The Return of Godzilla (ゴジラ?, Gojira, lit. Godzilla) is a 1984 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the sixteenth installment in the Godzilla series, as well as the first in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 15, 1984, and to American theaters on August 23, 1985.
This film takes place 30 years after the death of the original Godzilla in 1954. A Japanese fishing vessel is trying to find its way to shore in a horrible storm while near an uninhabited island, when a giant monster appears and attacks the boat. The next morning, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact but deserted as he explores the vessel, he finds all the crew dead except for one young man called Hiroshi Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant sea louse attacks but is eventually killed with some difficulty.
In Tokyo, Okumura realizes by looking at pictures that the monster he saw was Godzilla. However the news of Godzilla's return is kept secret to avoid panic until Godzilla attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet submarine. However, the Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues which threatens to escalate into war. The Japanese intervene and finally announce that Godzilla was behind the attack. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Russian and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Godzilla even if he were to attack the Japanese mainland, an announcement that the Russians can't come to terms with. The JSDF are put on alert and search for Godzilla.
Soon, Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan, determined to feed off a nuclear power plant there. When Godzilla attacks the facility and feeds off the reactor, he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived. Okumura and his friends realize that Godzilla reacts to the signal the birds produce and Professor Hayashida decides to use this method to lure Godzilla away from Tokyo. Meanwhile, the Russians have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Godzilla, and a Russian control ship disguised as a freighter in Tokyo Harbor prepares to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites should Godzilla attack.
Godzilla is later sighted at Tokyo Bay, forcing mass evacuations out of the city and a state of emergency is declared. The JSDF attacks Godzilla with fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him. Godzilla then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting army, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and soldiers armed with assault rifles, proceeds to fire on Godzilla, but they are quickly subdued. Meanwhile, one of the crew-members aboard the damaged Russian vessel activates the missile or tries to deactivate it (depending on the film version), which is set for a countdown, before succumbing to his injuries. Godzilla then proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, he is confronted by 2 laser-armed trucks and the Super X, a piloted craft constructed in secret to defend Tokyo in case of emergency, in particular a nuclear attack.
Godzilla has a bad reaction to the Cadmium shells that are fired into his mouth by the Super X, and falls down unconscious. Unfortunately, the city is faced with a greater threat when the countdown ends and the Russian missile is launched from the satellite, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. However, the Americans intervene and shoot down the missile with one of theirs before it can hit Tokyo. Unfortunately, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates an electrical storm, which revives Godzilla once more.
Godzilla has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where he destroys it by toppling a building on it. Godzilla continues his rampage, until Professor Hayashida is successful with his invention and uses the bird call device to distract him. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the Japanese sea to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device which fascinates him. As he walks towards it, he falls into the mouth of a volcano where he is surrounded by bombs, which are detonated by Okumura, thus creating a controlled volcanic eruption that traps Godzilla.
Everyone watches Godzilla as the ground beneath him crumbles and he falls into the lava, his fate unknown.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
After acquiring The Return of Godzilla for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to Godzilla 1985. The company radically re-edited the film. Most significantly, they added around ten minutes of new footage, most of it at the Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role from Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.
Much of the original version was deleted or altered:
The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian submarine officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button so that Kashirin actually launches the nuclear weapon.
In addition, the theatrical release, and most home video versions, was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, Bambi Meets Godzilla.
The American version, even with the added Raymond Burr footage, only runs 87 minutes; 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.
It is interesting to note that Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Martin" or "Mr. Martin", for the entirety of the U.S. version, though the end credits list him as "Steven Martin". This was to avoid association with comedian Steve Martin, who had begun to become quite popular around the time this film was released in America.
The closing narration, spoken by Raymond Burr, is as follows:
The Return of Godzilla was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million. In terms of total attendance, it was the most popular Godzilla film since 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.
The American release of the film, Godzilla 1985, however, failed to ignite the North American box office. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 in its opening weekend, on its way to a lackluster $4,116,395 total gross.
New World's budget for Godzilla 1985 consisted of $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. Taking this in consideration, Godzilla 1985, though not a hit, proved to be profitable for New World, and the profit would increase with home video and television revenue.
The New World version of the film was almost universally lambasted by North American critics, receiving only a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: "The filmmakers must have known that the original Godzilla had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synchronizing, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Godzilla 1985. Examples: Dialogue: Is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synchronizing: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-sync is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgeable film-goers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tip off is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."
Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who had given a positive review to Godzilla vs. Megalon nine years earlier, was similarly unimpressed:
"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Godzilla, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles. Godzilla 1985 was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Godzilla films of the 1950s. 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." The point seems to be that Godzilla, being a "living nuclear bomb," something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner."
One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of Good Morning America, who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun...the best Godzilla in thirty years!"
This is a list of references for The Return of Godzilla. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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