Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Godzillapalooza #16: Godzilla 1985 (1984)

Godzilla 1985 (1984)
Monster Profile:


-HEIGHT: For the first two films of the Heisei series, Godzilla is 262 feet tall. For the remainder of this era his size is increased to 328 feet, due to a plot twist in "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah."
-MASS: 55,000 tons in the first two films, 66,000 tons for the rest of Heisei.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Godzilla's powers remain the same in the Heisei era. Super regenerative healing power and a thermonuclear atomic ray. Godzilla also has a nuclear pulse in this era, meaning he can emit atomic energy from his body which is in some ways similar to a force field.
-BACKGROUND: The Godzilla of the Heisei series has two different backgrounds. "Godzilla 1985" is supposed to be a direct sequel to the original Godzilla movie, thus this Godzilla is simply the second of his kind and slightly larger than the first. This is the same Godzilla in "Godzilla vs. Biollante". However, the Godzilla for the rest of Heisei is created as a result of time travelers from the future moving the Godzillasaurus (1954's Godzilla before he was mutated) to a different location and inadvertently created a stronger and bigger Godzilla. I'll explain this in more detail later. When in doubt, I think it's always fun to feign ignorance and pretend that it's the same Godzilla in every film, continuing his many adventures.

A shipwreck is found in which only one crew member survived. The rest of the sailors were killed by Godzilla and his... sea lice... eww. Anyway, with the Cold War being in full swing, everyone blames the Russians, but only the Japanese really know what's up. Cold War tensions get even worse when Godzilla destroys a Russian sub. Since everybody's freaking out, the Japanese tell the world that Godzilla is to blame. Steve Martin, who survived Godzilla's first attack on Tokyo, is summoned to the Pentagon to advise the US military. Godzilla comes to Tokyo and is met by the Japanese military and their new weapon, the Super X, which is a sort of flying tank that kind of looks like a minivan. The Super X actually knocks out Godzilla with cadmium missiles, but the fight's not over. The Russians launch a missile to destroy Godzilla, which is misconstrued as Cold War aggression, oh geez. Americans intercept the missile and destroy it, but the radiation over Tokyo revives Godzilla. Silly Russians and their flagrant use of nuclear energy. So Godzilla destroys the Super X, but a bright scientist manages to lure Godzilla to a volcano with the sound of birds and trap Godzilla inside. So Godzilla's raid is over for now, but he is not gone forever.

I have mixed emotions about this film. For the 30th anniversary of the original film, a big to-do was made that another movie would join the sereis, echoing the tone of the first film. In fact, Akihiko Hirata, who played Dr. Serizawa in 1954, even announced the film at a press conference wearing his character's trademark eyepatch. While the film is met to mirror the original, I fell in some ways it succeeds and in others it falls short. This movie pays homage to the first film in many ways that would be clear to any Godzilla fan, which is great. However, the Cold War theme is so irritating to me and drags the film down.

Ifukube was not available to do the score, but Reijiro Koroku actually does a fairly good job in his place. The special effects, however, are somewhat lacking in my opinion and the Godzilla suit and puppet don't look very good at all in most shots. Most scenes in which the army battles Godzilla do look pretty good though. Godzilla's shift from savior of the earth back to bad guy is nicely done and I especially like how the film emphasizes that he is a force of nature and not necessarily a vengeful creature. Including Raymond Burr as Steve Martin, or Mr. Martin in this film, was also a great touch for the American version of the film. It's not one of the best Godzilla movies, but it's not one of the worst either. A must-see for true G-fans, but missable otherwise. Unless you just love watching world leaders sitting in underground lairs, staring at maps, and sweating over Cold War tension.

Best Part: 
The scene in which Godzilla comes ashore to start his true attack on Tokyo is a pretty good one. The army is ready for him, but can't make much of a dent as he just slowly wades up to the shore. This is when a lot of tributes are paid to the first movie as well, like when Godzilla picks up a train and throws it down again and when he walks through power lines. I also love all of the scenes with Raymond Burr, playing the wise old Godzilla veteran. It seems like he's always got something really profound to say to the US military commanders who have no clue what's going on. He also gives a nice little epilogue at the movie's end about mankind trying to control nature. It's no where near as good of an ending as the '54 movie, but it's still pretty great. Here's Mr. Martin's monologue after Godzilla falls into the volcano to end the movie. Check it out.

My Ranking: #21

Up next, Godzilla gets back to fighting other monsters. This one just so happens to be reminiscent of "Little Shop of Horrors"... "Godzilla vs. Biollante"

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