I was fairly impressed with Sony's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah / Godzilla vs. Megaguirus set. Although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to pick up the others had I not been, it added incentive to find the other Sony Blu-ray sets. Starting from the beginning, I grabbed Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah / Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth.
Like the other sets, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah / Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth comes in a standard, 2-disc Blu-ray case with a reversible cover slip. The artwork is the same that Sony used for the films' Region 1 DVD/VHS release in the late '90s. Both films get their own disc. As mentioned before, fans are able to create their own art and separate the films into their own cases if they wish.
GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH
With poorly scripted time travel logic this film continues to confuse fans and marks the beginning of the Heisei series' decline into mediocrity. Still, it has plenty to enjoy. The ideas are relatively new to the series and exploring the Heisei Godzilla's origins proved to be engaging. Stack that on top of some great performances, and the 1990's better visuals, and it makes for a fun, sci-fi actioner by writer/director Kazuki Omori.
The picture quality is some of the weakest from Sony. Granted, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was shot with a certain dullness and high grain contrasting the visual effects from the clearer live action shots. Still the HD “upgrade” focuses on bringing out very muddy browns and grays. At times it felt like I was watching a mere SD upgrade.
Although the picture quality is a minor improvement from what has come before, it is a delight to finally have this film in its proper aspect ratio. Many may remember that Sony's DVD included an ugly, pan-and-scan fullscreen version. Although the picture quality is nothing to write home about, fans can rest assured that they will get the film in its original framing.
The opening title card is void of the title overlay that plagues later titles. However, Sony made a massive mistake by omitting the ending credits montage. Instead, like the DVD edition, the film fades to black with copyright information. I delve further into this with Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth.
The English dub and Japanese language tracks are presented in DTS-HD 5.1 master audio. The English dubbing is poorly mixed with the sound effects, while the Japanese track balances the dialogue and effects more appropriately. Though even the Japanese audio is a little stuffy. It's not the disc's greatest sin, but it's not up to par with other Sony Godzillas.
Largely, the subtitles do not correspond with the English dubbed script. However, there are exceptions. Long strings of dialogue sometimes feel directly lifted from the dub. Right when you think the movie is spiraling into some sort of dubtitle hell, it returns to a more accurately translated set of subtitles. It's a little jarring, but not entirely terrible. Much of the important dialogue is better written than the English dub script. A hearing impaired option is included as well.
The disc only features a collage of ads from the film; three teasers and one theatrical trailer. As with other Sony Blu-ray releases, the subtitles don't always correspond with those from the movie.
The main menu is exactly like the rest of the 1990s Sony Bluray; a red tinted city that sits behind a roaring 1994 Godzilla. It was sort of cool when I first saw it, but the novelty has most certainly worn off.
Although it's the stronger film of the set, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah only gets a moderate boost in picture quality. Sound is passable and the extras are what we've come to expect from Sony. It wouldn't be the worst of Sony's releases if it weren't for the end credits blunder. At this point there's no excuse for that kind of omission and it only adds to how poorly handled this disc is.
GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH
The oft maligned 1992 return of Mothra is hardly a series landmark, but upon recent viewing it isn't a bottom feeder either. Takeo Okawara's directorial debut is more cinematic than Masaaki Tezuka's eight years later. (Godzilla x Megaguirus) Screenwriter Kazuki Omori manages to complete a moderately well told arc with his main characters, albeit, ends it thirty minutes too early. By the last act the characters are reduced to Mothra cheerleaders. Meanwhile, Godzilla excels in a strictly villainous role against Mothra and Battra who take center stage. The execution isn't remarkable, but it's one of the more consistent films of 1990s.
Easily one of the better looking Heisei releases from Sony. Although the picture quality goes from clear to grainy depending on the scene, definition is fairly strong and the colors pop more than those of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. If you have a problem with spotting strings in these movies you might want to stick to the [hideous] DVD release from the early 1990s.
The most important improvement over Sony's DVD version is, like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, it's the first stateside release of the film in its original aspect ratio. Gone is the awful pan & scan that pummeled the movie into an eyesore.
The opening title card is free of any title overlays, but there's a trade off-- The end credits are nothing more than the same copyright information used for Sony's previous DVD release. This is frustrating considering the other Sony Blu-ray discs (sans vs. King Ghidorah) have the original end credits intact. I can only assume this was a mistake overlooked by Sony when they put the set together. It's unfortunate.
Both the English dub and Japanese language tracks are presented in DTS-HD 5.1 master audio. As with most of these releases the Japanese track has a better balance between dialogue and sound effects. The sound isn't top quality, but it's one of the stronger examples from the Heisei series Blu-ray. For those wondering, the Cosmos' songs are crisp and clear.
Like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, it's getting hard to tell if these are true subtitles or a bizarre hybrid of dubtitles with accurate subs. Plenty of lines are different, while others are a little too spot on with the English dub. It's lightyears preferable to the treatment Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II and the Millennium Series got, but I'm hesitant to label the subs as 100% dubtitle-free.
Perhaps featuring a heftier set of trailers than the other movies, Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth features four teasers and the main theatrical trailer. Subtitle accuracy varies when compared the actual film.
As mentioned with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, the main menu is the red tinted city with the 1994 Godzilla. It's clear that this menu is standard for the Heisei movies, while the blue tinted menu is for the Millennium series.
Due to its blandness Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth isn't a fan favorite, but it's not the turkey it's claimed to be either. The presentation marks one of the better Sony Blu-ray releases with passable audio and picture. I still consider Godzilla vs. Destoroyah Sony's standard amongst their discs, but this may be a second place contender. Extras are expectedly sparse, but enjoyable while they last.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah / Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth is a weaker presentation compared to the previously reviewed Godzilla vs. Destoroyah / Godzilla vs. Megaguirus set. The films are enjoyable enough, but with the end credits missing and vs. King Ghidorah's weak picture> it's a lazy effort. The Battle for Earth's picture quality is the set's saving grace. The fact this is the best stateside presentation of these films is a touch unfortunate for fans.
Follow GMAN on Twitter @GMANonScified
*Images are not representative of disc video quality.
Treat Yourself to Sci-Fi Swag!
We've partnered with the folks at TeePublic to give fans the opportunity to support one another and express their interests by owning customized, unique merchandise based on their favorite science fiction franchises! Designs are created by fans and a portion of proceeds from each sale go to supporting the artists and their work! Check out the entire store and see if anything gets your attention!