This film is not to be confused with Godzilla 1985 or as I like to call it, Perry Mason and the Radioactive Scaly Boy II: Nuclear Boogaloo. That film is a completely different piece. Except not. Except it is. Maybe one day I'll go into detail about the two.
This movie is a direct sequal to the original Godzilla '54 and a reboot of the Godzilla universe. It also is the film that the Heisei era of films builds off of. However, tonally, it's very different from the rest of the Heisei films, being much more serious and straightforward in tone where as the rest of the films in this era step further and further into adventure territory, with often downright bad story telling (Godzilla v. King Ghidorah) or even worse, bad story telling and bad special effects (Godzilla v. Destroyah).
The story revolves two groups of people trying to stop a new Godzilla menace who has been awakened by an exploding volcano. One group, a reporter, a scientist, and the scientist's two proteges (a brother and sister) try to stop Godzilla by figuring out how he ticks and using this knowledge to devise a plan to stop him. The other group, is of course, the Japanese government who not only resort to vying for a military option, but also work with the first group to get things done. Unfortunately for poor Japan, the government is caught between a rock and a hard place as both the United States and Soviet Russia pressure Japan into letting them use tactical nukes to take out our Scaly Antagonist. Being a modern Godzilla film, Japan also has an ace up their sleeve in the form of a flying fortress, The Super X.
All in all, this is one of the better Godzilla films plot wise. While the characters are a little flat (aren't they almost always?) they work to move the story along, in both providing meaningful motivation as well as exposition. The stakes are real, with a bigger, badder Godzilla threatening Japan, some international political tension, and an oopsie of a stray Soviet Missle to add some additional tension in the final act. Which, if there's a Godzilla film that needs to rest on plot, it's this one. Because action wise . . . well it's a bit of a mess.
Don't get me wrong, there's a few good scenes of special effects in here. Namely, when Godzilla decides to rampage against the Japanese defense force as they're trying to prevent him from entering a harbor. His use of atomic breath in that scene can be summed up with two words. Freaking. Sweet. However, that's about as good as it gets. In the third act, when Godzilla and The Super X face off in Tokyo, it's a really dull battle. Really dull. They both just kind of stand there, The Super X launching cadmium shells into Godzilla's mouth to try and stop him and Godzilla, just taking it. There's not a lot of movement on either two's part, no real rampaging or reacting to attacks, nothing. It's honestly so dull, I get kind of relieved when the film cuts away from the battle to focus on the human element. For a kaiju film, that's uh, well, that's not good. I almost wanted to join Godzilla when he decided to take a quick cat nap in the third act.
Lack of animation aside though, visually this movie looks wonderful for the most part, with a few misses here and there. Godzilla is detailed, if not always well animated, there are some very satisfying explosions, and for the time, the city set pieces are fairly well done (minus toy cars).
Before I forget, there's a hobo in this film who's not intimidated by Godzilla in the slightest, hurling insults his way and at one point, attempting to throw a rock at The Big G. He's the true, unsung hero of this story.
Overall, I give it 3 out of 5 Mothra Eggs. It's not my favorite Godzilla film, but it's not one I'd tell others to avoid. If you're looking for a more plot oriented movie, this one is a good place to look.