The first of the Godzilla movies, and the most somber and serious in tone, Godzilla, King of the Monsters was originally a 98-minute Japanese horror film, until a U.S. company bought the rights and reissued the film at its... more » current 79 minutes, replacing sequences involving a Japanese reporter with new inserts of a dour, pipe-smoking Raymond Burr. True to the fashion of cautionary monster movies, Godzilla has arisen due to nuclear radiation--a 400-foot, fire-breathing dinosaur resurrected in Tokyo Bay--and proceeds to devastate Tokyo. Hardly a bogus building is left unbusted, nary a toy tank unmelted, by the reptilian rogue, until scientists discover another weapon of awesome destruction that just might stop him. The special effects are impressive, with the filming done so as to mask the fact that the monster is just a guy in a rubber suit, working better here than in the sequels, where they seem to have given up any pretense to that fact, in favor of flamboyant effects and battle sequences that more often than not are delightfully, unabashedly juvenile. The DVD includes a wonderful 25-minute documentary on movie monsters, pieced together from old trailers. This DVD offers your choice of Dolby 5.1 Surround or Mono, cropped-screen or letterboxed, and a plethora of other features. It is also available in a boxed set with four more of the best Godzilla flicks by director Inoshiro Honda. --Jim Gay« less
"NOTE: This review was written in 2004 for the now discontinued American version of Godzilla. That version did NOT include the Japanese version. Amazon links all versions of the DVD, so my review is now showing up for the newer DVD version.
The original version of this film, entitled "Gojiro," was a huge hit in Japan, and was even nominated for their Best Film award. However, American distributors apparently thought that it would not play well in the U.S. So they sheared about 20 minutes from the original and added new scenes featuring Raymond Burr, fresh from the success of "Rear Window."
Burr plays Steve Martin, an American reporter visiting Japan. When Burr arrives in Tokyo, he receives news that a giant monster named Godzilla has attacked a ship and is wreaking havoc. His friend, Dr. Kyohei Yamane, is one of the preeminent scientists trying to solve the mystery of Godzilla, giving Burr a front seat view to the proceedings.
Unfortunately, the new scenes with Burr are not well-integrated, with many scenes featuring Burr standing with a few Asian extras. In addition, by deleting scenes, the action becomes rather incomprehensible, and the Japanese stars are reduced to minor characters. In particular, an important love triangle featuring Dr. Yamane's daughter, Emiko, is completely stripped of context. All the tension is drained from this version as the audience doesn't connect with the Japanese stars. Although the original version is now available, this one is what you're likely to catch on TV. A real abomination. "
Scary and Insightful Monster Movie
Sharon A. Hutchinson | Vineland, NJ United States | 11/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is mainly concerned with the original, Japanese version of Gojira (not dubbed). I find that inserting Raymond Burr's character and removing some of the original to do so takes a great deal away from this movie and what it represents.
Godzilla rises from his long sleep due to the effects of the hydrogen bomb. With each attack, the creature becomes more bold until Tokyo suffers a devasting attack, and only a miracle can save the country from another tragic visit by this risen giant.
The love affair plays a secondary but important part in the film. Emiko has been promised in marriage to a brilliant young scientist but has fallen in love with another man. It is the old world traditions clashing with modernity. Her father is a paleontologist who is probably the only person sharing empathy with Godzilla, feeling that destroying the beast will be depriving science of its one and only chance to study a creature from the prehistoric past.
What is often overlooked (and not really stressed in the American version) is the terrible dilemma the young scientist faces when he is begged to use his oxygen destroyer weapon against Godzilla. Only the viewing of the destruction and sadness make him realize there is only one course to take. I feel he is the most crucial and yet saddest character in the entire movie. He actually loses on a number of counts--his life's work (he destroys his formula so it could never fall into the wrong hands), his fiancee has decided to wed another, and in true samurai-like tradition, ends his life nobly. The scene of Godzilla's painful death at the same moment that this brave but troubled researcher ends his own is poignant in the extreme.
This film is not just about humans against an ancient monster awakened from the past. It is about the universal emotions of love, dedication and the dangers to which science can lead us. It is also about sacrifice and triumph over impossible odds.
It is important to remember that the original movie was produced not that many years after the devastation wrought on Japan by the atomic bombs. It does not take much of the imagination to see the same destroyed cities, dying and injured people and the heartache produced by an attack, whether monster or man-made, on such a massive scale. The burning buildings, high levels of radioactivity, the melting metal all conjure up the effects of the atomic bomb, and in many ways this movie is an illustration of what Japan experienced, as well as providing a cathartic effect to a nation that suffered perhaps the greatest horror of this century.
The underlying message here is that, like the oxygen destroyer, atomic weapons are the most destructive device ever invented by man. This movie, besides being a very scary monster film (it gave me nightmares when I was a little girl) is an anti-nuclear weapon vehicle which gets its message across through the characters of a enormous beast, a scientist faced with a moral decision, and a people bent on surviving. Godzilla is more then a movie; it is a social statement against any weapon that has the power to alter our world, and the people in it, forever.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the old gentleman who was encased within the Godzilla costume. A very short man playing a huge monster (he was about 5 feet tall), he was nevertheless delighted and surprised that his portrayal of the beast has continued to draw audiences even after all these years. It was an honor to meet him.
My advice is the best way to see this movie is in the original, uncut Japanese version without dubbing. I am not a big fan of dubbing anyway, and feel that since people know the story and what is being said, the language barrier disappears and the emotional impact of the film is felt on a much higher scale.
