|Godzilla, King Of The Monsters
News & Updates
|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: Simitar Entertainment
Video: Fullscreen and widescreen
Audio: English mono, English 5.1
Extras: Simitar Godzilla trailers, art gallery, trivia game, film facts, Raymond Burr biography, “Sci-Fi Monsters” documentary
DVD-ROM content: 4 screen savers, printable photo & art galleries, access to simitar.com and followthru.com websites
Closed Captions: None
UPC #: 082551747320
Catalog #: 7473
Status: Simitar went out of business, and this disk is out of print. It was also available as part of the Godzilla: 5 Rampaging Movies Box Set, and the Godzilla Collection 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: Side A features the fullscreen version of the film, and a “widescreen” version is contained on side B. The widescreen version does not show any additional picture image on the sides of the frame; the top and bottom of the picture are merely cropped to give the illusion of widescreen. The print appears identical to the fullscreen version, except for the cropping and the inclusion of the Transworld logo at the beginning. I assume that the purpose for including the widescreen version is that this is how the film was shown theatrically in 1956. Regardless, the fullscreen version represents the way the film was shot and thus is the preferable viewing option.
Like all of Simitar’s Godzilla disks, this DVD was digitally remastered from the original film print. The print shows its age with speckles, occasional vertical lines, and other blemishes. However, the transfer is fairly clear and sharp. There is some blockiness and pixelization in some scenes, but it’s not a major problem. Grade: B-
Audio: The film’s original mono soundtrack is reproduced faithfully. The dialogue is mostly clear, though a few lines are slightly muffled. The sound effects, especially Godzilla’s booming footfalls, are powerful. Akira Ifukube’s alternately rousing and haunting score comes through loud and clear. This disk also features a 5.1 remix on side A. Since I don’t yet have a 5.1 system, I can’t comment on that option. Grade: A-
Extras / Menus: The usual Simitar extras are all here. There are trailers for Godzilla, King Of The Monsters; Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla’s Revenge, and Terror Of MechaGodzilla. Unfortunately, these are not the original theatrical trailers, but rather video promos for the Simitar releases. There is also an art gallery featuring still images of Simitar cover art and images from the Godzilla film series, a trivia game, and some basic film facts. Exclusive to this release is a biography of American star Raymond Burr. All of these extras are on side A, with the fullscreen version of the movie.
Also exclusive to this release is “Sci-Fi Monsters,” a 24–minute documentary program on side B of the disk. It consists of a series of old sci-fi movie trailers with some bland narration. The trailers shown are: Rodan, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Deadly Mantis, War Of The Worlds, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Invaders From Mars (1953), Robot Monster; Gammera, The Invincible; Gorgo, 20 Million Miles To Earth, The Land Unknown, and The Giant Claw. Most of the program is fullscreen; a few of the trailers are widescreen. While all of these old clips show their age, classic trailers are always fun to watch.
DVD-ROM content includes: 4 screen savers, printable photo & art galleries, and access to simitar.com and followthru.com websites. I can’t get any of the screen savers to work. The computer keeps telling me that such-and-such file is “not a valid Windows image.” The DVD insert lists the system requirements as “Windows 95 only;” perhaps this is why? The photo and art galleries work, and contain all the same images that can be viewed on any DVD player. All the images are printable. Simitar’s website is long gone; followthru.com contains links to many other sites (not all of which are Godzilla-related).
The main menu and scene selection menu include animated film clips in the option windows. Navigating the menus can be awkward at times. The film facts and biography aren’t accessible from the extras menu. You have to manually look around using the on-screen arrows to find them. This is the most feature-packed of Simitar’s five Godzilla disks. Grade: A
Final Analysis: Okay picture, good sound, and a solid batch of supplements, make this release worthwhile. Final Grade: B
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