Film: The Return Of Godzilla
aka: Godzilla 1985
"Godzilla is a warning. A warning to every one of us. When mankind falls into conflict with nature, monsters are born.
— Professor Hayashida
"Gentlemen, if Godzilla appeared in Washington, or in Moscow, would you be willing to use nuclear weapons, knowing that many of your own people would be killed?
— The Japanese Prime Minister
"General, I hope you succeed. But no matter what happens: Godzilla will live.
The sixteenth Godzilla
film, also known as just Godzilla
or Godzilla 1985
, and first after a nearly decade long break. It is a direct sequel to the original Godzilla
(even sharing the title in Japan) and ignores all other films. Godzilla returns after a thirty years absence and in the midst of high Cold War
tensions between the U.S.A. and Soviets. It is the first Godzilla film to feature Kenpachiro Satsuma in the role of Godzilla, and it would be the last movie to not
feature any Ifukube music until 2002's Godzilla X Mechagodzilla
, and is still currently the last movie to not feature Godzilla fighting
another monster (outside of the first American remake), although another one does appear, but it is a small, man-sized monster, and it does not interact with Godzilla at all onscreen.
Still produced in the actual reign of Emperor Shōwa, it is discernibly a bridge between the old and the new eras of Godzilla
. The special effects, helmed by series veteran Teruyoshi Nakano, give the film a classic look while still easing the transition into the Heisei series. Several recognizable actors from the "golden age" of Toho are present, some albeit in minor roles.
Was released theatrically in the United States the following year in the heavily altered form of Godzilla 1985
, which like Godzilla: King of the Monsters
before it, compressed the plot and included new scenes once again featuring Raymond Burr as Steve-*ahem*, Mr. Martin, filmed by a low budget American unit, though their integration and usefulness leans towards the often panned Americanizations of Half Human
, King Kong vs. Godzilla
and Tidal Wave
(also distributed by New World).
This film contains examples of the following:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Though Godzilla is clearly the antagonist, the film treats him sympathetically, particularly towards the end when he unleashes a sad roar as he plummets down the volcano. In the closing monologue, Burr even refers to him as a "strangely innocent and Tragic Monster."
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Sort of. There was a "love theme" used to promote the American version, although the song never appeared in the movie itself and wasn't even originally written for it.
- Armored Coffins: The Super-X turns into one for its crew. While specifically stated to have been constructed to defend Japan, exactly what it was supposed to defend against was not so specific. We can assume Godzilla was not included in the mission parameters.
- Armor Is Useless: Subverted. The Super-X is made out of space-age materials and given a special coating that allows it to withstand Godzilla's atomic ray; however, it only works for a limited number of blasts, and it does nothing to stop a skyscraper falling on top of it.
- Armor-Piercing Question: In the Japanese version, the Prime Minister tells his aides that he was able to make the American and Russian representatives understand Japan's "no nuclear" policy by asking them what they would do if Godzilla attacked their own countries. In the manga adaptation, the Prime Minister is actually shown asking them this question, and so the sequence with the aides is removed. This was cut from the American version, for some reason.
- "I asked them: Gentlemen, if Godzilla were to attack Washington or Moscow, would you have the courage to use nuclear weapons, knowing that many of your own people would be killed? It was then that they finally understood."
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Russian dialogue in 1985, specifically "I have to stop it!" being subtitled as "I'm the only one who can do it!" when Kashrin "launches" the missile.
- Bilingual Dialogue: In the Japanese version, the conversations with the diplomatic discussion to use nuclear weapons on Godzilla are as follows: The Prime Minister: Japanese (obviously), The American Ambassador: English, and the USSR ambassador (Russian). In the English version, The Prime Minister speaks English while the Russian ambassador still speaks Russian. Averted entirely in the International version, where everyone has been re-dubbed into English, the U.S. envoy included.
- Breath Weapon: Godzilla's atomic ray.
- Cold War: This film was made, and takes place, during the Cold War. The Cold War is in fact integral to the plot, as Godzilla himself almost turns the Cold War into World War III.
- Continuity Reboot: This film ignores majority of the Showa series (ironically, it is part of the era, but it's considered part of the Heisei series) while Godzilla (1954) is the only film not to be ignored in the Showa-Era. This tradition continues in the Millennium series.
