Imagine that you are peacefully going about your day in a secluded village on the outskirts of Tokyo. Suddenly, you hear screams, an air raid siren, and what sounds like an enormous herd of elephants headed in your direction. Over the horizon looms the figure of a massive beast. As you are about to flee in terror, a new sound causes you and the monster to both look in the direction of Mount Fuji. And there, in all his glory, stands the king of the monsters himself: the mighty Godzilla! Yes, the glorious protector of truth, justice, and the Japanese way! But Godzilla wasn't always the heroic figure he is today. In his first big screen outing, the Japanese government sought to destroy him. The premise of Godzilla's opening film is that in the wake of WW2, the Japanese government has begun nuclear tests in Tokyo Bay. But something was trying to take a nap in Tokyo Bay... something with size 400 sneakers. And when nuclear tests caused undersea vibrations, the shockwaves awoke the sleeping giant. It invaded the peaceful island of Odo, wrecking villages and ruining the fishing catch. A Tokyo paleontologist is dispatched to the island, and his team discovers enormous radioactive footprints and the carcass of a long-extinct creature, the trilobite. Suddenly, the monster itself appears, emits its now-iconic roar for the first time, and then returns to the ocean.
The paleontologist returns to Tokyo with his findings, and debate ensues about whether or not the danger should be presented to the public. The government sends the navy to depth charge the beast, but to no effect. Next, they erect a makeshift electric fence. However, the enraged Godzilla quickly breaks through it and begins rampaging through Tokyo. Meanwhile, a scientist has developed a device called an "Oxygen Destroyer", which breaks down oxygen atoms, causing any living creature caught in the area to immediately die of rotting asphyxiation. The government pleads with the inventor to use it on Godzilla, and he denies their request. However, after seeing a program about how much devastation the monster has caused, he reluctantly agrees. The inventor and another man locate Godzilla in Tokyo Bay and unload the device. The inventor plants it alone and then commits suicide to protect its designs from falling into the wrong hands. The device does indeed reduce Godzilla to a pile of bones, but the Tokyo paleontologist states that if nuclear testing continues, another Godzilla may arise.
The main thing that recommends this film is the tension. The sense of ever-mounting drama makes for edge-of-your-seat anticipation. Godzilla's lack of appearance in the film is used to further heighten the sense of impending doom and the fear factor once he finally appears onscreen. Godzilla is literally only onscreen in his title film for 15 minutes of the film's 96 minute runtime. This is pretty much the only film series where it's totally okay for the title character to be the one with the lowest screentime in the film. Although part of the reason for the lack of screentime could be the costume itself. Yes, I know I just destroyed your sense of childlike wonder, but you didn't REALLY think there was a 165-foot dinosaur running around the streets of Japan, did you? Well, don't worry. He's not a guy in a rubber suit anymore. Now he's CGI. But he really looked better as a rubber suit. Want proof? See below!