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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Gojira tai Megagirasu) (2000)

"What a waste of time. Why do you need to be fit, when we're going to make Godzilla disappear up his own butthole?"
- Hajime Kudo (Shosuke Tanihara)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 25, 2004

Stars: Misato Tanaka, Shosuke Tanihara, Masatou Ihu
Other Stars: Yuriko Hoshi, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Tsutomu Kitagawa, Koichi Yamadera, Yusaku Yara
Director: Masaaki Tezuka

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (giant monster mayhem, some gore, mild language)
Run Time: 01h:45m:55s
Release Date: January 27, 2004
UPC: 043396100138
Genre: fantasy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBA D

DVD Review

When the latest of several Godzilla revamps, Godzilla 2000 (1999) was a success, Toho lost no time in getting this sequel out. Although it has some definite merits, there are some signs of being rushed in order to capitalize on its predecessor.

Since Godzilla has repeatedly been drawn to nuclear power, Japan has turned to "plasma power" instead. In order to help fend off the marauding radioactive fire-breathing creature (with Tsutomu Kitagawa again in the suit), the G-Graspers task force has been set up. Headed by Major Kiriko Tsujimori (Misato Tanaka), the G-Graspers find they are overmatched by the creature from the past. So they turn to young inventor Hajime Kudo, who is talented at constructing miniaturized machinery. The current scheme of the G-Graspers (I find the name horribly annoying, and thus feel compelled to use it over and over to share the pain) is to fire a miniaturized black hole at Godzilla from an orbiting satellite and thus make him disappear for once and for all. The test of this slightly improbable plan goes well, with the exception of incidentally opening up a wormhole in space-time, into which a dragonfly goes. What comes out is not a dragonfly, but a Meganulon, an aggressive, gigantic dragonfly that promptly begins laying giant eggs. Before long, it's giant monster mayhem as the later stage of Meganulon growth (or possibly the queen form; the movie's not entirely clear), the Megaguirus, is soon battling Godzilla in downtown Tokyo while the hapless G-Grapplers try to get their invention to work properly.

Godzilla 2000 was quite entertaining, and the use of the rubber suit, with high quality miniatures, supported by CGI, made it one of my favorite Godzilla films. That attention to detail is somewhat lacking here: the CGI is frequently lacking, with a video-game appearance, and the miniatures are similarly iffy. Megaguirus seldom moves in a convincing fashion, though the earlier stages (Meganulon and Meganula) aren't too bad. The final form is far too static and frankly doesn't seem all that threatening. The exceptions come during a couple sequences where the Megaguirus rams its stinger into Godzilla and visibly drains radioactivity out of him in vampiric fashion. These are fairly intense scenes that would not be appropriate for younger children; there's also a couple gory bits as the Meganulons go hunting for human prey.

Though not for children, the tradition of children playing prominent roles in Godzilla films is respected here. A young boy finds the first Meganulon egg and takes it home; when it begins leaking fluid, he panics and throws it into the sewer. Although he's later called upon to explain what happened, he doesn't somehow magically come up with the answer for how to defeat Megaguirus or otherwise prove himself smarter than the adults, which is a happy change after seeing old-time Gamera movies.

The leads are excellent. Tanaka credibly plays a forceful and determined female character (which surely must have raised some eyebrows in Japan), while Tanihara is entertainingly comic without being cloying or stupid. What's more, they have a good onscreen chemistry without having to resort to any forced romance. They clearly like each other, but if they do anything about it that's all happily kept offscreen so we can get right to the monsters. Kitagawa really puts a lot into his performance as Godzilla, with a surprising amount of character given to what is in the last analysis, a rubber suit. The climactic battle (spread out over four chapter stops) gets a bit tedious and repetitive, but even then the end seems somewhat abrupt.

Special commendation is in order for Toho on this picture: together with the companion release of Godzilla Mothra King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), this will be the first time (to my knowledge) Toho has ever deigned to release a Godzilla film in a home video format in the original Japanese, with English subtitles, in what seems to be the original cut. The credits are in English, but this is a huge step forward. Perhaps we'll yet see some of the old classic Godzilla films in similar format.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Another coup: the picture is released in full anamorphic widescreen! Color is excellent, as are black levels and detail. The roughness of Godzilla's skin in particular gives him a substance that prior video incarnations have been sorely lacking. On the down side, there's noticeable ringing from excessive edge enhancement (but not nearly as bad as on the companion release), and some minor aliasing. On the whole, this looks pretty good, if a bit over processed.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both Japanese and English 5.1 tracks are included (and the disc quite correctly defaults to Japanese with English subtitles). Both tracks are very clean and forceful. There's very big bass, particularly with the giant pounding footsteps of the Big G, which is definitely as it should be. Music sounds good and there's plenty of substance in the surrounds, making for a very broad soundstage.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Alien Hunter, Godzilla (1998), The Medallion, Returner, So Close
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than five trailers for unrelated films in a naked bit of cross-promotion, there's nothing here at all. Disappointing, but it is Godzilla in Japanese, so I'm willing to overlook quite a lot.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

A somewhat weak followup in the series, but the human leads actually carry the day for a change by having interesting characters, played by convincing actors. Pretty good transfers overall, but not much for extras.

 


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