Starring: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akria Takarada
Director: Ishirō Honda
Running Time: 96 mins
Godzilla is a Japanese film about the events after American nuclear tests accidentally create a gigantic, unstoppable, fire-breathing dinosaur-like creature that wreaks havoc on Tokyo as it begins its relentless battle against humankind.
I wouldn’t say that this is a particularly scary film, but I would call it terrifying. Although you do have older special effects that don’t necessarily strike fear into your heart, Godzilla is a suspenseful, exciting and insane story that takes on both an action-packed role as well as a poignant look at nuclear weapons in the 1950s.
However, starting with the opening stages of the film: it’s both interesting and intense. The constant disappearance of search parties travelling out to sea to find Godzilla makes a hugely tense story line, and the fascinating plot following the scientists’ discovery of radioactivity in the footprints of Godzilla somehow manages to make this story somewhat feasible, adding considerably to the atmosphere of the film.
There is one problem, though, with these opening stages. Yes, there is a lot of tension as it seems as if the search parties are getting closer to Godzilla, and it continues to build up almost until bursting point, however I have to say that this part just overstays its welcome, and is, by the end of the beginning, a little dull and slow.
But from then on, the film really takes off in more ways than one. Immediately after the discovery of Godzilla, there’s a lengthy sequence which details the beast attacking Tokyo and annihilating the entire city, which, despite its old visuals, is a hugely entertaining and exciting part of the story.
One of the main things that add to the terror that you see Godzilla create is his roar. It’s so iconic, and so powerful, that amidst all of the insane sci-fi in this film, that roar is perhaps one of the scariest and most fearful sounds in cinema history, however it makes the monster all the more terrifying.
After the action and destruction, the film tones down significantly. In the aftermath of Godzilla’s attack, it details the effects that it has had on the city, showing scenes similar to those after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is actually quite harrowing and difficult to watch.
The theme of using Godzilla as a metaphor for nuclear weapons within the context of the Cold War is absolute genius, and creates a fascinating story line to follow throughout the latter stages of the film, which shows that it can be extremely deep, poignant and thought-provoking as well as action-packed.
Overall, I’ll give this a 7.9, because it overcomes its pacing issues to create an intriguing, terrifying, exciting and classic monster film that remains iconic to this day.