Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995)

The cover for the soundtrack

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

With an American Godzilla film underway, Toho decided it would be wise to avoid having two concurrent Godzilla series. They decided to go out with a bang and heavily advertised that Godzilla would die in the next film, Godzilla vs. Destroyah. This guaranteed strong box office sales. Godzilla vs. Destroyah itself is one of the stronger Heisei offerings. Godzilla has absorbed too much nuclear energy, to the point that parts of his body are glowing. Humans learn that he will eventually implode and cause a global nuclear nightmare. Thus they need to cool him down with freezing lasers at the critical moment. To make things worse, the Oxygen Destroyer from the original film has mutated pre-Cambrian creatures into a super-powerful Kaiju named Destroyah. The film wonderfully ties in the original film’s plot, bringing everything full circle. However, it’s far from perfect. Some of the budget-saving work is surprisingly lazy. Godzilla is superimposed into stock shots of cities that show pedestrians and traffic going about their normal business. At least the effects for Destroyah himself are pretty neat.

It was only natural that the Big G’s big death be scored by Akira Ifukube. Ifukube starts off with an epic percussive flourish in “Toho Logo” and ominous strings in “Disappearance of Birth Island.” The real strong start is “Main Title.” Ifukube reworks the secondary Godzilla motif from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and mixes it with the Terror of Godzilla theme. This new version of Godzilla’s motifs serve as his theme for the film, as he is a walking global bomb at this point. After a harp flourish at the 2:03 mark Ifukube launches into Destroyah’s theme. It’s a powerful identity that suggests the world-ending power of Godzilla’s final foe. In an interview Ifukube revealed that he originally wanted to use the Oxygen Destroyer motif from King of the Monsters, but decided it did not effectively convey the monster it created. He does use the eerie strings from it under a light-toned iteration of Destroyah’s theme in “Discovery of the Tiny Creatures.” Destroyah’s theme makes frequent appearances, in ominous foreboding fashion in the earlier cues and in grander fashion in the later battle cues. Ifukube really plays with the theme’s tempo. Sometimes he really slows it down to drag out its menace.

In addition to the strings from the Oxygen Destroyer motif, Ifukube brings back the emotional theme from the first film for “Oxygen Destroyer.” This backs up a flashback sequence involving that movie’s female lead. The Maser tank march also returns in “Self-Defense Force’s Preparations,” as does Baby Godzilla’s theme for a now older Godzilla spawn. Aside from Destroyah’s theme, the major original theme is for the flying vehicle Super-X III. It first appears on piano in “Super-X III.” It evolves into a full blown military march when the vehicle spurs into action in “Godzilla vs. Super-X III” and “Super-X III Sortie.”

Finally there is the Godzilla March. While Ifukube chooses to represent Godzilla through his dark reworked theme, he does bring out the March for a couple key moments, such as the Big G’s arrival to confront Destroyah. But Ifukube’s work with the theme really shines at the climax. “Requiem” is an emotional send-off. It starts off with a somber death motif, first heard on horn, then repeats accompanied by strings. About a minute in the music swells and goes into a soprano choir. At 1:53 the choir is joined by a peaceful iteration of the Godzilla march. The track then repeats itself. The heroic portion of the Godzilla March also graces “End Credits.” Interestingly the middle of this track is occupied by Ifukube’s King Kong theme. His explanation for this was that it fit the length of the track’s middle. While King Kong has nothing to do with this film, it is nice to hear his theme back for the grand finale.

Ifukube did a great job ending the Heisei series on a high note. The new versions of Godzilla’s themes are great, Destroyah’s theme is great, and the climatic cues really work as an obituary for the Big G. This would be Ifukube’s last score for the franchise. Like John Barry with the James Bond franchise (referencing Living Daylights here), he managed to go out with one of his best works. He would decline to do any of the following Shinsei series and passed away in 2006.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. Toho Logo
  2. The Disappearance of Birth Island
  3. Main Title: The Destruction of Hong Kong
  4. The Oxygen Destroyer
  5. Incident at the Underwater Tunnel
  6. Godzilla Makes His Way off the Coast of Taiwan
  7. Nuclear Explosion: The Earth Goes Up In Flames
  8. The Terror of the Oxygen Destroyer
  9. The Aquarium Nightmare
  10. Discovery of the Tiny Creatures
  11. Godzilla Makes His Way off the Coast of Okinawa
  12. The Mystery Creatures Destroyed
  13. The Special Forces Swing Into Action
  14. Appearance of the Mystery Creatures
  15. The Plan to Incinerate the Mystery Creatures
  16. Godzilla Heads Towards the Nuclear Plant
  17. Super-X III Prepares to Attack
  18. Super-X III Attacks
  19. Little Godzilla is Still Alive
  20. Meltdown
  21. Maser Tank Cryogenic Attack
  22. The Birth of Destroyah
  23. Leading Junior Along
  24. Junior’s First Crisis
  25. Junior vs. Destroyah
  26. Godzilla and Junior Reunited
  27. Destroyah Grows Enormous
  28. Junior Carried Off
  29. Junior at Death’s Door
  30. Godzilla’s Decision
  31. Godzilla vs. Destroyah I
  32. Destroyah Counterattacks
  33. Roar of Sadness
  34. Godzilla vs. Destroyah II
  35. Maser Corps: Full-Scale Offensive
  36. Requiem
  37. Birth of the New Godzilla
  38. End Titles

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