- Cutting Off The Branches: Non-video game version. The American version references Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the year the movie took place while the original versions chose 1954. Because of the No Export for You incident with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Tri-Star used 1954 instead of 1956 in their later dubs.
- Darker and Edgier: Not that Terror of Mechagodzilla was cheerful but aliens and robot monsters are replaced with a possible nuclear holocaust and a scary Godzilla. Plus, Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted to restore the dark themes of the original Godzilla.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Russian captain delivers one, saying, "A whale doesn't send out sonar" when asked if a whale is what they're picking up on their own sonar.
- Maki in response to Okumura in 1985. "I know why. It's very simple. He had enough to eat".
- Major McDonough delivers "That's uh, quite an urban renewal program they got over there" as Godzilla levels his way through metropolitan Tokyo, to Steve Martin's annoyance.
- Death by Irony: See Shout-Out below. In the first film, it is the engineer's failure to stop the train which results in an accident, while here, it would've been wiser to let the bullet train just keep on going, as Godzilla decides to have a little fun with a car before tossing it aside.
- Death Wail: Godzilla produces one when he is falling into Mt. Mihara in the Japanese theatrical and export versions. The Japanese video version edits the the cry to end in a standard Godzilla roar, while 1985 has both variants timed differently.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Godzilla survives.
- Dub Name Change: Hiroshi Okumura's first name is given as Ken in Godzilla 1985. Interestingly, his name is still rendered as Hiroshi in the end credits.
- Godzilla is just called Kǒnglóng, or "Dinosaur" in the Mandarin video dub. This renaming seems to be in accordance with the retitling of many of the films in Taiwan.
- Foreshadowing: The flock of birds taking off just before Godzilla touches ground on mainland Japan. The birds would show up a few minutes later anyway with Godzilla following them and characters confused by his sudden leave.
- George Lucas Altered Version: While these alterations don't hurt the film per say, the audio was remixed in many subtle ways after the theatrical release, and these changes likewise then made it to most dubs (the Cantonese dub strangely uses the older version). The most notable change is of course the replacement of Godzilla's final scream with a more generic variant.
- Ghost Ship: The Yahata-Maru.
- Helicopter Flyswatter: Godzilla shoots down a helicopter that's presumably annoying him. This in turn, destroys a crowded freeway which becomes an Every Car Is a Pinto moment courtesy of stock footage from the infamous Prophecies Of Nostradamus.
- Hong Kong Dub: The export dub is perhaps the most egregious example of whole series in its often poor syllable matching. Especially for the Russian characters.
- There are a few lines early in the technically superior '1985'' script where obviously shorter syllable words are used in place of what was originally said (e.g. "bakemono", or "monster", dubbed as the blunt "huge").
- Howl of Sorrow: Godzilla gives one (two in the American version) at the end when Mt. Mihara is erupting, and it makes several characters, including the Japanese Prime Minister, very teary-eyed.
- Intrepid Reporter: Goro Maki. Name seem familiar?
- Just a Stupid Accent: Inherent to the Russian characters in the export dub.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Godzilla is revived by an electrical storm created by the stratospheric nuclear resolution.
- Mr. Exposition: Steve Martin and Dr. Hayashida
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Maki's intent to release of the story of the appearance of Godzilla and bringing Okumura's sister to to see him (only for bringing the news reporters to his hospital room) is the reason why Naoko distrusts him in the second half of the film.
- Not Bad: It is said this was Toho's reaction to a few scenes in the U.S. cut such as the giant sea louse attack being greatly trimmed and the Soviet sub being tighter. Tokyo feeling more like a ghost town in the second half, since all scenes of people fleeing from an awakened Godzilla were moved, was an interesting edit too.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Only more emphasized. Unlike the original film with the same Japanese name, it's the use of nuclear weapons to kill Godzilla. Have they overlooked the fact that nuclear weapons is the reason why Godzilla exists?
- Remember, the Japanese Prime Minister still says no to nuclear weapons. It's the Americans and the Russians who want to use them on the monster. If anything, the Americans and the Russians just want to use Godzilla as an excuse to use their nuclear arsenal.
