TALKBACK #16: The Return of Godzilla

Discuss the 2nd Godzilla film era here! Beam fights, revised versions of classic kaiju, the Heisei era was a mixed bag of fun and controversy!

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Postby Mac » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:45 pm

Thats what Godzilla is...that's what makes him, him..it's his duality...his role as both the victim and the monster...the same type of moment occurs in the original film when Godzilla is viewed just minding his own business as serene music plays in the background and as he starts to die the music becomes almost tinged with sadness...the same can be said for the original King Kong....


No, no no. King Kong is a sympathetic character in the original film. He's a creature who is taken out of his habitat and is forced to be a sideshow for the masses. His death is tragic because the loss of life (Both human and ape) wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the greed of man.

Your lack of understanding for Gojira is what worries me the most. Sad music is playing during the death of Godzilla to foreshadow the event of Dr. Serizawa's death. Godzilla is not a sympathetic character in the first film. I mean for Christ's sake, could you read that film any worse?

Godzilla 1984's emphasis on Godzilla's death is just a lack of good story-telling. The film is a huge mess to begin with, but the problem with trying to make the audience sorry for Godzilla is, he's not interesting. The whole film he just lumbers around without any charisma. Why should I care if he bites it? Why do a room full of commanders care that he's dieing? It's just bad film-making.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2, though, has one of the most bizzare structures ever. The main characters being built up are the ones trying to take down Godzilla, they're sympathetic and good-hearted. Godzilla, as usual, is killing random civilians. However, as soon as Godzilla dies, the film's narrative tries to make you feel sympathy for Godzilla and Rodan. Why? They're killing thousands. Why would the director try to make Mechagodzilla the bad guy when he is actually helping the masses? Because Godzilla is now a father figure? Give me a "OH GODZILLA! WHAT TERRIBLE LANGUAGE!" break.
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Postby KaiserGhidorah » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:54 pm

Love the American version of this film - saw it in theaters twice when I was a kid and got a big kick out of it. Basically, this is the film that hooked me. Saw the Jap. version of the film a few years back and while it's the more respectable version of the two - I don't find it to be as near as much fun as the American version of the film.
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Postby zekend01 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:59 pm

Yeah, cool... it is kinda big, huh?

That should do it, I think.

The illustration is by Cynthia Martin, btw. The text says: "GOJIRA TO SANGYOKA NIHON NO SEISHIN (GODZILLA AND THE SPIRIT OF INDUSTRIALIZED JAPAN)." for those interested. :th-up:
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Postby Benjamin Haines » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:07 pm

Godzilla is very much a sympathetic character at the end of the original film. The atomic allegory has him playing the symbol of the A-bomb in his destruction of Tokyo, but the difference is that he's not an inanimate object. He's a living creature. He isn't a horrible being or a demonic figurehead hell bent on ending human life (as GMK depicted him). He's a tragic character because he's a product of humanity's abuse of nuclear power. His actions in leveling Tokyo and killing thousands of people are simply the force of nature element to his character. He acts as nature's response to humanity's arrogance, not because he's evil, and that makes him just as much a victim by the end of the film as the people killed during his rampage. The real guilty party depicted in the movie is humanity, which is why Dr. Yamane warns against unchecked abuse of nuclear power in the future, lest the events of the film repeat themselves down the line.


Mac wrote:Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2, though, has one of the most bizzare structures ever. The main characters being built up are the ones trying to take down Godzilla, they're sympathetic and good-hearted. Godzilla, as usual, is killing random civilians. However, as soon as Godzilla dies, the film's narrative tries to make you feel sympathy for Godzilla and Rodan. Why? They're killing thousands. Why would the director try to make Mechagodzilla the bad guy when he is actually helping the masses? Because Godzilla is now a father figure? Give me a OH GODZILLA! WHAT TERRIBLE LANGUAGE break.


Agreed. That movie is terribly written, like all of the Heisei films (sans Biollante).
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Postby king_ghidorah » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:08 pm

Mac wrote:
Thats what Godzilla is...that's what makes him, him..it's his duality...his role as both the victim and the monster...the same type of moment occurs in the original film when Godzilla is viewed just minding his own business as serene music plays in the background and as he starts to die the music becomes almost tinged with sadness...the same can be said for the original King Kong....


