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Buy from Amazon

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Classic Media presents
Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965-70)

Commander of Planet X: We need an exterminator. The plan that will destroy King Ghidorah. We wish to borrow from you on Earth the Monster 01 and the Monster 02. Godzilla and Rodan.
Fuji: Are you serious?
Commander of Planet X: Of course. Deadly serious.

- Yoshio Tsuchiya, Akira Takarada

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: June 21, 2007

Stars: Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Nick Adams
Other Stars: Jun Tazaki, Akira Kubo, Keiko Sawai, Yoshio Tsuchiya
Director: Ishiro Honda

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for monster on monster violence, mild other violence
Run Time: 03h:07m:10s
Release Date: June 05, 2007
UPC: 796019802727
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB+ B

DVD Review

The last couple of years have been a golden age for the Western kaiju fan; subtitled releases have been finally made readily available without going the bootleg route, and for the most part they have been of excellent quality. That gravy train continues with Classic Media's latest installment of Godzilla films, comprising two fan favorites in Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster and the clunkily-titled Invasion of Astro-Monster (US title Godzilla vs Monster Zero), which we'll look at here. The now-familiar flashy packaging is back, along with the usual array of extras, so let's take a look.

The plot of Invasion is simple enough: a mysterious new planet, dubbed Planet X, has been discovered sneakily hiding behind Jupiter. A two-man team has been dispatched to investigate. The men, Glenn (Nick Adams) and Fuji (Akira Takarada) find that Planet X is inhabited, and its residents have a problem the Earthmen can help them with, that of the marauding King Ghidorah, dubbed "Monster Zero." The X-ians want Earth to allow the use of Godzilla and Rodan (what, no Mothra?) to take down Ghidorah, in exchange for which they'll provide a miracle drug that cures everything. You will likely be unsurprised when I tell you that their intentions are not entirely honorable. Anyway, carnage ensues, capped by one of the iconic moments of the Godzilla series, the one in which Godzilla busts out a victory dance after driving off Ghidorah. Truly, describing it does it no justice.

By this point, the Godzilla series had veered sharply away from its dark origins and was proceeding towards its destination of Godzilla as friend of Earth and its defender against various monsters and aliens. Ghidorah was back for a second go-round, though I could never get over why the designers at Toho didn't give him arms. Throw in the Godzilla Dance and Nick Adams' cheese-tastic acting, and we're a long way from the original film. Still, in its original version, this is a classy-looking family entertainment, with quality production values and effects.

For fans, a major plus here is the inclusion of both the original Japanese cut and the American cut, complete with dubbing by Titra Studios, the folks responsible for many of the 1960s dub jobs fondly remembered by fans. To be honest, I found the American dub pretty awful, taking on the worst aspects of dubbing and rendering the movie an even bigger piece of nonsense than it already is. My five-year-old enjoyed watching it that way, but I didn't. All that said, the nostalgia factor for those who grew up seeing the film this way will no doubt mitigate the clumsiness of the dubbing for them. And, with both cuts present, you can have it your way, and we're all happy.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The American cut of the film contains the one major issue, at least for the hardcore. The opening credits have presumably been sourced from a different print to the rest of the film, as they are presented in 1.78:1 instead of the film's regular 2.35:1 ratio. Once the credits end, the film switches to the proper ratio. I assume this was done in order to include them at all, rather than leave them out, but some will likely take offense. It didn't bother me. Otherwise, the picture quality looks quite decent, with a good level of detail and color. Toho films of this period have their issues in terms of preservation and such, but this looks fine overall.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoJapanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The original soundtracks are provided, and both sound solid and punchy, with Akira Ifukube's classic score a highlight.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Japanese film scholar Stuart Galbraith IV
Packaging: other
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. poster slide show
  2. stills gallery
Extras Review: The disc comes in Classic Media's "hardbook" format, which requires the paper bellyband around the bottom to stay closed, so don't throw it away. The bellyband does work as an analog to the Japanese practice of using obi strips on their packaging, so in that regard it's a nice touch. Still, if you break the disc hub, there's no replacing it, so handle with care. The disc contains a few goodies, including a commentary by Japanese film scholar/critic Stuart Galbraith IV. He provides a good amount of background info on the film and the cast/crew. Also on hand is a biography of producer Tomoyuki Tanaka (08m:31s), which provides a concise look at the man who could be called the original creator of Godzilla. A poster gallery and stills gallery are also provided, each including a caption discussing the image at hand.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Another fondly remembered Godzilla film makes a strong debut on DVD, with afficionados getting to pick from the original cut and the cheesier American version. The extras are of interest but not absolutely essential. A must-have for giant monster fans.

 


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