|Godzilla, King Of The Monsters
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|Japanese Title: Gojira (“Godzilla”)
Directors: Ishiro Honda (Godzilla vs. Mothra, Rodan) and Terry Morse (Unknown World)
Original Release Year: 1954 (Japanese version), 1956 (U.S. version)
Running Time: 79 minutes
DVD Released By: GoodTimes Entertainment
Audio: English mono
Closed Captions: None
UPC #: 018713812216
Catalog #: 05-81221
Status: Out of print. This disk was not licensed by Toho, and has been discontinued. It was also available as part of the Dinosaur Mania Box Set.
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|Reviewed by: Zillamon51|
|The Film: Japan is plagued by a sudden wave of maritime disasters: Without warning, ships are exploding into flame and sinking beneath the waves. The few survivors are able to shed little light on the situation, as they quickly die from radiation and strange burns. A group of investigators, including prominent paleontologist Dr. Yamane and American reporter Steve Martin, are sent to Odo Island to investigate. The natives warn that the ships are being destroyed by Godzilla, a legendary monster. These claims are verified when a gigantic, dinosaur-like creature comes ashore and demolishes the native village. Dr. Yamane concludes that Godzilla is a prehistoric creature that has been awakened and mutated by atomic bomb tests.
The military decides to use depth charges on the monster. However, the attack is unsuccessful, and Godzilla follows the ships back to Tokyo Bay. Coming ashore at night, Godzilla razes Tokyo. The destruction left in his wake is comparable to an atomic bomb. Military firepower proves useless against the monster. It is feared that Godzilla will continue to lay waste to the cities of Japan, and perhaps the entire world.
It is up to Emiko Yamane (Dr. Yamane’s daughter) to convince her former fiancé, Dr. Serizawa, to use his Oxygen Destroyer against Godzilla. Serizawa is skeptical; he fears that this terrible device might be more dangerous than the monster. However, he finally decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of Godzilla.
This film is one of the masterpieces of science fiction. It has a low-budget, documentary feel that brings horror and immediacy to the threat of Godzilla. While American monster movies of the same period were mere “popcorn” movies, Godzilla was a grave representation of the horrors of the atom bomb; horrors that Japan knew all too well. Scenes of the destruction caused by Godzilla, and of the broken, burning bodies pulled from the rubble, look authentic enough to be documentary footage of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The film must have been therapeutic for the Japanese people: It was a huge hit in Japan. Two years after its 1954 release there, it was brought to the U.S. The film was dubbed into English, and additional scenes featuring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin were filmed and inserted into the movie. Burr was able to “interact” with the original Japanese cast by the clever use of stand-ins. While many films in the series suffered from careless American tampering, the Americanization of Godzilla was skillfully done, with respect for the original work. The result is a film that serves as a companion piece to the original; each tells the same story from a slightly different perspective. This moody black & white classic is still the best of all the giant monster movies, with the possible exception of the original King Kong. Grade: A
Video: While the print appears almost identical to the one used for both the Classic Media and Simitar releases, both of those disks have deeper, richer blacks that make for a more substantial and satisfying picture. This version is much lighter. Also, the beginning of the film is abbreviated (several of Godzilla's booming footfalls are missing). Perhaps this part of GoodTimes' print was damaged? Grade: C-
Audio: The original mono soundtrack on this release sounds slightly muffled. It’s not bad, but both the Classic Media and Simitar disks are clearer. There is no 5.1 remix offered on this version. Grade: B-
Extras/Menus: No extras, not even a trailer. GoodTimes has access to several Godzilla trailers, because they’re included in their compilation program Fantastic Dinosaurs Of The Movies. The menus, which are still images with no music or sound, are very simple and easy to navigate. Grade: F
Final Analysis: Mediocre picture and sound quality on a bare-bones release. At least it’s cheap. Final Grade: C-
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