|Terror Of MechaGodzilla
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|Japanese Title: MekaGojira No Gyakushu (“MechaGodzilla’s Counterattack”)
Original U.S. Release Title: The Terror Of Godzilla
Director: Ishiro Honda (Godzilla, King Of The Monsters; Rodan)
Original Release Year: 1975
Running Time: 79 minutes
DVD Released By: Classic Media / Sony Music Entertainment
Audio: English mono, English 5.1
Extras: Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee video game preview
Closed Captions: English
UPC #: 074645428697
Catalog #: LVD 54286
Status: Available (individually, or as part of the Ultimate Godzilla Collection Box Set).
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|Reviewed by: Zillamon51
|The Film: A salvage operation to recover the remains of the alien robot MechaGodzilla meets its end at the claws of an aquatic dinosaur, Titanosaurus. Ichinose, a marine biologist investigating the incident, seeks help from the reclusive scientist, Dr. Mafune. Mafune had been discredited years before on account of his unusual experiments, which involved controlling sea life. Disgusted with the shortsightedness of humankind, Mafune has since joined forces with the creators of MechaGodzilla, the aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole. Mafune’s cold but alluring daughter, Katsura, is instrumental to the aliens’ plan. Katsura is a cyborg, and her body contains the computer controlling mechanism for the rebuilt MechaGodzilla. By combining the firepower of MechaGodzilla with the animal instinct and brute strength of Titanosaurus, the aliens control a fighting force which neither humanity nor Godzilla can stand against.
Terror Of MechaGodzilla is arguably the best of the 1970’s Godzilla films. The story is both deeper and more somber than the previous year’s Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, which itself was a large step up from the cheap and childish antics of the previous few entries. The characters are interesting and well developed. Over the course of the film, Ichinose’s concern and determination gradually melt away Katsura’s icy resolve after years of knowing nothing but her father’s bitterness. Dr. Mafune serves as a disillusioned extension of the 1954 Godzilla’s Dr. Serizawa (both eccentric scientists are played by Akihiko Hirata). Also, it’s just fun to see the alien commander played by the same actor as in the previous film, despite having been graphically killed!
Visually, the film benefits from impressive scenes of urban destruction. (As a cost-cutting measure, the previous few entries in the series staged most of the monster action in more desolate landscapes, and resorted to using stock footage for the destruction of cities.) The film is also well served by the return of two Godzilla series veterans: Director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube. While the film is undeniably low budget and “rough around the edges,” it allowed Godzilla to enter retirement on a high note.
Unfortunately, the version presented on this DVD is the horribly edited U.S. release. The body of the film is missing several scenes (cut for violence and nudity). Also, the shoot-out at the end has been re-edited to the point of being incomprehensible. Grade: B-
Video: This is the same pan-and-scan fullscreen version that has been available in the U.S. on TV and video for years. There is some print damage, especially during the beginning credit sequence. There are more minor specks and blotches throughout the rest of the film. To give due credit, the transfer is brighter and sharper than previous editions, but it has its share of problems. While the bright colors serve many scenes well (especially the battle sequences), the flesh tones are over-saturated, giving the actors’ faces a reddish tint. Night scenes (such as Titanosaurus’ first solo attack) are very dark, making the details hard to see. Grade: D
Audio: The English mono track is serviceable, if nothing special. It’s recorded louder than the previous Simitar disk, but also contains more background noise. This disk also features a 5.1 remix. Since I don’t yet have a 5.1 system, I can’t comment on that option. A common complaint with these remixes is that the entire soundtrack has a distracting “echo” effect, which is apparent even on a basic stereo television. Grade: C+
Extras / Menus: The only extra is a preview of the Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee video game for the Nintendo GameCube. (An enhanced X-Box version of the game is also available.) It’s a nice clip, featuring a live Japanese reporter fleeing from the in-game action. The fast action and cool graphics of the game are shown to good effect. Too bad Classic Media didn’t include some trailers, or any other extras. Only the main menu is animated, with a still image of MechaGodzilla looming over a city. Grade: C-
Final Analysis: A solid entry in the Godzilla series that has been given consistently poor treatment in the West. This movie really needs to be seen uncut, and in widescreen! Final Grade: D
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