80 min., 1956
Written by Takeo Murata/Ishiro Honda/Shigeru Kayama/Al C. Ward
Directed by Ishiro Honda/Terry Morse
My rating: ★★★★
Truly the one and only King Of Monsters…doesn’t hold up all that well
* * *
The movie begins with American reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) talking over a scene of people (including himself) covered in rubble. It switches to a makeshift emergency hospital were a bunch of people are being taken care of. Here we meet Emiko Yamane (Momoko Kochi) who is the daughter of a great doctor named Kyouhei (Takashi Shimura). After a little talking between Steve and Emiko we switch back to what brought this destruction to fruition. A fishing boat is attacked by a strange glowing light that destroys the ship and leaves no one alive to tell what exactly attacked them. Another ship is destroyed and a lone survivor tells a little about what happened before he dies, which sends all of Japan into work mode. They try to figure out what’s going on and all the time we have Mr. Martin translating (well kinda) what is being said and done. That’s when Godzilla finally attacks in his full glory and nothing is safe in his path.
As a fan of Godzilla movies it’s really hard to talk shit about a series that I hold very close to my heart, but as a reviewer it’s pretty easy to beat this movie to a pulp with everything that is wrong with it. So what way do I go? Well, I’m gonna split it up the middle. There are things that are terrible, but are forgiven for being of the times and there are others that just can’t be overlooked. Then there are things that are great no matter how bad they may look and others that I really love but just don’t stand up to the test of time. So you will get both sides from me, a true Godzilla fan and the asshole reviewer.
Acting in a movie like this is very hard to review. Almost anytime you take a movie and dub it into another language it’s going to turn out pretty terrible. Most of the time the new dialogue just doesn’t match up and tends to look silly. Then you have some really odd dialogue coming from an expression that was, without question, inspired from a different line altogether. So this is a hard one to rate. Yep, most of the English dialogue is pretty crappy, but then again it’s got to be tough to come up with some good dialogue considering the concept of the movie and the fact that it wasn’t made for an American audience. So in the long run, most of the acting is pretty good, but the dialogue ruins most of the good acting.
Now comes the hardest thing for me. The effects. Now age does come into play with this movie. It’s older and should be given some leeway when it comes to the effects, but then again if the effects are that bad then they should be called out. Godzilla walking through the city and destroying everything in his path is great, especially the split screen usage. Then again there are other things going on during the trashing that look like complete crap. The fire truck that is easily a toy with action figures glued on is painful to watch, even if it is only a few seconds. Then there is the scene where Godzilla’s tail smashes into a building and the wire that is holding it up is way too obvious, that it hurts. On the other side, when Godzilla is destroying the power lines, it’s done extremely well as is most of the model work that is used. Most of the time the models look amazingly like the real thing, but then again there is the scene with the destroyed heelecopter (yep that’s how Mr. Burr says it, heel + e+ copter) that is easily another toy, but it’s against a great model of a little town.
Lets not forget what brought Godzilla into being. Bombs! The movie is a clear scream at the human race to Stop Fucking Things Up and Stop Making Things That Will Destroy Life! It shows, through Godzilla, that the more we mess with dangerous things the more they are going to come back and bite us in the ass. This isn’t a movie that is anti-America it’s anti-bomb. Godzilla is nature getting back at the human race because of how much we destroy. That is a great message that is consistently overlooked because every time Godzilla comes up in any way, the only thing people remember is Godzilla destroying a city and not why he is or where he came from. He came from us and our destructive nature and as long as we continue down this path there is nothing but destruction in our future.
So it comes down to the question of should you watch this? Probably not. As much as I love this movie (hell all of the Godzilla movies) I’d have to say to stay away. Unless you grew up watching Godzilla and the like (Rodan, Dogora, Varan The Unbelievable, Mothra, and countless others) this is not you. But watching these movies as a kid creates a world where monsters exist and even as they destroy cities they (after time went by) end up saving the earth over and over again. So, unless you have a childhood connection with these Godzilla (or others) then you won’t be able to get past the glaring flaws of the movie. But if you think you can get past the problems you are in for a great movie that is just plain fun to watch.Have You Read...?