Synopsis: Thirty years after the original monster’s rampage, a new Godzilla emerges and attacks Japan.
Last year’s monstrous celebration for Godzilla’s 60th anniversary was a event like no other topped off by the King of the Monsters finally receiving a faithful Hollywood treatment. Even with a few weeks left until Godzilla’s 61st birthday the electricity from these last 524 days since the king made landfall has yet to dissipate. Godzilla’s creators at Toho were so happy with how the property was treated they decided to jump back into the game making the announcement that a brand new Godzilla film of their own creation is slated to hit Japanese cinemas in 2016. That news alone would have the entire earth shaking with excitement as kaiju’s from Godzilla’s past were most likely on the phone to their agents trying to get double billing on the marquee when another gargantuan press release came crashing into shore. Besides the Godzilla sequel that Warner Brothers and Legendary were developing for 2018 the two companies were also planning to reintroduce King Kong with his own film – Kong: Skull Island slated for 2017. Now if you’re thinking the next three years are going to require a lot of prep work as Ray Arnold eloquently put it in Jurassic Park ‘Hold on to your butts!’ because the countdown isn’t over yet 2020 will have Godzilla and King Kong squaring off against one another. Watching from the sidelines the momentum shifting over this time period is going to feel almost surreal since Toho will be looking to redefine the genre once more after a lengthy twelve year hiatus. As this is taking place Legendary and Warner Bros have started to move ideas around for Godzilla 2 now that they’re able to license the likenesses of Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah from Toho. Two very distinctive movie studios working on the same iconic property in a rapid span of time you ask me there are no losers in this equation so move on over Charlie Sheen by the end of 2020 everyone will be winning.
When it comes to Godzilla I’m like Peter Pan the boy who never wants to grow up well okay well that’s not entirely true as a guy in my mid-30s believe me I’ve tried to step away but that’s like telling art lovers to stop wasting their time looking at Monet’s or Picasso’s. In many ways six decades worth of Godzilla has painted countless destructive landscapes that I could spend an eternity staring at. Of all the incarnations of the iconic king my favorite portraits of him are where he is represented as a harbinger of death and destruction. As a kid growing up you never really caught on to the nuclear undertones captured in the 1954 original because by the time North America got a severe case of kaiju fever in 1956 they re-cut the Japanese masterpiece to feature segments with Raymond Burr as an American reporter on a stopover in Tokyo basically interpreting what Godzilla’s wrath meant for the rest of the world. Over the course of the next three decades Godzilla would go from being a symbol of the dangers of atomic energy to an environmentalist to a super hero (all that was missing was a cape and tights… good luck getting Godzilla in a pair of tights though). It wouldn’t be until 1984 on Godzilla’s 30th anniversary where Toho would bring their creation roaring back to life in the most threatening manner possible. The Return of Godzilla lives up to its title painting a very bleak landscape where real life cold war tensions were brought to the forefront of the story. Japan has been very observant over six decades and for them to send a similar message in two contrasting films set 30 years apart proves that despite all that we’ve accomplished in terms of technology, medicine, and sciences we really haven’t come far enough when trying to coexist with one another.
Godzilla 1985, on the other hand, is dumber than a sack of hammers like Godzilla King of the Monsters its a hack and slash job where Raymond Burr reprises his role from the first film and does another narrative since North American film companies refused to understand that Godzilla had been in the public eye for decades and during that time they thought audiences still hadn’t figured out the creature is an archetype for nuclear disaster instead lets make our version corny as hell and play it up as a guy stomping around in a rubber suit (since that’s all these films are right?). Besides who needs a monster movie with a message when you have a corporate sponsorship with Dr. Pepper to plaster vending machines all over the American scenes. ‘Hey look Godzilla is destroying Japan then he’s going to come for the rest of the world. Might as well have a cool refreshing Dr. Pepper before we’re thrown six feet under!’
The Return of Godzilla Final Grade: A-
Godzilla 1985 Final Grade: F
Final Grade Together: C+
After two decades a copyright finally lapsed with Toho striking a deal with Kraken Releasing to bring the original Japanese cut of The Return of Godzilla to the shores of North America. Please head on over to Amazon.com to order your copy and support one of the most underrated kaiju films ever made.