This Godzilla film was released with a few different titles. Return of Godzilla, Godzilla 1984, Godzilla and Godzilla 1985 (The American Edit). The American Godzilla 1985 brings back Raymond Burr’s Steve Martin. But if you watch the original version of the film (Godzilla 1984 or Return of Godzilla) you will not deal Burr at all. This review is of the original Japanese version of the film.
The 1984 film is notable for a return to a more serious treatment of Godzilla that we had seen for many years, where Godzilla became more of a kid’s hero. This film has no monsters. Ignoring thirty years of films, Return of Godzilla features no monsters outside of Godzilla himself, and a more dramatic tone. The film is meant as a direct sequel to the 1954 original. When it is discovered that Godzilla is back, the Japanese Government tries to keep it a secret. Only when the world is on the verge of nuclear war do they confess the truth.
The story works quite well. Godzilla’s motive is simple, he is seeking food and, well, he eats nuclear power. There is political intrigue as a reporter tries to expose the truth about the return of the giant beast.By and large, most of the characters are likable, if rather simplistic in motivations.
Visually, while the budget is larger, the studio sticks with what works. By 1984, they had improved some of the technology greatly. Godzilla’s face is a bit more emotive in the film. Overall, this is a rather successful sequel that appeals to those who appreciate the charms of the original classic.