Howdy people, time for another film review and this one is of the slightly older variety. With all of the hype surrounding the recently leaked Godzilla teaser trailer, I thought it was around time that I watched the film that started the whole monster movie hype. I am of course talking about the original 1954 film, Godzilla from Toho and director Ishirō Honda.
My main reasons for watching this film was two reasons:
- James Rolfe: I’ve watched his Monster Madness Godzillathon several times over the last 2 years now and it’s really made want to check the original source material out
- Godzilla 2014 teaser trailer: I’ve seen the teaser trailer for the new film 3 times and I’m hella excited so I really wanted to see the first film in the series.
Anyway, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s start this review! 🙂
The plot tells the story of Godzilla, a giant monster mutated by nuclear radiation who ravages Japan, bringing back the horrors of nuclear devastation to a country that experienced it first hand.
I thought the story in this film was really good. There was a real dramatic and emotional tone to the film and I could really sense some familiarity to Japan’s history with WWII. I was surprised how invested I got in the story and characters, this wasn’t just one those films where you were asking yourself, “Where’s the monster?” There were people with lives, problems and scenarios that were relevant to the story and you cared about what happened to them. When compared to the monster films I’ve seen since growing up in the 90s that’s one things I feel like they’ve missed the mark on; having a relevant story and characters that don’t detract from the action going on. This is something that the 1998 Godzilla really missed the mark on… Anyway moving on. I feel like the balance between action and characters was done well, though I would have preferred a bit more action at some points because the pacing in this film when it involves humans can be a bit slow at times.
Another good point of this film was the cast as the characters were all good and relevant. Let’s talk about the main four cast members. Takashi Shimura as Dr. Kyohei Yamane was on of my favourite characters, he was an archaeologist who was fascinated by Godzilla and really tried to keep the monster alive so it could be studied and while he may not have been right, I appreciated his point of view in this film. Akihiko Hirata as Daisuke Serizawa was probably my favourite character in the film. While I don’t recall him having as much screen time as the other lead characters, he serves a great purpose and I loved his dialogue, his strong sense of justice and commitment to science. Unfortunately I don’t recall much about Akira Takarada as Hideto Ogata and Momoko Kōchi as Emiko Yamane, it’s not that their characters weren’t relevant, I just don’t really remember any of their key features as much as the previous two people. I do remember that Momoko Kōchi was very emotive and her character was very sweet and did her emotional scenes very nicely.
When it comes to the presentation, well it is hard for me to judge a film that is so old and before my time without sounding like some disrespectful punk, so I’m going to pick my next set of words very carefully haha.
Visually for its time the film looks pretty good. Firstly let’s get something out of the way, yes, Godzilla is basically just a guy in a rubber suit, but for what its worth he does look genuinely creepy and scary and this is achieved through low camera angles, low lighting and good cinematography. Also I’m not overly keen on black and white films that feature a lot of scenes in dark interiors or scenes in the dark, that being said, this film really utilizes its lighting especially in the moments when Godzilla is on the move, destroying stuff, making the creature look pretty scary and keeping him hidden from the light in smart ways.
As for the soundtrack by Akira Ifukube I think its pretty good, it has a very emotional, dynamic and powerful sound to and of course it has the song “Godzilla (Main Theme)” which became the popular theme song for the Godzilla and has continued to be used throughout the rest of the film franchise.
In conclusion while it is quite old, Godzilla (1954) is a pretty darn good film. I didn’t expect the film to have as much substance as it did with its very interesting and dramatic story, characters that you actually cared about and a pretty good monster who had a feasible reason for coming into existence. While the pacing was a bit slow for my liking and I would have liked to have seen some more Godzilla, all in all this film was a good watch and I would recommend it to most people who are into this genre of film who can appreciate it.
8/10 (For quite an old film it holds up well with its epic monster, dramatic story and relevant characters)
So for those of you out there who have seen Godzilla (1954), what do think of the film? Whatever your thoughts drop them below and I’ll see ya on the next review yo! 😀