Godzilla 1985 (1984)
After the Godzilla movie franchise was shut down in 1975 for a much-needed rest, our favorite mutant lizard was on hiatus until 1984. This nine-year gap should have allowed Toho Studios to come up with a killer script and an excellent plot to bring Godzilla back with a bang, but the effort proved to be uneven and lackluster. This would be the first of the "Heisei Series" of Godzilla movies, which refers to the common name of the reign of Japan's new emperor.
Toho wisely realized that the series had pretty much gone in the crapper shortly after 1964's Godzilla versus Mothra I was made, and getting back to the grass roots was a priority. As such, they took the audacious step of "forgetting" about the previous 14 movies of the "Showa" series, except for the original. Thus Godzilla 1985 takes place in a timeline where Godzilla has not appeared to humans since 1954, an idea that would be revived for the "Millennium" series films beginning with 1999's Godzilla 2000.
A decision was also made to return the personality of Godzilla back to a rampaging force of nature and away from the kid-friendly superhero of the 1970s. This was a good idea as we were all getting real tired of a goofy smiling Godzilla jumping around and snapping his fingers. It worked so well, in fact, that as of 2004, all subsequent Godzilla movies have kept him a violent, city-stomping killer. Toho also returned to the theme of "giant monster versus humankind", instead of the worn-out "giant monster versus giant monster" idea.
The film opened in Japan in December of 1984 to so-so reviews and a modest box office. It made enough yen, however, that American distributors picked it up for US release. They decided that, since this movie was touted as a direct sequel to the 1954 film, they needed to somehow directly connect the two movies for American viewers. The answer was Raymond Burr, who starred in the 1954 film and was readily identifiable to American audiences. Burr was brought in to reprise his role as stud reporter Steve Martin and much new footage was shot, even more footage was hacked from the Japanese version to make it fit. As can be expected, the end result was a frightening Frankenstein of a movie. Released in August of 1985, the American version clocked in at just 91 minutes, versus 103 minutes for the original Japanese version.
For this review I have the VHS tape of the American version. It's a former rental copy I found on e-bay and the film quality is barely average. There are also no subtitles, which means that I have to muddle through the literature to find out how to spell all these Japanese names.
And now on to our show…
We open with our credits and a few things stand out here. Because this is the Americanized version, "New Line Cinema" comes before "Toho Limited", and Raymond Burr is credited before any of the Japanese actors. I guess this is not really surprising, just annoying to us purists. The credits and the title card are superimposed on a simple collage of fire and lava--nothing special.
We cut immediately to a raging storm out at sea, echoing a similar opening to 1964's Godzilla Vs. Mothra I. A card tells us that this is the Pacific Ocean some 100 miles south of Tokyo. We see that a small 77-ton Japanese fishing boat called the Yahata Maru is caught in the teeth of the storm and is close to being smashed onto the rocks of a small island. The distance quoted would make this island somewhere in the Seven Islands chain, a scattered archipelago of rocky volcanic islands stretching south of Japan.
The Yahata Maru.
Aboard the trawler, we see the 22-man crew struggling against the winds and currents. We meet here one of our film's heroes, plucky fisherman Ken Okumura, who when we first meet him is trying very hard not to get seasick and barf. Ken is played by 29-year old Shin Takuma, a veteran Toho player who would also appear in 2002's Godzilla X MechaGodzilla. We will call him "Kenny" for the rest of the review, as every Godzilla movie has to have a Kenny.
As they drift nearer the island, a volcano begins to explode. Hunks of rock and earth are blasted from the mountain as electrical discharges light up the night sky. The Yahata Maru is tossed around by the concussion, and as the scene fades to black we hear Godzilla's trademark roar.
In an artsy bit, we immediately cut away to a close-up of someone's hand covering a face. The hand slides down to reveal Steve Martin (!!). No, not Steve Martin from Bringing Down the House, though he would have done a better job probably, but Steve Martin the American reporter from the original 1954 Godzilla. Steve is again played here by Raymond Burr, who is definitely looking his age (he was 68-years old). Raymond Burr had been busy since 1954, staring in both the Perry Mason and Ironsides crime and law series, as well as numerous movie roles. When we first see Steve in our movie, he's in his house in America, and we get the impression that he somehow "psychically knew" that Godzilla was back. A slow pan across his room to a carved jade dragon confirms this assumption.
We cut now back out to sea the next morning, where the storm has now passed and the seas are calm. A sailboat is out in the bright sun, cutting through the waves with a steady breeze filling the sail. Aboard is a single man wearing stupid goggles. This will prove to be our film's other hero, studly ace reporter Goro Maki. Goro is played by 34-year old Ken Tanaka, appearing in his only Godzilla movie. Because of the large number of Japanese names, and because he's an ace reporter, I'll call him "Ace-Reporter" for the rest of this review. We do wonder what he's doing out on the open ocean so soon after a hurricane, and where he came from. Was he on vacation, was he on some unrelated assignment? We never learn.
We see that he has happened upon the drifting Yahata Maru, which is in surprisingly seaworthy condition. Ace-Reporter boards the ship and finds the top decks strewn with debris and smashed equipment. Venturing below decks, he finds the corridors and stairwells littered with the same mess. In the ship's radio room he makes a grisly discovery. It's the ship's captain (we can tell by his hat) sitting in a chair, his body totally desiccated! Ick, he looks like Norman Bates' mother in Psycho. The radio is squawking a message from the Coast Guard cutter Sakuma, which is looking for the missing trawler.
Ace-Reporter continues to the crew's quarters, where he finds several other desiccated corpses, one of them clutching a broken spar as if he was in a fight with someone or something as he died. As he checks the bodies out, he spies a half-open locker with a foot sticking out of it. He opens it to find Kenny, seemingly dead with a fishing knife clutched in his hands. His body is not desiccated, however.
Body in the locker.
Ok, as he approaches the locker, a camera pan down the door shows us a pin-up of a scantily-clad young woman taped to the steel. My tape's film quality is grainy and terrible, but I can clearly see that the woman's bare bottom is visible, though her chest is covered with a white shirt. This is without question the only instance of female porn in the entire Godzilla series. Sure, the Japanese version of 1975's Terror of MechaGodzilla had a brief scene of bare (if fake) boobs, but that never made it into the version released in America.
Suddenly, Ace-Reporter is attacked from behind by a green dog tick-like creature about the size of a border collie. To help you out, I'll tell you here that this bug is actually a radiologically mutated "louse" off of Godzilla's skin. Ace-Reporter wrestles with the bug (well, more like thrashes around on the deck as he holds the obviously rubber bug prop on his chest) and even tries to stab it with a knife. But he's only saved when Kenny, who is not quite dead, rouses himself from his stupor and kills the louse with a meat cleaver (!!!).
Back up on deck, Ace-Reporter and Kenny tend to their wounds and talk. Kenny babbles on about a "huge monster" that came out of the volcano on the island. Just then a Coast Guard helicopter comes in and they are saved. I think the chopper is a UH-1 Iroquois, but it's hard to tell from the angle.
