Director: Koji Hashimoto
Writer: Shuichi Nagahara
Cast: Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Yosuke Natsuki, Shin Takuma, Keiju Kobayashi, Eitaro Ozawa, Taketoshi Naito, Mizuho Suzuki, Junkichi Orimoto, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kei Sato, Takenori Emoto, Sho Hashimoto, Nobuo Kaneko, Kunio Murai, Yoshifumi Tajima, Shigeo Kato, Koji Ishizaka, Tetsuya Takeda, and Kengo Nakayama
Composer: Reijiro Koroku
Release Date: 12/15/1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Thirty years after the events of Gojira, a Japanese fishing boat near the coastline of Daikoku Island is attacked by Shockirus—a mutant sea louse affected by the radiation in Godzilla’s blood. Assisted by Hiroshi Okumura (Shin Takuma), sole surviving crew member of the Yahata-Maru; Naoko Okumura (Yasuko Sawaguchi), sister of Hiroshi; and reporter Goro Maki (Ken Tanaka), Professor Hayashida (Yosuke Natsuki) employs a magnetic transmitter to lure Godzilla into an active volcano. Meanwhile, laser-equipped JSDF aircraft Super X is dispatched to prevent Godzilla from destroying the city of Tokyo.
The inaugural entry of the Heisei series, The Return of Godzilla should be commended for its haunting atmosphere, Cold War undertones, and compelling sequences of destruction. Also remarkable is the musical arrangement of Reijiro Koroku, whose composition embodies the dark and somber qualities that one would typically associate with the king of monsters.
Serving as a direct sequel to Gojira, this installment ignores much of the continuity established during the Showa period—a decision that allows Godzilla, formerly a child-friendly superhero icon, to return to his roots as a force to be reckoned with. Specifically worth praising is the ominous, camp-free tone exemplified by The Return of Godzilla, which compels the viewer to perceive the eponymous creature—a metaphor for nuclear devastation—with the respect and solemnity that he deserves. (There are times, however, when the antics of an intoxicated homeless man—the only comic relief character featured in this film—detract from the existential threat posed by Godzilla.)
It should be noted that The Return of Godzilla benefits from top-notch performances coupled with exceptional dialogue, adding an air of credibility to the concept of a radioactive, fire-breathing dinosaur wreaking havoc on a modern-day metropolis. That being said, the only English-speaking cast member—whose character appears during a meeting held by U.S., Japanese, and Soviet ambassadors—delivers his lines in a highly unconvincing, if not cringe-worthy, manner.
In spite of his brutal and destructive tendencies, the Godzilla character manages to evoke sympathy during the poignant finale of this film—an effect that, as in the original version, establishes Godzilla as a victim of human arrogance, callousness, and disregard for the environment.
The Return of Godzilla is a disturbing, well-made reboot of Toho Studios’ kaiju eiga franchise. Gojira fans, science fiction enthusiasts, and disaster buffs are therefore advised to view this film, which effectively recaptures the serious, thought-provoking nature of its predecessor from 1954.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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