Return of Godzilla
Special Effects by
Ken Tanaka – Goro Maki
Yasuko Sawaguchi – Naoko Okamura
Yosuke Natsuki – Dr. Hayashida
Keiju Kobayashi – Prime Minister Mitamura
Hiroshi Okumura – Shin Takuma
After the Showa series ground to halt, finally swamped by economic and commercial factors, Godzilla went on hold for 9 years, before returning with a vengeance in The Return of Godzilla, (1984) a direct sequel to Gojira (1954) which sought to recapture the brooding darkness of the original, while transplanting it into the Cold War climate of the 1980s.
The plot is quite realistic and down to earth for a Godzilla film, and like the original is strongly allegorical, with the threat of nuclear war between the USA and the USSR having replaced the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Gojira. Godzilla himself is once again portrayed an unstoppable menace bent on destruction, and looks, acts, sounds and feels like the monster from Gojira. Unfortunately, one of the few flaws of the original, slow pacing, returns to plague The Return of Godzilla. Also, while the main actors give even performances, director Hashimoto’s sombre, melodramatic approach prevents them from individualising their roles, and as a result the characters emerge as uncharismatic and dull. However, on a more positive note, Hashimoto largely succeeds in evoking the same dark, almost gothic atmosphere as Gojira.
Reinforcing this solemn mood is Reijiro Koroku’s score. While his military marches lack the catchy intensity of Akira Ifukube’s, his themes for the action sequences are very effective in creating a sense of power and menace. The highlight cue is the main title theme, which has a very ominous tone, and enhances every scene it’s used in. Another aspect of the music worth mentioning is the song (sung in English) which plays over the end credits, “Godzilla’s Farewell.” While the singer isn’t the greatest, the lyrics are actually quite moving for Godzilla fans, and reflect the feelings of many towards Godzilla’s current absence.
The special effects represent Teruyoshi Nakano’s swan song, and while they are his best work on the series, they still retain the inconsistency which plagued his work on the Showa series. The miniatures are for the most part highly detailed and realistic, and the pyrotechnics and suitmation are competent. On the other hand, the rotoscoping is very uneven, with several cringe-worthy flaws, such as the flock of birds at the power plant, and the scene where Godzilla sweeps his heat ray across the bay side defences, and the angle of the ray and his head don’t match. The animatronic upper body used for Godzilla does not intercut well with the suit, and its movements are jerky and unlifelike. However, the film does excel in a more subtle aspect of special effects, the cinematography. The camera placement, framing and lighting make some effects which could’ve looked fake appear artistic and convincing. While it’s not as impressive as in later films like Godzilla vs Biollante (1989) and GMK, (2001) it’s still enough to raise the film’s visual impact from ‘uneven’ to ‘decent.’ At the time, this was the best special effects work the series had yet seen, though it was subsequently surpassed four years later by Koichi Kawakita’s superb series debut with Godzilla vs Biollante.
By disregarding every Godzilla film since the original, The Return of Godzilla brings Godzilla back to his roots as a nuclear monster with a message, and effectively sets the stage for the Heisei series. Today, it remains the fifth best Godzilla film yet made, with only GMK, Gojira, Godzilla vs Biollante and Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995) being better than it.
Max’s verdict: 7/10
After the low box office for Terror of MechaGodzilla Toho did not make another Godzilla film until 1984 when they got the big star to return in a film known as "The Return of Godzilla" also known as Godzilla 1984 or 1985.
This film ignored all of the sequels in the Showa era (Godzilla Raids again to Terror of MechaGodzilla).
Godzilla is now back to being a dark monster again and has a message like the first film did. The Godzilla suit was an improvment over the showa films, it has the four toes again and the fangs, but the suit does have a problem with the eyes (they look upwards in some scenes making Godzilla look bored), the special effects are an improvment as well, some scenes do look fake, but no film is perfect. The building miniatures look great and more real than before and Super X looks awesome, there is one other creature in this film except a giant sea louse named "Shockirus" which added a bit of horror to the film. Some scenes which make this film great are:
1. Godzilla first appears and attack's a Nuclear power plant.
2. Godzilla vs The planes.
3. Godzilla vs The military at the docks.
4. Godzilla vs The Super X.
The ending of the film was sad, but Godzilla does return in "Godzilla vs Biollante" which is a better film.
I recommend people watch the Japanese version, the American version isn't as good.
8/10 for the Japanese version