Watching the Godzilla Movies, Part Two: The Heisei Era Films and the Emmerich Film

Contnued from Part One!

Gojira (1984)

This picture was released in the U.S. in 1985 as Godzilla 1985, and is sometimes known as The Return of Godzilla.

The film was directed by Koji Hashimoto.
The music was done by Reijiro Koroku. It's an OK score, but not one of my favorites.
SFX were done by Teruyoshi Nakano.

Godzilla was played by Kengo Nakayama. Not one of my favorite G-suits, but at least Godzilla doesn't look like a big mutant puppy anymore.

Keiju Kobayashi, who had a small part in Sanjuro, played the Prime Minister.
Ken Tanaka played reporter Goro Maki.
Yasuko Sawaguchi played Naoko.
Shin Takuma played her brother.
Yosuke Natsuki played Prof. Hayashida.
Hiroshi Koizumi played Minami the geologist.
Tetsuya Takeda played the helpful vagrant.

The major difference between the American and Japanese versions was that the U.S. version had several added scenes with Raymond Burr as "Mr. Martin" and some military officers standing around watching Godzilla do stuff. Burr mostly just pontificated, and the army guys were more or less clueless. Burr never interacted with any of the Japanese characters in this film.

 

For the record:

Warren Kemmerling played the General. If you watched TV in the U.S between 1960 and 1990, you've probably seen him in something.
James Hess played the Colonel. He was on MacGyver once.
Travis Swords played the Major. He was on Hart to Hart once.

One thing I remember about the U.S. version is the fairly hamfisted product placement for Dr. Pepper, a chief backer of the film.

This was the first G-film I saw in a cinema. The short Bambi Meets Godzilla was shown before the film.

Apparently, Toho had re-released a number of their classic kaiju eiga in 1982. These had done so well, that it was decided to make a new film.

Interestingly, because Tokyo's skyscrapers had gotten so much bigger over the years, Godzilla had to be presented as much larger than before, to avoid being dwarfed by the buildings.

This film is considered part of the Heisei continuity, even though it was released during the Showa Era. In many ways it stands on its own. All previous films are ignored except the first, and it has only minimal connnection to the Heisei films that come after.

The maser cannons are seen again in this film, as is the Super-X, a sort of superplane armed with cadmium missiles.

This is the first film to imply that Godzilla feeds on nuclear energy.

Seeing the giant sea lice made me wonder is the guys who made Cloverfield had seen this picture.

America and Russia are both presented as trigger-happy and eager to use nukes, and Japan is presented as the wise country that clams them down.

I enjoyed the Godzilla POV shots when he attacked the reactor.

There's also a really pants-wetting moment when Godzilla rears right up in front of a helicopter that's trolling Tokyo bay for him.

I also like the scene in HQ where they realize "Godzilla is above us!" and the scene where the bum tells him to get lost.

I also saw something I never noticed before - when Godzilla picks up a train car, there's a shot with all the people screaming, except there's one weird guy who smiles at him.

So, overall, an OK picture - at the time, I was just glad to see a new Godzilla movie!

Next: How does your garden grow?

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Gojira vs. Biorante (1989)

This picture was release in the U.S. in 1992 as Godzilla vs. Biollante.

It was directed by Kazuki Omori.
Music was by Koichi Sugiyama, although some of Ifukube's themes were used.
SFX were done by Koichi Kawakita.

Godzilla was played by Kengo Nakayama, with Shigeru Shibazaki and Yoshitaka Kimura.
Biollante was played by Masao Takegami.

Kunihiko Mitamura played scientist Kazuhito Kirishima.
Yoshiko Tanaka played lab assistant Asuka Okochi.
Masanobu Takashima played Major Kuroki.
Koji Takahashi played Dr. Shiragami.
Toru Minegishi played Lt. Gondo.
Yasuko Sawaguchi played Erika.
Brien Uhl played Saradian agent SSS9, in what appears to have been his only role.
Megumi Odaka played 17 year old psychic Miki Saegusa. We'll be seeing her in all of the remaining Heisei films.

