After nearly a decade of hibernation Toho Studios figured it was high time to resurrect it’s most famous creation but with a slight difference. Ignoring almost the entire run of previous movies except the 1954 original it would play as both sequel and total reboot of the series thus far. And so was born the “Heisei” series of Godzilla movies (although it didn’t truly get started until 1989’s Godzilla Vs. Biolante), a whole new saga for Japan’s giant, spiney bane which of the three completed Toho series to date (Showa, Heisei and Millennium) is generally considered the best.
A boat is discovered adrift in the middle of the ocean, it’s crew expired harder than turned milk at the hands of dog sized, trilobite parasites. The sole survivor confirms the worst: a new, bigger Godzilla has surfaced and he’s angrier than a vegan in Nando’s. Wheels turn in order to come up with workable ways to dispatch the towering saurian, including the Super-X, a bleeding edge battle craft but when the scaly villain uses a local nuclear plant like the salad bar at Harvester, scientists realize they may have found the key to stopping this new rampage.
In an odd turn of events, the most impressive thing about Godzilla’s redux is how much the filmmakers strive for a sense of realism, quite a strange thing to say considering that Godzilla once flew, but global politics and cold war squabbling are the order of the day here, not alien invasions and mind control.
In fact, quite a lot of the film focuses on American and Soviet forces almost falling over each other to nuke Japan with Godzilla in it just in case he ever desides to take a destructive scenic tour of the Kremlin, or the Statue Of Liberty, thus making THEM the true villains of the piece. Seeing such a mature Kaiju movie made in such a vapid era such as the 80’s can sometimes be a jarring experience, the film holding back on Godzilla until it’s only really necessary to show him in full but sometimes the deadly seriousness of the plot and actors rub uncomfortably against a dude in a lizard suit punching real estate.
That being said, the suit look pretty cool by 80’s kaiju standards (it certainly looks better than the gorilla suit in the 70’s King Kong remake) and, most impressively, a 16 foot robot version was built for close ups that snarled, roared and could tilt it’s head to match this new version’s bad attitude. And when Godzilla 1984 finally gets going it’s pretty cool, with plenty of stylish touches being given to it’s 80 foot star (his first arrival at the power plant is legitimately awesome) it’s just the film is SO in love with how mature it is, is often forgets to move with purpose.
The movie is as aggressively solid as Godzilla itself with some truly fantastic moments but ultimately is only a prelude of better things to come.