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Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
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Box Front Japanese Title: Gojira x Megaguirusu:  Ji Shometsu Sakusen (“Godzilla vs. Megaguirus:  The G-Extermination Command”)
Director: Masaaki Tezuka (Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla)
Original Release Year: 2000
Running Time: 106 minutes

DVD Released By: Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Video: Anamorphic widescreen
Audio: Japanese 5.1, English 5.1
Extras: Trailers for other CTHE releases
Subtitles: English, French (all dubtitles)
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 28
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $19.94
UPC #: 043396100138
Catalog #: 10013
Status: Available (individually, or as part of the Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Godzilla! Box Set)


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The Film: This is the second in Toho’s “Millennium” series of Godzilla films, each of which tells a self-contained story unconnected to previous G-films (save for the 1954 original).  This entry begins promisingly, with a black & white recreation of Godzilla’s 1954 rampage, but utilizing the updated Godzilla design.

Japan has been forced to abandon nuclear energy, for fear of drawing the monster back to the mainland.  Even plasma energy, a supposedly “clean” energy source, attracts Godzilla’s attention.  In an effort to rid Japan of the monster, the Japanese government establishes a counter-G task force, the “G-Graspers.”  Their leader is the determined Kiriko Tsujimori (the stern but pretty Misato Tanaka).  She has a very personal reason for fighting Godzilla:  Her commanding officer died while saving her life from the monster.

Japan’s newest weapon is the Dimension Tide, an artificial black hole fired from an orbiting satellite.  The G-Graspers are determined to erase Godzilla from existence.  They test the weapon and unwittingly release strange creatures from a rift in the space / time continuum:  Meganeuron, a giant prehistoric dragonfly.  The larvae of these creatures breed in the sewers of Tokyo, flooding much of the city.  The mature dragonflies swarm Godzilla.  They siphon enough of his energy to feed their growing queen, Megaguirus.  Now, the G-Graspers rush to perfect the Dimension Tide as Godzilla and Megaguirus battle for dominance.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (GxM for short) is an odd combination of high-tech and 1970s-style camp.  The special effects are a mixed bag.  While the CGI and compositing are generally improved over the previous year’s Godzilla 2000, the monsters are filmed in such a way that Godzilla and Megaguirus look just like a guy in a rubber suit and a puppet, respectively (which they are).  The human characters are a “who’s who” of sci-fi clichés:  The embittered warrior-with-a-grudge, the cocky young genius, the corrupt bureaucrat, the “Kenny,” and not one, but two wise old scientists-who-know-all.

Despite all that,
GxM still manages to be a solid Godzilla movie.  There are some great scenes, including Kiriko “surfing” on Godzilla's back, and Godzilla battling the Meganeura swarm.  (Meganeura was a real prehistoric insect that also appeared in Toho's 1956 classic Rodan.)  It’s directed with a lot of energy and enthusiasm by first-timer Masaaki Tezuka.  Megaguirus is an interesting opponent.  Her speed makes it easy to dodge Godzilla’s attacks.  He must actually think and strategize; he can’t simply overpower the flying insect.  The film also benefits from an excellent score by Michiru Oshima (the first woman to score a G-film).  The score is rousing and powerful, in the spirit of Akira Ifukube’s classic scores.  All in all, this is a flawed but entertaining movie.  Grade:  B

Video: GxM is presented in widescreen, and is anamorphically enhanced for 16:9 TVs.  There are a few errant specks on the print, but they’re not very noticeable.  Color reproduction is excellent, with solid and vibrant hues.  The image is sharp and clear.  There is some occasional grain, but it’s not really a problem.  Very nice!  Grade:  A-

Audio: Both the original Japanese soundtrack, and Toho’s English dub, are included in Dolby Digital 5.1.  The quality of the Japanese track is very good.  The dialogue is clear and the sound effects are impressive throughout.  The English track is equivalent in quality, and the dubbing isn’t bad.  The lip synch is decent.  The voices are okay, except for the shady politician, who sounds too young and whiny.  This dub is acceptable for kids, and those times when you just don’t feel like reading.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: The only extras are trailers for other CTHE releases.  The trailers are:  Alien Hunter, Godzilla (1998), The Medallion (starring Jackie Chan), Returner, and So Close (directed by Cory Yuen).  Returner is a high-tech Japanese time-travel thriller.  So Close looks like a more serious (and probably much better) Hong Kong version of Charlie’s Angels.  All of the trailers are in widescreen; only Alien Hunter and The Medallion are anamorphic.  The menus are all anamorphic still images, with no music or sound.

This lack of supplementary material is disappointing.  There aren’t even trailers for
GxM or any other Japanese Godzilla films.  CTHE probably didn’t even consider including some of the real extras from the region 2 releases, like ADV Films did with the Heisei Gamera trilogyGrade:  D+

Final Analysis: There is one major shortcoming on this disc that still needs to be addressed:  The subtitles, or more appropriately, dubtitles.  The subtitles on this disc are not an accurate translation of the Japanese dialogue.  Instead, they are based on the English dubbing.  When Kudo approaches Kiriko in the gym, the subtitles read, “Why do you need to be fit when we’re gong to make Godzilla disappear up his own butthole?”  That’s right, gong.  Their mistake, not mine.  (As if your humble reviewer would write anything that inane.  The Japanese screenwriters sure didn't.)  Somebody couldn't even get the dubtitles right.

Sony’s line of Japanese Godzilla releases is a frustrating and puzzling process of slow evolution.  Years after their first Heisei Godzilla releases, they’re still taking little baby steps in the right direction, instead of just committing themselves to doing it
right.  First, they released Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla and Mothra:  The Battle for Earth in fullscreen.  Then, they improved Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah with anamorphic widescreen transfers.  They added some extras to Godzilla 2000, even though it was still dubbed only.  Now, years later, in the year 2004 (Godzilla’s 50th anniversary!), they finally include a Japanese language track, but with dubtitles.

region 3 DVD from Hong Kong has accurate subtitles.  Why couldn’t someone at Columbia Tristar pay the twelve bucks, copy those subtitles, correct the spelling and grammar, and use that translation?  Maybe they were gong to, but something came up.  Anyways, this disc is consistent with their release of the subsequent film in the series, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah:  Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.  The audio and video are impressive; too bad it doesn't have any real extras or subtitles.  Final Grade:  B
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