To me, this is one of the best movies produced and has stood the passing of time. It holds many lessons for those who are open to the warnings and human tragedies, both physical and emotional, that we are forced to face in a world that has advanced to the point of self-annihilation."
Five star Popcorn movie from the old days.
Oldtechnohobbiest | Tennessee | 07/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HA! Imagine that, I'm the first one to get to review one of the old classics! HA! Finally, today is my day.
First of all, I like all these old monster movies, especially the really big monsters. Godzilla is somewhere between 300 and 400 feet tall (I got that from the dialogue in the movie), that constitutes BIG. So you can expect my review to be a half star to one star higher than most others.
So lets get with it. (I'm watching it again as I review it).
PROS: 1. Stars Raymond Burr, that's a star. 2. Great music, four notes on a piano and three notes on a clarinet--works just fine. That's a star. 3. Special effects, everybody knows the Japanise did the best scaling on cities and toy cars and things than anybody else. Though you can in several scenes (where godzilla is jerking around) tell it's just a man in a rubber suit...so what. It's all shot in that great old Black and white film. They get a star. 4. The acting, directing, writing are just fine for an old popcorn movie, that's a star. 5. The idea. That's another star because of the way it is handled. A very big lizard is waken up, or resurrected, or frankensteined together, because of H Bomb Test. And what's a big lizard to do when woke up from a 200 million year sleep?...go find the guys who did it and stomp their city to rubble. Yes sir, NOBODY does it better or equal to godzilla! The story starts off with Raymond Burr's plane flying several miles above the ocean just as the big lizard decides to sink its first ship. He is questioned by the authorities--he was asleep and spends some part of the movie running around with the scientist and military as they try to figure out what is going one. It helps that godzilla stomps his way onto one of the islands late night and smashes a rather large village, small town. Of course it has to be the one Ramond is sleeping on. He doesn't see the monster but everybody hears it coming. I guess the whole world knows THOSE foot steps. We don't get to see it either except for the bottom part of its' left leg. But that's okay, the next time it comes stomping ashore it does so in full day light.
Welp...there's no doubt now!
Yea know, godzilla has just about the same amount of respect for a military tank as a tornado does for a trailer...something about those two just don't get along!
Moving along: There a few incidents, all of them seem well done, the scaling continues to be the best out there...no need for computer graphics in these old movies. They must have had background actors in the high hundreds to low thousands to shoot some of these scenes.
Well, I don't want to giveaway all the story to those of you who have never seen this movie before--all three of you. I will say, it is a clean movie through and through. It is the stuff that used to give me nightmares when I was a young kid 45 or more years ago. Some of the scenes actually look real. I do recomment it to all the growing popcorn crowd and all of you who like to watch 'old' classics. For all the old giant monster type movies this is probably the best one to ever come from overseas.
CONS: 1. I could set here and pick this or any popcorn movie to pieces...but why do it? It is a fine movie. It is a monster movie. It is a BIG monster movie. I've seen better, I've seen worse. It is a BIG MONSTER movie that demands popcorn and soda. Remember, it is a classic and is the original godzilla from which all the others came from.
Buy, don't rent the classics.
Gojira is an awesome film. Blu-ray disc not so awesome.
Asian Mack | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 09/28/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought the 2 disc dvd of Gojira that was released a few years ago. I definitely prefer the original Japanese version of the film versus the U.S. cut. I was very excited to find out that this monster movie/horror classic was coming to blu-ray. I eagerly awaited getting this disc home and watching it. BE WARNED: this blu-ray only displays up to 1080i. The picture is not that bad but it could have been better. This film is in dire need of a full restoration; if it is possible. The video is a notch better than the dvd; but not breathtaking by any means. In Japan, Godzilla movies are coming out on blu-ray. Let's hope that some of them come out on blu-ray over here: preferably "GMK-Giant Monsters All-Out Attack", "Godzilla Final Wars", "Mothra vs. Godzilla" (1964), "Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla" (1974), "Destroy All Monsters", "Godzilla vs. Hedorah", "Godzilla vs. Biollante", "Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster" and other Toho mammoth hits like: "Frankenstein vs, Baragon", "War Of The Gargantuas" and "Rodan". And hopefully they will be full restorations. After all the money we pay for blu-ray discs, we should not accept half-done, half-job upgrades. If anyone does not believe old films can not be totally digitally restored, watch "Live And Let Die" (1973), "The Day The Earth Stood Still" (1951) and "In The Realm Of The Senses" (1976) Criterion Collection."
The only "scary" Japanese Monster movie
irnmdn67 | 07/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie that started it all was also the best. Although much has been written of the splicing-in of select scenes for Raymond Burr to "Americanize" the movie for its release in the USA, this movie, nonetheless is a classic. Any discussion of this movie is not complete without mentioning the haunting and throbbing musical score; right from the beginning of the film when we are shown a destroyed and burning downtown Tokyo, the music only enhances the "horror" aspects of this film. This is one of the few pre-80's Godzilla movies in which the monster looks and acts likes a monster rather than some guy in a suit, for 1950's technology, the "special effects" in this film are way ahead of their time. Subsequent Godzilla sequels never came close to the atmosphere and tension of this first classic. Many sequels showed Godzilla as the defender and friend of humanity, but here in the original, he is the fearsome beast of destruction."