- Oh, Crap: When Godzilla's tranquility is interrupted by maser fire and he rushes forward, Hayashida clearly has this look on his face. This can also be felt when the Japanese government hears about the Soviet missile being launched.
- Ominous Fog: Godzilla evades visual detection from the Defense Force lands concealed in a dense bank.
- Only Sane Man: Aside from Steve Martin, in the U.S. cut, the only other sane man on the military's payroll is the brown-haired Colonel who is far more rational than his superior and inferior.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: Every single scene in the the New World video version of Godzilla 1985.
- Plucky Comic Relief: The Bum, played by Tetsuya Takeda. He has a variety of funny antics and lines in the Japanese cut, the New World cut, and the International dub, arguably because of the HK dubber's hammy performance.
1985: "Don't act like a big shot hick, you just got to town! If you wanna hang around with me you need to learn some manners!"
HK dub: "Ach! What's the big idea! Get away from me Godzilla! You wanna see the way us city folks live?! What's wrong with ya?!"
- Kamijo, Maki's photographer, who never speaks a line in 1985.
- Poor Communication Kills: Narrowly averted with the Japanese Government finally letting the world know of Godzilla's existence. If they hadn't, then the USA and the USSR would've started World War III, as Godzilla's destruction of the Russian sub had the USSR in a panic, with the Americans flying into a panic of their own as a reaction to the USSR's panic and finger pointing.
- Product Placement: In the American release, one of the soldiers is shown drinking Dr Pepper. This Godzilla-themed Dr Pepper commercial was on the air in 1985 to coincide with the film's release.
- Proportionately Ponderous Parasites: Shokilas.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The American version of the film reuses Christopher Young's score to Def Con 4 since the distributor owned the rights to both films and didn't want to have a new score written.
- Red Shirt Army: Godzilla annihilates the landing forces as they continue to blast him, with obviously no effect.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: The red clouds and sky produced by the nuclear missile explosion in atmosphere, which is actually kind of pretty, if you forget what caused it in the first place.
- Reveal Shot: Godzilla gets a dramatic pan up from the ground.
- Revival: After nine years of absence from the big screen, Godzilla returned with a vengeance.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Godzilla's second fight with the Super-X is actually one of these. He clearly recognizes the Super-X, and he is very, very pissed. Tokyo's business district is barely recognizable afterwards.
- Scenery Gorn: Unlike the first film, Godzilla's invasion is more of a stroll. And unlike the first film, he (interestingly enough) doesn't destroy Tokyo as thoroughly.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Colonel Kashrin in attempting to stop the nuclear satellite from deploying its missile.
- Shout-Out: In-universe example with Godzilla (1954). The opening scene depicts a fishing boat in a middle of a disaster (but in a different case). Goro Maki wants the existence of Godzilla's to be known publicly, despite objections from the government, and despite Godzilla's existence is known, people are still killed anyway when the monster makes his rampage in Tokyo. And Godzilla attacks a train, although in the original movie, the train attack was during his first raid on the mainland, while here it's during his second raid.
- Sole Survivor: Hiroshi Okumura.
- Stock Footage: It's very easy to miss each time, but the movie lifts some stock footage from Submersion of Japan and Prophecies of Nostradamus. For continuity purposes, scenes from the original film are used for the American version.
- Tragic Monster: In the American version, Godzilla is referred to by both Steve Martin and Professor Hayashida as a victim of mankind's use of nuclear weapons. Ironically enough, the U.S. cut of the film presents Godzilla as an angry jerk with a chip on his shoulder whereas the original Japanese version characterizes Godzilla as a confused, lost thing not so much actively destroying Tokyo as much as exploring.
- Unstoppable Rage: When Godzilla sees the Super-X, after waking up, he remembers what it did to him, which in turn leads to Roaring Rampage of Revenge described above.
- Viewers Are Morons: The original Japanese version is littered with absolutely useless, gigantic supers for every location, device, or character that appears on screen (e.g. shot of radiation measuring instrument = RADIATION MEASURING INSTRUMENT).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever happened to that patrol helicopter that Godzilla surfaced in front of in Tokyo Bay? In the Manga adaptation it's destroyed by Godzilla's tail, but in the film it just, well, vanishes.