We continue to make our way down the big list of kaiju/tokusatsu movies (HERE) and we've hit a streak of really good ones.
Today's is The Return of Godzilla (aka Godzilla 1985, Gojira; 1984).
I'll go first:
Now we're talking.
I'm an unabashed fan of the Hesei series, even though this one, technically, is in the Shōwa era. I'm a sucker for continuity, so having these movies all be connected is just gold for me.
Some people say that they're dark for darkness' sake or that there's no fun to them. I disagree.
For years, the Godzilla series left the serious origin of its titular beast behind and many of the first era's films were directed at kids or were, at the very least, embracing of their goofiness. That's fine. Frequently, it made for a good time (Destroy All Monsters, for example). But there was still the origin of the monster. That hadn't been tapped into for decades.
Fast forward to the 1980s. The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan and the US moves more nuclear missiles into Europe. The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than at any time since 1953 when the superpowers tested their thermonuclear weapons within months of each other (hmmm, and that's the year before the first movie came out). The serious times led to serious elements in pop culture. Japan wasn't isolated from this. Yes, Return of Godzilla is dark, but it's dark for a reason and, above all, it works.
Some people dislike it because it acknowledges the first movie but ignores the dozen that followed it. I get that, but to strike this tone, they just about had to.
All of that aside, there are many things to love about the movie. The suit, for one. Godzilla looks good and mean for most of the film. Good building stomping action (though some of the models aren't as well done as others). Mankind's fight against him with maser cannons, missiles and more. (My favorite shot comes when Godzilla rises from the water and wipes out the military on the docks in one sweeping blast of his breath.) I love that Godzilla now consumes nuclear reactor energy; it just works with the character. And how can I forget Ron Burgundy, sub captain?
For once, the talkie bits in the first hour that normally bore folks didn't do so this time. I think a big part of it comes from the real-world connection. The acting is good, too. (Although the American ambassador's enunciation strikes me as odd. Perhaps that's part of acting in a foreign movie that needs dubbing.) The Soviets and Americans do seem rather eager to bomb Japan, though.
Interesting trivia note: the scene wherein the Soviet colonel tries valiantly to stop the missile launch was excised from the American release, Godzilla 1985. Couldn't show the bad guys being heroic, could we?
What doesn't work? Well, the music is pretty good, but it lacks the punch of Akira Ifukube's classic themes. Super X-1 ... I like it and it's cool, but the reason why they were making it before Godzilla came seems rather specious to me. Also, the huge foot used in a couple of shots has some odd, flat angles. Then, of course, there's the infamous "cybot":
Impressive, to say the least, but it didn't match the suit and its motions just aren't terribly fluid. I'll say this: it's better than the Godzilla hand puppets used in Gojira and Godzilla Raids Again. The good news is that the effects only get better as the Heisei series carries on.
I saw the American version in theaters way back in 1985. I don't remember too much of the Raymond Burr parts ... just the awesome stomping.
For my son, the first time we watched it, he cried at this part:
The Return of Godzilla ... he's back. 4.25 out of five atomic breath blasts.James' turn:
Well, this one is starring, Godzilla, Mutant crab monster that fly around for some reason, Super-X, and all the Tokyo Civilians. It's good but it's a typical Godzilla movie.
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!Here's the trailer:
Up next, Pulgasari.
(GIFs from mekagojira3k)