Incredible, unstoppable titan of terror!
The one that started it all, the very king of monsters himself: Godzilla (or as he was known before we Americans starting changing things - Gojira). At the time of writing this, we are about a month and a half away before the US Box office tries to recover from the horrendous attempt at making a Godzilla movie (it was actually worse than the classic guys-in-suits movies that came before it) with it's brand new Godzilla movie, I've decided that we need to span the timelines and get a feel for our nuclear lizard king. You'd be surprised to know it, but there are people out there who have never heard of Godzilla! Well, fear not denizens of Earth! I'll be your tour guide on this journey, and I won't let the giant creature eat you (unless you really deserve it).
Godzilla might not have been the first movie ever created about scientifically enlarged creatures, but I could argue that of its generation, it was the one that caused the genre to boom in the most pleasant way. I've been hooked from a young age, and without a doubt those older than me are also hooked (probably even bigger fans than I) as well as some younger - and yet others think of it as nothing more than "silly movies about guy's in rubber suits." This wasn't always the case - nay, in the very first film Godzilla is almost nothing more than an allegory for all the wrong aspects of mankind. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, so let me get the plot out of the way first shall we?
After a series of boats get destroyed after a urgent SOS is sent out, Japan starts to expect something is going on but not quite sure of what - underwater mines, hidden submarines, volcanoes, who knows? On one of its islands, the natives tell tales of a great beast known as Godzilla, who used to eat all the fish in the sea and require a sacrifice from the islanders to be appeased. It isn't long, however, until the island is hit by a mighty force of nature, destroying houses and taking lives. In the investigation of this incident, it is discovered that it was not just any ordinary force of nature. No, it's a giant 50 meter tall dinosaur that seems to bleed radioactivity wherever it trods! It is thus theorized that this creature, called Godzilla in honor of the islander's traditions, is the result of underwater nuclear testing, where a dinosaur was then super-charged by radioactivity and unleashed on the modern world.
Japan tries its hardest to defend against the giant creature by erecting huge power lines as a coastal fence to try and electrocute Godzilla if he comes ashore, detonating deep sea charges, and (when it finally makes landfall) unloading everything they have from soldiers with machine guns to tanks and fighter planes against the creature. When Godzilla is finally "driven off," the entire city lays in ruins and on fire, with catastrophic death tolls and uncountable damages. The fate of Japan - and possibly the entire human race - lies in the hands of a single scientist and his little secret.
The film is in black and white, and the effects can be unarguably incredibly dated at times. The Godzilla suit can look great at a distance, but in close up shots can be downright comical (any scene that shows what looks like "googly eyes" stuck on it's face get me every time), and the more 'advance' special effects (such as the glow of Godzilla's back spines) are something those familiar with old effects will easily recognize. This isn't to say it's all bad, as the use of perspective and old techniques to trick multiple scenes to look like one (such as people running away from godzilla in the background) are quite well done, particularly for the time.
Actors do a fine job here, if not a bit of overacting at times (particularly on the female lead's part) that tends to go hand-in-hand with black and white era films (when things were still treated more like recorded plays then they are nowadays). Music in the background is a good mix as well, with the driving theme that any Godzilla fan will recognize on hearing it, as well as incredibly somber music when the screen situation calls for it. Likewise, effect sounds come off pretty well, although all the audio in general does have a bit murkier quality than what the modern audience is used to enjoying due to it's age.
As stated before, most people remember Godzilla for it's later films - when it becomes a monster versus monster battle royale with poor Japan always in the middle - rather than it's origin. Here in the origin, Godzilla is used to demonstrate the folly of mankind, using such things as nuclear bombs and nuclear testing creating the beast as it's prime example. More than that, we have the one main zoologist, who seems to be the only person in all of Japan who want's to study Godzilla for it's positive qualities - it survived nuclear bombs, which is more than a lot of things can claim - and the scientist who struggles with wanting to provide a positive result from his science instead of a simple weapon like the A-bombs. At it's face value, it's just a giant monster stomping around town and destroying it for no reason, but at it's core it's a true science fiction piece about the very dangers of science and human nature.
As is normally the case, I can't recommend this to everyone - it's without a doubt a bit dated. A lot of modern people don't have time nor appreciation for things that are a bit aged. If you can get over the aging parts, it's by far a great example of good, classic science fiction. From here on out, giant monsters became a thing, spawning 50 years of Godzilla movies alone (28 movies from 1954 to 2004, if you don't include the American attempts). There are some changes if you saw the Americanized version, one should know, that includes (aside the notorious super-bad dubbing) an American reporter covering Godzilla's carnage whom actually carries over into other Godzilla films as well. So if you really want my unedited opinion on this, everyone should watch this, and everyone should enjoy this - but if you don't I understand and won't think much less of you (but will be slightly disappointed in you).