Godzilla (series)

Godzilla (series)

Synopsis of Movie

“Here in Tokyo, time has been turned back two million years.”

The King of the Monsters first roared into Japanese theaters in 1954. Awakened by the power of the atomic bomb (in a clear allegory to Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the prehistoric beast called Gojira wreaked havoc with every gigantic footstep, crushing buildings and setting fires with his breath. And somehow, after more than 20 films over more than 40 years, this great green goliath has become an unlikely movie star, one of the most famous faces in the cinema.

The original Gojira was a modestly-budgeted monster movie in the grand tradition of King Kong and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Unlike the stop-motion work in those films, however, Gojira had to rely on a more economical approach to its star. Simply put, a guy in a rubber suit stomped on small city models, setting off sparks and explosions. Amazingly enough, it worked, and a legend was born.

The story begins with the mysterious sinking of several ships near remote Ohto Island. A group of scientists, led by Dr. Kyohei Yamane, travel to the island by helicopter, where they discover a gigantic footprint. Gojira, a millennia-old monster over 50 meters tall, has been reawakened by nuclear blasts, and now he’s angry. The navy drops several depth charges onto the submerged beast, but Gojira is not so easily destroyed.

The monster resurfaces on the outskirts of Tokyo, where its large frame and fiery breath cause no small amount of destruction. The assembled great minds of Japan think they have a way of protecting the city—casting up a protective net of highly-charged wires—but Gojira’s next attack proves how wrong they were. Tokyo’s only hope is Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, the would-be love of Yamane’s daughter Emiko. Serizawa has developed an “oxygen destroyer,” which will wipe out the beast by instant suffocation, but the consequences may be too horrible to comprehend.

Gojira caused no small stir in its homeland, where the sting of World War II was still very real. The movie’s success there prompted Embassy Pictures Corporation to re-dub and re-cut Gojira for American audiences. Scenes of a love triangle between Serizawa, Emiko and naval officer Hideto Ogata were trimmed, new footage was added of Raymond Burr as American reporter Steve Martin (who knew?), and the movie was released in 1956 as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! The monster’s new name stuck with American audiences, and the name “Gojira” became the province of purists and trivia buffs.

Almost immediately after the first Godzilla/Gojira film, Japan’s Toho Studios filmed a sequel. The American version was released by new distributor Warner Bros., who once more changed the beast’s name to avoid any legal problems. “Gigantis” was the new star of Counterattack of the Monsters, which pitted the beast against the first in a long line of fellow giant monster foes, the armadillo-like Angurus (a.k.a. Angilas).

The big G got his name back (well, his American name anyway) for his next film, King Kong Vs. Godzilla, which, as the title made clear, featured a battle royale between the most famous giant monsters in motion picture history. Contrary to urban legend, however, the American and Japanese version did not feature different, national-pride-saving endings. The fight ended the same way in both, though we wouldn’t dream of ruining the outcome for you here.

Godzilla’s enemies and allies came fast and furious throughout the rest of the thunderlizard’s career: the giant winged insect Mothra, flying monster Rodan, the three-headed Ghidrah, the crawfish-like Sea Monster, waste beast The Smog Monster, Ghidrah’s buddy Gigan, giant beetle Megalon, robotic doppelganger Mecha-Godzilla and more. Surprisingly, the once-fearsome Godzilla started to become mankind’s protector, as the series began a more open appeal to the kiddies. A Godzilla Saturday morning cartoon was produced around this time, introducing an even friendlier Godzilla relative named Godzooky.

The original Gojira story was retold in 1984, and U.S. audiences received the film as Godzilla 1985. Intended to spark a movie revival of the franchise (which was still alive and well in Japan), the movie failed to make the same impact as one of Godzilla’s oversized feet. Despite the return of Raymond Burr as Martin, the movie was the last of the Godzilla series to be seen in most U.S. theaters for several years.

The giant dino remained a favorite of Saturday matinees and TV creature features, however, and his popularity in Japan continued. New Gojira features continued to be made, putting the star in combat with Biollante, King Ghidorah, Space Godzilla and Destroyah. Godzilla’s American fans (those without access to imported videos) had to wait until 1998 to see their hero in action again. This time, the original Japanese monster was the headliner in a big-budget American blockbuster, simply titled Godzilla.

After a long drought, the Toho version of Godzilla staged a U.S. comeback in his millennial film, Godzilla 2000, released stateside in August of 2000. After more than four decades in the business, Godzilla shows no signs of aging (he’s already over two million years old), and the modestly-budgeted monster mayhem is likely to continue well into the new millennium. And the beast goes on…

Movie Release History

1954 - Godzilla, King of the Monsters
1955 - Counterattack of the Monsters (Godzilla Raids Again)
1962 - King Kong vs Godzilla
1964 - Godzilla vs Mothra
1965 - Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster
1965 - Godzilla vs Monster Zero
1966 - Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster
1967 - Son of Godzilla
1968 - Destroy All Monsters
1969 - Godzilla's Revenge
1971 - Godzilla vs the Smog Monster
1972 - Godzilla vs Gigan
1973 - Godzilla vs Megalon
1974 - Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla
1975 - The Terror of Mechagodzilla
1984 - Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn
1989 - Godzilla vs Biollante
1991 - Godzilla vs King Ghidorah
1992 - Godzilla vs Mothra
1993 - Godzilla vs Super-Mechagodzilla
1994 - Godzilla vs Space Godzilla
1995 - Godzilla vs Destroyer
1999 - Godzilla 2000
2000 - Godzilla vs Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy

Movie Sub Categories

live-action
sci-fi/fantasy
horror

Movie Studio

Toho

Cast

Steve Martin   Raymond Burr
Dr. Serizawa  Akihiko Hirata
Security Officer Tomo Iwanaga  Frank Iwanaga
Emiko   Momoko Kouchi
Dr. Tabata   Fuyuki Murakami
President of Company  Toranosuke Ogawa
Dr. Tabata's Assistant  Tadashi Okabe
Hagiwara  Sachio Sakai
Dr. Yamane  Takashi Shimura
Shinkichi  Toyoaki Suzuki
Ogata  Akira Takarada
Seiji  Ren Yamamoto
Unknown Kenji Sahara

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