Godzilla 1985

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Godzilla 1985
Godzilla1985.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
  • Shuichi Nagahara
  • Lisa Tomei
  • Uncredited:
  • Tony Randel
  • Straw Weisman
Story byTomoyuki Tanaka
Starring
Music by
Cinematography
  • Kazutami Hara
  • Steven Dubin
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed byNew World Pictures
Release date
  • August 23, 1985 (1985-08-23)
Running time
87 minutes
Countries
  • Japan
  • United States
Languages
  • English
  • Japanese
  • Russian
Budget$2 million
Box office$4.12 million (US) [1]

Godzilla 1985 is a 1985 kaiju film directed by R. J. Kizer and Koji Hashimoto. The film is a heavily re-edited American adaptation of the original Japanese film The Return of Godzilla , which was produced and distributed by Toho Studios in 1984. In addition to the film being re-cut, re-titled, and dubbed in English, Godzilla 1985 featured additional footage produced by New World Pictures, with Raymond Burr reprising his role as American journalist Steve Martin from the 1956 film Godzilla, King of the Monsters! , which itself was a heavily re-edited American adaptation of the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla .

Contents

Both the New World Pictures and Toho versions serve as direct sequels to the original 1954 Godzilla, with Godzilla 1985 also serving as a sequel to Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. The same adaptation techniques used to produce Godzilla, King of the Monsters! were implemented with Godzilla 1985, with the original Japanese footage being dubbed and edited together with the American footage. The film retains the original musical score by Reijiro Koroku, while also integrating portions of the score for the 1985 Canadian film Def-Con 4 , composed by Christopher Young.

Godzilla 1985 was met with mostly unfavorable reviews upon its release in the United States. However, it had a minor cult success on home video. Like Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, much of the nuclear and political overtones featured in the original Japanese film were removed from the American version. Godzilla 1985 was the last Godzilla film produced by Toho to be distributed theatrically in the United States until the release of Godzilla 2000 .

Plot

The Japanese fishing vessel Yahata Maru is trying to find its way to shore in a horrible storm, when a giant monster emerges from an eruption on a nearby uninhabited island and attacks the boat. A day later, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact, along with its sole survivor Hiroshi "Kenny" Okumura.

The Japanese Prime Minister, Mitamura, is informed of the attack and that the monster is Godzilla; he orders that this be kept secret from the public. Maki's report is not published by his newspaper because it is "national security risk” and could cause mass panic. Maki is told to interview bio-physicist Hayashida instead. Maki finds Naoko, Okamura's sister working as a lab assistant to Hayashida and informs her that her brother is safe, against the government's orders. She rushes to the hospital.

Godzilla attacks and destroys a Soviet submarine. The Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans and the situation threatens to escalate into war. Mitamura is informed of the submarine attack and shown evidence that Godzilla was responsible. The media blackout is lifted and the Americans are absolved of blame. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Soviet and American ambassadors. Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be allowed in Japanese territory even if Godzilla were to attack the Japanese mainland. The Americans balk at this, while the Soviets are in full agreement. However, a Soviet Navy officer secretly prepares a nuclear satellite, claiming Moscow has ordered this.

Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan and attacks a nuclear power plant, removing the nuclear reactor and feeding off the radiation. Godzilla suddenly drops the reactor and follows a flock of birds back out to sea. The Japan Self-Defense Forces are deployed to wait for a possible attack by Godzilla at Tokyo Bay. General Kakura of the JSDF briefs the Japanese cabinet about a top-secret weapon known as the "Super-X attack plane" that can be used against Godzilla.

Through the use of "ultrasonic images", Hayashida determines that Godzilla's brain is bird-like, only mutated. Hayashida realizes that Godzilla has a conditioned response to birds chirping and suggests they duplicate the sound electronically. Hayashida assists the Japanese emergency task force and plans to lure Godzilla into Mt. Mihara's volcano by emitting bird sound frequencies. The Prime Minister authorizes both the JSDF plan and the plan to use the volcano against Godzilla.

