The film takes place in 1996, after the death of SpaceGodzilla. Birth (or Bass) Island is found destroyed with Godzilla nowhere in sight. His adopted son, Little Godzilla, is presumed dead at first but later reveals himself as a larger and more powerful sub-adult due to the excess radiation Godzilla Junior. Godzilla, covered in glowing lava-like rashes, enters Hong Kong and destroys it. G-Force representatives hire college student Kenichi Yamane, adopted grandson of Dr. Yamane who witnessed the original Godzilla in 1954, to come work at the center in an attempt to unravel the mystery of Godzilla's condition.
Yamane suspects that due to his out of control radioactivity, Godzilla will soon explode, taking much of Japan with him. G-Force immediately deploys a flying combat vehicle outfitted with anti-nuclear cold weapons to forestall the event; the Super-X III. Meanwhile, in the area where the original Godzilla died, strange life forms begin to rise, and a host of deadly creatures called Destoroyah begin wreaking havoc. Soil samples reveal that the existence of Destoroyah is directly connected to the Oxygen Destroyer used against Godzilla in 1954, which mutated Precambrian era life forms. After several deadly skirmishes with the Japanese Self Defense Force, the Destoroyah evolve beyond the JSDF's containment abilities and psychic Miki Saegusa must use her failing powers to lure Godzilla Junior to the area in an attempt to combat Destoroyah in Tokyo. Godzilla, who is tracking his offspring, follows Junior and will soon arrive in as well, but complications arise. Due to his encounter with the Super-X III, Godzilla has now bypassed an explosion and will ultimately melt down once 1200 degrees Celsius has been reached; an event that will burn straight into the core of the planet and destroy all of Earth.
The first time the monsters fight, Junior is greviously wounded but manages to destroy his opponent. However, as Godzilla and Junior meet in Narita, Destoroyah returns in his final form: a monstrous gargoyle-like creature. Swooping down upon the surprised monsters, Destoroyah knocks down Godzilla and snatches the little Godzilla away; dropping the small creature from high above and blasting him with micro-oxygen, killing him. Enraged, Godzilla attacks Destoroyah and a back and forth battle ensues that destroys much of Tokyo. Born from the weapon that first defeated Godzilla, Destoroyah shows an obvious advantage from the start, but Godzilla's runaway radioactivity has pushed the monster's power to unimaginable levels and he soon destroys his son's killer. Unwilling to die easily, Destoroyah's body decomposes into many smaller Destoroyah which attempt to swarm Godzilla from all sides, but the attack ends in futility when Godzilla uses his Nuclear pulse to incinerate the miniature Destroroyahs.
Alone at last, Godzilla attempts to breathe life into his fallen son, but to no avail, and even as he grieves, Godzilla's heart continues to fail, causing even more pain within the monster. Suddenly, Destoroyah returns in his final form for one last attack. The battle is short but fierce; enraged by the loss of his offspring and maddened by the pain within him, Godzilla drives Destoroyah back to the brink of death as Tokyo is bathed in fire. As the battle reaches fever pitch, the ghastly creature attempts to flee, but just as Destoroyah lifts off, the Super-X III attacks and disables the creature's wings, causing Destoroyah to plummet back to Earth where he explodes and is consumed in a fiery inferno at Godzilla's feet.
His son gone and his foe defeated, Godzilla stands alone and dying, but the human race cannot afford to give Godzilla a quiet funeral. As the monster begins to melt, the JSDF bombards the dying beast with a plethora of ice weapons, successfully neutralizing the immense heat that is given off and preventing Godzilla's remains from melting into the center of the Earth and igniting the planet.
The victory is a costly one, however, for the radiation has made Tokyo an uninhabitable ghost town. Suddenly, radiation levels begin to drop, and from within the thinning smoke a roar can be heard. The younger Godzilla rises from the ashes a child no more. In death, Godzilla had passed on his excess radiation and life essence as a final gift to his son, reviving and mutating the next generation. A spitting image of his father, the new adult Godzilla flexes his claws and bellows a challenge to the world, preparing to take his father's place as the greatest force of nature ever born.
- Yasufuni Hayashi ......... Kenichi Yamane
- Yoko Ishino ......... Yukari Yamane
- Megumi Odaka ......... Miki Saegusa
- Takuro Tatsumi ......... Kensaku Ijuin
- Akira Nakao ......... General Aso
- Momoko Kochi ......... Emiko Yamane
- Godzilla ......... Kenpachiro Satsuma
- Destoroyah ......... Ryo Hariya, Eichi Yanagida
- Godzilla Junior ......... Hurricane Ryu
- The producer and creator of Godzilla Tomoyuki Tanaka sadly died about 2 years after the film was finished.
- Momoko Kochi, who had played the lead female role of Emiko Yamane in the original 1954 film, returned in this film to reprise the character. But it was her final film role, and she died three years later due to intestinal cancer.
