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"Ghidorah is a space monster; the monsters from Earth cannot win. I will get in touch with you when you feel like giving up."
DVD ReviewOkay, true confessions time. This film, one of the biggest Japanese movie monster extravaganzas ever produced, holds a fond place in my heart as the first movie I ever went to by myself back in 1971. I loved it then, and I still do, though I watch it with a somewhat more jaundiced and critical eye after nearly thirty years.The film features all the people in rubber monster suits that you could possibly hope to see. The king of them all, Godzilla is here, as are Mothra (in caterpillar form rather than moth form—apparently he can reverse the usual development process), Rodan, Ghidorah, Manda, Baragon and a host of others that I've never seen in any film besides this one. We learn that by 1999 all of Earth's monsters have been gathered together on a single island, quaintly named Monsterland (never mind continuity from other films where these monsters were destroyed or escaped beneath the sea, etc.). However, alien invaders bent on repopulating Earth with a scientific civilization decide to make the process easier by releasing the monsters in Monsterland and forcing them to wipe out Earth's population centers. While not well explained in the film, the aliens from Kiraak (a planet-sized asteroid supposedly lying between Mars and Jupiter) seem to have the ability to teleport the monsters from place to place; One minute Godzilla is in New York and Rodan is in Moscow, and the next both of them are in Tokyo. As you can probably tell from the foregoing, the makers of this film aren't taking the proceedings very seriously, but are just having a good time getting all of these monsters together and wreaking havoc. The production values and special effects are surprisingly good considering it is being treated as a kiddy film. I had a great time with this guilty pleasure; I think I probably would have even if it didn't bring back childhood memories of the big monster hullabaloo.The disc is presented only in widescreen, with English dubbing. No subtitles in any language are included.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: We are clearly seeing a marriage of two prints: an old English-language print and a new transfer of a Japanese print with English dubbing added on it. The opening English titles are slightly damaged and speckled throughout, as are the closing titles. In between, we are presented with a beautiful, nearly pristine print. The one distraction is that there is a occasional irritating white bar at the bottom of the picture when a scene changes. If this is on the master, I wish it would have been digitally eliminated. However, the irritation is pretty minor. The vast majority of the running time has absolutely gorgeous video.Colors are eye-popping and vivid throughout; the yellow-orange space-suits of the astronauts in particular stand out. Blacks are solid and shadows deep throughout the film. No artifacting was visible to me anywhere. Detail is fine and really stands out; at times, you can even see the individual stitches in the fabric making up Ghidorah's wings. Except for the title sequences, this is a beautiful non-anamorphic transfer, which is quite astonishing when you consider this is a 30-year old children's film of little redeeming social merit. I heartily approve.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The sound is a so-so 2-channel mono. The music comes through very nicely and generally doesn't sound too distorted. The dubbing is fairly decent, although there are a few instances of clearly inappropriate voice casting. Obviously, the dialogue all sounds ADR-produced and slightly unnatural. There are some rather noisy reel changes which could have been handled better.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc Extrasno menu
Layers Switch: na
Extras Review: Due to contract restrictions with Toho studios, the extras on this disc are limited to nothing whatsoever. There is not even a menu nor even any chapter stops, so going directly to one particular scene involves a tedious amount of fast-forwarding. I fail to understand Toho's attitude on this point; I can understand their desire not to have a Japanese-language version with removable subtitles to come back into Japan as an import (as was the case with Criterion's original issue of The Seven Samurai), but I can't fathom the absence of any chapter stops. When I was trying to get to a sequence in the middle, I felt like I was running a VHS tape!
Extras Grade: F
Final CommentsA beautiful presentation of a guilty pleasure. Those who prefer Godzilla as a guy in a rubber suit rather than mega-million-dollar CGI will be right at home with this film. The lack of extras (even chapter stops) is the main shortcoming. However, given the low list price on this DVD, it is still an extremely good value for those with a longing for multiple monsters destroying the world in a good old-fashioned manner.
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