|Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah / Godzilla And Mothra: The Battle For Earth Double Feature|
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|Japanese Titles: Gojira vs. Kingu Ghidorah (“Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah”) and Gojira vs. Mosura (“Godzilla vs. Mothra”)
Directors: Kazuki Omori (GvKG) and Takao Okawara (G&M)
Original Release Years: 1991 (GvKG) and 1992 (G&M)
Running Times: 101 minutes each
DVD Released By: Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Audio: English 2.0
Extras: Japanese theatrical trailers, printed liner notes
Closed Captions: English
Chapters: 28 per film
UPC #: 043396031326
Catalog #: 03132
Status: Available (individually, or as part of the Celebrating the 50th Anniversary Of Godzilla! Box Set)
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|The Films: Sony’s very first Godzilla DVD pairs up two sequential Heisei films. The movies are on opposite sides of a double-sided disc.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: A UFO appears in the skies over Tokyo. Its occupants are people from the year 2204. They have come back to 1992 with a warning for the Japanese government: In the 23rd century, Japan no longer exists! The Futurians blame this unfortunate turn of events on Godzilla. To spare Japan from the monster’s wrath, they propose going even farther back in time to prevent Godzilla’s birth.
The Futurians are accompanied by three 20th century advisors: Terasawa (a writer), his associate Masaki (a dinosaur expert), and Miki Saegusa (the psychic girl introduced in Godzilla vs. Biollante). Emi Kano (a Japanese woman from the future) and her assistant, Android M-11, lead the expedition. They arrive on Lagos Island, in the South Pacific, circa 1944 (during WW2). There, they witness Godzillasaurus save the desperate Japanese soldiers from the advancing Americans. The Japanese commander, Major Shindo, regards the dinosaur as his savior. Shindo would go on to rebuild Japan’s post-war economy as the head of a huge conglomerate.
Emi and M-11 teleport the injured dinosaur away, so that it will never be exposed to H-bomb tests and mutate into Godzilla. Emi leaves behind three dorats, cute little flying creatures created by 23rd century biotechnology. Exposed to massive radioactivity, the dorats become King Ghidorah! Back in 1992, Terasawa and the others begin to expect a double-cross when Ghidorah starts demolishing Japan! Even Emi is uneasy with how her comrades control the monster. She informs Terasawa that the Futurians’ true mission is to subjugate Japan in the past to prevent it from becoming the dominant world superpower in the future. Japan’s only hope is to turn to Mr. Shindo’s savior, and somehow revive Godzilla!
GvKG is one of the best films of the Heisei series. It has a fascinating plot, interesting characters, and it moves along at a quick pace. The time-travel scenario is full of holes and inconsistencies (for example, how do people remember Godzilla when he was supposedly erased from history?*). However, the film’s core appeal is emotional rather than logical. It examines Godzilla’s dual role as both the scourge and savior of Japan. The character of Mr. Shindo best illustrates this conflict. His final meeting with Godzilla is one of the most poignant moments in the Godzilla canon. As for the special effects, they’re a mixed bag. There are some silly effects involving M-11’s android antics. The scenes featuring the Godzillasaurus are clumsily executed, and the stiff Ghidorah prop used for some flying scenes looks straight out of Godzilla vs. Gigan. Godzilla himself has rarely looked better though; he’s buffed out and very expressive. The King Ghidorah suit is well done, and a real highlight is Mecha-King Ghidorah. MKG’s first appearance is an homage to the original Ghidorah’s fiery birth in 1964. The miniatures and pyrotechnics are great. The monsters’ final showdown takes place among the towering skyscrapers of Shinjuku (Tokyo’s government and business district), a setting used to great effect. Overall, the monster battles are the best filmed up until that time. Logical flaws and uneven effects aside, GvKG is a fascinating series entry. Grade for GvKG: A- (*For a good explanation of how the confusing time-travel scenario works, check out this article at SciFi Japan.)