No, no no. King Kong is a sympathetic character in the original film. He's a creature who is taken out of his habitat and is forced to be a sideshow for the masses. His death is tragic because the loss of life (Both human and ape) wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the greed of man.

Your lack of understanding for Gojira is what worries me the most. Sad music is playing during the death of Godzilla to foreshadow the event of Dr. Serizawa's death. Godzilla is not a sympathetic character in the first film. I mean for Christ's sake, could you read that film any worse?

Godzilla 1984's emphasis on Godzilla's death is just a lack of good story-telling. The film is a huge mess to begin with, but the problem with trying to make the audience sorry for Godzilla is, he's not interesting. The whole film he just lumbers around without any charisma. Why should I care if he bites it? Why do a room full of commanders care that he's dieing? It's just bad film-making.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2, though, has one of the most bizzare structures ever. The main characters being built up are the ones trying to take down Godzilla, they're sympathetic and good-hearted. Godzilla, as usual, is killing random civilians. However, as soon as Godzilla dies, the film's narrative tries to make you feel sympathy for Godzilla and Rodan. Why? They're killing thousands. Why would the director try to make Mechagodzilla the bad guy when he is actually helping the masses? Because Godzilla is now a father figure? Give me a OH GODZILLA! WHAT TERRIBLE LANGUAGE break.


WTF. Seriously dude. Your personal attack here is unwanted and uneeded.

I'm reading the film wrong? It's fictional...and you wanna over react like that?

Too tired to get into this now, but this will be continued
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Postby Mac » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:17 pm

Personal attack? I said you read the film wrong, and provided reasons why. I'm sorry you can't defend your reasonings.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:45 pm

I've always kind of enjoyed this movie. I love the score, and the atmosphere. The cybot Godzilla looks silly, and the suit is not my favorite but it works well enough. I watched the heck out of this movie when I got it on VHS. It made Godzilla vs. Biollante make a little more sense since I had gotten that 3 months earlier. I think it's a decent flick, and while it is ponderous and a tad less exuberant than our previous G-flick it's worth rewatching on occasion.
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Postby kpa » Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:45 am

Mac, take it down a notch. Debating and disagreeing are fine but you're right on the edge of taking it too fat.

zekend01 wrote:The illustration is by Cynthia Martin, btw. The text says: "GOJIRA TO SANGYOKA NIHON NO SEISHIN (GODZILLA AND THE SPIRIT OF INDUSTRIALIZED JAPAN)." for those interested. :th-up:


Going OT for a second, I worked with Cynthia years ago at Sony Pictures Family Entertainment. She joined the studio shortly after we wrapped GODZILLA: THE SERIES if I remember correctly. A talented artist and a nice person.
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Postby zekend01 » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:26 am

That's awesome. Would you say she was a big Godzilla/Toho movie fan, or more casual? Just curious what her attitude was toward the Big G.
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Postby Tyler E. Martin » Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:37 pm

This movie is terribly mixed for me.

I love the idea of having a film revolve around the effect a crisis like the reappearance of Godzilla would have on an international level, especially in the tense political climate of the Cold War. However, most of those scenes lack the power needed to drive the point home. What's more, they seem to abandon that idea for the most part after about the halfway point in order to focus on a group of bland characters whose situation I have a hard time caring about. While Natsuki isn't terrible as Hayashida, I really wish Akihiko Hirata could have lived to play the role; it would have given the film a little more credibility, in my opinion.

Something I do like about Hayashida's character is that his goal is to simply "send Godzilla home," which I wish they would have played up more during the movie. Then the sympathy we're supposed to feel for Godzilla at the end might have some kind of basis. To be quite honest, my favorite human character in this film, besides maybe the Prime Minister, is the homeless guy. He seems to have more personality than the others, and he makes me laugh.