Man, this whole lice-kills-the-crew idea is a mess. First, why didn't the crew just close the hatches and doors? The lice didn't seem to be able to chew through metal or anything. And what was with the dead captain still sitting in his chair with his hat on? Did he just sit there and let the lice drain his bodily fluids while he read a magazine? And why didn't they have time to radio a message about killer lice? Apparently the louse that they killed is the only one aboard, as no more appear. Where did the others go? And why would the lice even leave Godzilla's body to begin with? If they were attracted to body heat like human lice, then they wouldn't have left the super-hot radioactive lizard to chase puny humans. And did Godzilla get close enough to the ship to allow the lice to jump onboard? And if he did get that close, then why was the ship still afloat? Certainly the turbulence alone would have capsized it. And, although it's a truly cool idea, would Godzilla really have such big lice? I guess the radiation he's giving off could mutate regular-sized lice over time, but where did the lice come from to begin with? Maybe they got so big by drinking Godzilla's irradiated blood? Where were these lice during the first movie, or in all the other 20 movies? Maybe being nibbled on by all these big lice is what makes Godzilla so mean and violent. He's just looking for a supermarket that sells some Rid shampoo when he stomps through Tokyo.
Anyway, we cut now to Tokyo, to the office of Japanese Prime Minister Mitamura, who is being briefed by a staffer. They discuss the reappearance of Godzilla and the potential chaos that will sweep the Japanese public if the news gets out. The Prime Minister decides to suppress the news until they can figure out just what Godzilla's intentions are. This is much like the premise of Deep Impact, though Morgan Freeman makes a much better President.
The Prime Minister.
We go now to "Toda Press", the newspaper office where Ace-Reporter is…well, an ace reporter. We see here that Ace-Reporter has a penchant for pastel block shirts and linen jackets with the sleeves rolled up like Don Johnson in Miami Vice. His story on Godzilla attacking the ship has been axed by Chief Editor Gondo. Ace-Reporter is steamed and goes to see Gondo, who sympathizes but says that the ship, Kenny and the crew are officially unaccounted for as a matter of national security.
He then goes on to tell Ace-Reporter that the "monster" is Godzilla (!!), and that he can't print his story without causing a panic. What??? So the government decided to let the editor in on the truth? And he then tells Ace-Reporter? Since we see that Ace-Reporter is never visited by the government and told to keep quiet, this admonition by his editor is the only thing holding him back from spreading the story. If Ace-Reporter is really that upset about being kept from reporting the story, couldn't he just pick up the phone and call CBS News or Newsweek Magazine? What if Ace-Reporter tells his landlady, who tells her kids, who tell the world? Is this any way to assure a news blackout? I just watched the recent film The Core, and while insipidly stupid, the movie did a great job of portraying the difficulties in keeping big global secrets from the public.
Gondo then tells Ace-Reporter that, while he can't run the story yet, he should keep digging into it. He suggests that he visit a bio-physicist named Doctor Hayashida. Ace-Reporter laments not being able to get this "great scoop" but agrees to go see the doctor.
And so we follow Ace-Reporter to the Tokyo-based "Hayashida Bioscience Institute", where he basically saunters up to Doctor Hayashida, who is working with a microscope. Doctor Hayashida is played by 49-year old Yosuke Natsuki, an extremely well-versed actor with many movie roles to his credit, including 1965's Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, 1964's Dagora, the Space Monster, 1961's Yojimbo, and 1959's The H-Man.
The doctor is working on "genetic mutation designs" and when Ace-Reporter asks him if it involves Godzilla, this gets him talking. It seems that his parents were killed by Godzilla in 1954 and he has been studying Godzilla in a type of vengeance therapy for the last 30 years. Doctor Hayashida's opinions of Godzilla are more sympathetic than we might expect. He believes that the monster is a "product of the nuclear age" and a "living nuclear weapon" that's indestructible.
This rambling discourse is thankfully interrupted by the arrival of our film's lovely female lead, Naoko Okumura. Naoko is played by the 20-year old actress Yasuko Sawaguchi, whose first break was winning a beauty and talent contest held by Toho in 1984, beating out some 30,000 other contestants. She would go on to play a role in 1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante and was extremely good in 1994's Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon. She has since become one of Japan's best known actresses, noted for her elegant and graceful beauty. She is very pretty here in a Molly Ringwald-kinda way. In fact, I think I'll call her "Molly" for the rest of the review. Despite her good looks, she's a terrible actress in this movie, simply awful. Watching her scenes is painful and we feel sorry for her as she oh-so-obviously reads her lines from off-screen cue cards.
Molly, here wearing a gray houndstooth dress and a bad 1980's boy haircut (just like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink!), happens to be a student of the doctor and a lab assistant. She also happens to be Kenny from the fishing boat's sister (!!!!!!!!!!). Ace-Reporter recognizes her from a photo that Kenny gave to him of him and his sister. I absolutely hate movies that force us to believe in coincidences! The chances of Kenny's only sister running into Ace-Reporter here are astronomical, but we must accept this as a fact. Grrr… We do, however, see the first succulent green shoots of newly planted love between Ace-Reporter and Molly. We will have to watch this.
We learn from the doctor that Molly doesn't know that Kenny survived (the whole news blackout thing) and that he's a part of the cover-up himself. It seems that the government has enlisted his services as an expert on Godzilla since the monster reappeared. Ace-Reporter gets all preachy at him, as reporters often feel the need to do in these movies, and leaves.
Ace-Reporter tracks down Molly and strikes up a conversation with her, even following her home that night. Ah, sweet love... Conflicted, Ace-Reporter gives in and tells Molly about her brother, even taking her to see him in a hospital where he's still recovering. How did the reporter know where Kenny was being held? And how did this tiny girl manage to get through those three hulking guards outside his door? And why did Kenny seemingly cop a feel on his sister as they embraced? Icky.
Alright, now that we have all the main players down, let's get onto the business of monsters breaking things. We cut now to the open ocean, some distance southwest of where Godzilla broke out of the island mountain. A Soviet submarine cruises through the dark seas, apparently on a routine patrol. The submarine is blurry and murky, but it looks to be a Delta class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. My best guess is that it's a Delta II based out of the Pacific Fleet base at Vladivostok.
The Soviet sub.
We move inside to the control room, where we see the crew nervously watching the monitors. Notice that one of the sonarmen looks exactly like a young Arnold Swartzenagger. They are nervous because they have an "enemy craft" approaching them at high speed (40 knots) off the port bow. Sonar confirms that it's not Russian, and they wonder what it is. They speculate that it maybe something with "sonar cloaking", which sounds like a Star Trek rip-off, and then are surprised to learn that the contact is "emitting active sonar". The captain, reacting to the facts in a characteristically Russian way, orders two torpedoes launched at the target. The two 21-inch torpedoes dash out and both soon impact. They have no effect and the target closes quickly on the sub. We see the dim outline of Godzilla as he grabs and crushes the sub in his hands. Hey, Godzilla can swim underwater at 40 knots?!?!!? How is that possible with Godzilla's mass and lack of specialized swimming adaptations? That's a lot of drag.
