Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Godzilla 1985


  The predecessor to the fantastic Godzilla vs. Biollante is no slouch either. This sequel to the original 1954 classic pretty much re-introduces us to the King of the Monsters, and it does so with gusto. I hesitate to call it a re-imagining or a reinventing, but it is certainly an update on the material. Godzilla is straight-up badass here. He seems more like a gigantic creature and less like a man in a rubber suit. This movie takes it's material as serious as you can, which is probably more serious than you might think. Godzilla is not a hero in this movie, nor is he a villain. He is a force of nature, akin to a hurricane, a typhoon, an earthquake, or a volcano. In any case, Godzilla is a decent entry into the franchise.

  The movie's plot is largely ho-hum, and the characters are lost on me amidst a blur of similar characters from marathoning other Godzilla movies so close after watching this one. Yet, behind the bad dubbing and some comical acting, the effort put behind Godzilla 1985 is admirable. Godzilla is made to look like a serious threat again. He's not shaking hands with giant robots, or doing a happy dance when he scores a victory. He's rampaging through cities and terrorizing the way only the King of the Monsters can. The build up to his reveal is quite suspenseful, and effective. Yet overall, Godzilla 1985 feels more like... a nostalgia trip I guess. It's a basic Godzilla story. There's no real surprises. It's just a well crafted movie that in it's effort to evoke the feeling of a darker scarier tale, ends up being rather predictable. Dare I say, even formulaic?

  It's not necessarily such a bad thing here, but I'm not saying it's a great thing to be either. Yet in spite of all it's issues, including some really badly dubbed dialog... Godzilla 1985 prevails. It serves as a semi-reboot as it still acknowledges the existence of the 1954 original, but ignores everything else in between. As a sequel to the 1954 classic, it works well. The miniatures are fantastic, and Godzilla himself looks great. Surprisingly, this stands up well on it's own without another monster to propel the plot forward. The movie still ends up being a really good time, at least for Godzilla fans. Even then, you gotta be the right type of fan, and trust me there are many different types. Those looking for the carefree monster brawls of the showa films won't find too much to like here. Even though Godzilla is front and center- it's only Godzilla. A very dark Godzilla at that.

  There's also lots of build up trying to infuse a sense of plausibility, or at least seriousness. Utilizing an endless supply of sour looking military generals and gung-ho ignorant American types, the movie tries to humanize the problem of Godzilla. They show us lots of planning and military details, conferences and reporters. Nothing we haven't seen a hundred times, but all handled with a renewed sense of seriousness. They're not playing this for laughs, although you might think so with how some of the boneheaded American characters act. Instead it's just groan-worthy. Anyhow, there are a smattering of epic set pieces, and a fantastic musical score to accompany them, however... Godzilla 1985 is still a mixed bag when all is said and done. It doesn't do anything ENTIRELY new with the concept, instead it's content to remind us that it's okay to take it serious too. So on one hand it can seem very familiar, almost tired and done-to-death, but on the other hand you'd be overlooking what's actually a very fun monster movie at heart.

  Your call, personally I really liked it and I recommend it if you're into Godzilla. If not? It's not a bad place to start either.

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