Sunday, December 19, 2021

#2,679. Godzilla 1984 (1984) - Godzilla / Kong Mini-Marathon


Working as both a reboot of the franchise (following the box-office disappointment of its predecessors) and a direct sequel to 1954’s Gojira, Godzilla 1984 (aka The Return of Godzilla) has everyone’s favorite kaiju once again rising from the depths, this time forced to the surface by a volcanic eruption.

After unleashing his wrath on a fishing vessel in the Pacific, Godzilla takes on - among other things - a Russian submarine and a remote nuclear facility before setting his sights on downtown Tokyo.

Reporter Goro Maki (Ken Tanaka) teams up with sailor Hiroshi Okimura (Shin Takuma), the lone survivor of the attack on the fishing boat, as well as Hiroshi’s sister Naoko (Yasuko Sawguchi) and her boss, renowned scientist Professor Hiyashida (Yôsuke Natsuki), to neutralize Godzilla before he destroys the entire city.

But with the Americans and Russians vying to be the first to take down the mighty monster, it’s anyone’s guess if the great Godzilla will ever be brought to his knees.

Though produced 30 years after the original Gojira (and nine years after the previous film in the series, Terror of Mechagodzilla), Godzilla 1984 doesn’t make any attempt to update the costumes or special effects of its predecessors. Godzilla is still played by a guy in a big rubber suit (actor Kenpachirô Satsuma, to be exact) and the buildings he flattens, as well as the military tanks and planes that try to prevent him from doing so, are miniature models. Herein lies the magic of Godzilla 1984: it remains true to the spirit of the franchise without falling back on the pratfalls and humor present in many of the less-successful entries of the 1970s.

In addition, Godzilla 1984 returns the series to its nuclear roots, laid out in the classic 1954 film. A scene in which the American and Russian delegates are trying to convince Tokyo’s Prime Minister (Keiju Kobayashi) to use nuclear missiles to destroy Godzilla serves as a chilling reminder of the cold war that was raging at the time.

By successfully conveying the terror that Godzilla unleashes (the scene where the monster lifts a subway car full of passengers off its tracks then casually tosses it aside is poignant, to say the least) while also shining a light on the then-current political climate, Godzilla 1984 did more than continue the saga. It showed audiences that Godzilla could still kick ass without camping it up, making it a worthy addition to Toho’s Kaiju series.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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