I have to confess something up front before I write this review. I am a
dyed-in-the-wool Godzilla fan. I actually own King Kong vs.
Godzilla on videotape. Okay, how's that for sad? Now, I realize
that Godzilla films can be viewed in two ways: 1.) As really awful and
fare or 2.) As campy fun that turns the cheap stuff into something to
be heralded as fun-to-watch. I subscribe to the second viewpoint. Godzilla
1985 tries to steer the Godzilla series out of the campy realm of
things but manages to merely increase the laugh-to-groan ratio. (The new,
of Godzilla is expected to use high-tech special effects to make Godzilla
more like an honest-to-goodness monster to be scared of rather than laughed
at. The new version is completely different in looks and, possibly, origin
than the original Japanese version.)
Starring: Raymond Burr, Keiju Kobayashi,
and Ken Tanaka
If you remember the old movies like the aforementioned King
Kong vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Megalon, you can promptly forget them because,
according to the timeline this movie uses, those movies never happened.
According to Godzilla 1985, Godzilla has emerged from hibernation only
once before -- in the original 1956 movie, Godzilla. After he was apparently
killed in that film -- of course, he really wasn't -- he decided to hibernate
once more, only to re-emerge, I guess, to teach the then-Cold War entangled
world about the dangers of nuclear weapons. (Godzilla was created by a
nuclear blast during the atomic testing of the 1950's.) How he's supposed
to do that, exactly, is unclear.
Godzilla manages to kill the crew of a fishing boat, sink a Russian nuclear
sub, munch on a nuclear reactor, and, of course, attack Tokyo. In the
common sense scheme of things, this movie is pretty lousy at keeping things
together. Godzilla is blamed for the deaths of the fishing crew, but a
large, bloodthirsty bug is found on the ship too. Did Godzilla shrink
down and attack the crew? Where'd the bug come from? Wouldn't Godzilla
have just smashed the ship like he does the sub a few minutes later? Why
do Dr. Pepper product placements appear so blatantly? Why does Raymond
Burr seem like he was drugged and wheeled onto the set, ala Ironside?
Those are the kinds of questions
Godzilla fans love to answer as they howl at the onscreen proceedings.
No self-respecting movie fan can take
this movie seriously. Usually, the special effects are as half-baked as
the script in these movies, but Godzilla 1985 tries to improve on past
efforts with new "high low-tech" effects. They're still cheesy,
but at least it looks like the effects team tried to make it look good.
One shot of Godzilla appearing over a hill looks really impressive. In
fact, it made me wish the rest of the movie made it easier to believe
this stuff could actually look good.
But, of course, this wouldn't be a typical Japanese monster movie if
it did. So, if you're a fan of those types of films, rent it and grab
some popcorn and guffaw along with the hideous dialogue dubbing, the stereotypical
American military men, the stereotypical Russian villains and the mighty-only-in-the-movies
Japanese Army. (Why is it that the Japanese have the most advanced military
and space programs in these movies? Hell, according to the Godzilla movies,
the Japanese space program was discovering planets beyond Pluto -- and
then landing men on them -- as far back as the mid-1960's!)
version director R.J. Kiser went on to direct Hell Comes to Frogtown before becoming a dialog editor on such films as The
Lion King and
Waiting to Exhale. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)