Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Godzilla's Second Blu-ray Outing in the U.S.
I was full of dread once Media Blasters announced that they had gotten the rights to two Godzilla films; the other being Godzilla Vs Megalon, which still hasn't been released since it's original November release date. Media Blasters is a horrible studio who does nothing but delay titles on Blu-ray much to the frustration of fans of the films that they have. Luckily, the release of Destroy All Monsters was only delayed by two weeks, whereas we waited over a year for Ichi the Killer and about a year for Machine Girl, just to give some examples. I paid about $18 for this release, I wouldn't pay more for it if you can it for that. There is problems with this release in terms of quality control.
In Godzilla's ninth outing; the film starts off in the year 1999 when all of the monsters are contained on Ogasawara Island, aka Monster Island or in this film Monster Land. A group of astronauts are called back to Earth after Monster Land is ravaged and the monsters have been unleashed. They learn that a race of aliens are bent on dominating the Earth and are using the monsters a pawns in their plan. The astronauts, as well as the higher ups in Japan, are scrambling to find ways to bring down the aliens and stop the monsters from destroying the planet.
Godzilla was my inspiration for wanting to be a filmmaker. I had first seen Destroy All Monsters when it was released by ADV video; it was amazing to actually see a Godzilla film in it's original aspect ratio at the time in 1999. I really enjoy how Toho seemed to go all out with the usage of all the monsters; sure this film focuses a lot on the Human interaction, but it is great to see Godzilla on the screen when he appears. I give the film a 5/5.
The video is problematic and this is due to Toho's HD remaster of the film that occurred in 2008. Some shots appear nice and crisp while other shots will be dull or covered in dirt and scratches. I found this to be quite frustrating at times. If Toho would have done better job at their remastering, I think this could have been a phenomenal release. Colors do pop out with great definition, like with how green the grass and trees look while Anguirus is on Monster Land in the opening of the film for example. Video scores a 3.5/5.
Now, I do like that Media Blasters brought in the AIP dub of the film since I've never heard it before. However, I wonder where they sourced it from. At times is sounds like it's rolling around and the pitch seems to drop. It especially was bothersome when all of the monsters destroy Tokyo as you hear the pitch dropping and rising. Also on the disc is the Toho international dub which sounds just the same as it did on the ADV Video release of the film. And then we have the Japanese audio presented in DTS-HD 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The Japanese track sounds great, but the problems with AIP dub of the film brings it down and I give the audio a 3.5/5.
While there is a good amount of bonus material, Media Blasters could have encoded it much better and needed to do some serious quality control. We have a series of Destroy All Monsters trailers listed as "Promo Reel". The first trailer is an English trailer that's 4:3 widescreen and most likely sourced from the PAL format given the black and white lines at the top of the video. The audio sounds weak and is very low and then as it ends, you get the Japanese trailer which is booming in comparison. After the Japanese trailer, we have a French trailer, which again is very weak sounding and low. Also, it's another PAL formatted video converted over to NTSC and it's obviously telecined from a print that was stretched to 1.33:1 from 2.35:1 as we see the lines just right above the image. Then after the French trailer, we have several English language radio spots for the film.
After that, we have an 8mm sourced reel that could be found in the 70's whenever people owned 8mm and Super 8mm projectors and cameras. It's 4:3 full screen, cropped from it's original aspect ratio. It's very worn and faded with brownish/redish tone to the image. Again, could Media Blasters not worry themselves about trying to fix the audio, it's very low. After that we have some photo galleries and storyboards. There's a commentary track by two Godzilla experts as well some trailers for coming attractions on the main menu screen. These two trailers are for Godzilla Vs Megalon and Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Again, Riki-Oh's trailer is 4:3 widescreen. Could they not be convinced to shave off the black bars on the top and bottom to have it fit properly? I mean, this is a Blu-ray and we all have 16:9 set ups here. Bonus materials score a 3/5.
Media Blasters could have done a better on this Blu-ray and it feels rushed and that they did the authoring at the last minute since this title was delayed by two weeks. If you announce a title in April and then waste all that time in between just screwing around, it's gonna show and it does here. How hard would it be to actually take the time to fix these issues with the audio to make it just right? Overall, I give this release a 3.5/5. If you're a hardcore Godzilla fan like myself, you'll enjoy it but wish for more.