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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

While Godzilla, King of the Monsters is not the original Godzilla film, you can literally see it from there.  After Godzilla (Gojira) was released to Japanese audiences in 1954, it was decided for some odd reason that an American version of the film was needed.  They took much of the original version and added scenes with Raymond Burr who also narrates a good bit of Godzilla in a film noir style.  I think it works very well but I’m also aware that they deleted several references to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which I think are essential to the telling of the tale.  I guess it was too painful for American audiences to own up to what we did to the Japanese people.

I actually like Raymond Burr’s character and think they interspersed his scenes in a way that does not feel forced or desperate.  Kudos to director Terry O. Morse and cinematographer Masao Tamai for doing such a seamless job of combining footage.  I also think the story is powerful and translates fairly well to modern audiences.  They even create some sympathy for the monster and I do believe I shed a tear when he met his demise!

Now let’s move on to the star of the show…GODZILLA!  By 1950’s standards, I think he looks marvelous and menacing.  The trademark sounds he makes are perfect and the way they capture his movement on film feels authentic.  I also love the miniatures Godzilla sets out to destroy.  They are well made and each scene is crafted, and destroyed, with care. 

MANY incarnations of Godzilla would follow including the fairly disastrous remake in 1988 with Matthew Broderick and the infinitely better Godzilla that came out in 2014.  In fact, I really like the 2014 remake and think the big guy looks better than ever.  It also doesn’t hurt to help Brian Cranston [Breaking Bad] on board as well!

So, if you have any love for this iconic monster, this version, along with the 1954 original, is a must-see.  It really is a lovely film to behold.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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