This is an OK picture, though I'll admit it's one I don't re-watch very often. It has some nice set pieces - the naval battle and the big battle in the rain near the end come to mind, but Biollante is not one of my favorite monsters. The notion of "anti-nuclear bacteria" is an interesting one, as is the idea of a series of "Godzilla alert levels." I also like the idea that various parties would be eager to get ahold of Godzilla's genetic material. We also see Godzilla's "atomic pulse" for the first time here. We also see the Super-X2, with its reflector array.

This picture introduces the new G-suit that will be used for the next few pictures.

I was amused by how "Saradia" was sometimes spelled "Saladia"

This is also the only G-film to mention Massachusetts.

There's also a scene where Godzilla sneaks up on a guy - how do you let that happen?

Batman gets a shout-out in this picture, although in the U.S. dubbing it's changed to "Superman", possibly to match the lip movements of the Japanese heroine, who pronounces "Batman" as though it had three syllables.

Next: Westerners from the future!

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Gojira vs. Kingu Gidora (1991)


This picture is known in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.

The director was Kazuki Omori. Music was done by Akira Ifukube. SFX were done by Koichi Kawakita.

Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma, King Ghidorah by Ryu Hurricane and Godzillasaurus by Wataru Fukuda.

Anna Nakagawa played Emmy.
Megumi Odaka returned as Miki Saegusa.
Kenji Sahara played the Defense Minister.
Kosuke Toyohara played Terasawa.
Katsuhiko Sasaki played Professor Mazaki.
Yoshio Tsuchiya played Shindo.
Chuck Wilson played "Wilson".
Robert Scott Field played Android M-11.

This picture stirred up a mild controversy at the time it was released, mostly because of the fact that the baddies were all white guys and for the scenes where the proto-Godzilla "Godzillasaurus" massacres U.S. landing forces. Really, it's no worse than any umpty number of U.S. movies where the heels were all evil Orientals. I mostly remember it for the fact that the time travel plot doesn't make much sense, as most time travel plots don't.

For example, if they wanted to remove Godzilla, why not just do it? Why stop off in the 1990's? Also, why do people still remember Godzilla once he's been removed from history? Also, are they saying that the Godzillasaurus survived 50 years underwater until it became the new Godzilla?

I'm not wild about the new King Ghidorah - I didn't like the way they changed his "cry" - but I did like Mecha-King Ghidorah.

The one scene I especially liked was the confrontation between Shindo and Godzilla - kudos to Satsuma for managing to use the G-suit to convey a hint of emotion. Godzilla seems to almost regret killing Shindo. It's actually quite moving

It's funny that when the Godzillasaurus is wounded by naval gunfire, it sounds just like Gamera. An obscure dig at Daiei, perhaps?

The Spielberg joke was mildly amusing. Interestingly enough, Arnold Spielberg was a WWII vet, although from what I've found, he served in India.

And of course, one of the great bad lines of Godzilladom: "Take that, you dinosaur!"

Overall, not a bad picture, as long as you don't think about the mechanics of the plot too much.

Next: The Return of the Egg!

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Gojira tai Mosura (1992)


This picture was released on video in the U.S. as Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth.

The director was Takao Okawara. Music was done by Akira Ifukube.

Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma (a.k.a. Kengo Nakayama). Battra was played by Ryu Hurricane. No idea who, if anyone, played Mothra.

Tetsuya Bessho played poor man's Indiana Jones Takuya Fujita.
Satomi Kobayashi played Masako, his ex-wife.
Akira takarada played Environmental Chief Minamino.
Takehiro Murata played Salaryman Andoh.
Saburo Shinoda Played Professor Fukuzawa.
Makoto Otake played the evil businessman.
Akiji Kobayashi played Yuzo Tsuchiashi . Kobayashi played Captain Muramatsu in Ultraman.
Megumi Odaka returned as Miki Saegusa.
Keiko Imamaura and Sayaka Osawa played the Cosmos, the Heisei continuity's answer to the Shobijin.

This film is my favorite of the Heisei series of films - Mothra and Godzilla really do seem to work well together. I especially like the score on this film, including a new cover of the Song of Mothra.

There's alot of good battle scenes - I particularly like the scene where Battra hits Godzilla in the face with a Ferris Wheel.

I also like the fact that it's finally occurred to someone mount maser cannons on airplanes - they're at least trying something new.
Andoh wears a tie in the jungle - that's carrying it a bit too far.

Mothra (and presumably the Cosmos) is described as being the product of a 10,000 year old civilization.

Battra's not a bad critter - I prefer the"adult" forms of the monsters, though.

I really like this picture alot - everything works well for me.

Next: Another egg?__________________________________________________________________________________

Gojira vs. Mechagojira (1993)

This picture is known in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and Godzilla vs. Super-Mechagodzilla.

The film was directed by Takao Okawara.

The music was done by Akira Ifukube, re-using many of his Showa Era themes to good effect.

Special effects were done by Koichi Kawakita.

Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma, Baby Godzilla by Ryu Hurricane and Mechagodzilla by Wataru Fukuda. Not sure who played Rodan.

Masahiro Takashima played pilot/parking lot attendant Aoki.
Ryoko Asano played researcher Azusa.
Megumi Odaka returned as Miki Saegusa.
Yusuke Kawazo played Professor Omae
Tadao Takashima played Chief Hosono.
Kenji Sahara played Minister Segawa.
Akira Nakao played Commander Aso.
Leo Meneghetti played Doctor Asimov.

This film introduced the concept of the UN Godzilla Countermeasures Center, who commissioned scientists to salvage the future technology from Mecha-King Ghidorah to create the super-weapons Garuda and Mechagodzilla.

The team that pilots Mechagodzilla is called G-Force. It should be noted that this G-Force has nothing to do with Battle of the Planets - the team commonly known in the U.S. as "G-Force" is known in Japan as "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman".

I particularly enjoyed this film - the "human" story isn't bad, and there's alot of good monster battle action in it. Mechagodzilla is well-realized, although I still retain a fondness for the Showa version.

I had to wonder - when MG first went into battle, much displeasure was expressed because Aoki was effectively AWOL and they had to go into battle a man short. I can understand them being unhappy with Aoki, but don't they have a back-up for him? What if he got sick or injured or something?

Another thing is - Mechagodzilla's "roar". I could understand the Showa MG having a "roar" as, at least in the first picture, it spent some time impersonating Godzilla.

I suppose you could say that the Heisei MG needs a "roar", even though it's not trying to fool anyone. Maybe they might want to distract Godzilla or something. My question is, how is it decided when MG is going to "roar"? Is there a program to cause the machine to "roar" at dramatic moments? Or does one of the crew, as part of their duties, have command of a "roar" button? How is one evaluated on their performance as "Roar Officer"? "Dammit, Aoki, quit pressing the 'roar' button while I'm trying to talk!"

Next: Space Godzilla!

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 Gojira vs. Supesugojira (1994)

This film is known in the U.S. as - surprise - Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.

It was directed by Kensho Yamashita.

The music was done by Takayuki Hattori, although he did use Ifukube's theme for Godzilla.

The SFX were handled by Koichi Kawakita.

Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma.
Space Godzilla was played by Ryo Hariya.
Little Godzilla was played by Little Frankie.
MOGUERA* was played by Wataru Fukuda.

Megumi Odaka returned as Miki Saegusa.
Jun Hashizume played Lt. Shinjo.
Zenkichi Yoneyama played Lt. Sato.
Akira Emoto played Maj. Yuki, who has it in for Godzilla because Godzilla killed his buddy Gondo back in Godzilla vs. Biollante. Nice bit of continuity, there.
Kenji Sahara returned as Segawa.
Koichi Ueda played the G-Force commander.
Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa return as the Cosmos, to warn Earth about Space Godzilla, since Mothra is off on a mission in space.
Yosuke Saito played the treacherous Dr. Okubo.
Towako Yoshikawa played Dr. Gondo, sister of Yuki's dead buddy.

This film was released in Japan on Godzilla's 40th anniversary.

I find large parts of it to be reminiscent of the Showa Godzilla's "South Seas" films, like Son of Godzilla or Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. It's got one of the more complex "human" plots, as just about every character has his or her own agenda.

I though Space Godzilla was an interesting idea, although the look isn't really one of my favorites.

MOGUERA is a new version of a robot used in the 1957 film Chikyû Bôeigun (a.k.a. The Mysterians). It's an interesting looking thing, about what you'd get if you commissioned the Cybermen to build you a giant chicken.

Overall, it's not a bad picture, there's some especially good effects shots in this.