Steve Martin is brought into the Pentagon to assist against Godzilla. Godzilla is sighted in Tokyo Bay, which is immediately evacuated. Godzilla proceeds to attack Tokyo and the JSDF launch the Super-X. In the attack, Godzilla sinks a Soviet merchant ship which was in actuality an intelligence collection vessel. Before dying of his injuries, the captain launches the nuclear missile.

The Pentagon prepares to assist the Japanese but Martin cautions that weapons will only confuse and antagonize Godzilla further. Hayashida uses the bird signaling device on Godzilla, which works initially, but before it can be tested further, Godzilla is attacked again by the JSDF. The Super-X arrives and defeats Godzilla with cadmium missiles. At that moment, the Soviet missile is detected by the Americans as it draws closer to Japan. When Washington warns that the blast will be 50 times that of the Hiroshima bombing Mitamura permits the Americans to make an interception attempt.

Hayashida and his signaling equipment are evacuated and sent to Mt. Mihara. The Americans launch a counter-missile and successfully intercept the Soviet missile. However, the nuclear blast fallout reawakens Godzilla and it destroys the Super-X. Hayashida relaunches the signal and lures Godzilla into the mouth of Mt. Mihara. Using explosive bombs to cause the mountain to erupt, Godzilla becomes imprisoned after falling into the volcano.

Cast

Production

In early 1985, the trade papers reported that Toho was asking for several million dollars for the North American distribution rights for The Return of Godzilla, and that discussions had taken place with MGM/United Artists and other studios. At one point, a Toho spokesman complained that the best offer ponied up (by an unnamed Hollywood studio) was in the $2 million range. The bidding war didn't last long, and Toho wound up getting far less money. By May, the new Godzilla film had been passed over by the majors and fallen instead into the hands of indie distributor New World Pictures.[ citation needed ] New World's budget breakdown for Godzilla 1985 is as follows: $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000. [2]

After acquiring The Return of Godzilla for distribution in North America, New World put producer Tony Randel in charge of adapting the film for U.S. audiences. Randel and New World believed that The Return of Godzilla had so much inescapably "goofy" content that Americans would never take it seriously, and the only way to make it a success was by emphasizing its campiness. Their initial plan was to dub the Japanese footage into English in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner, and add in new scenes with American actors which would add the desired comic relief. [3] Two screenwriters were recruited: Lisa Tomei wrote the script for the dub, and Straw Weisman wrote the script for the new scenes. [3] Randel eventually decided to retitle the film Godzilla 1985, inspired by one of his childhood favorites, Frankenstein 1970 . [3]

Around ten minutes of new footage were added for the New World adaptation, most of it at The Pentagon. New World originally planned to tap Lorne Greene as the star of these new scenes, but Randel suggested that casting Raymond Burr would be a good homage to Godzilla, King of the Monsters! , as Burr had performed the same duty of starring in new American footage for that film. [3] According to Randel, Burr was enthusiastic about the film when offered the role, but after being signed on he made several unusual demands. The new footage was shot over three days, but Burr was only on the set for the first day, and was adamant that he would work no more than eight hours, forcing the director to focus on shooting Burr only and save reaction shots for later. [4] Burr also refused to memorize his lines, insisting that teleprompters be strategically positioned around the set instead, despite the logistical difficulties this presented for the crew. [5] Burr also made clear that he took the concept of Godzilla as an anti-nuclear allegory seriously and would not treat it as a joke. Warren Kemmerling also refused to do comic material, though not out of respect for Godzilla, so the script was revamped to reassign all the comedic lines to Travis Swords. [3]

Filming of the new footage was done at the Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles and a house in Malibu. [3] The "war room" was a large montage of the war room from The Philadelphia Experiment , another film from the same studio. [3]

The poster image was the same as for the Japanese version, but a green tinting was added to Godzilla's charcoal gray skin and the Soviet attack satellite in the upper right corner was removed.

Dr Pepper launched a US$10 million advertising campaign for the film. The soda brand is prominently featured in the new footage, such as a vending machine at The Pentagon. [6]

Changes

Much of the original version was deleted or altered. Here is a partial list of the changes:[ citation needed ]

Shortened
Added
Altered
Deleted

In addition, the theatrical release (and most home video versions, plus the TV version) was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, Bambi Meets Godzilla .

