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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"I get the feeling it doesn't want to fight Godzilla any more."
DVD ReviewAt the finale of 2002's Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, the Big G sank back beneath the waves and the mechanical Godzilla built around the original monster's bones was in ruins. Essentially a draw, the film plainly left its way open for a sequel. In 2003 that sequel, to date the last Godzilla film, arrived, with not just these two protagonists, but Mothra also in the mix.
As the JXSDF races to repair Mechagodzilla, the monster himself stirs beneath the waves, and soon is making a beeline for Tokyo. Yoshito Chujo (Noboru Kaneko) is a mechanic on the Mechagodzilla project who seems to have a strange connection to the robotic being. His uncle, Dr. Shinichi Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi), is warned by the tiny twin fairies that herald the coming of Mothra that the bones of Godzilla must be allowed to rest. Although Dr. Chujo attempts to make his message heard, it's ignored in the wake of destruction Gojira brings to the city. So the only options left are the twin defenses of Mothra and Mechagodzilla, still only partially completed and without his Absolute Zero weapon.
There's more continuity here than one usually finds in the Godzilla series, with not only a tight narrative connection with its predecessor film, but at least cameo reappearances of many of the characters in that picture as well. The memorable Yumiko Shaku gets a brief moment contemplating Mechagodzilla before she's shunted offstage to allow the main characters for this film to take a more central role. That's too bad because Yoshito isn't all that strong or interesting a lead as Shaku's character had been in the prior year's picture. He does get some moments of jealousy as he becomes a rival of sorts with Mechagodzilla's pilot, Azusa Kisaragi (Miho Yoshioka). But in a very nice touch, Koizumi reprises his roles as Dr. Chujo from the original Mothra (1961), still not available on DVD, now 43 years older.
Frankly, the appeal of Mothra has always escaped me, given his lack of interesting powers and the bizarre backstory with the twin fairies and their mystical singing. Oddly enough, the twins this time around look nothing alike, so I guess they're only fraternal twins. The climactic battles form a remake of sorts of Godzilla vs. Mothra (aka Godzilla vs. the Thing) (1964), complete with the twin Mothra larvae and their iconic snaring of Godzilla in Silly String. But the injection of Mechagodzilla into the story makes for a stronger tale and a more satisfying reason for Mothra to get involved. Not a lot is made of the symbiotic connection between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, other than the simultaneous stirring of the robot and the beast: one wonders, had the robot been left in disrepair, would Godzilla not have returned at all?
The effects work is fairly spectacular again, with plenty of action and monster mayhem. The model work is uneven, with some segments being first class and others rather shoddy and cheap-looking. The Godzilla suit just keeps looking more vicious, though this version has a plastic unreality that the proper rubber suits didn't have. But it's a fun enough action film with enough explosions and destruction of Tokyo to satisfy diehards and casual fans alike.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture is generally quite fine, with excellent color and very good black levels. As befits a recent picture, the source print is spotless, and the only serious issue is the usual Columbia misguided fascination with slapping on too much edge enhancement.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Both the original Japanese and the English dub are presented in a vibrant 5.1 mix. The explosions are house-shaking and the sound effects work is frequently startling. Directionality is pronounced and the music has excellent range and bass. Absolutely nothing to complain about here.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Steamboy, Kaena: The Prophecy, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Layers Switch: 01h:30m:59s
Extras Review: Although the rest of the Godzilla discs presented by Columbia have been extras-free, this entry in the series gives a rare glimpse behind the cameras. A 21m:47s documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the picture, primarily in the effects sequences, comparing the on-set footage to the finished film. There's plenty of interest here for effects fans, even though there's no narration or other information to fill in exactly what and whom we're seeing. The presentation is nonanmorphic widescreen. The unsubbed Japanese teaser trailer is provided, along with three unrelated trailers.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsHopefully not the last word in Godzilla films, but a good enough effort that builds nicely upon the prior film in the series and Mothra for a sequel and remake in one. The transfer is very good, edge enhancement aside, and the documentary presents plenty of intriguing behind-the-scenes footage.
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