Monday, April 10, 2017

The Return Of Godzilla!

One of my prized possessions is a real movie poster for Godzilla 1985. I still remember going to see this flick and somehow getting my mitts on an extra one the theater had for the movie. I've owned a VHS copy of the movie for a few decades now, and have every several years taken it out and enjoyed this Americanized rendition of the Japanese flick which rebooted the Godzilla franchise and is now the marker for the beginning of the Heisei era of the Godzilla movies. But I'd never seen the Japanese original which only became available on DVD last year. I was able to snap up a copy several weeks ago and got my eyeballs on it. In a word it's better.

The desire of this movie to eschew the silliness which had encumbered the Godzilla series for many years was well considered and to a very large extent was successfully carried out. But unlike the original Gojira from 1954 this movie is sadly lacking the true horror elements which infused that awesome original with its lasting power. The Return of Godzilla does a good job of treating the return of the "Big G" with proper seriousness (within reason) and it does so with an eye to treating the character with respect. But alas the movie itself is a tad ponderous, not unlike Godzilla's pounding gait as he disrupts the lives of Japanese citizens.

The movie picks up right after the first one left off. We effectively forget that there was ever a Mothra, a Rodan, a King Ghidorah, or even a moth-eaten King Kong. In this universe there was only ever Godzilla and when he returns in the decade rife with nuclear tensions he brings to a boil the concerns of an entire globe bristling with enough firepower to eliminate civilization for centuries. This Godzilla is more dangerous looking than the frankly goofy version who was cavorting several years before, the personification of the monster retarded and the animal nature of the great beast enhanced.

The connection between Godzilla, a mutated dinosaur and modern birds is made a plot point and was notable since the idea of birds being survivors of the dinosaurs was still a relatively new notion at the time. Also impressive was the man-built weapon deployed to confront Godzilla, the "Super X" gives him an opponent while keeping him purely the threat front and center. The battle itself seemed to have more punch and more clearly was related to a natural disaster. All in all an impressive reboot of a weary franchise.

Godzilla 1984 or The Return of Godzilla did revive the franchise, though it would be several years before a sequel would hit the big screens. I'll take a look at Godzilla Vs. Biollante next time.

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  1. Hold onto the VHS copy, Rip.
    The DVD/Blu Ray has the "International" English-language version, not the re-edited, "Raymond Burr IS Steve Martin" version that hit American theatres and VHS!

    1. Correct. I read that it's some problem with music cues or something which tied up the reissue of the Burr variation. It's a pity stuff like this can't be solved for better fan satisfaction. Now no one wins it seems to me. At least there's still some value to my aged VHS version.

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