Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956) review
The film that started off the whole monster franchise may be a bit dated, bland in parts, and suffering from poor storytelling, but it remains a key point in the atomic age horror films as well as a nostalgic trip back to where it all began.
PLOT: Young American businessman, Steve Martin (Raymond Burr), is traveling to Tokyo, Japan, for overseas business when he realizes that strange things have been happening around him, including the random sinking of a Japanese ship, other disappearing ships, and retellings of a monster named Godzilla from the nearest island's locals. As Steve looks deeper into the story of this monster, he finds out that it indeed does exist and may be a prevalent danger to Tokyo and its citizens. As he also figures out, Godzilla is a result of an H-bomb mutation bent on destruction. While Godzilla terrorizes, Steve and his allies must come up with away to defeat the monster and preserve Tokyo. The plot is an interesting premise marking an important point in atomic age history, but its execution is let down by poor, non-creative, bland storytelling. It had potential, it just needed to be acted on more professionally.
ACTING: The performances in this film were nowhere above decent. Raymond Burr did a subpar job of weary American, Steve Martin. He could have done better, but his work in here suited the film just fine. None of the other performances really stood out to me, however, they were just as ordinary as Barr's. There wasn't anything to get extremely excited about.
SCORE: The musical score wasn't real unique or important. A few dark themes signaled the appearance of Godzilla or a dramatic scene change, but they weren't anything to download from iTunes, metaphorically speaking.
EFFECTS: The visual effects, like in most older Godzilla films, are cheap and quite dated. The slow-moving, almost-inanimate monster seemed everything but scary. However, the stop-motion effects, though dated, seemed rather cool and innovative compared to the rest of the visuals. If the whole film's budget had gone into visual effects, the monster might have inspired a few more scares in its audience.
OTHER CONTENT: This film may have many problems, including blandness and outdated methods of filming, but there is some worth in it. Besides starting off the whole Godzilla franchise, the film itself is a nostalgic trip back to the atomic age fears and beginnings of the creature feature era of horror. The film isn't exciting, but it is fantastic with the legacy it has left. It only takes a spark to create a fire; this is that spark.
Godzilla's debut isn't the best monster movie or atomic age horror one would ever see, but it still holds a place in horror and film history. Though bland, its nostalgic charm helps it claim a place in the horror hall of fame.