Godzilla against Mechagodzilla 1/2 Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Year: 2002 Rated: Unrated Film Length: 88 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD 5.1 Color/B&W: color Languages: Japanese, English (both DD 5.1) Subtitles: English, French MSRP: $24.96 Release date: October 19 Godzilla vs. Hedorah 1/2 Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Year: 1971 Rated: PG Film Length: 86inutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD 2.0 Color/B&W: color Languages: Japanese, English Subtitles: English, French MSRP: $24.96 Release date: October 19 Godzilla vs. Gigan Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Year: 1972 Rated: PG Film Length: 89 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD 2.0 Color/B&W: color Languages: Japanese, English Subtitles: English, French MSRP: $24.96 Release date: October 19 The Features Godzilla movies speak their own bizarre language. Special effects that obviously and openly rely on cut-rate miniatures; guys in poorly crafted monster suits slapping each other around; clunky, socially conscious plots that go nowhere – it’s definitely an acquired taste. I would venture, in fact that most people who claim to enjoy the classic Godzilla sequels (there are many) haven’t spent a whole lot of time actually watching them. And how could you really, for all the reasons mentioned above? Camp with nothing else to support it only succeeds as entertainment for so long. I’m reviewing these three Godzilla titles together, but while two of them, from the early seventies, are essentially identical, the third (“Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla”) is a recent release. Whether this makes it “better,” I cannot say. But I’ll get to that in a bit. I will waste little time describing Godzilla as a cultural artifact. The significance of the original “Godzilla,” which is easily read as a political parable, is well known. Godzilla vs. Hedorah makes that thinly-veiled commentary appear hopelessly ambiguous and vague. The plot revolves around a young boy and his father, a scientist. They discover that pollution and waste are accumulating to form what appears to be a giant tadpole with some behavioral issues. Naturally, the father swims out to sea to find it. Various plot contrivances ensue, none of which make any sense whatsoever. Eventually, Godzilla shows up to fight Hedorah, the sludge monster. Why? I have no idea. But many tiny cities made of cardboard and Styrofoam are destroyed. I was occasionally entertained by Godzilla’s fundamental weirdness. He seems frequently to be trying to communicate something by waving his tiny arms, touching his mouth and swaying from side to side. Whether he’s apologizing for all the property damage I cannot say, but he does seem to have a personality of sorts. In an odd twist, the film takes too long getting to the fight, and then spends too long chronicling it. The whole plot and all the characters seem to be designed to stretch the running time out to something close to ninety minutes. Oh, and we’re ruining the environment. If you want to keep Hedorah from bashing boats in half and sliming your house, you’ll stop throwing trash over the side of your yacht immediately. Godzilla vs. Gigan uses the same formula – pad the running time, make no sense – to similar effect. It pretty much drops the social responsibility nonsense in favor of a plot about an effete young cartoonist who is hired by a nefarious Godzilla theme park. Run by aliens, I think. It’s kind of hard to follow. The theme park is secretly building a giant robot to kill Godzilla. There are some other monsters, identified on the packaging as King Ghidorah and Anguiris. They both look like nuclear dinosaurs, which I suppose is the point. The result is a tag-team showdown of sorts. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is the new addition to the Godzilla legend. The Japanese military has completed a robot Godzilla that, they hope, will beat the hell out of the non-robot Godzilla. The protagonist is young woman who has suffered great dishonor for making bad decisions in a fight against Godzilla. The effects here are so far ahead of those in the other two film that there’s really no comparison. On every level, the film eschews the campy gibberish of the Godzilla films of old and attempts to make something of itself. It’s every bit as good as the American “Godzilla” remake. Which is not to say it’s actually good. The plot attempts to be compelling, as the soldier seeks redemption for her mistakes and a little girl wanders around the Mechagodzilla complex with a symbolic fichus. Do I need to tell you that she’ll make a heartfelt, prophetic pronouncement about the H-bomb? Video Godzilla vs. Hedorah Godzilla vs. Gigan 1/2 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Nobody will be picking up either of the two seventies-era titles for the picture quality – I mean, the whole thing was made using toy cars, after all. Even so, they look far better, particularly color-wise, than what I remember from afternoon TV as a kid. This is particularly the case with “Hedorah.” The early scene by the ocean, as the boy waits for his father to return from the bottom of the sea, is actually quite beautiful. In both older colors, all the special effects shots look dreadful, as crummy colors and bad detail were used to obscure the crummy costume design and use of miniatures. “Mechagodzilla,” shot on better stock and with far better effects, is actually quite a good transfer, considering the essential stupidity of the whole enterprise. The initial Godzilla sequence, staged at night, is very attractive, with good blacks. There’s some ringing in later scenes, as when Mechagodzilla goes nuts and starts blowing up buildings for no particular reason. The color palette is quite attractive throughout the film, and the disc makes it even more so. Audio Godzilla vs. Hedorah :1/2 Godzilla vs. Gigan 1/2 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 1/2 The 5.1 track on the newer title stands out for its good use of surround effects in the many action scenes, particularly when planes attack Mechagodzilla. The other two titles are shrill and irritating. Special Features Each disc contains various Previews. Conclusion Godzilla vs. Hedorah 1/2 Godzilla vs. Gigan 1/2 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 1/2 Only Godzilla fans will have any real interest in these titles. For collectors, these should be available in the $5 bins sooner rather than later. I was hoping to enjoy the seventies titles more than I did, on a semi-intentional comedy level. Unfortunately, the camp gave way rather quickly to boredom, confusion and slumber.