Godzilla, King Of The Monsters! (1956)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 63%
Overall Rating
Ranked #4,815
...out of 20,698 movies
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Connections: Godzilla

When American reporter Steve Martin investigates a series of mysterious disasters off the coast of Japan, he comes face to face with an ancient creature so powerful and so terrifying, it can reduce Tokyo to a smoldering graveyard. Nuclear weapon testing resurrected this relic from the Jurassic age, and now it's rampaging across Japan. At night, Godzilla wades through Tokyo leaving death and destruction in his wake, disappearing into Tokyo Bay when his rage subsides. Conventional weapons are useless against him; but renowned scientist Dr. Serizawa has discovered a weapon that could destroy all life in the bay -- including Godzilla. But which disaster is worse, Godzilla's fury, or the death of Tokyo Bay? --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: June 18, 2007
When Gojira was released in Japan in 1954, money signs started appearing on the other side of the world. However, given the unabashed antinuclear theme to the movie, it would need some slight rewriting. Two years later, the finished product was ready and Godzilla, King of the Monsters was released. Getting rid of much of said theme, they filled in the holes and dumbed down the story further by bringing in Raymond Burr to play Steve Martin, an American reporter who happened to be in Tokyo at the time of Godzilla's attack. This version is told almost entirely in flashback, starting off with Martin waking up in the rubble of a smashed Tokyo. In the hospital, he has a quick reunion with Emiko before beginning the tale. He was en route to Cairo, stopping for a few days in Tokyo due to a layover, and his flight flew over the attacks on the freight ships. Upon landing, he is taken aside by security and questioned, asking if he had seen anything from the air. Smelling a story, the reporter is able to get involved in the investigation of the attacks and the rest of the movie is made up of some of the key scenes of the source material spliced with some new footage of Burr and some Asian extras, with Burr narrating the events of the story.

Everything that made the original so great and separated it from the other monster movies of the day has been taken out. The arguments that the creature should be studied and not killed: gone. The numerous references to the war: gone. The commentary on the fragile state of international affairs: gone. The dangers of a future with weapons powerful enough to level a city instantly: gone. Gojira is a movie based on a physical representation of the evils of the A-Bomb cleverly disguised as a bad monster movie. Godzilla, King of the Monsters is a bad monster movie. Complete with a boring Raymond Burr, who kept the same facial expression every moment he was on the screen, whether he was relaxing on the plane or watching a huge dragon destroying the very building he's standing in. This performance is matched by the voice actors used for the dubbed characters from the original. I find it completely unbelievable that they couldn't find someone who could read the lines in something other than a monotone. This version of affairs is quite a bit shorter than the original to boot. Total running time stands about twenty minutes shy. With all the added footage bringing Burr to the picture, you can guess just how much of the initial material is left intact. You know, the material with the actual content in it. Everything has been watered down, and not even just the antinuclear stuff. The love triangle wasn't a major part of the first picture, but it led to tension in a few scenes. Here, there's one scene where the narration literally says "it's a love triangle" and that's all the attention it's given.

This entire review has been negative sure, but most of it has been comparing it to the original. The movie in itself isn't horrible. However, it's not good either. There's nothing special about this one, its just another monster movie from a time where these movies were plentiful. And those were at least spared the dubbing treatment. Now that Gojira doesn't need to be imported for fifty bucks, hunting down this one just isn't worth the effort. Apparently Toho knew this too, since it's included as a "bonus" when you buy the original. At least they had the common courtesy to make it a two-disc set instead of using those awful double-sided discs. Maybe give it a once-through for curiosity's sake, but I think you'll find yourself sticking to the source and forgetting it was ever given a makeover. 4/10.
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