This is a special one for me, since it was the first (and to date only) real Godzilla film I've seen in theaters. It was a wonderful experience to see it on the big screen at age 13. Truly a highlight of my life as a fan.
But while thinking of it brings back fond memories, I honestly find this one kind of dull. Not terrible, but it could have been better. Others have mentioned the wonderfully done opening section, which I enjoy very much, but most of the movie just doesn't "do it" for me. The biggest offender here is the effects work, which, aside from a few nice shots, just feels lazy, much like the Heisei films. Though they manage to pull off a somewhat different kind of look (presumably since we've got Suzuki at the helm instead of Kawakita), it still just falls flat for the most part. Most of the suit work, especially Orga, looks stiff and the CGI is nothing short of wretched.
The original maquette for the Godzilla design is one of the coolest things I've ever seen, but the final suit is tragically disproportionate--the head/neck are HUGE in comparison with the body. The drawbacks of the suit are
helped somewhat by a good performance by Mr. Kitagawa. Orga isn't too memorable, either in character or design.
Hattori's score is very uneven, with some tracks working wonderfully with the film and making for great listening, while others are just... :goofy: The big, "epic" choral pieces are ridiculous both in conception and execution. The a cappella piece at the end is beautiful, though the choir ends up more than a little out of tune. J. Peter Robinson's additions for the U.S. version are great and really add a lot to the picture.
We do have a shot at a more original kind of plot, which deserves a little credit, even though it doesn't work out in spots. Possibly the strongest aspect of the movie for me is the characters, who manage to have personality and carry the story competently, even when the story itself fails to impress.
I haven't seen the Japanese version, and from what I've heard I'm not in any great hurry to see it. The dubbing here is hit-and-miss, but it certainly has more character than most other dubs, and the main characters are brought to life rather nicely for the most part.
"Don't just stand there, move the boat!"