Godzilla (1954)

Class: User
Author: gvsgdude89
Score: (4.5/5)
April 25th, 2005 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

This is the big kahuna of all Godzilla films. The story is unique, the acting is beautiful, the special effects are good for the time period, and Maestro Akira Ifukube presents some of his best work here. Needless to say, Godzilla is a masterpiece!

A fishing boat is suddenly destroyed in a flash of fire, and another sinks soon after! Anxieties mount, and the nearby Oto Island is investigated. After a native ceremony, Godzilla comes ashore and decimates the island. Japan's leading paleontologist, Dr. Yamane, suggests further study, and another group is sent out. Godzilla appears above a mountain before he heads toward the sea. The people are unsure whether or not they should tell the public. News ultimately gets out and depth bombs are deployed in order to destroy the threat. Dr. Yamane is upset that such a wondrous creature is apparently eliminated, but Ogata, his daughter's boyfriend, says that Godzilla had to be destroyed. Soon thereafter, Emiko meets her fiancé, Dr. Serizawa, who shows her a terrible secret…

Godzilla emerges once again and destroys a South Tokyo train station before retreating to the bay. In response, the city quickly erects a towering “fence” of electrical wire. Godzilla is not deterred, as he breaks through it. Tokyo is ravaged. Thousands of people are killed, and Emiko reveals to Ogata the secret she was shown by Dr. Serizawa: the fearful oxygen destroyer. Dr. Serizawa and Ogata clash over whether or not the weapon should be used, but after witnessing Godzilla's carnage on television, Dr. Serizawa is convinced. He asks to place the weapon alongside Ogata, and the two descend into the bay where Godzilla rests. The weapon explodes in a fury of bubbles, but only Ogata surfaces! Dr. Serizawa, heartbroken that his fiancée loves Ogata, chooses to die alongside Godzilla. Godzilla is stripped of his flesh. The creature dies. In the end, Dr. Yamane fears that another Godzilla will arise due to humanity's continual testing of H-Bombs.

In regards to the acting, this movie is superb. Akira Takarada, Momoko Koichi, and Akihito Hirata are the best actors in the entire cast. Even still, everyone else seems to just fall right into the role they play, effectively creating a brilliant cast. Of the characters, Emiko, Ogata, and Serizawa are the most focused upon, and easily become the most likeable. Everyone in the main circle of characters is well developed, with more than just the basic motives tossed in (as seen in later Godzilla films). The actors skillfully handle the grief in response to the death of thousands, Dr. Serizawa's tearful death scene, and numerous other moments of drama. The suit actor and the filmmakers also handle Godzilla's character beautifully. It really looks as though Godzilla is a merciless force of nature. The monster comes across as truly brilliant.

In the special effects department, this film boasts some of the best scenes in any Godzilla movie. While Godzilla's heat ray appears as just a spray, one needs to remember that was just about the best that could be done at that time. The tanks and jets look very realistic, but the jets do feature one of the film's few flaws. Specifically, the wires from which they are suspended are clearly visible. The only other flaw is that Yamane claims the Jurassic Age was 2 million years ago, while scientists say that it ended 136 million years ago. Overall, the special effects are wonderful and help to entrap the viewer in this film.

The music in Godzilla is also excellent. The most memorable theme is, without a doubt, the title theme, which is also entitled "Intercept Godzilla". Other themes, such as "Godzilla's Rampage", add to the feeling that a 50-meter monster is leveling Tokyo. Another one of Ifukube's great themes is "Desperate Broadcast." Played while Godzilla attacks television reporters in a radio tower, this theme is right on the money. Ifukube is certainly at the top of his game in this film.

Godzilla is the first and easily one of the best kaiju films, made by the masters themselves: Ishiro Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya, and Tomoyuki Tanaka. The emotions one goes through as he or she watches this film are like a roller coaster. There are ups and doubts, but it ultimately leads to drama and sadness. If one doesn't cry while witnessing the deaths of thousands, or Dr. Serizawa's death in particular, than one must have a heart of steel. Both this version and the American version of the same film are brilliant, and truly warrant many, many viewings. Godzilla is truly a classic.