(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “With a higher budget and more advanced special effects than any previous film in the serious, THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (aka GODZILLA 1984) returns Japan’s greatest monster to his intended role as an epic force of destruction and the film’s spectacular success re-launched the Godzilla franchise after nearly a decade in suspended animation …”
There’s more, but I’ll leave it at that.
As for the story, Godzilla has returned, and there’s a team of scientists intent upon stopping the behemoth’s destruction of Japan. The government does eventually unleash the Super-X – a levitating aircraft loaded with missiles and lasers – and a good portion of the film details the obvious back-and-forth between monster and man. In the end, however, it’s science that used to lure the creature to its inevitable demise, a scene that’ll put a lump in the throat of any monster maniac like myself. What’s an ogre to do to achieve a measure of respect from mankind?
Much to my chagrin, what didn’t work here were the characters. Granted, they’re always secondary to the creature, but GODZILLA 1984 unloaded a veritable salvo of generic players, each one less interesting than the last. Methinks that’s part of why more mainstream audiences never quite embraced the Godzilla franchise the way fans have: there’s simply nothing and no one they can relate to, and – were it possible to change this in post-production – that might go a long way toward elevating the status of these earlier motion pictures.
All of that said, GODZILLA 1984 will probably tickle the fancy of any monster movie aficionado.
Yes – for those of you wondering – it’s once again little more than “a guy in a suit,” but for all of those blemishes that’s part and parcel of what made that whole franchise so incessantly appealing. For those of us who relish that sort of thing, there’s simply no replacement for the practical in-camera effects of Japan’s destruction. It’s visceral and exciting, and maybe even on one level (subconsciously) we’re relieved that none of it is real.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Even as much a die-hard fan of the Godzilla franchise I may be, I’m still not afraid to admit there’s something benignly fascinating about knowing none of it is real. Practical effects like these don’t overload the senses the way CGI-laden epics today do, so there’s something to be said for those of us who appreciate subtlety over visual gluttony. I can’t much stomach any of the TRANSFORMERS flicks, but I’ll happily sit through GODZILLA 1984 a few times a year because it symbolizes a welcome return to more affordable death-and-destruction that doesn’t need to be delivered at hyperactive pace. This story might prove too slow for today’s ADHD audiences, but it’s grand for the ten-year-old kid still trapped inside of me.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Kraken Releasing provided me with a Blu-ray of GODZILLA 1984 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.