More Memorable Title: The Godzilla of the Cold War
We’re back with this, the one where Godzilla’s back! And back with a reboot and a whole new continuity at that! All that stuff we’ve been talking about in the series thus far? All that story, history, origins, everything there? We’re done with all that. With the exception of the first film, the OG 1954 Godzilla, everything else is all out the window. We’re starting fresh, here. With this film, we officially enter Godzilla’s Heisei era.
So, the last film of Godzilla’s Showa era hit in 1975. Toho didn’t intend to end the series there, and in fact tried to get some more productions going a couple of times, but for whatever reason, none of them got off the ground. In 1979, longtime series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka took charge of bringing Godzilla back to screens for the series’ 25th anniversary, and, inspired by the then-recent Three Mile Island incident and the then-modern adult oriented sci-fi/horror films of the time, wanted to return the series to its adult-oriented, anti-nuclear roots. He still wasn’t able to get anything going for a while, until finally, in the mid-1980s, pieces started to come into place. He combined elements from a bunch of cancelled Godzilla projects, made it modern to the cold war politics of the time, and started gathering a team around it. Longtime director Ishiro Honda wasn’t up for participating, tied up with his work with Akira Kurosawa and also feeling the series shouldn’t be continued after the death of Godzilla’s special effects producer Eiji Tsuburaya, so Koji Hashimoto, who served as assistant director on a number of Showa Era projects, got called up to take the seat. Teruyoshi Nakano, who had led the special effects under Tsuburaya’s guidance when the latter’s health prevented him from working fully, took the lead once more on that front. Series newcomer Reijiro Koroku handled music composition, making a score that’s quite different from Akira Ikufube’s previous work but honestly very solid for the film. And finally, finally, they managed to get things going and get a film out, kicking off Godzilla’s revival.
The Return of Godzilla is, as I said, considered the first film of Godzilla’s Heisei era. But it was actually made in Japan’s Showa era, as the shift to the real Heisei wouldn’t happen for a few more years. So, that explains perfectly why a lot of the things that would become emblematic of the Godzilla’s Heisei era; the recurring characters, the laser spamming, the 1-vs-1 monster fights, the prominence of psychic abilities, you don’t really get that showing up in this film just yet. What you do get, that will carry over to later films until they start going the ‘noble demon’ route with Godzilla, is that you have a Big G here that is bigger and meaner than we’ve seen before. Gone Is the ‘friend to all children’ Godzilla of films past. This Godzilla is legitimately monstrous. Much like the 1954 original, Godzilla here is coming to town to ruin lives and chew bubble gum. And they don’t make bubble gum big enough for him.
The Return of Godzilla is a film that reviewed rather poorly, but is very well regarded by fans. Looking at things from my perspective, who has the better take on it? Well, let’s dig in to find out.
The film opens with a fishing vessel navigating near an uninhabited island in a fierce thunderstorm. The crew are trying frantically to force their way to shore to weather it. One of the crewmembers, Sourface, so named because he shows little emotion other than mild irritation with everything occuring in the film, looks out at the island only to see something very large and monstrous silhouetted in the lightning.
The scene cuts there, and opens up the next morning. The radio is calling out that in the storm last night, a number of ships, including the one we just saw, went missing. We’re on a boat, a smaller one this time, a personal vessel. It’s captain, someone whose name I actually remember this time. Because he has the same name as that four-armed miniboss from Mortal Kombat. And that guy from Yakuza that’s crazy awesome, emphasis on the crazy. For that matter, he was there back in one of the worst films of the Showa era. That’s right. I promised he’d come back. This guy transcends continuity. We’re looking here at Goro Maki. Yes, named just like the guy from Mortal Kombat and the guy from Yakuza, once again. So, obviously, Son of Godzilla didn’t happen here, and he’s played by a new actor this time, but the basics of this guy are the same. He’s a reporter that searches down leads so hard he jumps into crazy dangerous situations. He dresses exclusively in hideously ugly clothes. And he is absolutely 100% couthless. I don’t say that lightly. You don’t insult a man’s couth. You just don’t. But it is impossible to describe him here without mentioning that.
So anyways, Goro is sailing the high seas
ripping opponents apart with his four arms apparently looking for those missing ships to get a scoop when he comes across one, coincidentally the one we just saw a few minutes ago. He lashes the ships together, hops on board, and starts investigating. It appears that nobody’s around. There is some strange goo on the floor, though. He gets into some cabin or bridge or ship term or something, and find someone sitting on a chair there. He turns them around, and it looks like this guy got attacked by the girl from The Ring. He’s all dessicated and mummified. Then, Goro searches the ship some more, and finds some more dehydrated dead bodies. He goes through their lockers, because, why not I guess? Inside one of them, he finds Sourface, still alive, shell-shocked, clutching a hatchet. Now, a normal person, would, you know try to help them, but we’re dealing with Goro Maki here. Goro instead snaps a picture, and then goes through the guys pockets, finding a picture of Sourface with some girl and a student ID. Then he gets attacked by… eeeeeeegh…. Shockirus.
Shockirus is a giant sea louse. That’s about it. But they gave it a name and made it part of the Godzilla monster canon, so they legitimatized it. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I haaaate giant bugs. Nearly every time. So Shockirus can go eat a dick. And he tries to, leaping onto Goro Maki and maneuvering to start sucking him dry. Goro grabs a weapon, but Shockirus has a hard shell, and Goro’s unable to pierce it. Goro starts preparing for the lame death you know is coming for him eventually, but then Sourface manages to hack into it and kill it from behind.Continue reading