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Godzilla Final Battle DVD (Region 2)
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Envelope Front Original Release Year: 2004
Running Time: 47 minutes

DVD Released By: Toho Video (Japan)
Video: Widescreen and fullscreen
Audio: Japanese 2.0
Extras: N/A
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: None
Region: 2
Format: NTSC
Chapters: None
Packaging: Paper envelope
UPC #: N/A
Catalog #: N/A
Status: Out of print



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Reviewed by:
The Film: This Japanese DVD is a promotional item.  It was given to people who bought advance tickets to Godzilla:  Final WarsGFW is the 50th anniversary Godzilla film, and supposedly the last in the series.  So, what does this DVD offer to mark the occasion?  There are three programs on the disc:

“Godzilla Battle History” (13 minutes):  This is a promotional featurette for the
Godzilla Final Box DVD set.  It includes clips from the first 27 Japanese Godzilla films, from Gojira (1954) through 2003’s Godzilla:  Tokyo SOS.  Each clip is about 20 seconds, focusing on monster action scenes.  A narrator speaks over the clips (in Japanese), naming all of the starring kaiju and giving the films’ Japanese titles.  Following this is a rundown of other items included in the Final Box.  There are clips from the Americanized Godzilla:  King of the Monsters (which is on one of the bonus discs), and Final Wars (for which there is a space reserved in the box by way of an empty case).  The GFW footage is very brief; only about 10 seconds.  Then there is about 1 minute of GMK suit builder Fuyuki Shinada sculpting the large Godzilla head that comes with the set.  The final item shown is a book of Godzilla poster artwork.  The “Battle History” segment ends with price and release date info for the Final Box.

“Godzilla Making History” (33 minutes):  This is a behind-the-scenes featurette on the special effects of the Heisei and Millennium Godzilla series.  It includes segments on all of the films, from
The Return of Godzilla (1984) through Tokyo SOS.  Each movie gets from 2 ½ to 3 minutes of the FX being filmed, interspersed with footage from the finished film.

“Godzilla Cell Phone Manners Campaign” (1 minute):  This is a short clip that encourages theater patrons to turn off their cell phones during the movie.  It includes the scene of reporters on a radio tower watching Godzilla’s maiden visit to Tokyo in 1954.  The sound of a ringing phone pisses the big G off, and he brings the tower down.  If only....

First things first:  What’s included on this disc is pretty good.  Despite its promotional nature, the “Battle History” segment is fun to watch.  Seeing good-looking clips of
Godzilla Raids Again, as well as King Kong vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah:  The Three-Headed Monster, and Terror of Mechagodzilla in widescreen, whets the appetite for quality region 1 DVDs of those films.  With a name like “Godzilla Battle History” though, one would expect a detailed rundown of all of Godzilla’s fights.  That would have been cool as a separate segment.  “Making History” is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the suitmation process that we all love so much.  Seeing all the handcrafted miniature work, and how much of it is smashed to bits or goes up in flames, should increase anyone’s appreciation of the process.  Not to mention the bumps the suit actors take, as well as being exposed to constant smoke, fumes, fire, and loud explosions.  The “Cell Phone” clip is mildly amusing.

Now, several things are conspicuous by their absence.  There is no full trailer for
Final Wars, and no behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, or anything else relating to the film.  There is no promotional material for any GFW merchandise, even though the film has generated a plethora of toys, and both film score and music compilation CDs.  In that respect, many fans are sure to be disappointed.  In contrast, the previous year’s Godzilla:  Tokyo SOS Promotional DVD focused exclusively on the current film.  So, as a tie-in to GFW, this disc has little to offer.  As a 50th anniversary tribute, it falls short as well, because there’s so much more that could be done in that respect.  The “Making History” is the real attraction here, especially for non-Japanese-speaking fans that don’t have the region 2 DVDs with behind-the-scenes and making-of footage.  Grade:  B-

Video: Some of the material on the disc is in fullscreen, but the film clips are usually shown in their correct aspect ratios.  In the “Battle History,” there is grain and some minor print damage in the early Showa clips.  The Heisei and Millennium clips are free of blemishes, but they look softer and less vivid than the region 1 DVD editions of the films.  (The softness is probably due to being non-anamorphic.)  The final segments of “Battle History,” including the Final Wars and sculpture footage, are surrounded by Japanese text and window-boxed in a border that looks like rock or Godzilla skin.  There are no significant blemishes in the “Making History.”  (A small amount probably wouldn’t even be noticeable with all of the flying debris.)  Some of the finished film clips are shown in modified aspect ratios, presumably to focus on the relevant FX.  All of the newly produced material is sharp and clear.  Lack of any anamorphic enhancement is not unexpected for a promotional item like this.  The frequent switching between various aspect ratios may have made 16:9 encoding difficult anyway.  Grade:  B

Audio: All of the audio is in Japanese 2.0.  Considering the nature of this item, multiple audio options or fancy 5.1 sound shouldn’t be expected.  Everything sounds good.  One thing that’s kind of distracting is that Akira Ifukube’s Godzilla theme plays in a constant loop over the “Battle History” film clips, even though the clips have their own music playing as well.  The sound during the film clips isn’t very dynamic or powerful; it’s merely adequate.  It may be deliberately muted because of the Ifukube theme.  The ending segments on the Final Box extras switch to generic Hollywood trailer-style music.  Ifukube’s music plays over most of the “Making History” as well, but the film clips don’t have their own music.  The pops of the on-set explosions come through loud and clear on the filming footage.  Grade:  B

Extras / Menus: Since the disc itself is an extra, let’s focus on the menu and layout.  The single menu screen is a still image with the classic Godzilla theme playing.  The theme plays in its entirety, for almost three minutes, eliminating the annoying stopping and repetition common on DVD menu screens.  The text selections for each of the three segments are in both English and Japanese, making navigation a snap.  Unfortunately, neither of the longer programs have any chapter stops.  Grade:  B+

Final Analysis: If you’re looking for Final Wars-related material, you’re out of luck.  If old film clips and a half-hour of behind-the-scenes FX footage sound appealing, this disc is worth a look.  Godzilla Final Battle DVD is mildly recommended for fans and collectors with region-free DVD players, mostly on the strength of “Godzilla Making History.”  Don’t pay an exorbitant amount for it, though.  Final Grade:  B-
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