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78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 34 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Never before released in the U.S., this is the original, uncut Japanese version of Godzilla directed by sci-fi master Ishiro Honda.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. Not that Honda's original Godzilla is a message movie first and foremost. It's a horror flick, and an ingenious one at that, with visual effects so vivid that gimmicky spin-offs became an enduring staple of popular film.
  2. 91
    In the annals of monster movies, one name stands above all the rest, way above: Godzilla.
  3. The original retains its dark tone and deadly serious anti-war message. For today's moviegoing audiences, this may not be your daddy's Godzilla movie, but chances are your granddaddy could teach you a thing or two about the context.
  4. Its images of the destruction of the cities is far more powerful than in American films, where the cities are trashed for the pure pleasure of destruction, without any real sense of human loss.
  5. 78
    Is it classic cinema? Perhaps not, but then again, American shores and citizens have never been lacerated by atomic weapons. What do we know?
  6. Half a century after its release, Godzilla couldn't be more current.
  7. 38
    Regaled for 50 years by the stupendous idiocy of the American version of Godzilla, audiences can now see the original Japanese version, which is equally idiotic.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Jun 13, 2013
    10
    Directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring the special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Gojira starred Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura. It was an instant box office smash in Japan. Although many elements are similar to the American version the structure of the story is different. The film begins with the mysterious destruction of a couple of ships near Odo Island. When people come to investigate the occurrences they experience some type of attack at night during the height of a hurricane. Then the scientists arrive to study Odo island where they encounter a giant reptilian monster standing over the hill roaring at them before fleeing to the ocean.

    The story also revolves around the human characters, such as the lead scientist Archeologist Kyohei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, who is engaged to her father’s colleague, Daisuke Serizawa, but is in love with a salvage ship captain, Hideto Ogata. A core scene and plot point of the movie is the break up of Emiko and Serizawa. Before she can break off her engagement to Dr. Serizawa he shares with Emiko his secret weapon he invented, a device which can destroy oxygen in water. After witnessing the horror and the destruction that this device can do to living things Serizawa has Emiko swear to reveal his secret to no one.

    Amidst these interpersonal relationships Godzilla begins to attack Tokyo and with each attack being more destructive than the last. Emiko is overcome with grief as she views the destruction Godzilla has brought to her city and nation. She also nurses a her wounded boyfriend, Ogata, who survived Godzilla’s rampage. With the government unable to defeat Godzilla and fearing more death and carnage Emiko betrays Dr. Serizawa and reveals his secret of the Oxygen Destroyer. At first Serizawa refuses to use his weapon. After being convinced of the wisdom of using the weapon Serizawa burns the research papers.

    The Japanese Navy brings Ogata and Serizawa to Tokyo Bay to use the weapon to destroy Godzilla. Once the weapon is deployed and Godzilla writhes in agony and is dieing Serizawa cuts the chord to his oxygen tank to sacrifice himself so that the secret of his weapon dies with him. Emiko and Ogata witness the demise of both Serizawa and Godzilla yet there is no comfort in their victory due to the loss of Serizawa coupled with the awareness that the atomic age has released forces that may strike again.

    For myself both the original Japanese version and the adapted American version are equally good movies. There is a somberness to the tone of the film and an urgency along with despair and helplessness that would never be repeated in the franchise again. As Godzilla evolved into a more child friendly franchise Toho studios did not attempt to recreate the seriousness of this first film for many years. Once they did try to a more serious attempts at a Godzilla movie in the late 80s and beyond they could never achieve the the same mood and tone this one set. One of the reasons, in my opinion, that the later movies failed to recreate the same mood is that all Godzilla movies has Godzilla fighting another monster (except the 1984 reboot) and those rampages by the big guy seem more motivated toward defeating a threat by another monster than Godzilla being a threat himself. In the original movie Godzilla was something mankind had brought upon himself and was reaping what he sowed. That was not the message in these later films. I also think the black and white cinematography and the distinctive musical score by Akira Ifukube also helped set the mood. When Toho begins to make Godzilla movies once again, or if the planned American movie gets made, I hope they take lessons from the one that started it all.
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