As you watch the way that the Russians are scripted in this scene and in later scenes, keep in mind the timeframe of this movie. In 1984, the Soviet Union was still very much the Evil Empire, and few movies of the time portrayed them as anything but militaristic killers bent on global domination. The shoot-first attitude displayed by the sub crew is indicative of Western and Japanese views on the threat of the Soviet military machine. In this film, the Russians are taking the place of all those goofy alien races that populated the 1960s and 70s-era Godzilla movies. Indeed, audiences by the mid-80s would probably not react well to any other enemy playing the villains. Could you imagine the ratings if the bad guys were the Dutch or the Nigerians?
Arnold at the helm...
Ok, we now leave our movie to get our first chunk of footage shot exclusively for the American version. While the extra American footage shot for the original 1954 Godzilla was blended into the movie with great skill, the American team on this movie made little attempt to insert their footage into the existing flow of the movie. Instead, most of the footage is in the vein of, "Meanwhile, back in Washington...". The level of acting is dinner theatre in Louisville at best, and many of the actors seem to be taking the movie as a comedy. This defeats Toho's stated attempts to return the series to the darker, more serious tones of the first few movies. The much-maligned Dr. Pepper machine featured prominently in the background of several shots also cheapens the movie considerably. It's a well-known fact that Dr. Pepper financed the reworking of the film, in concert with the soda's release of its "Godzilla themed" commercials. I remember those, they were lame. Check the closing credits if you don't believe me.
The Doctor Pepper machine back there.
Alright, we open at the Pentagon in northern Virginia, where General Goodhoe has been recalled from a golf game by the news of the Soviet sub being lost. General Goodhoe is played by 57-year old Warren Kemmerling, a veteran TV and movie actor perhaps best known for playing President Lyndon Johnson in the 1978 TV miniseries King. He plays the General here as gruff and straight talking, with an eye towards George C. Scott's similar character in Doctor Strangelove.
In the situation room (you know, the one with the "big board" of the world), we meet the other two officers who, along with the General, will be our main speakers in these scenes. The first is Major McDonough, the most annoying man in the universe. The Major is played by twentysomething-actor Travis Swords, a low-rent sort with little talent whose film credits run the gamut of "3rd Cop", "Second Cop" and "Reporter #9". He plays this role like a country bumpkin with hokey expressions and an "aww shucks" kind of attitude. He reminds me a lot of Oswald from The Drew Carey Show, so I'll call him "Major Oswald" for the rest of this review.
The other officer is Colonel Raschen, the voice of reason. The Colonel is played by James Hess, a thirtysomething-actor who seems like he thinks he's in Othello and not in a monster movie.
The gist of the exposition here is that the Russians are pissed one of their boomers is dead and are rattling their sabers. The General tasks his men to gather more info and to keep things cool. A mistake now might be ugly.
And now we cut back to the Japanese Diet (their congress), where the Prime Minister and his staff are discussing the recent developments. They're aware that the Russians and the Americans are pointing fingers and tossing threats over the lost sub, and they know that the right thing to do is to come clean on Godzilla, who they know actually sank the sub.
The Diet is stocked with ministers wearing expensive suits and bad haircuts. These men all add a few lines of dialogue throughout the movie, but none really play important roles.
The diet meets.
To answer the question of how they know it was Godzilla who killed the sub, a staffer presents some glossy photos of Godzilla. These were taken by "anti-sub recon", who replied to the sub's SOS and arrived just five minutes after the sinking. Five minutes? That would have to mean that the anti-sub unit was virtually on top of the Soviet sub before the attack. Surely this would have caused the Russians to accuse the Japanese of having some part in the disaster, right?
We cut to a quick insert scene of a press conference, where the Prime Minister and the government are coming clean on Godzilla. Kenny is here, giving his testimony, as well as Doctor Hayashida. The assembled reporters are shocked, except for Ace-Reporter, of course, and the newspaper headlines scream Godzilla's name.
Back now to the Pentagon, where we get some odious "comedy" from Major Oswald as he looks at a side-scan sonar picture of Godzilla, presumably taken by the Japanese recon unit. Oiy, how can you go from a serious moment of global reflection to this sophomoric tripe? General Goodhoe says they need to find someone who knows about Godzilla. Keep this in mind.
Back again to the Japanese Diet, where the ambassadors from America and the Soviet Union are meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister. Both men express their governments' desires to nuke Godzilla the moment he shows up either "in Japan or in her coastal waters". Their reasons are that the monster is a potential threat to their respective nations and must be eliminated. The Japanese have got to be saying, "Hey, here's an idea. Let's wait until he's in your coastal waters and then you can nuke him, ok?". We wonder where the Americans were with this offer in 1954.
Now Japan has been nuked already, twice, and they have a cultural obsession with not having anything to do with the atom splitting game. The Prime Minister repeats Japan's "three principles of nuclear weaponry", those being no production, no possession and no storage of nukes under any circumstances. This policy is still in existence today, though with North Korea going nuclear in 2003 there's a lot of pressure to change that policy. [Editor Pam: Some experts think that Japan has already done enough research so they could produce a nuclear weapon in a matter of months if they wanted to. The Japanese aren’t saying.] Japan is also one of the heaviest users of nuclear power in the world, a fact which they justify because they don't use the facilities to build weapons. This too will change if the North Koreans start to put their nukes on rockets.
We now cut out to Tokyo harbor where the Soviet container ship Banawebo is tied up to a pier. It's night time and a car pulls up, a Soviet colonel gets out and goes onto the ship. This man is wearing a Naval officer's uniform exactly like the crew of the Soviet sub we saw earlier, which is to say a simple white dress shirt with red stars glued on the lapels (nicely done, costume department). In a time where spies kept an eye on everything, wouldn't either the Japanese or the American intelligence communities wonder why Soviet military officers were coming and going to what is played up to be an innocent container ship in an allied port? To jump ahead, this container ship is a command post of sorts for the control of a nuclear-armed satellite in orbit. This seems like a dangerous and potentially politically ruinous idea, does it not? We also see in a second that the ship has a large satellite communications dish on the top deck, which is so blatantly obvious that we wonder why the Japanese allow this ship to stay in their harbor. Anyway, the colonel goes aboard and works a digital control panel. He tells us that Moscow has ordered him to "keep the nuclear option open".
The Soviet officer enters the nuke codes.
A few notes here. Why is it that the English speakers in this movie speak normally and the Japanese are dubbed, but the Russians are subtitled? Does that make any sense? Maybe not dubbing the Russians is another way of marking them as the bad guys. One of the Russian crewmen here is wearing pants that are three sizes too small, very disturbing. The keypad code to unlock the satellite control station is 8-6-4-7, go tell the CIA. Also, on the desk in the control room is clearly a bottle of Vodka (!!!!!!). This is a terrible bit of racial stereotyping as well as an illogical prop in a control room for a nuclear satellite.