Godzilla And Mothra: The Battle For Earth: A large meteorite crashes into the Pacific Ocean, initiating a string of natural disasters. It even awakens Godzilla! On one of the Indonesian Islands, a landslide uncovers a gigantic egg. The Marutomo Corporation, in partnership with the Japanese government, had planned to exploit the island. They recruit a tomb-raiding adventurer named Takuya to investigate the strange object. He, his ex-wife Masako, and company man Ando, make contact with tiny faeries called Cosmos. The egg is Mothra’s, and the Cosmos detail their history. Their ancient race was wiped out by environmental tampering, with their guardian Mothra locked in mortal combat with her dark counterpart Battra. The current instability of the Earth mirrors that ancient time, and Battra has reawakened! The Battra larva tunnels underground, and attacks Nagoya.
The Marutomo Corporation orders the egg and the Cosmos brought back to Japan. En route, both Godzilla and Battra converge on the ship. Battered by two larger and brutal foes, the newly hatched Mothra larva swims back to Infant Island. Godzilla and Battra continue their battle underwater, and disappear into a volcano. In Japan, the Cosmos are abducted for commercial exploitation. Mothra comes to Japan to rescue them, and matures into her adult form. Just in time: Godzilla emerges from Mount Fuji, and Battra erupts from the sea and morphs into a flying form. While Mothra and Battra battle in the skies above Yokohama, Godzilla lays waste to the city below. When the three monsters meet, the battling bugs will have to put their differences aside to overcome the power of Godzilla.
G&M is another strong entry in the series. It has a lighter tone than the previous Heisei films. There is some blundering by the amateur explorers on Infant Island (Ando even wears a suit in the jungle), and bickering between the estranged couple of Takuya and Masako. Their daughter, Midori, is the first prominent child character in the Heisei series. Psychic Miki Saegusa returns, though in a smaller role. The film re-uses some plot elements of the original 1961 Mothra, and has a prominent environmental message. There are some great FX sequences, including Battra’s attack on Nagoya, Godzilla and Battra’s underwater battle, Godzilla emerging from Mt. Fuji, and the aerial dogfight between Mothra and Battra. Battra is an aggressive and formidable creature; it charges into battle against Godzilla without hesitation. Even when airborne, it proves to be a fierce physical fighter, butting heads with Mothra, collapsing a building on Godzilla, and even whacking him with a giant Ferris wheel! G&M is a visual treat. Grade for G&M: B+
Video: The two films are consistent. There are some specks and lines on the prints, but it’s no real problem. The images are sharp, with good detail and color reproduction. (This sometimes makes the wires visible, especially during the climatic battle in G&M.) Quite a few scenes are grainy, mostly darker scenes and FX shots. By far the biggest problem is that the films are presented in fullscreen. This very, very poor choice on Sony’s part really hurts what would otherwise be a pretty good presentation. Grade: C-
Audio: English dubbing is the sole option. It’s presented in basic 2.0, and the quality is quite good. The monster roars, explosions, and Akira Ifukube’s powerful scores are all reproduced faithfully. The dubbing is mediocre at best. GvKG includes some laughable English performances by Western “actors” in small roles (in all fairness, they’re in the original version as well). Robert Scott Field (Android M-11) is very familiar to attendees of G-Fest, and it’s odd hearing him dubbed over with someone else’s voice. Overall, the GvKG dub is tolerable; it’s reminiscent of those for the 1970s Godzilla movies. G&M is definitely the poorer of the two dubs. The Cosmos sound like they're dubbed by the same actress as Emi in GvKG. Both of them. Some genius sound mixer thought it would be a good idea to simulate the Cosmos’ speaking in unison by having Emi TALK REALLY LOUD. The Cosmos alone are enough to ruin this soundtrack. Grade: C
Extras / Menus: The original Japanese theatrical trailers for both films are included. The specs are better than the films themselves! Both are in widescreen (non-anamorphic), and Japanese language with (non-removable) English subtitles. They show more print damage than the films though, and there are a few minor typos in the subs (Battra is spelled “Batra,” for example). Mecha-King Ghidorah is announced as “Most powered up New King Ghidorah!,” and both trailers end with toy promos for an all-around fun presentation.
The menus are still images, with no sound or music. The trailers are reproduced on both sides of the disc. The DVD insert includes printed liner notes that give a brief history of the Heisei Godzilla series up to G&M’s release in 1992. Grade: C
Final Analysis: On the plus side, we get two great Godzilla films, with the original trailers, on a single disc. On the minus side, the transfers are fullscreen, and the audio is dubbed only. The end credits are also cut from both films. Hopefully, Sony will see fit to reissue these movies in better form someday. Final Grade: C-
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