Newest Book ...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: GOJIRA (1954)

As outlined a while back, we’ve got 70+ daikaiju/tokusatsu movies to get through before Godzilla opens in theaters on May 16, 2014.

We started with Toho’s 1954 classic Gojira. We watched the Japanese version and not the one with Raymond Burr.

Here are James’ thoughts first:
I think the guy in the suit had a rough time with all the weight and firecrackers up in his face :(! But, it was worth it for a great movie. Toho should edit all Black-And-White movies they made and make them Color. I did not know that this was made right after a war <:( . 

I know that they are making a new Godzilla movie in 2014 and there are hints. Like in Pacific Rim in the beginning a kaiju roared like beginning of Godzilla’s roar. And used to have set of pics and letters and some of the letters were red and they either spelled: rise :0 (CRRREEEEPPYYY) or the beginning of Dr. Serizawa, so I guess he’s back. 
I give it 4 and a half out of five atomic breath blasts of awesomeness.
I asked why he was writing like a jerk and he said it was because I was haranguing him to stay on topic. Lesson learned.  And he wasn’t around for the Ted Turner colorization debacle of the late ’80s / early ’90s, so please forgive him for that.

OK, here’s mine:
Ever since I was a little boy, I had this one dream … Usually, I was at home but sometimes I was at the mall or at school or, later in life, at work. I could hear and feel the rumbling of giant footsteps. They began soft and distant but became louder and closer. I ran or drove or tried to ignore them, but they always seemed to be coming after me. 
Most of the time, I never actually saw what was making the noise. Sometimes I did. In the dreams set at my childhood home, I would run out to the front porch, where we had a view of trees, a lumber yard and a nearby thoroughfare. A huge swath of the sky was visible and, invariably, whatever was chasing me filled that view. Occasionally, it was a group of Imperial AT-ATs, far larger than their size in Empire. Sometimes it was a dinosaur, often a Tyrannosaurus. And then there were times when it was Godzilla himself. 
When James was just four, he came into the living room as I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, specifically the episode wherein they riffed upon Godzilla vs. Megalon. He was entranced. Not only by MST3K but also by the monsters. And so it began. 
We started by watching the Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira, of course). I had only seen the American version before so I was truly surprised at how serious everything was treated. It was, for all intents and purposes, a war movie. Long scenes set in shelters and hospital triage centers, people with radiation contamination, the troubled Dr. Serizawa with a weapon so dire it led to his suicide … 

To top it all off, the movie began with footsteps. Well, drums as footsteps, but still. 
When it comes to Shōwa era Godzilla films, there are certain things I’m looking for, effects-wise. Naturally, this includes the models that shoot bottle rockets at the poor dude in the suit. Gojira does it first and with a level of restraint compared to later films. The bits with the train are particularly well done, I thought. And I liked the way the objects of his breath melted. This film employs a puppet for some of the scenes with the monster and, unfortunately, it suffers a bit in my eyes because of it. 

Still, it was the first and easily the most serious of the franchise until 1984. That only adds to my enjoyment. Akira Ifukube’s music is top notch and you can hear hints of where it will all be going in future films. 
So, like James, I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 atomic breath blasts.
There you go. One down; five or six dozen more to go.

Up next: Godzilla Raids Again.

No comments:

Post a Comment