We now cut back to Doctor Hayashida's office, where he's looking at the same sonar photo of Godzilla that Major Oswald had. Using a ruler (!!!!) the doctor states that Godzilla is now 80-meters tall, up from 50-meters tall in the 1954 movie. He must be a genius to figure this out from this photo, which clearly has no distance guides printed on it, and a ruler. We also see that with him is Kenny (!!!!!) and Ace-Reporter. I can see the reporter here, he's following the story, but why is fisherman Kenny here? He seems like an extremely minor player in the events, despite him actually seeing the monster earlier. Unless he also happens to have a PhD in biology, there is no reason for him to be here. Maybe he's visiting his sister and just decided to sit in?
The doctor then makes another intuitive leap, saying that he's sure that Godzilla attacked the sub because he needs "contact with nuclear materials" to survive. That sounds cool, but isn't it just as possible that the sub just bumped into the monster on accident? Certainly in 1954, Godzilla wasn't looking for nuclear materials when he attacked all those ships and later wandered into Tokyo, so why would the doctor think that things are different this time? He's also sure that Godzilla will come to Japan when he gets hungry again.
Ok, we now get a collage of stock footage clips of the Japanese military as they keep watch for Godzilla. We see a Haruna class destroyer, four HSS-2 helicopters and a big, four-engined P-3C Orion maritime patrol plane, the aircraft using dipping sonar and sono-buoys to hunt for the monster. We also see a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter cruising along. Inside we see Doctor Hayashida, Ace-Reporter and Kenny (!!!!!!), all looking out the doors, apparently for Godzilla. Why is Kenny here?
HSS-2B helo dipping sonar.
The destroyer has the hull number "141", making it the IJN Haruna, the name ship of the class and the flagship of the 3rd Escort Flotilla based in Sasebo. All the aircraft clips are live-action stock footage except for one glaringly obvious 2-second shot of an Orion plastic model against a blue-screen effect of the ocean. This shot seems so out of place and we wonder why they went to the effort to construct it when surely a stock footage plane would have done just as well.
And now we get our first Godzilla stomping scene. Despite all the security and detection efforts, Godzilla has managed to once again sneak up on Japan completely undetected. This, as always, paints the Japanese military as inept. The monster comes ashore in northern Honshu near a coastal nuclear power plant. Godzilla must be hungry and looking for some nuclear snacks.
The Mihama power plant is Fukui Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo facing the Sea of Japan. This seems an odd location for the attack as Godzilla would have to swim all the way around Japan to get to it, bypassing numerous other reactors along the way. A graphic on the big board in the control room, however, shows what looks to be the Tokyo Bay area, but dialogue clearly names the reactor as "Mihama", which is nowhere near Tokyo. This is a headache.
Hey, you know, I just thought of this. How come no one has asked yet where Godzilla has been for the last 30 years? He was apparently locked in that volcanic mountain on that island, right? But how did he get there and why did he stay away for so long? Why did he come out of hiding now? No one bothers to ask these questions? Maybe they are important to the story.
Anyway, Godzilla makes a tremendous entrance here, one of the best of the series. Now is the time to describe the new Godzilla suit, specially made for this movie. Since the skyscrapers of 1984 Tokyo were much larger than the post-war towers of 1954, Toho decided that Godzilla’s original 50-meter height was no longer as impressive as before. So they increased his size to 80 meters, and he does indeed look impressively huge. However, he still looks a little unnatural with weak-looking unmuscled shoulders and a head that is too large for the body. They also made the eyes large and white, like a Japanese anime character, which really ruins the illusion of a living creature. In some scenes, as well, the eyes are lit internally! Toho learned from this movie, thankfully, and the suit used in the next movie, 1989's Godzilla Vs. Biollante, was tremendously better.
He wades through the outskirts of the power plant and straight up to the reactor tower. He sniffs (!!!!) the air and then sticks his whole head (!!!) down into the open reactor tower. He then pulls out the reactor core (!!!!!!!!!) and hugs it against his body (!!!!!) as the radiation causes his dorsal spines to glow. Oh, yeah, that feels nice. Give me some sugar, baby…This, as fans will have to admit, is a rip-off of Gamera the Invincible, where Gamera is shown to also be a fuel-eater.
Godzilla sucks up the fuel.
Doctor Hayashida, Ace-Reporter and Kenny have meanwhile landed their helicopter to watch Godzilla smack the power plant. The editing here is terrible, as the shots of Godzilla are in near-darkness but the shots of the humans are in bright sunlight. Kenny is carrying a big video camera and is taking film of the attack (!!!!!). Perhaps, then, Doctor Hayashida took pity on the young man and hired him to be his assistant? That would explain why this fisherman is hanging around. Then again, his sister does work for the doctor, so maybe she helped him get the job. We also have to ask where is the doctor's regular staff? Certainly a man with his own institute would have some full-time staff he could use.
Alright, now we get to our first hint of mystery. As Godzilla sucks in the radiation, a flock of seabirds flies overhead and out to sea. Suddenly, Godzilla tosses down the reactor core and walks off after the birds into the water. What the hell?
We cut now to America, to former reporter Steve Martin's house, where an Army officer has arrived to bring him to Washington to be the resident expert on Godzilla. His grandson Kyle plays on the floor with a Godzilla toy. Umm…what? Would there really be a toy of a monster that showed up once 30 years ago in a foreign country? And considering Steve's problems with Godzilla, don't you think he would mind his grandson playing with that toy? Anyway, here we get the first indications that Raymond Burr believes that he's acting in a much better movie. He's serious and determined throughout the whole movie, not at all unlike his acting in the 1954 Godzilla movie.
We cut back to the Japanese capitol where a meeting is being held by the Prime Minister. Obviously the main topic is the attack on the power plant. A general claims that the only way to stop Godzilla is by using the newly built "Super-X Attack Plane", which we will later see is a large "flying hover tank" of sorts. It's "extremely heat resistant, armored with titanium armor and platinum circuitry" and is armed with a "variety of missiles". Sounds cool, shame it has such a lame name. Why can't the Japanese name anything "TigerShark" or "SteelHawk" or "Dominator"?
Back we go now to our heroes, joined by Molly. They are looking at the photos that they took of Godzilla's attack on the plant. In keeping with traditional roles in Japan, Molly is serving the men tea, despite her being a educated college girl. She's wearing a modest white flowered dress with a pink sweater over it, a very cute look. Ace-Reporter stares at her with goo-goo eyes. They chat and figure out that Godzilla is avian in nature, based on an "ultrascan" of his brain and the common idea in the 1980s that dinosaurs and birds are strongly related. They then make the connection between the chirping birds and Godzilla suddenly leaving the scene. Doctor Hayashida proposes that they build a machine that can electronically simulate the chirping birds to lure Godzilla away. Neat. He then tasks Kenny to go see a geologist friend of his named Minami, who is currently doing a field study of the active volcano inside Mount Mihana. Yep, Kenny is definitely working for the doctor.
