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Gojira (1954)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 65
Fresh: 61 | Rotten: 4

More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.

91

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 2

More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 8,411

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Jul 28, 2006

$10.9k

Rialto Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (65) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (4) | DVD (9)

While the acting is hit-and-miss and the story jumps around somewhat confusingly, Honda's film is a one-of-a-kind experience all the way through, one that stands the test of time better than I had expected.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Clever storytelling manages to confront tragedy from any number of angles, and sometimes swinging at it from the side can be the most affecting.

April 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Honda's satire is cutting, with several characters resigned to living with the threat of constant cataclysm.

April 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Seen afresh in this cut, with Honda's pulp poetry restored, this ballad of destruction reveals itself as one of the most exciting, enjoyable and moving of them all.

October 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Honda may not have created the most convincing-looking monster in cinema history, but he managed to give his sci-fi/horror movie a social relevance, particularly in postwar Japan.

August 20, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The rampaging reptile is back to remind us that monsters have meaning.

August 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rarely has the open wound of widespread devastation been transposed to celluloid with greater visceral impact.

April 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A masterpiece: even in its most generic elements, it's never just a monster movie, but a fantastic depiction of how humans survive and struggle.

October 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

I would be surprised if any recent digital monster proves as malleable and as enduring as this great gorilla-whale (goriro + kujira = Gojira, AKA Godzilla) who created an entire genre.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

This Criterion edition is the textbook definition of "must-own," provided you're a serious horror fan.

February 1, 2012 Full Review Source: FEARnet
FEARnet

For all its rubbery fakeness and sometimes silly plotting, the film nevertheless cuts right to the bone of nuclear anxiety

January 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

I'm waiting for the reboot that makes use of the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi for its metaphorical roots.

October 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Suite101.com
Suite101.com

Alternates between the majestic evocation of modernist shock and the primitivist illusionism of someone in a baggy lizard suit tearing through a diorama

February 7, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

one of the all time greatest monster movies

May 2, 2008

...surprisingly solemn and bitter. It is explicitly a post-Hiroshima nightmare writ large...

February 13, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A dark, deeply disturbing film with the specter of World War II and the atomic bomb hanging over nearly every scene.

November 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

a pioneering behemoth in the history of Japanese cinema, leaving giant footprints in its trail that many have followed but few have filled so impressively.

July 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

It's exciting, sober, plausible and never unintentionally comic.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The special effects for this re-released 1954 film by Ishiro Honda may now look a bit creaky, but the storytelling is muscular and the post-nuclear parable it offers is passionate and fascinatingly ambiguous.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Por trás da história absurdamente divertida, o filme revela uma sociedade às voltas com o trauma da bomba atômica e a busca desesperada pela promessa de paz entre os povos.

June 5, 2006
Cinema em Cena

Everything you have heard about Godzilla is true

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

By today's standards, this may feel rather dull and ponderous, but it's actually a remarkably astute film.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for Gojira

With a score that will leaving you cheering, miniatures that will literally make your heart race into believing it is real, "Gojira" (Godzilla) is terrific for it's time. As the myth of Godzilla comes to life and they realize it is more than just a belief, the people of Japan must work together and discover a way to destroy Godzilla once and for all, as he tears down and burns every inch of Japan. The script of this film seems obvious to a fault, but the action makes up for every flaw or laughable edit. I can't complain much about this film, because back in 1954 there was only so much available budget-wise to make this a great film, and for it's time, it is a brilliant film. I loved every minute of this film, but it just needs a little more work on it's thinly written screenplay. "Gojira" (Godzilla) is a fantastic piece of classic cinematic history.
July 14, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

A pretty cool movie, and the start to the entire Godzilla franchise. So, if you like the movies, you really need to go back and watch this one. It's not the best creature movie of the 50s, but I liked it.
March 24, 2013
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

The 1954 Japanese monster film, Gojira aka Godzilla is a landmark picture. Like King Kong, which was released in 1933, this movie set the standards for a new breed of monster films. This is a classic of the genre and it should be sought out by genre fans. The film was made at a time where Japan was still reeling from the years of the war where two Atom bombs were dropped to effectively end the war. In many ways, Gojira is an allegory to that time, and you clearly understand why. Brilliantly directed by Inoshiro Honda and with wonderful special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Gojira is a memorable and highly entertaining film that remains one of the best monster films ever filmed. In terms of effective horror, this is a great picture that has lots to offer for viewers looking for a good time. The standout scenes are understandably the scenes where Godzilla appears and in my opinion, he is the one that is clearly the star of the movie. Watching this film, you realize that the film is simple in its concept and works well due to the thrill of watching Godzilla wreck havoc in Tokyo. The direction is wonderful and along with King Kong, includes some genuine drama in the horror elements to create something truly unforgettable. This is a stunning film that I thoroughly enjoyed and it is in a league of its own. Godzilla's legacy has spawned countless movies and merchandise, and like King Kong, has become an icon of horror monster cinema. This is a flawless monster film that is a classic that should be seen by horror fans and it will definitely entertain anyone looking for awesome monster carnage. After watching this film, you'll understand why Godzilla is such an iconic monster. You're also most likely to cheer him on as he destroys everything in his path. A definite must for horror fans.
March 13, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

NOTE: This is a rewrite of my review for the original Gojira due to me not liking how I originally wrote that review. I try to not re-review films, but for this one, I have to make an exception.

