Directors: Koji Hashimoto and R.J. Kizer
Writers: Shuichi Nagahara and Lisa Tomei
Cast: Raymond Burr, Keiju Kobayashi, Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Shin Takuma, Warren Kemmerling, James Hess, Travis Swords, Eitaro Ozawa, Taketoshi Naito, Nobuo Kaneko, Takeshi Katoh, Mizuho Suzuki, Junkichi Orimoto, Shinsuke Mikimoto, Mikita Mori, Yoshifumi Tajime, Kiyoshi Yamamoto, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kunio Murai, Kei Sato, Takenori Emoto, Shinpei Hayashiya, Takeo Morimoto, Koji Ishizaka, Tetsuya Takeda, Crawford Binion, Justin Gocke, Yosuke Natsuki, Bobby Brown, Patrick Feren, Mark Simon, Shepard Stern, and Alan D. Waserman
Composer: Reijiro Koroku
Release Date: 8/23/1985
MPAA Rating: PG
Following an eruption on Daikoku Island, Japanese fishing vessel Yahata-Maru is attacked by Shockirus—a giant sea louse connected to the sudden reemergence of Godzilla. Aided by Hiroshi “Kenny” Okumura, sole remaining crew member of the Yahata-Maru; Naoko Okumura, sister of Hiroshi; and reporter Goro Maki, Professor Hayashida employs an electronic bird-calling device to lure Godzilla into an active volcano. While laser-equipped JSDF aircraft Super X is dispatched to defend the city of Tokyo, reporter Steven Martin—the only surviving American witness of Godzilla’s 1956 rampage—travels to the Pentagon to assist the United States military.
The Americanized version of The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla 1985 deserves commendation for retaining—albeit not entirely—the dark, moody atmosphere of its unabridged counterpart. Fans of the kaiju eiga genre may thus appreciate this film, which benefits from the stern and solemn performance of Raymond Burr.
It should be mentioned that as opposed to Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, Godzilla 1985 never provides Steve Martin with an opportunity to meet or interact with the Japanese characters. Martin nevertheless embodies an air of gravitas while offering advice on the Godzilla situation, heightening the tension of every scene in which he appears and thereby justifying his (otherwise superfluous) presence in this film.
Originally intended as a tongue-in-cheek comedy, Godzilla 1985 occasionally fails to maintain the ominous tone established in The Return of Godzilla. Specifically intrusive are the antics of Major McDonough (Travis Swords), a character whose juvenile quips and buffoonish conduct—in addition to being somewhat cringe-worthy—serve to undermine the grave danger posed by Godzilla. (In fairness, however, both the Japanese and Americanized versions are hampered by the antics of a raving, intoxicated homeless man who, instead of seeking shelter, decides to raid an abandoned restaurant in the midst of Godzilla’s rampage.)
Despite altering many aspects of the Japanese source material, this production retains the concept of Godzilla as a victim/consequence of human arrogance and callousness toward nature—a theme reinforced by Martin’s poignant, thought-provoking monologue in the final moments of this film.
Godzilla 1985 is a worthwhile, if heavily modified, presentation of The Return of Godzilla. Daikaiju buffs, Burr enthusiasts, and science fiction lovers are therefore advised to view this unofficial entry in the Heisei series, excessive camp factor notwithstanding.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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