If you think about it, every Godzilla movie is the return of Godzilla.
It’s the beginning of a new Era! While those poor suckers had to wait 9 years between entries into the film franchise, for us it’s just a hop skip and a jump to Sunday where we can enjoy The Return of Godzilla 1984!
The soft reboot/sequel which marks the beginning of the Heisei era Godzilla films. (Fun fact: technically came out during the Showa era of Japan, but the movie was added to the Heisei era since it functions as a reboot to the new series).
The Return of Godzilla returns to the series to it’s dark and serious roots. It could be considered a horror movie for the time, aimed not at young kids and families, but to a older demographic.
Just like the original represents the postwar anxiety of nuclear power and fear of usurping mother nature, this one is a lens to view the unease of cold war era tensions of the time.
To this point, Godzilla isn’t really even the main threat here. He’s kinda just a set piece. The humans are able to effectively deal with him with their modern weapons, but the real problem is the threat of American and Soviet forces itching for an excuse to nuke Tokyo. The real danger is the threat of the bomb, made more impact by the cultural trauma of the Nuclear Bomb in Japan. (This is a theme that will come up again at least once in future movies)
The Return of Godzilla has the bones of a good movie, but everything else is… not great.
The female lead exists for the sole purpose of tripping over things so the male lead can help her up and share a moment. This happens like 6 times throughout the movie! It’s wild.
The pacing is painfully staggered and at many points slows down to a crawl.
Godzilla has been reverted to an unthinking animal, but an exceptionally stupid one. Not only does the suit’s dopey half-lidded cross-eyed look come across as comical, my guy just stands there completely stationary for a good chunk of the action. Just standing completely still while things happen to him. During the one scene in the film where Godzilla is doing something proactive, he gets distracted by some birds and stops doing it. The movie ends with him literally walking directly into a volcano! And then he just stands in it! Completely stationary!
It’s a really weird way to represent your titular character.
But… despite all that… I still kinda liked this movie. It has more substance to it than most of the previous flicks. We’re getting closer to getting an actually good movie.
Should you Watch The return of Godzilla 1984? Strong maybe! There are worse things you could spend your time doing and you might enjoy this one!