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Gojira / Godzilla (CE)
DVD disk
09.19.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Gojira / Godzilla (CE) order
Ishiro Honda/Terry O. Morse

Raymond Burr
Akihiko Hirata
Takashi Shimura


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Whether itís seen as a political commentary on nuclear testing or simply a classic monster movie, the original Japanese version of Godzilla has been mostly MIAÖuntil now. This is the release of the 1954 Original Japanese film GOJIRA, along with the later Americanized version with actor Raymond Burr.
Itís quite an interesting choice to release the original Japanese GOJIRA and its Americanized counterpart in the same DVD set, as they both equally highlight each others strengths and weaknesses. GOJIRA, which I didnít even know existed until recently, is quite a far cry from the Raymond Burr version I watched as a kid. Itís an interesting and (for its time!) inventive tale about the problems of nuclear testing, wrapped in the blanket of being a schlocky creature feature. Itís nice to see that even back in 1954, the filmmakers had the ability to tap into modern day tragedy with a sense of irony and in this new DVD set, the original gets its due. The spliced in Raymond Burr version works as well, though not to the same degree. Burr provides a much needed relatable side to the film, acting as a tour guide of sorts, but sometimes at the expense of the original versionís integrity. The endless shots of Burr talking to someone with their backs to the camera only reinforces that this is footage that was not initially intended Ė it was forced in.

The acting itself, almost seems to get better with the newer version. Meaning itís the same basic actors and performances in both films, but the narration by Burr seems to bring less confusion and more depth to the acting work of the Japanese leads. However, all acting work must be taken with a grain of salt for heavy cheese factor, even though it was probably considered to be top drawer back then. But for most fans, itís all fodder until one of the most loved and beloved creatures in cinema history rears his scaly head. And no matter what you call him, GOJIRA OR GODZILLA, for a monster over 52 years old, the big guy can still stomp a small city like nobodyís business.
This is (according to the box!) THE definitive GOJIRA aka GODZILLA now ďavailable on DVD for the first time in North AmericaĒ, meaning the folks at Toho have spared no expense making this 2 Disc-set set look and sound great. The DVD has both the Japanese version GOJIRA with features on Disc One and the U.S. Version GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS with features on Disc Two, both remastered ďDirect from the Toho VaultsĒ. Also included is a cool 16 Page Collectable Booklet, which features various interesting facts on the films. Fans rejoice, your holy grail has arrived!

Disc One:

Commentary (with Author Steve Ryfle and Editor/Publisher Ed Godziszewski): Ryfle (who wrote the book Japanís Favorite Mon-star Ė The Unauthorized Biography of Godzilla) and Godziszewski (the Editor/Publisher of Japanese Giants and Author of Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla) definitely have the knowledge and facts on all things GODZILLA. Along with their vast array of insider info, they also give some scene specific detailed commentary, everything from actors to whatís inscribed on a life preserver. (No. 5 Ė in reference to Lucky Dragon No. 5, a boat with a Japanese history Ė now thatís the epitome of geek-dom info!) Ryfle is a little wry, but thankfully Godziszewski (is his name just a coincidence?!) has a little more life in his delivery. All in all itís got all the skinny every GODZILLA freak could and would ever want!

Godzilla: Story Development Featurette (12:57): Some good, some bad. When this featurette shows stills of key players during production, as well as unique and rare story boards, things get very interesting. Problem is that itís all laid over a very boring and monotone sounding voice over specifically designed to put the audience to sleep. And the lag times when they merely show posters and the promo materials donít help either. This featurette needed and deserved (itís a special edition for crying out loud!) much more detail and most of all, a little finesse.

Making Of The Godzilla Suit Featurette (13:07): This one suffers from the same problems that plagued the previous featurette, although it does have more detail in both its info and stills. (Great seeing all those early drawings and models!) This one even breaks things down into sections (construction, design, ect.), which definitely helps. But once and for all, lose the voice over guy Ė heís a dud!

There is also a GOJIRA Original Theatrical Trailer.

Disc Two:

Commentary (with Author Steve Ryfle and Editor/Publisher Ed Godziszewski): Ryfle and Godziszewski are back with more info on this Americanized version and give some great info on what some call an inferior film. (These guys even go into conspiracy about how the creators of the Americanized version had their own Cold War agenda!) At around the 47 minute mark, a guy named Ted Newsome comes in with an interesting Zilla related story. (Plus another story later on!) Also, Terry Morse Jr. (son of director Terry O. Morse, who did the new Raymond Burr footage for the film) and assistant editor of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS comes in around the 50 minute mark with some recollections of the film. This one is ripe and completely chocked full of all the info youíll ever needÖthat you crave!

There is also a GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS Original Theatrical Trailer.
Just the spectacular looking and sounding final release of the Original Japanese Version of GOJIRA, would be worth buying alone. But throw in a copy of the Americanized GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, some heavy-on-info commentaries, a few semi-good featurettes and a terrific looking package with 16 page booklet and youíve got one monster of a deal.
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