monster series is a disappointing and flawed effort unworthy of the “Godzilla” name. Rampantly anti-Western and entirely unoriginal, “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” also makes the huge mistake of relegating its main star to the film’s third act. Instead of an exciting monster epic, we’re given a dull and mostly pointless exercise in science fiction that is reminiscent of material done much better by more talented filmmakers.

The movie begins with a UFO buzzing Japan, causing mystery and panic among the population. The craft reveals itself not to be a UFO, but rather a time machine from the future piloted by three humans and an android. The travelers warn that by the 23rd Century, Godzilla will have completely destroyed Japan and rendered the country uninhabitable. The time travelers also promise to erase Godzilla from history in order to save the Japanese people. But the travelers actually have a sinister agenda: they are actually jealous of Japan’s future prosperity and wants to prevent the country’s rise to economic supremacy. With Godzilla gone, the future travelers unleash King Ghidorah to enslave Japan. Can scientists recreate Godzilla in time to stop the nefarious plot?

It must have dawned on writer/director Kazuki Omori that a radical departure from the usual storytelling was needed to make his film stand out from the pack. The result is that “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” does indeed stand out — as one of the worst in the series! Omori’s script features few original ideas, and seems to borrow heavily from the works of James Cameron, Jack Finney, and H.G. Wells. It’s also crassly anti-Western, with the treacherous time travelers almost all European while the heroes are Japanese. A proto-Godzilla is seen crushing American troops on a Pacific island during World War II and the soldiers are seen cowardly fleeing. There is also one massive paradox the film never explains: if Godzilla is erased from history, which means he never existed at all, then why does everyone in the present still remember who he is?

The revisionist take on the origins of Godzilla and King Ghidorah is hardly revolutionary, and the idea that mutating household pets created King Ghidorah is just silly. The rest of the script is dull, with its insistence on keeping Godzilla offscreen for over an hour in favor of a convoluted time travel story and Gaijin bashing. When the big guy finally does arrive, it lifts the film dramatically, but at this point it’s far too late to save the film. The audience’s attention has long since wandered, and no one cares anymore.

Omori’s direction is about as successful as his writing, which is to say it’s not very good. The film plods along aimlessly and seems mainly to be killing time until Godzilla arrives to add some excitement. Godzilla is supposed to be reborn as bigger and more powerful, but aside from looking more annoyed than usual he looks basically the same as ever. King Ghidorah doesn’t look much scarier, even though the cyborg form he sports near the end looks fantastic.

In the final analysis, “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” is a Godzilla film largely missing its main draw. What’s the point of putting his name in the title if Godzilla is absent for most of the film? Even worse, what’s shown onscreen while he’s gone is hardly entertaining. This film is for Godzilla die-hards only, and everyone else should try another entry in the series instead.

Kazuki Omori (director) / Kazuki Omori (screenplay)
CAST: Kosuke Toyohara …. Kenichiro Terasawa
Anna Nakagawa …. Emmy Kano
Megumi Odaka …. Miki Saegusa
Katsuhiko Sasaki …. Professor Mazaki

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