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Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Region 3, Version 2)
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Box Front Japanese Title: Gojira x Megaguirusu:  Jii 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: Universe Laser & Video (Hong Kong)
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Japanese 5.1, Cantonese 5.1, Cantonese 2.0
Extras: Theatrical trailer
Subtitles: Traditional Chinese & English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Closed Captions: None
Region: 3
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 9
Packaging: Keepcase (clear), in a cardboard slipcover w/ identical box art
MSRP: $45 HK
UPC #: 4895024949895
Catalog #: 6748
Status: Available


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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: This is the same transfer as the previous edition from Universe Laser.  The widescreen image is reasonably clear and colorful.  There is no apparent grain or print damage.  The picture looks a bit soft at times, probably due to lack of anamorphic enhancement, and there is some occasional minor compression artifacting.  While not bad in its own right, it does suffer in direct comparison to the superior region 1 transfer.  Grade:  B-

Audio: The original Japanese language track is presented in 5.1.  It sounds sharp and clear.  The Chinese 2.0 track is low and muffled.  The Chinese 5.1 track is fuller and clearer, but still not as good as the Japanese track.  Grade:  A-

Extras / Menus: The only extra is the film's theatrical trailer.  It's in widescreen, and the video quality is noticeably inferior to the actual film.  It's in Japanese with (poor) English subtitles.  Most of the menus are static and without sound.  Only the chapter select menu has animated film clips in the selection windows.  Grade:  C-

Final Analysis: This re-release is essentially the same as the previous edition from Universe Laser, with a few minor differences.  The video transfer, audio tracks, and even the menus are all the same.  This version has superior cover art, and the subtitles are presented a bit differently.  Instead of a dedicated English subtitle track, this version displays the English subs simultaneously with Chinese text.  The font size is thus reduced, but the actual script is the same (even the typos).  While the old way was better, these subs aren’t hard to read or to get used to. Overall, the only things either HK edition of GxM have over Sony's region 1 version are a more accurate subtitle translation, and a lower price tag.  Final Grade:  B-
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