One of the longest-running series in film history began with Ishiro Honda's grim, black-and-white allegory for the devastation wrought on Japan by the atomic bomb. As his visual metaphor, Honda uses a 400-foot-tall mutant dinosaur called Gojira, awakened from the depths of the sea as a rampaging nuclear nightmare, complete with glowing dorsal fins and fiery, radioactive breath. Crushing ships, villages, and buildings in his wake, Gojira marches toward Tokyo, bringing all of the country's worst nightmares back until an evil more terrible bomb -- capable of sucking all the oxygen from the sea -- returns the monster to its watery grave. The original film is chilling, despite some rather unconvincing man-in-a-suit special effects, and brimming with explicitly stated anti-American sentiment. All of that was removed for the U.S. release directed by Terry Morse. It was replaced with bad dubbing and tedious added footage starring Raymond Burr. The resulting edit was just another monster movie, but was still popular enough to assure future Toho Studios monster films a wide American release.
Audio Commentary for both movies by Film Historian David Kalat; ; New Interviews with Actors Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima and Special Effects Technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai; ; Interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube; Featurette detailing Godzilla's photographic effects, introduced by Special Effects Director Koichi Kawakita and Special Effects Photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka; ; New Interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato; ; The Unluckiest Dragon, an illustrated audio essay featuring Historian Greg Pflugfelder describing the tragic fate of the fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryu Maru, and real-life event that inspired Godzilla; ; Trailers for Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Until I picked up this set I had never seen an entire Godzilla flick. More interested in Japanese films than classic sci-fi I decided to give this a go. What a pleasent surprise.
The original Japanese Godzilla (Gojira) is well acted and directed. The special effects, while crude, are effective. I won't go into the plot other than to say it's a dark reaction to the H-bomb.
The American version (not a remake, but more of a remix) is a good example of how to dumb down a film. Raymond Burr is fine as reporter Steve Martin but he was honestly not given much to work with so is essentialy a narrator, and said narration is bland. Same footage of the creature.
The commentaries on both films are very good. (For the curious, it is nicely explained why Godzilla, not Gojira, is the appropriate translation.)
Picture quality is good considering the stock they had to work with. Audio in very good. I have not viewed the other supplements so can't comment.
If, like me, you're not a Zilla enthusiast I would recommend you check these discs out anyway. If you're already a fan I don't see how you can go wrong with a purchase of this product.
More than 1 year ago
One of my absolute favorite movies of all time. The pure visceralness of this movie is outstanding. (pleas note: if you don't like cheesy special effects, then this movie isn't for you. This movie is a metaphor.)