- Akira Ifukube, who composed most of the music for the installments returned as the music composer in this film. It was his final film score, although some of his themes are used in the later films. He died almost 11 years after the film was finished due to multiple organ failure.
- This film's original idea was to feature Godzilla fighting a ghost replica of the original King of the Monsters. However, Toho did not like the concept, since the previous two films had the two Godzilla-like opponents, Mechagodzilla and SpaceGodzilla. Then, in the 2002 film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, a variation of this idea was used. Instead, the "ghost" of Godzilla was built into a robot. See ghost godzilla for more information
- The Japanese theatrical poster holds the tagline: "Gojira Shizu" ("Godzilla Dies"), referring to the climax of the film.
- Although Toho made it quite clear, even before the film was released into theaters, that Godzilla would indeed die, most other aspects and details of the film were kept secret from the public. In fact, action figures of the final forms of both Destoroyah and Godzilla Junior were not sold untill after the film entered theaters (which presented some problems, as Godzilla vs Destoroyah was released in December during the holiday shopping season).
- An alternate ending was filmed. Destoroyah attempted to escape once Godzilla gained the upper hand, but the JSDF shot him down. Godzilla, despite suffering from his meltdown, continued to battle the vicious monster. Godzilla quickly overpowered Destoroyah, grabbing him by his horn and pummeling him repeatedly. As Godzilla's life melts away, the JSDF rain their ULT weapons upon him, as well as Destoroyah. Unable to stand against the immense heat of Godzilla's meltdown and the freezing coldness of the ULT lasers, Destoroyah falls and evaporates. However, the scene was replaced because it was thought to be inappropriate, since Godzilla's foreseen death was to be the climax of the movie. So the scene was re-edited to have Destoroyah die after the JSDF intervenes, and allow Godzilla to have center stage as he melts down and Godzilla Junior takes his place as the new Godzilla.
- In another deviation from the final film, Godzilla Junior's rebirth sequence was to take place after the credits rolled. However, Toho was afraid that many audience members might leave the theater and miss the climactic scene, so it was placed before the credits insted.
- Destoroyah is the only monster ever in a Godzilla film to be killed by the JSDF instead of another monster (specifically Godzilla).
- This is the second series to have a series in a complete continunity. The first being the Showa series, while the Millennium series only have separated continunity.
- The Godzilla suit used for this film was modified from the "Mogegoji" suit used the previous year for Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla and was given the new nickname "Desugoji".
- On an interesting note, during the filming of the ULT Laser's attack on the Aggregate Destoroyah colony, Koichi Kawakita utalized several of Bandai's 6 in. vynal Aggregate Destoroyah action figures in the backround!
- Toho used many different publicity stunts in an attempt to to fuel the rumors that the Godzilla series was indeed concluded with this film. For example, Toho had the "Big Pool", a stunt pool used in the filming of almost every one of Toho's special effects-based movies since the 1960's, paved over and converted into a parking lot! In addition, special effects wizard Koichi Kawakita, who had worked on all of Godzilla's films since 1989, anounced that he would be retiring from Toho and going to work as a designer at Bandai.
- The Japanese Painted version of the poster for this film is the only one in the Heisei series which depicts Godzilla in the background and his opponent in the foreground. The idea behind this is that although Destoroyah is a terrifying villain, Godzilla's meltdown could possibly destroy the planet, therefore he is as the poster suggests, the "real threat".
- Shortly after the final film was finished, Toho actually had a Godzilla funeral.
Critical reaction to the film has been mostly positive. Toho Kingdom said, "With an elegant style, a powerful plot, brilliant effects, and believable acting, this entry is definitely a notch above favorites from all three timelines, and its impact on the series is challenged by only a handful of competitors. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah is without a doubt a paradigm all its own." Michael Hubert of Monster Zero praised the "spectacular monster battles," calling Godzilla vs. Destoroyah "a great movie" and "one to add to your collection," adding: "Even for non-Godzilla fans, this movie might help dispel some of the preconceptions you have about Godzilla's 'cheese factor'."
Japan Hero called the film "a work of art" and "a must see for anyone who loves Godzilla" that features "something for everyone" Mike Bogue of American Kaiju felt the film suffered from "several visual weaknesses" and "disappointing editing," but that "the positive aspects of the visuals outweigh the negatives" and praised the film for "treating Godzilla with the same awe, majesty, and terror as [the original 1954 Godzilla]."
The film sold approximately 4 million tickets in Japan, and grossed around $22,000,000. The film has received almost completely positive reviews, with a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stomp Tokyo gave the film a 4/5 and calls it "a big sparkly show with lots of stuff happening on screen." While not released theatrically in the U.S., the film has had strong DVD sales since they were released in North America in 2000.
Columbia Tristar (Sony)
- Released: February 1, 2000
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (1.85:1) letterboxed
- Sound: English (2.0)
- Region 1
- Note: A double feature with Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla