Return of Godzilla vs. Godzilla 19859,999 Views12 RepliesAdd A Reply
So I've recently purchased a copy of Gojira(84) on sumogorilla.com b/c I'm tired of waiting for a legitimate US DVD release. Anyway, it also included a copy of the New World edit w/ Raymond Burr. After seeing the Japanese version for the first time and rewatching the American version with my brother, I was surprised to find out that I prefer the American version to the original Japanese one.
Not to say the American one isn't without fault. They had to chop out a good deal of film to accomidate the new footage, which left some important plot details out and the Pentagon scenes don't add anything to the story. However, the New World edit did omitt some of the most unconvincing FX shots, which hindered the serious tone of the film. Also, the dialog looping cleared up some of the lapses in common sense (example: during the helicopter rescue in Shinjuku, Hiroshi leaves his sister in Tokyo w/ Godzilla and the threat of a nuclear missle b/c she tells him to, whereas the American version, he leaves b/c the case with vital equipment is too heavy for her to lift in violent winds).
Finally, the biggest failing with the original version is the Shinjuku sequence. There's a lot of stuff going on: Godzilla vs. Super X-Russian Missle Launch and American intercept-Helicopter Rescue. In the original, all these things happen at once and with that many balls up in the air, it becomes a mess. The American version takes them one at a time, more or less, and it becomes more coherent. Another improvement is the cutting of the crowds surrounding a seemingly dead Big G. This eliminates the question of why they hadn't already evacuated (were they wanting to havest his organs ala Pacific Rim?) and why they didn't bother to take shelter during the missle warning. And finally, the footage of them fleeing a revived Godzilla was pushed to the beginning of the Tokyo attack and gives the intial destruction greater impact.
Has anyone else seen both versions of this film. If so, how do they compare in your opinion?
Overall, I prefer the original version, but there are things I really do like about the Americanized version.
I think the pacing of Godzilla 1985 is better, which is the main thing I take away from the American version. There are some very minor cuts that make the story feel like it moves along at a brisker pace. There's even moments of tension that are more effective and make for a greater emotional impact.
Some of the music re-arranging works better as well. Not a whole lot was added, which was the case for Godzilla 2000, but the way it was re-edited in the movie felt stronger.
Ultimately, though, that's about the nicest stuff I can say for Godzilla 1985. The movie practically cuts out 1/3 of the original picture and the mangling/scene shuffling makes it look like the editor of the original movie was schizophrenic.
The pentagon additions added literally nothing to the film's story. Raymond Burr has nothing to do but brood about his experience with Godzilla and act like he knows more than everyone else. It was a good idea to bring him back, but unlike the 1956 Americanization he's not in the center of the action, making his arc rather boring.
I also don't approve of the scene shuffling with the crowd...etc... Whether they were supposed to be evacuated or authorities had yet to get everyone out is a question I'm willing to risk in favor of better editing. The shots just didn't fit: Suddenly Godzilla's hovering above crumbled building's when the previous shot had him at the docks?
And I for one enjoyed how the Godzilla vs. Super X, missile crisis and helicopter rescue all came at once. It gives the film a sense of heightened urgency in the middle of a seemingly hopless disaster. Everything happening altogether raised the stakes and kept everything on the edge, despite the haphazardness to it.
The most blatent offense is, of course, the missile launching: In the Japanese version the Russians try to stop it, but, naturally, the Russians purposfully launch it in the American version. If that doesn't scream typical, 1980s, cold-war propaganda then I don't know what does. It goes against everything Godzilla movies have been about since their inception. The missile launch being an accident in the Japanese cut adds credence to the Godzilla series' idea that nuclear proliferation will yield negative results no matter what. Launching the missile just makes the Russians look like stereotypical baddies.
I don't dislike Godzilla 1985, but I see it as an inept Americanization in comparison to 1956's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Then again, Godzilla (1954) was a better movie than Godzilla (1984), so perhaps less just needed cutting. Regardless, I wish I could have the Japanese version with the American cut's pacing. That would probably be the best possible cut of the film to date.
I never felt bothered by the addition of the intentional launch of the Russian missle. I don't doubt that it was changed to reflect American opinions of the Soviet Union, but regardless of which version you watch, ultimately the Russians look like bad guys for violating UN space agreements with a satelitte mounted nuclear weapon and pointing it at Tokyo in the first place. And furthermore, they look inept for having a system that can be triggered by a ship getting slammed into the docks violently.
^True. The Cold War conspiring is still there. Arguably he was trying to stop the launch to not only prevent a nuclear holocaust, but an international relations disaster for Russia as well. Regardless, the act of trying to stop the launch registered as a more believable reaction and less stereotypical.
anything original is far better than the american versions, i really don't like to say that but it is the truth.
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Godzilla 1985 is the earliest Godzilla film that I can remember. My parents bought me all sorts of Godzilla stuff, but 1985 mercifully beat out "vs. the Sea Monster" for early impression.
It's hard for me to pick 1985 over the original because of some very glaring things, but overall I think it's more polished. That may just be my American sensibilities combined with nostalgia. Honestly, it may just be that the intro credits for 1985 are, in my opinion, 250% more menacing and epic.
But yes. The terrible dubbing, unnecessary hee-haw pentagon room, russian missile launch are pretty bad.
I believe that Godzilla 2014 will be amazing, but a small part wishes it were more like 1985. 1985 stuck with me as a kid, and I cried everytime they *killed* Godzilla.
