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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (Gojira tai Mekagojira) (1974) (1974)

"Mechagodzilla is a cyborg that our scientists created after careful study of the original Godzilla. Doesn't it make your mouth water?"
- Kuronuma (Goro Mutsumi)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 08, 2005

Stars: Masaaki Daimon, Kazuya Aoyama, Reiko Tajima, Barbara Lynn
Other Stars: Hiromi Matsushita, Akihiko Hirata, Hiroshi Koizumi, Goro Mutsumi, Shin Kishidu
Director: Jun Fukuda

MPAA Rating: PG for Sci-Fi Action Violence and Some Language
Run Time: 01h:24m:43s
Release Date: October 19, 2004
UPC: 043396076181
Genre: fantasy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C+A-B+ D

DVD Review

To my mind, Godzilla is at his best when he's the villain, wrecking Tokyo and generally being a serious problem for mankind. But in altogether too many pictures in the Showa era, the Big Green is in the role of the protector of humanity. This somewhat loopy entry in the series is one of the better "protector" films in the set, but that still doesn't mean it's very good.

Engineer Keisuke Shimizu (Masaaki Daimon) is working on a construction project that uncovers ancient cave paintings. Archaeologist Saeko Kaneshiro (Reiko Tajima) translates them as a cryptic prophecy of destruction and a promise of rescue by two monsters. Similar doom is foretold by a vision of folk dancer Nami (Barbara Lynn), who is also one of the last of the Azumi royal family of aboriginal Okinawa. When Godzilla erupts from Mt. Fuji, those prophecies seem to have merit, but before long another Gojira appears and reveals the first one to be a mechanical cyborg created by an alien race. Not willing to rely on Godzilla alone, the humans try to revive a third monster, King Caesar, the ancestral guardian of the Azumi (one of those it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time moments). Mayhem ensues.

Although it's definitely one of the gorier features in the original sequence of Godzilla films, it's also heavily tongue in cheek. In particular, the aliens, led by the megalomaniacal Kuronoma (Goro Mutsumi), are fairly wacky. They nonsensically profess to be from "the third planet of the black hole," and their plot to conquer Earth with Mechagodzilla has plenty of holes in it when it's not being completely unintelligible. The humans can be pretty silly too; Nami's grandfather (in pathetic age makeup) is played for laughs as a doddering old man with a childlike edge. A mysterious sunglasses-wearing stranger who speaks in non sequitirs only adds to the goofiness.

The cast is serviceable, but little more. Although Saeko starts off as a strong character with some interest, she quickly is pushed into the background as the male cast takes over. The angle relating to the original Okinawans desiring revenge for their oppression by the Japanese is interesting, and uncharacteristically self-criticizing. The effects are only fair, however. The Godzilla suit is not one of the better ones, with the back spines looking like they belong on a stuffed animal. King Caesar looks particularly dippy, like an irritated muppet. The Mechagodzilla design is very sharp, however, though it's spoiled a bit by the shabby effects work that is overly reliant on pyrotechnics and animated rays. The monsters are only in the same shot with a building on a very few occasions, indicating a desire of the producers to skimp on the model work.

It's hard to believe that this fairly silly episode started the Mechagodzilla franchise off (though its first sequel, Terror of Mechagodzilla put an abrupt stop to the series, and it took nearly 20 years for the second sequel to show up). The 21st century version is much preferable, but completists will certainly welcome this disc with its presentation in both Japanese and original aspect ratio.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks very nice, although there's a certain amount of graininess inherent in the source. There's periodic speckling and some mild dirt, but nothing too distracting. Color is very vivid, and black levels are decent. There's much less edge enhancement than usual for Columbia transfers (though there are a couple shots where it is visible). Director Jun Fukuda uses the whole width of the screen, frequently with all three monsters on-camera, so if you've only ever seen this in pan & scan television versions, you're in for a treat.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoJapanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio tracks are both presented in 2.0 mono. The original Japanese audio has a much more effective mix, with greater depth and significantly more bass. Hiss and noise are practically nonexistent, and Masaru Sato's jazzy lounge score sounds terrific, with excellent presence. The English dub is pretty poorly done in any event, so the non-Japanese option should be considered only for children unable to read.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S., The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Kaena: The Prophecy, Steamboy
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There's not much here for extras beyond a handful of trailers (disappointingly, none of them are for the feature). Chaptering is a little thin, and the English subtitles are actually the much-despised "dubtitles" rather than a proper translation.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

It's more than a little nuts, but it's still pretty fun. The goriness may be a bit much for younger children, who probably will be upset by Gojira gouting blood from the jugular. Not much for extras, but original language and original aspect ratio are definite pluses for the fans.

 


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