We see that the two scientists have come up with a plan, as we now go to a briefing held for the Japanese government by the geologist Minami. The plan is to use the bird sounds to lure Godzilla into the crater of Mount Mihana and set off an eruption with explosive charges to bury him in lava. Very nifty. Minami is played by 59-year old Hiroshi Koizumi, best known to Godzilla fans as Professor Wagura from 1974's Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla I and as Professor Miura in 1964's Godzilla Vs. Mothra I.
We cut now back to the Pentagon, where they are watching the footage of Godzilla's attack in 1954. We get several clips from that movie in glorious black and white, a nice way to connect the two movies. The general and his two officers are talking about options, including carrier air strikes, armored divisions from Korea, and "the Delta Force with heat-seeking missiles". The way they talk, this two-star general has the final say on what actions America will take against the monster. Where is the Joint Chiefs, where is the President? Where is the rest of the command structure? Why are the Seventh Fleet or the Eighth Army command staffs, who control the assets actually in the Japan area, not involved in these decisions?
Steve Martin now enters, and starts to wax about the destruction of Godzilla 30 years ago. He tells them that he is the only American that survived the attack (!!!!!!!). What?? There's no way that every other American in the Tokyo area was killed by Godzilla. No freakin' way, this is the stupidest idea ever. There must have been thousands of Americans in the area in 1954, both military and civilian. Why couldn't they just script it in that Steve came back to America and wrote a book about the attack and became an expert or something? Then I wouldn't have to smack them.
Steve also tosses in the caveat that "they never found a corpse thirty years ago" to explain why Godzilla is still around. This is bunk as we clearly saw Godzilla's body being dis-corporated by the Oxygen Destroyer. Unless this was a hallucination, then that particular Godzilla is truly dead. In Gigantis, The Fire Monster, the second Godzilla movie, they clearly laid out that the Godzilla that we see in the rest of the Showa series is a second, separate monster. Why couldn't the filmmakers just make this new Godzilla in 1984 a "second one" also? This would have been so much easier than just trying to ignore the facts of the first movie, or worse yet, trying to bullshit us into believing that Godzilla survived the Oxygen Destroyer. The Japanese version, by the way, just ignores the whole problem, a solution that is better than Steve lying to us.
Back quickly to Doctor Hayashida's office where he, Kenny and Ace-Reporter are discussing the Super X's chances against Godzilla. It's here that the reporter first mentions that the plane has "cadmium" bombs that they hope to "neutralize" Godzilla with. More on this later. The doctor is skeptical at best, though probably because he believes that his bird-call plan is the best. You'd think that he'd be thankful for all the help. The doctor is convinced that the volcano won't kill Godzilla, but will trap him tight. He waxes that the monster is a result of what happens when man messes with Mother Nature. This is mumbo-jumbo. Molly is here, helping with the computers. She's wearing a peach top and a white shorts that comes together in the tightest waistline I've ever seen. This will be the outfit that she wears for the entire rest of the movie.
Ok, you know that Godzilla isn't going to run and hide, right? We cut to a HSS-2 helicopter hovering in the early morning darkness, its dipping sonar deployed in the water. We see the pilot glancing around and then he sees Godzilla swimming just below the surface. Mind you the sonar didn't pick him up, the pilot just saw him with his eyes. They must have not turned on the sonar dip for some reason, which is criminal negligence. Godzilla is now "entering the heart of Tokyo Bay". How is it earthly possible that when the entire Japanese military machine was out looking for him, and we all could have guessed that he would be headed for Tokyo, that Godzilla was able to virtually sneak up on the entire nation again?
The word is passed to the Prime Minister, who addresses the media and the nation, warning of the danger. He orders Tokyo evacuated and we get a nifty four-part split screen of people frantically fleeing via planes, cars and trains. Terrified citizens run around in chaos and the police rush around trying to keep order.
We now go quickly out to Mount Mihara, where the Army is helping Geologist Minami prepare the volcano for the trap. This segue is badly done and I didn't realize that we were now at Mount Mihara until about three minutes into the scene. Anyway, we see that a small unit of Army engineers (about two squads worth of infantry and two jeeps) is placing explosive charges around the volcanic crater. They also have a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter and a big KV-107 cargo helicopter that is bringing the explosives up to the mountaintop. There is a big transmitter dish on the mountain, which will be used to transmit the bird-call signal to Godzilla. Mount Mihara, by the way, is located on Oshima Island, about 60 miles south of Tokyo out in the Pacific. It is indeed a smoking active volcano, even today. We see that Kenny is also here with the geologist, acting as his assistant as per Doctor Hayashida's instructions.
The KV-107 brings a load of supplies in.
And now back to Tokyo for the Army's final preparations for the coming fight. It is dark, presumably the following evening of the same day Godzilla was sighted. Since in the early morning Godzilla was "inside Tokyo Bay" and now it's fully night and still no sign of him, we have to wonder where he's been all day. Was he waiting for dark? Did he take a nap and oversleep? Did he get lost? And if he's been in the bay all day long, I certainly hope that the Japanese military has been blasting the heck out of him with ships and subs. We see no hint of this, however. And just as a general note for the rest of the film, we have to ask where is the American military presence based in the Tokyo area?
Anyway, we see a series of shots of Japanese military forces moving into position in the city. In total we see about a platoon of soldiers, a few Type 74 tanks, a MLRS rocket track, two rocket trucks (six-wheeled trucks with twin ballistic missiles), troop carrier trucks, and some jeeps with 106mm recoilless rifles mounted on them. We also see a mobile command trailer filled with monitors and communications gear. In three of the above shots we see a group of 14 or so soldiers running along the road past various vehicles. I suppose that these are the same men and the director just had them run back and forth along the road to simulate a much larger force. Tricky.
Ballistic Missile Trucks and Type 74 tanks on the waterfront.
We see now that Godzilla has apparently indeed been lurking around the rather shallow waters of Tokyo Bay for the better part of an entire day without being detected by anyone. Japanese helicopters are combing the waters with dipping sonar and we see two SH-60J Sea Hawk anti-submarine choppers hovering over the bay, their sonars trailing in the water.
SH-60J Sea Hawk.
And here he comes! Suddenly a toothy maw and a scaly face bursts up out of the water right in front of one of the Sea Hawks. What???!!? Again, this huge lizard managed to avoid detection all day long and right here sneaked up on a helicopter trailing sonar! Godzilla's skin must be sonar-absorbing, this kind of knowledge would change the face of undersea warfare forever.
