Godzilla 1985 (1984)
The Legend Is Reborn.
30 years later, the great lizard king returns in the "first" movie of the second Godzilla story arc - called the "Heisei Series." In modern times, we would probably call this a reboot - although its actually more of rebooting a sequel to start again as opposed to erasing the original and starting from scratch. Now, the reason I wanted to do this specific arc or story is because it seems to deal more with how/what Godzilla is, which seems like it very well might tie into the newer one a bit more solidly than some of the others do. Of course, the real question then becomes is it a good thing that it might be getting it's influence from here?
30 years after the original Godzilla's appearance, the monster returns. A fishing boat get's driven aground while out at sea, only to find out that it isn't so much solid ground that they've run into. A time later, a boating news reporter has stumbled across a derelict ship floating in the waters, the very ship that seems to have gone missing. After finding all the crew but one member dead (who luckily saves him from a giant mutated sea louse), it's brought to the Japanese prime minister's attention that Godzilla may be back. Of course, not wanting to panic the populace, the prime minister keeps it all under wraps, to the point where the rescued fisherman's sister doesn't even know he's still alive (until the reporter tells her).
Meanwhile, a scientist is studying Godzilla, and what may have caused him to be what he is - and he's making some rather good progress as well. The fact he's radioactively mutated is practically proven in his mind, and he's theorized that it will reappear when it gets hungry again - and his theory places that hunger as one for radioactive materials. Deep in the ocean (and in a language I can't understand, subtitled in Japanese I can't read) a Russian nuclear submarine is destroyed, sparking an escalation of tensions between America and Russia, until finally the prime minister of Japan comes out in the open with irrefutable proof of the true cause - a thermal image of Godzilla.
Can Japan stop the giant creature once again? Will the American military generals ever be actually funny? Can Godzilla survive the top secret X project Japan has created? Can the world itself survive an 'accidental' problem created by the Russians? Will we ever get to hear the old theme song during the movie, and will the audio ever line up to the motions of the mouths?
The addition of color here serves as a bit of a double-edged sword. Although it makes for an extra amount of detail, it can also make it a deal easier to pick out some of the lower-budget tactics frequently used in this style of flick. Things like the old forced-perspective tricks start to feel a little off when the quality of the crowd running below looks different than the quality of the giant monster stomping around behind them. On the other hand explosions, fire, and chaos have never been a closer rival to the fourth of July barbecue your family might throw each year (if you live in the USA, otherwise I guess you wouldn't really have much of a reason to celebrate it, although I'm sure there's probably a holiday like it that your specific country would celebrate to relate). Lasers and the other effects are a spectacle to watch, and even if it's a fake highway with tons of toy cars that's blowing up like dominos you get to regress back to that ten year old kid who would just love to do that.
Audio comes through pretty well here, although It's still not quite to that point of modern audio qualities. It holds together remarkably well to be honest, considering the feeling of VHS quality that you sometimes feel from the video side of things. The music, although not as memorable as that old Godzilla theme, fills in for it well enough and manages to add a little bit of tension or emotion to the scenes as needed. One of the final songs played before the credit verily sounds to be a sad classical piece that makes me think of a waltz (I may not be a musical theory student or anything, but I've been around enough that I can tell you it isn't a waltz, it just gives me that slow sad dance kind of feel to it). The only real thing holding this back is the terrible dubbing. It's english in the version I watched, which is fine and good for my laziness and desire to not have to read, but it certainly acts like a punch in the pants to people who really can't get by audio and mouths that don't match up - something Godzilla came a bit infamous for (even though it's technically the english dub-overs that were what caused it).
Now, I really can't stress enough that what I watched was the American version of the movie. This means that a lot of stuff has been altered, cut, added, shortened, and whatever else they felt like doing. The rampage through Tokyo has been rearranged, the Russians have been made to look like the bad guys, and any trace of an American space station holding a nuclear missile has disappeared. Beyond that, a lot of Pentagon related stuff was added in, and the entire movie would have been re-written as a tongue in cheek comedy if not for Raymond Burr (who reprises his roll as the only American to have seen Godzilla - something that you wouldn't really know unless you watched the American version of the first Godzilla as well). This is going be a trend with Godzilla movies, and you'll find that I tend to like to aim for the original Japanese version when I watch/review them - but being a man living in the real world with other stuff his money needs to go to, I often go with whatever version I have on hand - be it from Netflix or friends or my own.
All in all, the movie still pulls through. It's certainly not as good in it's altered state as it is in the original (I'm a fan of puns and all, but the American General's jokes just feel...forced), but it still delivers the heavy handed message that Godzilla was meant to dole out: Humans like to mess with things they shouldn't, and eventually we'll have to pay the price. If you're a fan of Godzilla already, you've most likely seen this (and scolding me for watching the non-original), but if you aren't and you want to watch the shortest story path of Godzilla movies out there, it's a good one to hop into. It starts to lay down the foundation of what it might be that Godzilla really is, introduces some recurring items, and slightly improves the Godzilla suit's eyes (all the while adding color!). Yeah, it's not for everyone, but what's the harm in trying it out eh?