PictureGojira comes to Blu-ray with a 1080i resolution encoded using the AVC codec and framed within a 1.47:1 aspect ratio. The disc itself is region free
Hmmm, quite how critical you choose to be of this image I think will perhaps entirely depend on how much anticipation you had for it, and how much you believe the claims of Creative Group and their restoration work. Perhaps I've been a little spoilt recently having seen Sunrise released through Eureka's Masters of Cinema range, but I honestly expected a little more than this. To start with, print damage is abundantly clear throughout. There are many films that have not been stored well, but unfortunately it appears that no amount of work so far has managed to remove the look of a print that's been dragged through a hedge backwards.
This isn't necessarily a terrible thing, as miracles were not expected, but the jump to a higher resolution and a slightly more stable contrast makes the bright white scratches and specks that litter the frame all the more apparent. As mentioned, the contrast has been improved, with less noticeable dips to murkiness, but they haven't been eradicated by a long way. Night scenes can be little more than a hazy fog of darkness that enshrouds any detail whatsoever.
When the frame is lightened, and a degree of stability is captured, there is some advancement to this version in terms of facial detail such as sweat on a man's brow and the like, but I dare say it simply isn't enough t warrant the jump to a greater resolution. Most, if not all of the problems that have affected the many DVD incarnations of this film are here, such as print damage, contrast issues and a smudgy softness that creeps in, they are just present in varying degrees. Godzilla aficionados might find the extra detail more noteworthy, but most other film fans will probably remain underwhelmed in comparison to the standard definition version of the monster masterpiece.
SoundGojira has but one audio option, that of Japanese Linear PCM 2.0.
Well things here are a touch rosier than the visual presentation, but not by an astounding degree. Akira Ikufube's score is not as well prioritised as one might have hoped for, but it is still rousing and remains quite clear. Similarly, the dialogue has a nice clarity to it that holds steadily without wavering.
Unfortunately, there are still moments when a background hiss and the occasional pop are noticeable, but I wouldn't say this was any different to any other version of the film on a home format. The key area that this track has managed to gain ground on its predecessors though is that of Godzilla himself. The now iconic scream of the lumbering beast is clean and clear and pierces nicely into the listener's ears, protruding from all the accompanying sounds.
However, in a strange way this greater clarity to the shrieking of Godzilla could also be seen as a slight flaw, as it is somewhat mismatched against his footsteps. What should appear as the very essence of his power, a feature that is heard long before he himself is seen, and a sign of imminent danger, is distinctly weak. Being 2.0, this was never likely to have the thunderous rumble I and many others wanted, but the levels it plays at only underwhelm rather than scare the viewer. Overall this is probably a step up, but like the picture just doesn't represent a significant one.
Steve Ryfle (author of Japan's favourite mon-star: the unauthorised biography of “The Big G”) and Ed Godziszewski (Editor of Japanese Giants fanzine) combine to give quite possibly the single most informative commentary track I've yet heard. They leave no stone unturned and keep up a veritable torrent of interesting information coming the viewer's way from start to finish. From the inspiration behind Godzilla and the film's production, to the audience reaction and differences between the two versions, everything you could want to know about Gojira is broached in one way or another here.
Godzilla: story development - 12:57
Poor picture quality and a 4:3 framing don't hold this feature back from being enjoyable. It is dryly narrated by Godziszewski, but the style of nothing more than a voiceover accompanied by a montage of images associated with the film works incredibly well. It works both as an auditory and visual aid to better knowledge of Gojira
Making of the Godzilla suit - 13:07
Another mini retrospective narrated by Godziszewski, only this time focussing on the rubber monstrosity that seems to have such a detrimental effect on all those who had to don it. Notoriously heavy and inflexible, this featurette takes us through the process in which it was made as well as the reasons behind why it represented a shifting point in Japanese special effects and came to almost embody the mantra “necessity is the mother of invention”.
Original trailer - 2:51
Self explanatory. A period trailer for the film with no English subtitles.
VerdictGojira arrives on Blu-ray as something of a disappointment. Without the two versions of the film that were initially touted to be here, we must look on the bright side that at least the most important iteration - the Japanese original - is all present and correct. What cannot be sugar coated however is the poor audio and visual quality that still plagues this monster classic.
The extras go some way to making this a potential budget disc to be picked up, but ultimately even they don't wholly waylay the feeling that this may have been a missed opportunity for some seriously major restoration work to be done. In the end, this is a perfect example of a release being as good as the expectations of those who view it. If you can pick apart the differences of the various standard definition DVDs without breaking a sweat then you may see more in this than others. For most, this will likely be seen as a flawed disc that simply doesn't go far enough to warrant the extra expense.
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