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Godzillathon 16: Godzilla 1985/Returns

Permanent Linkby Ome on Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:46 am

Ha thought I was done again didn't ya? Well no I'm not. Ya dumb. Ya big dumb.

This is the start of the Hesei series of reviews, the second Godzilla series. After Godzilla went on hiatus for ten years following Terror of Mechagodzilla Toho decided to revive the series, but opted to ignore all of the previous films except for the original. Whats more, this particular film was heavily edited for the American release, much like the original was and as such I have opted to review the american version (Godzilla 1985) as it is the one I am most familiar with and saw as a child. But I will go over the differences it had with Godzilla Returns as well.

The Japanese fishing vessel, the Yahata Maru is caught in a terrible storm while out at sea. Unable to control their course the ship runs across the uninhabited Daikou Island. However it proves far from a safe haven as a monster rises from the island and attacks the ship. A few days later, a reporter by the name of Goro Maki stumbles across the ship while sailing. Upon investigating he finds the ship deserted and the crew dead but for a single traumatized crew member named Hiroshi "Kenny" Okumura. Before they can leave, Goro is attacked by a massive mutant sea louse, but is saved by Okumura.

In Japan the Prime Minister is informed of Godzillas possible return and orders that information be kept a secret. As a result the story Maki wrote of the monsters return is unpublished and he is instructed to speak to his editor about it. Upon telling Maki that his hands are tied as it is dubbed a national security matter, he tells the reporter to go talk to a bio-physicist named Hayashida. Upon meeting the scientist Maki discovers that his assistant, Naoko is Okamura's sister and she has no idea that her brother is alive. Against the governments orders, he tells her of her brothers rescue, and she rushes off to the hospital he is being kept at.

A Soviet submarine off the coast of Japan picks up what it thinks is a trailing American sub and eventually opens fire on it, only to be destroyed when it's revealed that it was Godzilla all along. At the Pentagon, General Goodhoe is informed of the subs destruction and that the Soviets believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans, and the situation rapidly threatens to escalate into open nuclear war. In Japan the Prime Minister is informed of the subs destruction by Godzilla and lifts the media blackout, informing the world of the monsters return and absolving the Americans of the incident. He meets with the US and Soviet Ambassadors, stating that Japan will not allow nuclear weapons to be used. Unbeknownst to him, the Soviets keep the nuclear option ready regardless.

Not long after Godzilla finally makes landfall, making his way to a nearby nuclear power plant. Godzilla removes the reactors core, draining the radiation from it. However, he stops mid-feed and returns to the sea, following after a flock of birds that had flown by. The Japanese Self Defense Forces position themselves at the mouth of Tokyo Bay to await the monsters return, meanwhile the Japanese Cabinet is informed of a possible secret weapon, the Super-X Attack plane. Originally made to defend the capital if needed, the crafts heat resistant armor and Cadmium missiles could make it the last, best hope against the monster.

With the help of Ultrasonic Images taken of Godzilla during his feeding, Hayashida discovers that Godzilla's brain is incredibly similar to a birds, albeit mutated. He theorizes that was why the monster left so suddenly, that the birds elicited a conditioned response from the monster, and that if they could replicate the frequency that they too could lure the monster where they wanted. He assists the Japanese emergency task force with the plan to lure Godzilla to Mt. Mihara, hoping to use the volcano to trap the monster.

Steve Martin, the American journalist who survived Godzilla's first rampage decades ago is brought to the Pentagon to help them try and defeat the monster. At the same time Godzilla rises from Tokyo bay, prompting mass evacuations as the Japanese Air Self Defense Force tries and fails to drive the monster back out to sea. A Soviet vessel that had been disguised as a merchant ship in the bay is damaged, and the dying officer on board fires a nuclear missile from a satellite targeting Godzilla. As Godzilla makes his way inland, the Super-X is launched to intercept the monster.

The Pentagon tries to give aid to the overwhelmed Japanese, but Martin states that all their attacks will do is antagonize the monster, and all they can do is try and weather his fury the way they would a hurricane. As Godzilla carves his way through Tokyo, Hayashida tests his signalling device. It seems to work, but a renewed attack by the JSDF antagonizes the monster and breaks the connection. Shortly after, the Super-X arrives to put a halt to the monsters rampage. With the ability to withstand Godzilla's atomic ray, it manages to fire its missiles into the the softer flesh of Godzillas mouth, and the Cadmium weaponry manages to slow Godzilla's nuclear heart rate down, rendering the monster comatose. In the midst of celebrating the monsters defeat though, the Japanese and American systems detect the approaching Soviet missile.

With the monster down for the count, the JSDF manages to sweep in and move Hayashida and the signalling equipment to Mt. Mihara, though Maki and Naoko must remain behind in the ruined city. The Americans launch a missile of their own to intercept the approaching Soviet nuke, and though their attempt is successful, the resulting nuclear detonation in the atmosphere reawakens Godzilla. Out of Cadmium missiles and with it's systems damaged by the nuclear detonation, the Super-X puts up a valiant but doomed fighting retreat. Another atomic ray overwhelms the damaged ship and sends it to the earth, where the monster king pushes a skyscraper on top of it to end the battle.

