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Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla
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Box Front Japanese Title: Gojira x MekaGojira (“Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla”)
Director: Masaaki Tezuka (Godzilla vs. Megaguirus)
Original Release Year: 2002
Running Time: 89 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
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 28
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $24.95
UPC #: 043396032200
Catalog #: 03220
Status: Available (individually, or as part of the Celebrating the 50th Anniversary Of Godzilla! Box Set)


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Reviewed by:  Zillamon51
The Film: In 1954, Japan suffered its first monster attack.  Godzilla demolished Tokyo, and was eventually killed by Dr. Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer.  Since then, monsters such as Mothra and Gaira have invaded Japan.  Unable to replicate the deadly Oxygen Destroyer, Japan instead developed Maser Cannons to use against these creatures.

Akane Yashiro is a Maser Tank operator with Japan’s Anti-Megalosaurus (?!) Force.  This team was established to defend the nation against giant monsters.  In 1999, another Godzilla comes ashore near Tateyama during a typhoon.  The Masers prove ineffective against the monster.  While trying to maneuver her Maser on a narrow mountain road, Akane pushes a jeep carrying her commanding officer over a cliff.  Godzilla crushes the vehicle, killing the occupants.

After the attack, Akane is demoted to a desk job.  Meanwhile, the Japanese government scrambles to come up with a way to defeat Godzilla.  They approach the greatest scientific experts in the nation with a radical proposal:  Create a bio-robot in Godzilla’s own image.  While its body will be mechanical, its control system will be a DNA computer programmed with genetic material extracted from the bones of the 1954 Godzilla.

Dr. Yuhara, an expert in bio-robotics, agrees to work on the project.  His young daughter Sara, who still mourns her mother’s death, is given free run of the facility.  The robot (dubbed “Kiryu”) is completed in 2003, and Akane is chosen to pilot it.  Kiryu’s ultimate weapon is the Absolute Zero Cannon, which has the power to freeze and disintegrate any target.  However, something goes awry when Godzilla reappears and is confronted by Kiryu.  Godzilla’s roar awakens some primal memory within Kiryu and the robot goes berserk!  Can it be brought back under control?  Even if it can, does this metal doppelganger have the power to rid Japan of Godzilla once and for all?

The first twelve minutes of
Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (GxMG for short) are incredible.  Godzilla makes a grand entrance, and the Maser battle is reminiscent of the one from War Of The Gargantuas.  Then, the history of monsters is detailed by two familiar faces:  Kumi Mizuno and Akira Nakao (Miss Namikawa from Monster Zero and General Aso from the Heisei series, here playing the current and future Prime Ministers of Japan respectively).  The film is great up until the first monster battle.  Then the problems begin, in the form of uneven effects work.  While Kiryu (nicknamed “MechaGodzilla” by Sara) may be the best incarnation of the character yet, Godzilla himself leaves something to be desired.  This Godzilla design is a reworking of the “Millennium” Godzilla that appeared in Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.  While the color scheme and skin texture on this version look good, the head is too small and overall the suit is very immobile.  When Kiryu begins its first assault on Godzilla, Godzilla doesn’t even react.  Could Toho only afford to pay one suit actor that day?  The final fight has some good moments, again negated by cheesy ones.  There are no less than FIVE instances of one of the monsters getting hit or thrown, then being shown flying along with their body parallel to the ground.  While director Masaaki Tezuka (GxM) has a better script with deeper characters for his second G-film, he is saddled with poor special-effects direction.  On the plus side, there are some great shots, like Godzilla roaring into the rainy night sky as lightning hits his spines, Kiryu standing lifeless at sunset after its rampage, and Akane standing on Kiryu's shoulder.

The main characters are well portrayed. 
Yumiko Shaku (The Princess Blade), one of Japan’s most popular ‘idols,’ stars as Akane.  She invests the character with a sense of melancholy and loneliness, despite her supermodel looks.  She’s much more than just a pretty face.  In many ways, Akane and Sara are kindred spirits.  The two share some brief philosophical musings on life and death, in between Dr. Yuhara’s amorous advances towards the pilot.  (His first line to her is a real howler.)  The film is also peppered with cameos and in-jokes that add another layer of enjoyment for long-time fans.  Look for a down-and-out Takehiro Murata (Shinoda from G2K), Misato Tanaka (Kiriko from GxM), baseball star Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui, and a girl (who looks just like Laura from Hamtaro) with a hamster.  While GxMG is not the accomplishment that GMK was, it’s better than the very similar GxM.  It’s a fun and exciting film that should please most kaiju fans.  Grade:  B

Video: Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla is presented in anamorphic widescreen.  There are occasional specks on the print, but they’re not very noticeable.  The image is sharp and detailed.  Color reproduction is excellent.  The bright rays and explosions look great.  Black levels are good, with darker scenes remaining rich and detailed.  (Night skies are frequently grainy, however.)  Flesh tones appear natural.  Some scenes are surprisingly grainy for a film this new, but it’s a minor distraction considering how good it looks overall.  This transfer is significantly richer and more vibrant than the region 3 version.  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.  Michiru Oshima’s strong music score sounds great.  The English track is equivalent in quality, except the dubbing isn’t very good.  Kiryu is pronounced “KEE-oo.”  The voices of Akane and the Prime Ministers lack the depth and authority of the Japanese actors.  Sara is obviously dubbed by an adult woman trying (and failing) to sound like a child.  The other children are even worse; during the one scene they’re in, you’ll think the film switched over to Godzilla’s Revenge!  The original Japanese is definitely the recommended option.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: The only extras are trailers for other CTHE releases.  The trailers are:  The Medallion (starring Jackie Chan), Returner (a high-tech Japanese time-travel thriller), the anime Tokyo Godfathers, Tube (an action flick set in a subway), and Vampire Effect.  All of the trailers are in widescreen; only The Medallion is anamorphic.  The Tube and Vampire Effect trailers also play automatically when the disk first starts up, but they can be skipped.  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 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: After years of drifting in the right direction, CTHE finally nails down the presentation of the main feature on a Godzilla DVD.  Anamorphic widescreen, dual language, and real subtitles (not dubtitles like their GxM and GMK releases) are enough to recommend this disk to any Godzilla fan.  Hopefully, some real extras are next on CTHE’s Godzilla checklist.  In any case, the excellent audio and video are much appreciated.  Final Grade:  A-
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