The North American version, with the added Raymond Burr footage, runs 87 minutes, 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese version.

The closing narration, spoken by Raymond Burr, is as follows:

Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla—that strangely innocent and tragic monster—has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain. [8]

Reception

Box office

Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 ($2,168 per screen) in its opening weekend, [9] on its way to a $4,116,710 total gross. [1]

Over time, Godzilla 1985, though not a hit, was partially profitable for New World only with the addition of home video and television syndication (the film debuted on television on May 16, 1986).

It was the last Godzilla film produced by Toho to receive any major release in North American theaters until Godzilla 2000 fifteen years later.

Critical reception

Godzilla 1985 was negatively received by critics. Roger Ebert, who gave the film one star in the Chicago Sun-Times , argued that a film can only succeed as a "so bad it's good" experience if the filmmakers have made a sincere effort to create a good film, and pointed out evidence that the makers of Godzilla 1985 were instead deliberately trying to create a "so bad it's good" film, such as how the dialogue is consistently rather than occasionally awful, the conspicuous lack of synchronization in the lip-synching, and the inconsistency of Godzilla's size. He also derided Raymond Burr's scenes due to his character's lack of dramatic involvement with the plot. [10] Tom Long of the Santa Cruz Sentinel similarly derided the inconsequentiality of Burr's role. While he considered the film more successful as a "so bad it's good" experience than Ebert did, he felt the appeal got old after the first half hour: "After that you start thinking about all the other things you could be doing instead of watching the same joke repeat itself for another hour." [11]

Vincent Canby of the New York Times also panned the film. He focused mainly on how it failed to update either its themes or special effects from those seen in the 1950s Godzilla films, elaborating that Godzilla "still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers" and "What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from 'this strangely innocent but tragic creature.'" [12]

Awards

The film was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Picture [13] and was also nominated for two Razzie Awards, including Worst Supporting Actor for Raymond Burr and Worst New Star for the new computerized Godzilla. [14]

Home media

Godzilla 1985 has been released in the United States several times on VHS. The first was by New World in the mid-1980s. By March 1986, it had sold 90,000 units at $79.95 each in the United States, generating $7,195,500 in gross revenue and earning $4.5 million at wholesale. It was one of New World's most successful home video releases at the time. [15]

The second was by Starmaker (under license by R&G Video) in 1992, and the third by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1997. All VHS home video releases include the Bambi Meets Godzilla animated short. While The Return of Godzilla has been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kraken Releasing, with an additional dubbed version for the international market, Godzilla 1985 has not been released on either format.

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References

Notes
  1. 1 2 "Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn (1985-08-23)". BoxOffice . Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  2. The Return of Godzilla - Box Office Report Toho Kingdom Archived 21 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ryfle 1998, p. 237.
  4. Ryfle 1998, p. 237-238.
  5. Ryfle 1998, p. 238.
  6. Mathews, Jack (August 2, 1985). "Dr Pepper Bubbles Up to Godzilla". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  7. Seibold, Witney (May 19, 2014). "Godzilla Goodness: Godzilla 1985 (1985)". Nerdist.com. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  8. TimesDaily.com: Harris, Franklin. Franklin Harris, "Poetry Helps Godzilla in Recovery," March 25, 2010 [ permanent dead link ], accessed July 14, 2011
  9. Godzilla 1985 Box Office Mojo
  10. Ebert, Roger (September 20, 1985). "Review". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. Long, Tom (August 30, 1985). "Godzilla Stumbles". Santa Cruz Sentinel (205). p. 5. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  12. Canby, Vincent (August 30, 1985). "The Screen: Godzilla 1985". New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  13. "1985 8th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards . Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  14. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN   0-446-69334-0.
  15. "New World Will Market A 'Vintage' Line". Billboard . Nielsen Business Media. 98 (13): 53. 29 March 1986. ISSN   0006-2510.