Reacting much quicker than in other movies, the Japanese Air Force strikes first. Probably because they knew he was in the bay somewhere and could have forces on alert. We see eight plastic model jet fighters roaring in. These are obviously domestically-produced Mitsubishi F-1 attack planes, though with small canard wings just in front of the wings, which are not present in real life. They are carrying full load-outs of two wingtip Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and four underwing missiles. These are hard to see due to the film quality, but look to be two ASM-80 air-to-surface missiles and two smaller-sized missiles which I can't identify. Because, throughout the scene to follow, we only see the two large ASM-80s firing, we can assume that only they were rigged with pyrotechnics to fire off the wings of the models jets.
F-1 on the attack.
One of the pilots says, "Sayonara, sucker!" as they dive in at Godzilla who is standing in knee-deep water. That's a great line! We see about twenty ASM-80 missiles fired and a few strafing runs with the cannons. Unlike most similar air attacks in Godzilla movies, these missiles mostly hit home. We can count at least 14 hits on the monster, all exploding in flame and smoke. The cannon salvoes also cause some damage, popping all over Godzilla in little puffs of smoke. None of these attacks have any lasting effects at all, which is not surprising.
It should be noted here that the small-sized Godzilla puppet used for these scenes is truly one of the worst in the series. The face is rubbery and frozen, the only motions jerky and stilted. It's so fake-looking that it takes away from what is actually a pretty effective air attack sequence.
Our favorite green lizard is now royally pissed. He winds up an Atomic Fire Breath blast and starts to play skeet shooting. A long blast into the night sky explodes two of the F-1 jets, which fall into the sea burning. No chutes. He then decides that all this smoke is bad for his asthma and dives back under the water to escape. Hey, he was just standing in knee-deep water and then he dove under? He therefore can't be more than a few feet under the surface now, yet the pilots are acting like he totally disappeared!!!!
A pilot braving Godzilla's rage.
Back in the command trailer, a Japanese Army captain, wearing these great Buddy Holly birth control glasses, orders "Blue flight to pull out and return to base.". [Editor Pam: Glasses or not, Buddy Holly was cute.] So, what if Godzilla stands back up again? Couldn't they loiter around for a while?
It's now up to the ground forces, who are now all lined up along the dockworks, under the huge cargo cranes and derricks. Having fooled the Air Force, Godzilla now indeed pops back up out of the water and pounds towards the city. At a signal, the Army opens up a furious barrage. It's hard to count the number of hit on Godzilla, but they are several dozen at least. We see at least four of the big surface-to-surface rockets fired, but we don't know if any of those hit. In previous movies, in similar attacks, most of the weaponry missed, but here there are a large percentage of hits. Perhaps the Japanese Military went on a service-wide marksmanship re-training since 1975 when we last saw the monster. But then again, this movie assumes that all the other movies between 1954 and 1975 "didn't happen" so maybe the military was always this good.
Anyway, all this makes Godzilla very, very angry. He heats up his dorsal plates and lays out a long sustained Atomic Fire Breath blast, waving it across the length of the dock where the Army was deployed. Hey, that doesn’t look right. As Godzilla did that fire-sweep of the dock, his head was clearly facing towards the camera. The animated fire breath, however, came out at an angle! This is some bad post-production special effects editing, boys. The results are typical, however, everything gets toasted good. In a great shot, a Japanese soldier is on fire (!!!) and screaming, just like in every episode of T.J. Hooker! Apparently this was the only defense line at the city's edge, because now Godzilla is into the city proper.
Ok, now for the all-important nuclear subplot. As Godzilla wades towards the docks, he passes the Soviet container ship that we visited earlier. Aboard, we see the colonel watching in disbelief as the monster's wake violently rocks his ship. This is a great idea, and really sells the whole "Godzilla moving though a body of water" concept. The ships smacks against the pier and everything is thrown to the deck. The colonel crawls to the hatch to the control room, blood oozing from a head wound. He struggles into the control room, saying, "I'm the only one who can do it, I've got to launch that missile!".
This whole scene seemed weird when I first saw it. The colonel talks virtually non-stop, but the only lines subtitled are those above. What was he saying the other times? In the original, Japanese version, the Russian colonel dies trying to stop a short-circuited Dr. Strangelovian failsafe system from launching the missile in a noble show of self-sacrifice, very much on par with Japanese values. Because this was 1985, and the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire, the American film crew decided to change the colonel's role. In the American version, he actually launches the missile himself. A couple of post-production shots are even inserted to show him "pushing the button".
The subtitles tell it all.
Ok, as the nuclear option is set in motion, we follow Godzilla into the city on his rampage. We will get copious footage of exploding buildings, screaming citizens, smashed cars and general destruction. The model and miniature work here is pretty good for Toho Studios, though still a generation behind contemporary Western moviemaking. Apparently not everyone evacuated on time, because we get several shots of thronging crowds running from Godzilla's shadows. These look cool, but would there really be that many people in one group in downtown Tokyo still?
Back at the Japanese congress, the Prime Minister and the government watch the destruction on a big monitor. The PM yells at his general that Super X should be already in action. The general states that they "are loading the cadmium missiles now". What???? They have known that Godzilla was nearing Tokyo for at least an entire day and they haven't loaded the weapons yet??? What were they waiting for? Someone should be sacked. Maybe they have a short "shelf life"?
Godzilla starts walking down a main urban highway with high-rise buildings on either side. He bangs into buildings, stomps cars and even Atomic Fire Breath blasts poor "NewsChopper One" out of the sky. The chopper I believe is a Sikorsky S-51, though I could be wrong. I'm pretty sure, however, that the one truly visually impressive scene of cars exploding on the highway in a horrendous chain reaction was stock footage lifted from Toho's 1974 film Catastrophe 1999. I guess since they kept it in the family, they didn't mind raiding the film vault for this cut. Godzilla seems to be looking for something here. Perhaps the nuclear energy that the movie has spent so much effort making us believe that he feeds on? Seriously, what other reason would he have to be here except to eat some plutonium? Why does nobody ask why he's here in Tokyo?
Godzilla stomps up on Tokyo, again.
In a great homage to the classic 1954 movie, the monster now picks up an elevated train, lifts one of the cars up to his eyes and peers in at the terrified riders before tossing it aside. Check out the guy in the train car with the dorky golf sweater, he deserves to die for that alone. We wonder as we always do in these movies who allowed this train to continue running as Godzilla was coming into the city? Didn't anyone think of warning the train conductor of the monster?
We go back now to the Pentagon for some more American footage. Our three officers and Steve are watching the mess on the big monitor. Major Oswald gives us the worst line ever, "That's quite an urban renewal program they got going on over there." Very tasteful. General Goodhoe begins to offer US military assistance to the Japanese, but Steve talks him out of it (!!!!). What??? This old guy just talked the general out of military action??? Steve claims that Godzilla is impervious to conventional weaponry (just like Keith Richards…).