What the heck is with that song that plays during the end credits? While I generally prefer the Japanese version as a whole, the score medley in the U.S. version was a much better idea. Props also for Burr's ending speech and the "death cry," both of which evoke a much more emotional reaction than in the original cut.

While the visuals are pretty hit-and-miss, I have to give credit to Nakano and Co. for the atmosphere they're able to pull off with the effects sequences. They have a rather satisfyingly gloomy and anxious feel to them, for the most part, particularly Godzilla's initial appearance at the nuclear plant. The Godzilla suit, like most, looks great or not-so-great depending on the angle at which we see it, but I generally like the design. I also think the Super-X is pretty cool.

And this might just be me being a music nerd, but I think the only consistently strong aspect of this movie is Reijiro Koroku's score. It's so epic and brooding, and it helps to give the rest of the film the feeling of dread and tension that it seems to shoot for.

So yeah, this is a very up-and-down movie for me. Possibly moreso than any other in the series.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:09 am

Tyler E. Martin wrote:This movie is terribly mixed for me

What the heck is with that song that plays during the end credits? While I generally prefer the Japanese version as a whole, the score medley in the U.S. version was a much better idea. Props also for Burr's ending speech and the "death cry," both of which evoke a much more emotional reaction than in the original cut.

While the visuals are pretty hit-and-miss, I have to give credit to Nakano and Co. for the atmosphere they're able to pull off with the effects sequences. They have a rather satisfyingly gloomy and anxious feel to them, for the most part, particularly Godzilla's initial appearance at the nuclear plant. The Godzilla suit, like most, looks great or not-so-great depending on the angle at which we see it, but I generally like the design. I also think the Super-X is pretty cool.

And this might just be me being a music nerd, but I think the only consistently strong aspect of this movie is Reijiro Koroku's score. It's so epic and brooding, and it helps to give the rest of the film the feeling of dread and tension that it seems to shoot for.


I pretty much hacked your post up, but I agree with a whole lot here. The score thing, and the Burr ending. The effects stuff is what I found I agreed with the most. I love some shots of that suit. Sometimes it looks kind of...I dunno... blah. The scene with him grabbing the train is always weird to me. The way the eyes look, and how the suit is made make it seem like he's grabbing it without even looking at it. Not in a "I barely notice these things", but a "I sure wish I could look at this train, but my eyes are off doing other things." Some shots I really like, like the aftermath of the cadmium attack. Seeing him crumpled against the base of the building is cool. Super X was also awesome. I like Super X-2's design more, but the fact that it is nothing more than a remote controlled toy takes any peril or interest in the outcome of its battles away.

The film has a mood, and as you mentioned atmosphere that are very well conveyed. I mean, most of what I enjoy about this film is its tone, but there are some problems here and there. Mainly the fact that this thing moves as slow as Godzilla does. There's no monster to fight, and we're re-establishing Godzilla. Truly one should expect a slower pace in such an instance. I understand from a storytelling standpoint why they'd do this, but as a fan of the series overall...I still feel like it moves in a slow foreboding way. Which really fits the film, but the hyperactive 6 year old in me doesn't appreciate that element. The characters are pretty bland, even compared to some of my least favorites in the Heisei series VS King Ghidorah, and Mothra. I think the character I enjoy the most if Burr's return as Martin. Oh wellz, I've repeated myself thoroughly, and shall end this.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:43 pm

Benjamin Haines wrote:Godzilla is very much a sympathetic character at the end of the original film. The atomic allegory has him playing the symbol of the A-bomb in his destruction of Tokyo, but the difference is that he's not an inanimate object. He's a living creature. He isn't a horrible being or a demonic figurehead hell bent on ending human life (as GMK depicted him). He's a tragic character because he's a product of humanity's abuse of nuclear power. His actions in leveling Tokyo and killing thousands of people are simply the force of nature element to his character. He acts as nature's response to humanity's arrogance, not because he's evil, and that makes him just as much a victim by the end of the film as the people killed during his rampage. The real guilty party depicted in the movie is humanity, which is why Dr. Yamane warns against unchecked abuse of nuclear power in the future, lest the events of the film repeat themselves down the line.