Next: Destroyer!


*Stands for "Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aerotype"

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Gojira vs. Desutoroia (1995)

This picture is known in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. Destroyer and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.

The director was Takao Okawara.
The music was done by Akira Ifukube.
The special effects were done by Koichi Kawakita.

Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma.
Godzilla Jr. was played by Ryu Hurricane.
Destoroyah was played by Ryo Hariya and Eichi Hanagida.

Megumi Odaka returns as Miki Saegusa.
Momoko Kochi, in what would turn out to be her final role, returned as Emiko Yamane.
Yasufumi Hayashi played her nephew, college whiz kid Kenichi Yamane.
Yoko Ishino played his sister, Yukari, a newscaster. It's explained in the film that Prof. Yamane adopted one of the Odo Islanders whose family was wiped out by Godzilla, and  Kenichi and Yukari are the children of this adopted child.
Takuro Tatsumi played Kensaku Ijuin, the scientist whose work on "mixro-oxygen" reminds Emiko of Serizawa's work on the Oxygen Destroyer.
Sayaka Osawa played Meru Ozawa, a U.S.-trained psychic.
Ronald Hoerr played Prof. Marvin.

Overall, I enjoyed this picture alot. It was nice to see the connection back to the original picture, and also nice to see Emiko one last time.

"Burning Godzilla", as it is called, was well-realized, and the scene where it melts down was well-done.

Godzilla Jr. is my favorite of the "young Godzilla" characters that we've seen over the years.

I also liked the interaction between Miki and Meru.

I'm pretty sure that Godzilla's attack on Hong Kong was his first attack on a city outside of Japan since Destroy All Monsters.

Super X3 with its ice lasers was interesting. I'm not sure that lasers work that way, though. I note that the pilots are from the "JGSDF" - I guess the Godzilla-fighters have their own branch of the Self-Defense Forces, now.

The scene where the troopers fight the Destroyer creatures in the tunnels seems heavily influenced by Aliens.

One thing the Japanese version has that the U.S. version does not is in the closing credits, where a montage of scenes from the '54 film and the various Heisei films are shown to a re-working of Ifukube's Godzilla theme.

All in all, a good film to close out the Heisei series, at times it's quite touching.

Next: In name only?

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Godzilla (1998)



This picture was directed by Roland Emmerich.

Matthew Broderick played Dr. Nick Tatopoulos. Broderick has made several films, most notably Inspector Gadget and The Road to Wellville.
Jean Reno played French agent Philippe Roache. Reno has made several films in France, but American auidences may remember him from his appearances in The Pink Panther (2006) and The Pink Panther 2 (2009).
Maria Pitillo played would-be reporter Audrey Timmonds. Pitillo has done alot of TV.
Hank Azaria of The Simpsons fame played cameraman Victor "Animal" Palotti.
Kevin Dunn played Colonel Hicks.
Azaria's Simpsons colleague Harry Shearer played anchorman Charles Caiman.
Blink and you'll miss Nancy "Bart Simpson" Cartwright's brief appearance as Caiman's secretary.

This is an OK, middling monster movie. Really, it's not that bad - there are some good parts to it. the attacks on the fishing boats were quite creepy, and the scene where the monster comes ashore is nicely-handled. Watching the battle between the monsters and the helicopter makes me think that the guys who saw Cloverfield saw this picture, too. The picture is written well enough for this kind of film - the science is goofy, but no goofier than the science in the Toho films. Most of the humor fell falt - the "Mayor Ebert" gag fell a bit flat, particularly.

The memoriam to Tomoyuki Tanaka at the end was a nice touch, too, the great man having passed away the year before.

As I say, overall, this is for me an OK midcard monster movie. The problem I have with it is that -for me- it's not "Godzilla". Now, don't get me wrong - when I went to see this, I wasn't expecting it to be a slavish imitation of the Toho films. Heck, even the Toho films varied quite a bit in Godzilla's appearance and attitude. But I was hoping for something that ran a touch closer to the traditional "Godzilla" qualities - a monster that shrugs off shells and bombs - not one that ducks and hides and evades. Something that seemed more like a mythic force, not just a wild animal run loose.

"Are you talkin' to me?"


Next: The return of the king!

 

Continued in Part Three

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