After having spent many years battling innumerable foes like Mothra and King Ghidorah to name just two, Toho gave their star behemoth a rest before bringing him back in 1984. Having essentially dumbed Godzilla down to nothing but fodder for children, it was time to bring him back to his roots from that first appearance back in 1954, to make him the menacing monster he was always meant to be. So it is that director Koji Hashimoto would feature a giant that was bigger and stronger than previously seen, one that had no qualms for those creatures that might be crushed beneath his feet and as such, at least for the most part, it worked out quite well.
Giving the monster a break from the big screen seemed to do a number of things for the character, the first being an absence from the public. If a reboot of the creature was going to happen, taking him out of the public eye for a while was a must so that those last couple of fights against Mechagodzilla and Megalon among others would be somewhat forgotten. With nearly ten years in-between the previous film and this new picture, it would also make this new, yet retro take on the monster more palatable and reintroduce him to a new generation of fans. It also gave the makers of this film a chance to find their footing with the monster, to redesign Godzilla, making him different from the previous iteration of the character to fit more in line with modern times. While it would not necessarily be completely evident throughout the film, at least when Godzilla is rampaging throughout Tokyo, he looks quite large, especially when the ant-like humans flee before him. He is, to say the least, monstrous, both in size and attitude. This is not the Godzilla that eventually became a little compassionate towards humanity, there is only the monster who has been awakened and is none too happy for it.
The story would end up being somewhat familiar to anyone who has ever watched any Godzilla films, beginning with the monster’s appearance being kept quiet until it was no longer a possibility. There is the usual rampaging and the rush to contain the situation no matter what it takes, the usual scientists and members of government all weighing in on the situation. The writers of this film throw in a little bit of Cold War paranoia into the picture, involving the United States and Russia as Godzilla has destroyed one of the latter’s submarines. It adds a little tension to the film and later during the final act, the Soviet Union even launches a missile towards Tokyo to try and end the monster from afar, the United States intervening at the last possible second to knock it out of the air. In the end though, all it takes is a little ingenuity from Professor Hayashida to do away with the monster involving the migration calls of birds and a volcano.
The practical effects looked great, everything that is except Godzilla’s great big eyes which were definitely too large and gave him a cartoon-ish look, especially for a movie that was supposed to take the creature back to its more serious roots. The Super X was fairly generic for a state of the art flying fortress, hearkening back to early 1950’s science-fiction more than the advanced crafts seen in many a film from current movies. It too would be one of the only things to break that certain vibe that the filmmakers were going for, but in all, it would do the job needed even if it was a little silly.
Godzilla or Godzilla 1985 or The Return of Godzilla or whatever name the audience would view the film as, essentially did what Toho wanted and that was to bring the monster back in a big way. It could have been a little stronger in places, like special effects and picking the pace up a little during the first act, but overall Godzilla in its original Japanese cut was a solid and fun film.
3.5 out of 5