The Return of Godzilla
An erupting volcano brings about the return of Gojira in this sequel to the 1954 classic. Or rather the first appearance of a new Godzilla, as the original…
But that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?
This film is truly a product of its age, and I mean that above and beyond the references to the Cold War scattered about the film. As it comes nine years after the last of the original series of Godzilla films, it marked a step up in special effects and a step away in story telling. Thus we get a monster with a more mobile face (as well as other nifty touches here and there) abetted by a story that tries to reclaim the seriousness of the first film.
To a degree, it works. This has the best story in years, the protagonists never become irrelevant to the action, and while there are howlers (the biggest of which being spoilers for the film and thus off-limits here) there is nothing that can’t be cheerfully ignored if you are in the frame of mind to do so.
That said, Gojira really, really should have been better than this.
It’s nice we have scenes where Godzilla snarls and where we can see his chest rise and fall. Really it is. You know what else would have been nice? Is if they could have had his eyes look somewhere other than up into space. Like he was aware of his environment, instead of a movable prop.
There’s continuity issues here and there. One character starts the film all banged up, only to appear in what seems like merely the next day completely better. Calls for a city evacuation seem completely unheard. And so on and so forth.
The really damning thing, though, is that the characters in Gojira are so very, very dull. The pretty Yasuko Sawaguchi is especially plank like. Even Godzilla is dull. There are moments where he just stands there, like he’s waiting for his cue. The movable prop thing, again.
Right or wrong, I’m inclined to blame director Koji Hashimoto on this. There really should be something there that’s missing. Even the worst of the earlier Godzilla had more life-like portrays than on display here.
So with all that’s good and bad here, I’d say Gojira just about ekes out a mediocre level rating (1 point). I’m not going rush out and rewatch it any time soon (unless I do a Whale review for this site, which is a possibility), but I can’t say I didn’t like what I saw (1.5 point). Maybe I’m just too easy to please, but I did have fun with this. And in the end, that’s what counts.
Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4