Picks and Pans Review: Godzilla 1985

updated 09/23/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/23/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

When Godzilla, King of Monsters was released in 1956, it had a subliminal theme: the memory of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies, which remained fresh in the minds of Japanese and American audiences alike. The film's prehistoric creature, risen from the radioactive dust of the atomic age, was a horrifying product of man's world. Of course most people still perceived it as a charmingly dumb monster movie, and during the '60s and '70s a string of Japanese haute shlock rip-offs featured such monsters as a giant moth and a flying turtle. This, the first real sequel (never mind Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster), brings back Raymond Burr in the newspaperman role that was spliced into the Japanese original for American moviegoers. It also updates the antinuclear statement implicit in the original film. An explosion on a small Pacific island revives the silver screen's most toothsome ham from a 30-year beauty rest that clearly didn't work. He munches on a nuclear power plant, sweeps his tail into Tokyo skyscrapers and causes general havoc. The Japanese, Soviet and American governments, respectively portrayed as dignified, trigger-happy and irresponsible, try to find a nonnuclear solution to the giant menace. There are too many fast cuts, the dubbing of the Japanese actors' voices is bothersome, and the actors play second fiddle to the monster and the other special effects. It's not easy to stretch three basic destruction scenes over 91 minutes of screen time, either. Still, Godzilla 1985 has a nostalgic appeal, and the beast is certainly more watch-able than those Saturday morning cartoon creatures whose collective purpose is to sell overpriced toys. (PG)

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