Agreed.
Part of the reason Godzilla works at all is that he's a sympathetic character.
It's not his fault that he's the way he is, it's ours.
Also of note is how STRONGLY AGAINST killing Godzilla Dr. Yamane is, even after he's been killing people, because there's a lot to be learned from the creature, and you get the feeling that Yamane is very much of the opinion that we've created Godzilla and he serves as a reminder of our extreme ineptitude.
Honestly, Raymond Burr's eulogy in Godzilla 1985 is quite awesome and really sums up just how sympathetic the character is and why we should (and do) feel a mixture of emotions upon his death.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:06 am

I would also like to put a MAJOR shame on this movie...

this movie started the rather unfortunate trend (that only Biollante would break) of the 'concerned authorities watching Godzilla on video screens with the all-seeing camera'

I think it worked OK for this movie and it's purposes, but when it gets employed in later films it gets to be ridiculous, especially in movies like Godzilla vs. Mothra and Spacegodzilla, where we're never even introduced to the 'concerned authorities' properly
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Postby zekend01 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:29 am

^^Yeah. It's just a bunch of dudes standing around in suits reacting to said screen with Miki hanging out and looking as though she has a cramp.

On a related note, I wish they had at least been in some kind mobile headquarters, or something, at least once or twice so as to actually be under some kind of threat. Like maybe some kind of hovership that was never supposed to engage Godji, but ended up taking some hits anyway. I dunno... I could have seen this being viable by Spacegodzilla. All the technology was really upped significantly by then.

All in all I was bored with this "bigscreen bunch" post vs. Mothra. It kind of reached its apex with that really emotional old dude.

Vs. Destoryah at least mixed it up with the G summit meeting, but it was "too little, too late" to keep me very interested.
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Postby king_ghidorah » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:59 pm

I forgot to mention that one of my favorite scenes from a Godzilla movie is in this film...the pov shot from Godzilla's view as he makes his first appearance at the nuclear power plant is as good as it gets..wonderful, suspenseful and ominous pacing cullminating in a somewhat so-so shot of Godzilla which seems dreadfully out of scale but the lead up to his reveal is awesome!
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Postby planetxleader » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:44 pm

Love the effects and the dreary mood. Love the score (especially Christopher Young's added music, love that guy). I personally dig the Cybot, and the build-up toward's Godzilla's appearance is excellent.

...but, the film is sloppy, the characters are boring, and the film's greatest weakness, as always mentioned, is how the plot resolution is determined. It's as if the screenwriters stuck it in there without succesfully medling it into the story. Lazy.

Still, I've got a soft spot for this film.
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Postby Andrew Nguyen » Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:08 pm

First a bit of nostalgia. When I first saw this film on Channel 9 in 1992, I was (to admit well enough) surprised by the nature of this film (as this is the first Heisei film for me).

For me, while this is not as good as Biolantte and to a lesser extent Mecha-Godzilla, over the years, this is a personal favorite film of mine.

It brought back, in a fashion, the dark tone that the original film had and made an honest attempt to updated it up to the present at the time (with the Cold War still going on and all that). I did like a lot the political scenes in the film (particularly in the issue of using nuclear weapons).

The characters that I didn't like were the reporter and the assistant to Professor Hayashida and her brother as well as the homeless guy. Most of the others were fine for me (although they should have gotten somewhat much better for the Russian and particularly the American ambassadors).

There are many scenes that stand out for me in this film. These include Godzilla's march on the Ihama Nuclear Power Plant, the defense of Tokyo Bay (particularly when Godzilla litterally wiped out the ground forces with one shot of his atomic breath) and then his march on Tokyo (though I wish that there had been more destruction and more attempts at resistance by the humans, particularly when Godzilla was marching through Ginza.

The music score for this film is definitely one of the better non-Ifukube ones.
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Postby MouthForWar » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:42 am

Mac wrote:
Thats what Godzilla is...that's what makes him, him..it's his duality...his role as both the victim and the monster...the same type of moment occurs in the original film when Godzilla is viewed just minding his own business as serene music plays in the background and as he starts to die the music becomes almost tinged with sadness...the same can be said for the original King Kong....