What I loved best about Return over 85 was the deeper discussions of Japan's response to Godzilla's return. They looked at it from so many different angles, made stronger points, made it feel more realistic and that more was at stake. I also hate the way the scenes were edited in 85 and I got pulled out of the momentum every time a useless additional scene was forced in to sell Dr Pepper. The change in the Russian missle scene was completely tasteless. The only thing I prefer about 85 is the ending Burr speech, it was so much apart of my childhood that finally seeing the original cut without it made the ending feel rushed and anti-climactic. 1985 was a great but flawed film and the original cut is in my top three G films with the original 1954 and Biollante.
I do wonder how much nostalgia is factoring into my leniency for Godzilla 1985. I did enjoy the opening credits, the ending speech...etc... They were moving for an 8 year old, but I don't know if they'd have the same impact today.
@BIGBADBEN The truth is simply being the original doesn't inheriantly make it better.
What you guys have been saying about the added scenes are true. You can't splice in 45mins of new footage on a limited budget and expect to add anything meaningful to the proceedings. I'm thankful for Raymond Burr's participation however, because according to interviews in Steve Ryfle's "Japan's Favorite Mon-Star" the inital concept was a "What's Up, Tiger Lilly?" style lampooming that was scrapped when he refused to undermine the serious anti-nuclear themes in the film.
I think, however, that the added scenes don't take too much away from the human drama because in the Japanese version, the characters are waffer thin anyway. Think about it: None of them go through any meaningful story arc, they don't learn anything, change, or even die. They all serve as plot devices as opposed to real people. Hiroshi exists to see Godzilla appear. Goro exists to find him. Dr. Hayashida exists to find a way to get rid of him and Naoko exists to look doe-eyed and helpless. The Prime Minister is the only one left who really has to do any real soul-searching in his story and although a lot of his musings on whether or not to use the bomb on Godzilla are lost in the American verision, at least he looks like a badass for standing up to the world's two superpowers without having to call a cabinet meeting.
I don't hate Godzilla 1985 or think its necessarily "bad". Its not the best entry, that's for sure, but not really the worse. That being said, I don't think it compares well with Godzilla King of the Monsters (1956) when its comes to American editing.
As GMAN said, it may be partly due to the source material as Gojura (1954) is no question superior to the Return of Godzilla (1984). Return is not bad of course, but it does kind of drag in places. Likewise, if they were trying to recapture the serious mood of the original, it was handicapped by the less convincing effects. By the 80's, audience had higher expectation for visual effects (after Star Wars and the Star Trek movies) and Return of Godzilla, while displaying better effects and bigger budget, don't compare well.
Another thing, the 1956 edition mesh better than the 1985 edition. While the American scenes in 1956 does look somewhat out-of-place when edited in with the original, it nevertheless did worked good enough. It was never too jarring. The reason I think is because those scenes weren't superfluous but helped to explain the plot. But in contrast, the 1985 American scenes really weren't necessary and didn't add anything to the plot.
So in short, Godzilla king of the monsters is the superior American edit compared to Godzilla 1985.
Agreed the characters are mainly just pieces used to move the story forward, but I think the way the pieces are used are more interesting than the show-stopping pentagon scenes which keep any characters central to the action. Without having direct connection to what's happing in Tokyo with Godzilla, the Pentagon footage act like footnote, sidestories from fanfiction rather than helpful companions to an overall story.
In regards to special effects, I think that really only applies to American audiences. While Star Wars was most certainly introduced to Japan by the time The Return of Godzilla was released, Japan has a stronger understanding of their own filmmaking style and clearly still accepted it with open arms-- at least through the 1990s. Both the Heisei Godzilla and Gamera trilogy did quite well.
The reason that things like western's Star Wars and Japan's The Return of Godzilla don't compare well isn't becuase of special effects comparison, but rather special effects styles. Tokusatsu was still very much a Japanese tradition of filmmaking and, like all tokusatsu, it aimed to be one thing while Western effects aimed to be another. As has been the case for a very long time.
Yes, the Japanese has greater tolerance/acceptance of the Tokusatsu style than Americans. However, I think with the declining box office revenue in the last few Godzilla entries in the Millenium era, the Japanese are starting to get a little bored with that style. Of course, the problem may not so much be the special effects style as the story and plot lines, which was becoming a little stale and unoriginal.
Of course, I personally liked the Tokusatsu style, man in rubber suits stomping on a model city has an inherent appeal for me. However, for the layperson in the US (or just the West in general), I don't think they would enjoy it as much if the mood of the movie was supposed to be serious (as Return of Godzilla mostly was). The less convincing effects will detract from their viewing experience. So I don't think it translated well to the US.
In contrast, the black and white King of the Monsters seem to work better, style-wise. Maybe the black and white and grainy footage tend to add to the grim atomsphere (as well as hide some of the glaring faults).
No doubt Tokusatsu seems to be dying in even Japan, unfortunately, I was simply pointing out that, at the time, The Return of Godzilla was still inherently easy to recieve in Japan. And the Heisei Godzila films, regardless of their questionable quality, did extremely well at the box office during the early 90s.
Indeed, it doesn't translate well for American audiences of the time and today it's practically a joke in the west. However, I wasn't commenting on that particular audience as westerners have been raised on the belief that "realistic" = "better" in terms of visual style.