GODZILLA 1985

(1984)
With Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Yosuke Natsuki, Keiju Kobayashi. With Raymond Burr.
Directed by Koji Hashimoto and R.J. Kizer
Reviewed by JB

I'm back, and I feel real good about myself     Nine years after 1975's TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, the fine, wacky adventure that many thought would be the last Godzilla film, Toho released GOJIRA 1984, which the Americans turned into GODZILLA 1985 by editing the film to their liking and adding pointless scenes starring Raymond Burr.  

    Ignoring all the films from GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN through TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, GODZILLA 1985 is a direct sequel to the original GOJIRA.  The monster is no longer Japan's friend and protector, but rather is returned to his original role as a lethal force of nature who leaves a wave of death and destruction in his path.  With no secondary monsters to battle here, it is his first solo vehicle since the original film.  Made during the Reagan era, when the Cold War was ramping up while simultaneously coming to an end, GODZILLA 1985 also returns the story to its nuclear roots, in sometimes rather silly ways.  Now, Godzilla gets power from nuclear energy, even at one time ripping a part a nuclear silo and sniffing the fumes.

    I wish I could say this was a great Godzilla film, but it falls short.  For most of the film Godzilla is not even on screen, and there is very little in the non-Godzilla scenes that entertains.  When he does show up and starts blowing up building and destroying trains, things pick up, but it is too late for the film to be anything but a missed opportunity.  In this American version, the U.S. military calls on reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr reprising his role from the original GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS) from the original film, who then spouts platitudes or looks bored in scenes that would have been better off never being filmed.  They add nothing to the story, and it is a little bit insulting that the American version contains these scenes but cut some major monster action.   The movie, in fact, was not successful in the U.S. and resulted in a long period in which further Godzilla films did not receive theatrical releases in this country.

    The best thing about GODZILLA 1985 is that it did result in a new series of Godzilla movies - the so-called Heisei series followed by the Millennium series, meaning that, even if most of these were not shown in the U.S., we still now have many more Godzilla movies to enjoy in this age of DVD, Blu-Ray and movie streaming.  It also has the most heart-tugging ending since SON OF GODZILLA.  2½ - JB


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