As of now in the world, the term Godzilla is something of a complete staple in pop culture. No matter who you are or where you are, you have already heard of one of the greatest Japanese icons. But in the end, most people have never seen the actual film that this creature had arisen from (and no: I am not talking about the film that is dead to us all). Rewatching the original Godzilla/ Gojira, it becomes something of a complete beacon at how much people took the iconic image that was meant to be a symbol for nuclear destruction and altered it in so many ways.

But you guys are not here for a history lecture and for me to go and talk about how America and the world in general bashed and altered the name of Godzilla. You are here to read my review for this film. Okay. Fair enough. The first thing that I need to mention is just how serious this film is. Even now after viewing the original film a few times, I am still impressed at how dark and melancholy Ichiro Honda made the film in general. But when you are a country that had just experienced being bombed half to death, what do you expect? With the way Honda takes this film, you start feeling something of a complete sorrow for all that is happening. This is why Gojira is different from any and all monster films of the time: it added pure emotion and had a heart. Plus, the way Honda has Godzilla filmed (starting the idea of never showing the monster until the mid end) by having him, when visible, appear nightmarish is exactly what this film needed to add more to it's overall theme of horror for nuclear testing. That is what this film is overall: a huge political message about the horrors of bombing but without all the ad ons that usually bore audiences to death.

Another thing that stands out, and has been the subject of both praise and criticism, is the special effects. Due to me looking at this for what it is and with in mind the budget that this film had, the idea of using a rubber suit is acceptable. In terms of the design of Godzilla, the look was able to retrain that horror aspect by the way he is formed. In the film, it is never clear as to what exactly he is, but with in mind that he is some sort of T-Rex, it is kind of sad to look at Godzilla and see how nuclear radiation has changed his overall appearance. No wonder why he is completely upset to the point that he destroys everything in sight! But the one principal of special effects in Dai Kaiju eiga (Japanses Giant Monster Films) is the sets built and the explosions and f pyrotechnics used. Here, praise must be given to Eiji Tsuburaya for creating the iconic effects that we have come to know Godzilla for.

Before I get to the acting, the other aspect that needs looking into is the score created by Akira Ifukube (which, little know secret: died on my birthday). To this day, the influence of his music on this film is probably more important than Godzilla himself. Before this film, film scores were never given any though or consideration. But with this film, the score not only struck a cord with it's audience but would influence almost every modern day film composer imaginable. He makes the score haunting, dark, and gives it a form of panic that just works with the direction and image of Godzilla. But the one thing I will always remember him for: creating Godzilla's voice. I won't go into production notes, but I still find it hard to believe that his voice was made the way it was. But it doesn't matter. What matters is how iconic it has become and that is that.

Now for my only real gripe with this film: the acting. Maybe Japanese actors had a different way of acting at the time then American actors, but here none of the characters really had something of an impact on me. They were not great, but somewhere between good and okay. But if I had to pick one actor to talk about, it would have to be Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Serizawa. His character was the most interesting of all of them due to him being the embodiment of the idea of what is easy and what is right. His purpose in the film is to decide if his invention (an oxygen bomb) should be used to destroy Godzilla or not. To any normal person, the idea would be an automatic yes. But here, it is shown that he has created something that, if revealed, could cause more destruction than any form of good. Think about it: you create a device that destroys oxygen in water. What will you do when you have government officials doing anything to use that weapon against others? While the acting in this film could have been better, Hirata does the best with his character and actually makes this film worth watching when you are not waiting for Godzilla (the main star) to appear.

Influential now as it was back when it came out, Gojira is still a staple of film history, but not for the film itself completely. But because of how much of pop culture has spawned from this film that was just meant to be something of a warning for nuclear testing. Rewatching it now, you do see some problems that this film has, but you really can't blame them for that due to the budget they had, the working conditions, and the amount of time they had to work on the project. This was a huge risk that Toho studios took, but for the end result, I can safely say that they struck a goldmine with this film. Oh, and just for those cinema snobs out in the world that look down on this film, it did win the Japanese Academy Award for best special effects and was nominated for best film at those Academy Awards.
July 15, 2012
Zach Brehany

Super Reviewer

    1. Daisuke Serizawa: Ogata, humans are weak animals.
    – Submitted by Dinofoux O (17 days ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Godzilla: The Japanese Original (DE)
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