No, no no. King Kong is a sympathetic character in the original film. He's a creature who is taken out of his habitat and is forced to be a sideshow for the masses. His death is tragic because the loss of life (Both human and ape) wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the greed of man.

Your lack of understanding for Gojira is what worries me the most. Sad music is playing during the death of Godzilla to foreshadow the event of Dr. Serizawa's death. Godzilla is not a sympathetic character in the first film. I mean for Christ's sake, could you read that film any worse?


Just for the record, Honda himself said he meant for Godzilla (as well as Serizawa of course) to be sympathetic at the end of the original film. So uh... you're wrong.

Back on topic, G'84 would be a perfect movie BUUUUT... the characters are WAY too boring (more boring than usual characters in G movies) and there are too many "rules" that it just makes up (like the whole Godzilla and birds thing that was never used before or since).

I love the music, the mood, etc. but those things above REALLY make this movie a chore to sit through at times.
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Postby the_candidate » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:23 pm

Godzilla was a tragic character right from the start. The sad music at the end of Gojira has nothing to do with Serizawa; it has everything to do with humans using a weapon of science to destroy a creature that was mutated and angered by another weapon of science to begin with. It's a vicious cycle; science is inherently destructive.

The same kind of cycle happens in The Return of Godzilla, but instead of Godzilla being a product of science, he's a force of nature. A volcano is what wakes Godzilla from his slumber, and a volcano is what ultimately defeats him in the end. Also of note is how Godzilla is lured away from civilization by birds, another part of the natural world. The Super X and the military all failed to kill Godzilla with their technology and weapons; what ultimately leads to Godzilla's defeat is nature itself.

It was always surprising to me how this theme of nature bringing balance to the Earth (unleashing Godzilla to destroy a nuclear plant and then Tokyo, and then sending him back into the ground when his work was done) was lost on so many people. Maybe it's because most have only seen the American version, but in the Japanese one, the message is pretty well-defined.
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:33 pm

Seems the part where the humans lure Godzilla away from finishing his Tokyo gig by using science to create a fake birdcall in order to drop him into a volcano totally against his will was pretty well lost on you.

Also, the music at the end of the original Godzilla has just as much to do with Serizawa as it has to do with Godzilla. They're both directly tied to the same metaphors and tragedy.
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Postby the_candidate » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:40 pm

kiryugoji04 wrote:Seems the part where the humans lure Godzilla away from finishing his Tokyo gig by using science to create a fake birdcall in order to drop him into a volcano totally against his will was pretty well lost on you.


Humans are a part of nature, last time I checked. Also, the birdcall they used were recordings, they weren't fake. And finally, they would not have figured it out unless the flock of migrating birds lured Godzilla away from the reactor in the first place.
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Postby jellydonut25 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:09 pm

Heisei-era reviews have begun

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If you're a big fan of the Heisei-era films...the only review you might want to read is Godzilla vs. Biollante...my appraisals of the rest are not very kind.
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Postby Flame of Udin » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:30 pm

Godzilla 1985/Return of Godzilla is probably my favorite Godzilla movie of all time. There I said it.

There is nothing bad about this movie in my eyes. Yes, the Japanese version lags a bit and the Cybot looks different from the suit. But MAN the score is darned near perfect, acting top notch and effects are miles ahead of the rest of the Heisei series.

My biggest compliment to this film though is it's title character. Godzilla is played as the destructive force Tanaka and Honda always envisioned him to be. He is down right evil in this movie and towards the end you get the message that he was made evil by us and we must learn to deal with that fact.

Love it!
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Postby jellydonut25 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:17 pm

its just too much of a bore to be any good for me...

Godzilla spends most of his time LOOKING pretty badazz but not really DOING...anything at all...
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Postby Shonokin » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:58 pm

Saw it in the theater when it came out in the US. I'm not sure if my GF fell asleep but I sure did. Haven't seen it since. Might have to track down the Japanese version sometime.
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