There were a few dozen Godzilla movies released between the original in 1954 and this one, but The Return of Godzilla is a reboot of sorts. It takes a slightly more serious tone than its predecessors and acts as a direct sequel to the ’54 film. The lowdown: Japan doesn’t want to believe it, but Godzilla has been resurrected from the ocean depths and once again lumbers onto land to threaten civilization. So, same old story, really, played out primarily through the characters of a male scientist, a male journalist, and a woman whose sister to one and girlfriend to the other. The United States and Russia offer to nuke Godzilla, but the Japanese understandably scramble for any other solution and come up with one involving luring Godzilla into an active volcano. But not before they throw the full weight of their military at the monster.
I shouldn’t like this movie, except that I’m admittedly a sucker for creature features. It’s not the least bit original and there are a few bizarre moments of Japanese humor that boggle my American mind. But there’s charming kitsch in the model photography, a big-sounding score that mostly hits all the right notes, and as the only Godzilla movie released in the early or mid-’80s, it’s kinda fun to see this well-worn franchise express itself during the decade of big hair and pastel prints. The effects are more old school than what you would have found in the United States at the time, more akin to those found in an Irwin Allen disaster movie from the ’70s. But that’s just another level of charm for me. And you know what? Godzilla’s kinda cute in this one. I was rooting for him.