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Godzilla [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 24, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

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Gojira - Fullscreen Subtitle

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

The name Godzilla immediately conjures up 1950s creature features and B-Movies, mostly due to the Westernized re-working of writer/director Ishirô Honda’s original film, Gojira, that added in new sequences and tamed down the real themes of the film. The reality is, Honda’s film was more than just a sci-fi spectacle. It was a post-war requiem for a Japan that once was and was no longer to be; for the lost and suffering souls who faced the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Gojira, a giant lizard who rises from the depths of Tokyo Bay to ravage Japan once again after a constant barrage of nuclear tests stir the ancient beast leaving it razed to the ground, is like a living symbol of the A-Bomb. The oppressive allied occupying forces having only recently left Japan, Gojira could perhaps also be looked upon as a symbol of Western oppression rising up to destroy Japan.

In the film, the Japanese turn to one dangerous resort to try to kill Gojira, a scientist’s accidental discovery known as the Oxygen Destroyer, a weapon so destructive that he fears it ever getting loose in the world and refuses to use it, preferring to destroy his notes and sacrifice himself so not even the idea of it will remain in the world.

That is the true weight of Gojira, an epic, anti-war, anti-nuclear, mournful look at a post-World War II society coping with the new reality of the coming  cold war paranoia. Pure genius that still resonates today.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The new high definition transfer of Godzilla was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm fine-grain master positive struck from the original camera negative that no longer exists. Godzilla, King of the Monsters was created from a 35mm fine-grain master positive and 16mm dupe negative.

All screen captures in this review are of the original Japanese film, Gojira (Godzilla).

The Criterion magic can only go so far in rescuing either version of these films, especially when the original camera negatives are not available and the sources include 16mm dupe negatives (King of the Monsters). There is an obvious amount of source damage in scratches and dirt that remains in this 1.37:1 framed AVC encodement, but the temptation toward heavy-handed digital manipulation seems to have been avoided, because both films retain a filmic quality. Godzilla looks (and sounds) pretty much as I remember it growing up, only it looks much more “defined,” for lack of better word.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The original monaural soundtrack for Godzilla was remastered at 24-bit from the fine-grain optical track while the original monaural soundtrack for Godzilla, King of the Monsters was remastered at 24-bit from the 35-mm fine-grain master positive’s variable density track.

Audio is provided in LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit) and is about as clear as this source material will probably get. There isn’t too much detectable clipping and dynamic range is a bit narrow, but dialogue seems clean and the sound effects reasonably weighty.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Although the booklet is unusually light, this Criterion set is teeming with extras on disc, including the re-worked American version of Godzilla that many of us in the Western world probably grew up with on television. There are also ample new cast and crew interviews in HD all worth watching and enlightening audio commentaries for both versions of the film.

The supplements:

  • Commentary – Recorded by the Criterion Collection in 2011, this commentary features critic David Kalat, author of A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series.
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters – This 1956 feature film, codirected and edited by Terry Morse, is the famous american reworking of the Original Godzilla. It combines footage from the original 1954 production with new material starring Western actors, including Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin.
    • Commentary – Recorded by the Criterion Collection in 2011, this commentary features critic David Kalat, author of A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series.
    • Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p/24) – Original theatrical trailer for Godzilla, King of the Monsters.
  • Cast and Crew (1.78:11080i/60):
    • Akira Takarada – In this 2011 interview, actor Akira Takarada recalls his experience starring as Ogata in Godzilla.
    • Haruo Nakajima – In this 2011 interview, Godzilla performer Haruo Nakajima reflects on the challenges and highlights of portraying the iconic creature.
    • Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai – This 2011 conversation features effects technicians Yoshia Irie and Eizo Kaimai discussing their work on Godzilla.
    • Akira Ifukube – This interview features composer Akira Ifukube talking about his career and his unforgettable score for Godzilla.
  • Photographic Effects (1.33:1; 1080i/60) – This featurette, introduced by effects director Koichi Kawakita and effects photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka, reveals the visual tricks behind certain sequences in Godzilla.
  • Tadao Sato (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – In this 2011 interview, Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato looks at Godzilla in terms of Japanese culture.
  • The Unluckiest Dragon (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – This 2011 illustrated audio essay, featuring Greg Pflugfelder of Columbia University, details the tragedy that befell the fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), an event that inspired parts of the Godzilla story.
  • Trailer (1.33:1; 1080i/60)
  • Booklet: The unusually thin booklet for Criterion Collection nevertheless contains the insightful essay “Poetry After the A-Bomb” by J. Hoberman, senior film critic for the Village Voice.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

This classic beast is not to be missed, whether you enjoy the re-worked American edition or the original Japanese classic “Godzilla” is a must for the true sci-fi connoisseur.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005VU9LKE[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Gojira - Fullscreen Subtitle

Purchase Godzilla [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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