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on 23 April 2008
This is the original sequel to Godzilla. Godzilla takes on Angurius in this movie the first time ever Godzilla faces another monster and this is it.

It may be black and white, it may have aged badly, but the movie is still as engaging to watch as you would expect from Godzilla movies.
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The first of many sequels, 1955's Godzilla Raids Again is a typical example of the low-budget quickie sequels that used to be knocked out with more of an eye on getting into the theatres as quickly and cheaply as possible rather than on quality. Kurosawa favorite and star of the original Takashi Shimura only turns up for a single scene in this drawn-out number that introduces the monster mash theme of subsequent films with a giant terrapin but gets bogged down forever treading water with bland characters and a surprising lack of any urgency to the proceedings. The destruction quota is pretty low: this time it's Osaka's turn in an impressive setpiece at the film's halfway point that offers a striking shot of the city burning in the distance that summons up memories of mushroom clouds before adjourning to an island and an interminable series of bombing runs that allow special effects man Eiji Tsuburaya's aviation obsession to run riot. The special effects themselves are considerably worse and its all very dull and drawn out. This did set path for future films by giving Godzilla a rival monster (Anguirus) to battle, though he's disposed of at the halfway point, and it's worth noting that this second Godzilla is the creature that would appear in all the subsequent films in the original Showa series (the original Godzilla being reduced to a skeleton in the first film), but it's primarily of historical interest. Unfortunately this was bad enough to send Gojira into hibernation until the early Sixties where he'd have to work his way up through the ranks again as a supporting player to other monsters.

The much-altered version released in the US as Gigantis The Fire Monster probably didn't help matters either. Rather than crudely editing an American star into the film a la Raymond Burr in the original Gojira, it was originally planned to simply use the monster footage and build an entirely new American movie to be called Volcano Monsters around them, even importing the Godzilla and Anguirus suits to shoot additional carnage only for the project to fall through. Instead the film was eventually dubbed into English by Keye Luke, who provides the almost constant running commentary and at one point utters the immortal line "Banana oil!", George Takei, Paul Frees and several others (including, from the sound of it, Yogi Bear), padded out with stock footage from newsreels and old educational films, rescored with cues from Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter's scores for Kronos and The Deerslayer and belatedly released in a flop double-bill with Teenagers From Outer Space in 1959. Along with major changes to the Japanese version's dialogue and characters, even Godzilla found himself renamed Gigantis. Unfortunately Toho have done a little fiddling around of their own on Classic Media's generally excellent recent Region 1 DVD, removing the US title for a clumsily grafted on video graphic.

Including both Japanese and American versions of the film, extras on the disc aren't plentiful but are very good, including an excellent audio commentary on the American version and an informative stills-led featurette on the suit actors in the series (the original and most prolific Gojira performer, Haruo Nakajima, had actually played one of the bandits in Seven Samurai!). Not a great film in either version, but a surprisingly satisfying DVD.
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As the opening music plays you hear the familiar roar of Godzilla, and then there's a less familiar roar - Godzilla is about to meet his first monster enemy....

The first Godzilla film was released less than a decade after the atomic bombs which catalysed the end of the Second World War - it's not hard to understand why a film which is ultimately about the destructive force of radiation managed to weave itself so deep into the culture of Japan. Even the end of the film which saw the destruction of a powerful weapon so as to protect humankind serves as a thought provoking reminder concerning the ethics around using such a device. A year later Godzilla was back, in this direct sequel.

As the pilot Kobayashi flirts with his girlfriend over the radio his engines fail, he is soon rescued from a remote island, but both he and his colleague witness a titanic battle between Godzilla and another unknown monster. Back on the mainland, research concludes (rather quickly and with no real evidence!) that the new creature is a mutated form of the dinosaur Angilosaurus - now existing as Angilas thanks to the same hydrogen bomb explosion which created Godzilla. Fear rises when they realise that they have no effective weapon against the armoured Angilas. The disconcerting thought of two giant monsters battling through Tokyo again results in a plan to try and lure them away. The film uses scenes reminiscent of the Second World War including blackouts, sirens, and radio public service broadcasts telling civilians to head for the shelters, there's a real sense of public panic which much have been still fairly fresh in the memory at the time.

As Godzilla emerges from the water the military plan is put into action and their light show seems to successfully lure him away from Osaka. It's a plan which would have worked had it not have been for an explosion at a local gas plant - the resulting flames bring Godzilla back out of the water, and he's not alone. Osaka now faces a monster sized battle between two titans as Godzilla and Angilas scrap and cause mass destruction. The first film contained a lot of moral probing around weapons of mass destruction, there's a chance in this sequel to further the debate but it's abandoned in order to focus on seeing more of the monster itself. That's not to say that the debate is absent from the film, a brief but poignant moment of reflection occurs when the possibility of using the hydrogen bomb again is raised - would destroying Godzilla be a legitimate use? Or should the presence of Godzilla be considered a warning against using such a weapon?