Back in Tokyo, in a neat bit, Godzilla walks right over the underground command bunker where the Japanese government is cloistered. The Prime Minister flinches as the ceiling shakes and the lights flicker. Hmmm…presumably this bunker was designed to survive a nuclear strike, right? Well, if Godzilla's footprint can cause this much damage to the bunker, then a nuclear bomb is going to bury them.
The Japanese military now begins its "luring operation", which consists of some units trying to get Godzilla to follow them south. We see the "bait" units comprise two towed "Maser cannons", big futuristic energy weapons mounted on wheeled flatbeds and towed by tracked prime movers. Since this movie is clearly set in 1985, why they want us to believe that Japan has developed and fielded such powerful energy weapons is beyond me. See the Super X for more of this.
Ok, back to our heroes, who are still in Doctor Hayashida's office, which is about on the top floor of a high-rise, with Godzilla very close by in the neighborhood. Inside, Ace-Reporter (apparently not caring to report on the story of the century) helps Molly and the doctor with their bird-call testing. Please note that Molly is wearing her peach top and white shorts combo in this scene, keep this in mind. Ace-Reporter points this big directional microphone out the window at Godzilla as he walks by and the doctor turns on the transmitter. Ah, Godzilla stops and turns slowly towards the building. At this point, you gotta think that Ace-Reporter is thinking, "Damn! That was not what I expected! Turn it off, here he comes!" Then again, why did they test the bird-call machine on the monster when, if it worked, he would come charging right at them? This is just dumb.
As Godzilla stomps for the building, however, the military opens up on him. A Maser cannon has deployed nearby and it fires two electric red beams at Godzilla, the first striking the monster's neck and the second lancing into a nearby building. The beams are not a quality special effect, seemingly just red marks scratched onto the film print with a crayon. Godzilla spins towards the cannon, his long tail whipping around and into the doctor's building. The roof in the lab collapses, and Molly ends up on the floor with Ace-Reporter heroically on top of her. Remember she was just wearing her peach top? Now, just seconds later, Molly is wearing a plaid jacket over her top!!!!! Anyway, the doctor puts his bird-call machine in a case and they struggle to get out of the building as it shakes and threatens to collapse around them. We'll catch up to them later when they do something worth noting.
Molly and Ace-Reporter are too close to the action here.
The two maser cannons are doing a bang-up job of luring Godzilla. It seems they are leading him into a slightly less built-up area. They are also firing like mad as they roll along, staying a few hundred yards ahead of Godzilla. A few notes. Why doesn't he just blast the cannons, like he did the jets and the tanks? We see in this sequence some 22 maser bolts fired at him, but only seven actually hit for sure with nine probable hits. We clearly see six of the bolts miss the monster despite the size and range involved. The aiming system of the cannons must consist of some guy squinting over open sights. The rate of fire is tremendous and we wonder what the energy source is. As well, at least five of the bolts clearly strike Godzilla squarely in the head, all to no effect. The "maser cannons" that were featured in the 1970s films seemed to have been ten times more powerful, often causing extreme damage to various monsters.
Thus lured to an appropriate place, the Super X attack plane enters the fray. Much to my horror the first sight of the machine is accompanied by the cheesiest of superhero music on the soundtrack. Kill me. The Super X is pretty compact and shaped like a "flying rice steamer" with no wings and little apparent effort at aerodynamics. Its stats, as cribbed from a fansite, are 30 meters long, 11 meters high, and a mere 150 tons. Along with the cadmium missiles, it's also armed with laser cannons and conventional rockets. It's seemingly powered by some form of directional thrust or maybe even an anti-gravity drive stolen from the alien cruisers from Independence Day. It has just a four-man crew sitting airliner-style in a wide cockpit. The pilots don't wear flight helmets, just baseball caps with "401 S2" written on them. What is 401 S2? Perhaps this is the actual designation of the craft?
The craft comes gliding up to Godzilla, with a big spotlight on the nose illuminating the monster. They raise their "thermal shielding" just as Godzilla zaps them with an Atomic Fire Breath blast. It works (damn!) and Super X survives with only some carbon scarring. Now we see what the tactical plan is. They need to shoot the cadmium missiles down Godzilla's throat to get them to poison his metabolism. To get him to open his mouth, they shoot parachute flares up in the air to get him to roar at them. Pretty cool plan, nice to see the military come up with something better than just "line up and shoot at him until he stomps us".
Hey, wait a minute. I've seen and read up on this movie, so I know that the cadmium element is used to counteract the effects of Godzilla's nuclear metabolism, but is this ever explicitly stated in the actual dialogue? I just checked, and no, this property of cadmium is never actually stated in the movie. I guess the producers just figured everyone in the audience had a working knowledge of nuclear physics and organic chemistry. This is why Japan kicked our butt academically for so many years. [Editor Pam: Cadmium ought to shut down the reaction, but shooting large amounts of just about anything into him should interfere with the chain reaction presumably going on inside him. Of course, shooting large amounts of stuff inside the body will kill most living beings.]
Anyway, Super X shoots up a flare, Godzilla roars at it, and a pair of cadmium missiles shoot into his mouth in puffs of smoke. Another flare is shot out, and one more cadmium missile lances into Godzilla's gaping maw. The missiles are shot from a cradle that lifts out of the roof of the craft. This arrangement looks neat, but it surely creates a weak spot in the armor as the cradle is clearly made of a lighter construction that the rest of the craft. This "exposed weaponry liability" is my common rant with Mecha-type machines.
The pop-up cadmium launchers on the Super X.
The cadmium starts to work quickly, as we see Godzilla start to stumble and drool. He then falls heavily into a building and lies there seemingly dead! Oh, no!!!!! Everyone celebrates and high-fives. Back at the Pentagon, Major Oswald jokes that "Wonder lizard is down for the count.", while Steve fingers his jade dragon.
But remember the Russian nuclear satellite? We see now the missile detach itself from the orbiting platform and fall towards earth. Dialogue will tell us that it was launched 200 kilometers over the Gulf of Mexico and will enter the atmosphere over the Hawaiian Islands. It will eventually arrive over Tokyo in 30 minutes, which seems way, way too long. We see that the missile has rocket propulsion, and as it's in space it doesn't have to waste time leaving the atmosphere from a ground launch, it would seem that it could get to earth in a lot less time. The warhead is said to be "fifty times that of Hiroshima". That bomb was about 13 kilotons, so our warhead here is about 650 kilotons, which is not very large as nuclear weapons of the 1980s go. The Russians were routinely fielding weapons rated at 18 and 25 megatons during this time. This will, nonetheless, really mess up Tokyo if it hits.
Sneaky Commie bastards...
It should be noted that the Prime Minister says that the Russians told them about the missile and that it was launched "accidentally" and even that it was secretly controlled by a ship in Tokyo Bay. This doesn't jive with what we saw of the colonel on the boat who launched on purpose, but it is more in line with what we know the original Japanese version of the movie showed. Without knowing about the original version, the line about the "accident" sounds like typical Russian lying and disinformation, which I guess is what the American film team was looking for.