With nothing left to stop the monster, Hayashida assembles and activates his emitter, stopping Godzilla's rampage and luring him to Mt. Mihara. Once Godzilla reaches the mouth of the volcano explosives are used to create a controlled eruption. Amidst the violence of the explosion Godzilla plunges into the volcano, trapping him. As the Japanese and American governments watch the monster vanish into the earth, Steve Martin opines, "Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla—that strangely innocent and tragic monster—has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain."

Trivia Time!
This film was HEAVILY edited for it's US release, but the changes were originally going to be even more drastic. New World Pictures originally planned to turn the film into a dark comedy, however Raymond Burr refused to have anything to do with the film if that was the case, arguing the metaphors that Godzilla represented were to important to be treated in such a way.

However there was a few jokes that did make it into the final cut of the film. While watching Godzillas rampage through Tokyo via satellite, Major McDonahue remarks "That's a heck of a urban renewal program they have going on there." Upon news of Godzillas destruction of the Soviet sub, he suggests to slap a uniform on him and enlist him. And when the Pentagon is trying to think up ways to stop Godzilla once nuclear weapons are off the table, he suggests a mega dose of horse tranquilizers.

Dr Pepper sponsored the theatrical opening of the film for some heavy product placement. In many scenes with the Americans, someone is drinking it, or a Dr Pepper vending machine is in the background. Raymond Burr once again would have no part in that, reportedly fixing the person who asked him to do it with "a withering glare and disgusted silence"

This was the last Godzilla film to be released theatrically in the US until Godzilla 2000.

The American version is also the only film in the franchise to never see a DVD release, only ever being released officially on VHS. The reason why is due to copyright issues from 1985 using music from the film Defcon-4, and all subsequent DVD releases have only been of the original Japanese/International version.

Godzilla's size was increased from 50 meters tall, to 80 meters, to compensate for a Tokyo now dominated by skyscrapers.

This is the first film in the franchise to state that Godzilla feeds on nuclear radiation, a trait which would become a part of all subsequent iterations of the character to date.

In addition to all the scenes specifically filmed for the US version, there were many changes made to other scenes in the film such as:
    Goro's investigation of the ghost ship and fight with the sea louse is much shorter in 1985, and the louse makes a different, screechier noise

    When Naoko is reunited with her brother, Goro snaps pictures of their reunion, angering both when they realize he was just in this for the scoop. This is cut down in the american version.

    The scene with the Prime Minister of Japan meeting with the US and Soviet Ambassadors is much shorter in 1985, with the prime minister instantly refusing the use of any nuclear weapons to try and kill Godzilla. In the original version the scene is much longer, with the American position being there isn't anything they have left to throw at the monster, and the Soviets worried that Godzilla could eventually turn north and attack their country as well.

    Maki and Naoko's chaste romance is much more subdued in 1985, it's not till the end of the film that the two seem to have any romantic feelings for one another. In the original film it's much more forceful and one sided on Maki's part for much of the film, honestly he comes across as a little stalkerish at times.

    Virtually all shots of Godzillas foot crushing things were cut from the American version, no idea why.

    The biggest and most controversial change involves the launch of the Soviet Nuclear Missile. In the original version, the launch is an accident, caused by Godzillas rampage damaging the ship where the missile controls are hidden, with the Soviet Colonel perishing valiantly as he fails to stop the weapons launch. In the 1985 version, the scene is re-cut so it appears he launches the missile deliberately as he succumbs to his injuries. The change was brought about due the Cold War tensions at the time.

Somehow Godzilla manages to sneak up on a guard at the nuclear power plant. I dunno how, he's twice as tall as the reactor itself and his footsteps break the ground. How you overlook a 80 meter tall monster coming at you is beyond me.

The theme for the Super-X is tight as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Overall Rating: 9/10 Probably gonna get some flack for this, as the American version isn't one of the better regarded films in the franchise as a whole, but this film is important to both me and the series. It took Godzilla back to his roots as a creature of power and menace, while also establishing him as a creature that deserves sympathy. A victim of the events that made him what he is as well as a force of nature that we can only try to endure. It established one of the characters core traits and was the first film to show that a creature like Godzillas existence would cause reactions from the world at large, and not just Japan. Whether you agree with it's entertainment value rating or not, the effect it had on the series as a whole can't be ignored. And as for me, it was one of the three Godzilla films I watched over and over as a kid and it holds a special place in my heart. Heck as a little kid there were scenes that were downright chilling, Raymond Burrs closing monologue still gets to me.

Up Next: Godzilla vs Biollante. Widely regarded as the "Strikes Back" of the series.

Image The next time evil thinks to catch us with our pants down, they'll get a face full of kitchen!
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Re: Godzillathon 16: Godzilla 1985/Returns

Permanent Linkby Gabriel0813 on Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:18 pm

i love that movie i use to watch it om.vhs it was the best
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