Angilas almost seems superfluous here and doesn't feature that much, the fight scenes between Angilas and Godzilla only make up a small part of the film but they still make a big impact. The fight is realistically savage (for two guys in restrictive suits), instead of throwing rocks at each other or using excessive amounts of atomic breath, we see scratching and biting which capture the essence of a frenzied animal attack. Although some of the models are obviously models, and some sequences are repeated throughout the film (particularly a shot of aeroplanes flying overhead in formation), it's all part of the charm and they have since become a welcome component of the genre. There are many scenes filmed in front of a videoscreen and the quality of the picture between the screen and the live action differs but not enough to detract from the moment, the fact that this is in black and white helps too.

This feels like an experiment to see what works, sped up footage of monster attacks is tried but doesn't look as effective as the slow-mo sequences (the slowed footage gives the sense of bigger beasts). Including another monster was a risk but it pays off and the Godzilla film franchise from this point becomes a "Godzilla verses" series of films. To make sure things don't look too silly, the sub-plot involving pilot Kobayashi and his sweetheart adds some human drama and balances things out a little. This film was rushed after the popularity of the original, this is clear from the first few minutes but it doesn't look too shabby and has some good moments. Akira Ifukube's anthemic, military style score is absent from this film, it probably wasn't noticed much at the time but it has since become the de-facto "Godzilla's Theme" and it seems strange to watch a 'Zilla film without it!

This DVD contains both the original Japanese (subtitled) and the American (dubbed) versions. However these aren't simply two films with a different audio track, the American version is re-edited and in an attempt to make this a standalone film rather than a sequel it is called "Gigantis, The Fire Monster". It contains some additional scenes to make sure there are references to America and a prologue delivered in a very serious tone. There is a pretty good light-hearted commentary but you'll have to watch the American cut for that and there's also a great featurette about acting in a rubber suit. The booklet by Godzilla mega-fan Steve Ryfle is a great inclusion also.

In a nutshell: The start contains some dodgy pseudo-science and wild stabs in the dark which prove conveniently correct, but it's just a vehicle to get Godzilla and his new playmate explained and onto the screen. It's surprisingly entertaining though and this release is excellent. The Japanese version is the true film and the American re-edit is worth watching for comedy value if nothing else.
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on 5 October 2012
I have mixed feelings about this film. First off I like the plot and think it's fairly good but even for the time it is fairly poor quality, it is nowhere near as good as the first one only a year earlier, the acting is actually atrocious and the dubbed voice over is pretty poor. 'I looked out of my plan and saw my buddy' -That made me cringe a little especially with the actors facial expressions, too much for such a simple thing and it seemed to process the same.

This film was actually rather scary, I'd seen bits of it when I was little but it being a 50s black and white Japanese dub it was very rarely on Television so now at 19 I chose to purchase it again to add to my collection. I'm glad I bought it but it is rather scary.

What annoyed me again was the way Godzilla was renamed 'Gigantis' and continually was portrayed with Anguirus' voice, it became confusing as you would immediately think 'It's Anguirus coming!' then suddenly Godzilla would appear, oops, sorry, GIGANTIS. They then stated 'gigantis' was Anguirus because he was part of the Anguirus family but he wasn't Anguirus because Anguirus was Anguirus. Are you still with me?

It seemed to have a good plot but the way it was done, it needed cleaning and tightening up. The actors needed to do a better job and the lazy parts were atrocious which really dragged such a potentially loveable film down drastically. I do like it but it was very poor considering the other amazing films. After the incredible 1954 you would expect this to be at least one step ahead, well it was more like 10 steps back.
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on 10 January 2014
I purchased Godzilla Raids Again as a gift for another person. I did not view it myself. However, I have received feedback from the recipient to say that it was a very good enjoyable film. I am therefore very contented with having made the purchase at the price I paid for it from Amazon. Based on that, I would make further purchases of the Godzilla series subject to the price and delivery charge.
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on 30 June 2014
I find with these dvd's the menu's are uninspiring and boring - a little difficult to navigate if you are unaware of other audio options (english or american) - it is in no way restored it is shown as it was/is. It was an ok dvd that offered no REAL benefit to having it on DVD as to video tape.
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on 9 June 2015
Awesome film, not as good as the original, but still great. That said, I live in the UK and Amazon doesn't have a Region 2 copy of this film since I don't have a Region 1 DVD Player. I ask Amazon to please put the original Japanese version on their website in Region 2 format and at a price of about ten pounds. I originally saw it with my friend in America, but I wanted to own a copy so that is why I've let Amazon know.
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on 14 September 2013
Being a fan of this classic Japanese genre, I was not disappointed with this purchase. It made me laugh being able to compare the original Japanese version with the badly dubbed American version.
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on 22 October 2014
These films are so silly there great,badly dubbed,this is the second Godzilla film in black and white,and the first time we see another monster,only buy if you know what to expect
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on 12 November 2014
excellent movie and excellent service will keep buying thankyou
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