The Prime Minister has no choice but to ask America for help, as we are the only other country with the ability to shoot down missiles in flight. General Goodhoe at the Pentagon says that they have "Never tried to intercept an incoming missile with an offensive missile." This is because it simply can't be done. See every attempt at ballistic missile defense that the last four presidents have tried to accomplish. The general will try, however, and orders the "Kadena Missile Base" on Okinawa to alert. We next get some stock footage of what clearly is an ICBM firing off into the sky, presumably the counter-missile.
That's not what it seems.
Ok, this is a mess. Kadena never had any ICBMs, obviously, as it's Japanese territory and Japan won't allow nukes on its soil. Kadena, however, did have a Nike anti-ballistic missile battery there to protect the airbase. I assume that this is what the movie makers intended to show when they wrote the idea into the script. This sounds great but a closer look shows they didn't do their homework. The Russian nuke was stated to be coming in from the east of Japan over Hawaii, right? And the distance from Kadena to Tokyo, the closest possible point of intercept, is about 950 miles. The Nike missile, however, has a maximum range of only 88 miles, so clearly this isn't going to work. The only way to make the film jive with reality is to say that America secretly emplaced ICBMs on Okinawa without Japanese knowledge. This would be an international political disaster and we would hear about it in the movie.
Alright, while all this is going on, our heroes are still trapped in the building in Tokyo. We see that the government has sent a JGSDF UH-I Iroquois chopper to extract them. And with the chopper is Kenny! What the hell???? Kenny was just at Mount Mihara with the geologist! What is he doing here? I know he's a star in our movie, but this is beyond logic. Our heroes are on the topmost floor of the building, right, so you'd think that the chopper would just land on the flat roof and take them off right? Sure, the door to the roof was locked, but the soldiers could just shoot or barge through it. But no, the chopper hovers outside the window, shoots an explosive suction cup onto the window and Kenny slides down a rescue line and into the room (!!!). He then takes Doctor Hayashida (and his equipment) and himself back up into the chopper, but they are forced to leave Ace-Reporter and Molly there. The two burgeoning love birds hold each other tight as the watch the chopper fly off, certain that they are about to be nuked. This is about ten minutes of screen time wasted, though it is an exciting action sequence.
The fact that the government sent a fisherman (!!!) and a single helicopter to extract the doctor could be the government thinking that since Godzilla is dead, then they don't really need his dorky bird-call machine after all. With a nuke inbound, you can't really blame the government for having other things on their minds than rescuing a scientist.
And worry they probably should. We have seen that the governmental bunker is located directly beneath downtown Tokyo (Godzilla walked over it) and thus under Ground Zero. As we saw Godzilla's footfalls nearly collapsed the ceiling, we can assume that a 650 kiloton airburst would smash the bunker in. The fact that the leadership of the country makes no attempt to evacuate the bunker and the city shows us that they are honorable to the end.
And now we get a Missile Command-sort of computer show of the American missile and the Russian missile meeting in orbit. This is all a mess, too, as we get contradictory computer maps in every other shot. Some show the nuke coming in over Alaska, some show over the Philippines. The missiles are shown to hit way out in space, though dialogue and maps clearly show that the impact was right over Tokyo at low altitude. Though one map also shows that the impact was well south of Japan. This is all bad. Despite the horrible special effects, the basic fact remains that the nuke exploded over Tokyo, causing a rain of fallout and radiation to shower the city.
We see that the electromagnetic pulse from the nuclear blast has temporarily affected communications and power in the bunker. Super X has also been damaged, its engines shut down, despite the fact that it should have been shielded against EMP. Bad Japanese engineers.
Most importantly, the nuke causes "radioactive lightning bolts" to strike Godzilla (!!). Why these bolts were attracted to the monster and why they are somehow charged with nuclear energy are left to our imaginations. Godzilla is re-energized!! Despite being "dead" for more than 30 minutes, Godzilla shows no signs of brain damage or organ failure at all, and in fact jumps right up like nothing happened.
Godzilla comes back to life!
Super X regains power and flies off behind a building. Godzilla begins looking for the craft and, realizing that it's behind a large building, fires an Atomic Fire Breath blast through the building, leaving a large jagged hole. Through this hole we see the Super X, and through the hole the craft opens up a massive assault with conventional rockets and cool, phaser-like blue laser beams. We see probably 25 missile hits and 12 solid laser hits on Godzilla, none of which slow him down in the least.
Godzilla then Atomic Fire Breath blasts the building again, making the Super X retreat. They continue to duke it out in the flaming ruins of the city. The Super X connects with about 20 more rockets and eight more laser beams, while the monster fires off two Atomic Fire Breaths into the skyscrapers as the craft dodges away.
The Super X and Godzilla fight it out.
A final Atomic Fire Blast smacks the Super X, severely damaging it and causing a flaming explosion in the crew cabin. The craft lands heavily on the ground and Godzilla pushes a skyscraper over on top of it!!!!! Scratch one Super X.
Meanwhile, Ace-Reporter and Molly have gotten out of the building, sliding down a blasted stairwell on a fire hose and are now working their way through the ruins. Godzilla is now bearing down upon them, though we have to believe that he just happens to be walking towards them and not actually chasing them. Just as we think that he's going to step on our love birds, the monster stops.
He stops because he has heard the bird-call machine. Doctor Hayashida and Kenny have arrived on Mount Mihara in the same chopper that rescued them. They have put the transmitting gear into the big dish and sent out the signal towards Tokyo. That is one powerful transmitter to reach like 60 miles, eh? Is that even possible?
So the monster stomps off towards the island now. We cut back to the Pentagon for a quick moment of reaction shots from our cast there. This seems simply like a reason to show Major Oswald drinking a Doctor Pepper, the main financial sponsor of the movie. This is one of the most egregious product placements in the entire series.
They also sold their souls...
We go now out to Mount Mihara, where the military has a command trailer set up here to monitor the signal. Godzilla arrives and beelines for the dish. The dish is set up on the far side of the crater, and Godzilla blindly walks up and falls into the volcanic crater. Would he really be so blindly dumb, even if he was following bird calls? I think not! Kenny (!!!) pushes the button and the explosive charges cause the eruption. Godzilla is sealed in the lake of lava, seemingly forever.
This last sequence of him dying is played about as hammy as you can imagine. Everyone is emotional for seemingly the wrong reasons. Despite the fact that this monster just smashed Tokyo, everyone, even the Americans, treat it as a horrible loss. The Prime Minister openly weeps and Steve Martin waxes on about how Godzilla will be missed. It is as if they forgot that this Godzilla was supposed to be a ruthless killer and not the goofy superhero Godzilla of the 1970s that saved Japan and danced with children. This ending was a let down and will scar me for life.
And that's our show, turn off the lights before you leave.
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you...
2: Number of cigarettes smoked by our cast.
1: Number of Doctor Pepper's drunk.
Written in July 2004 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda and Darci Sharver.
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