DVD Review: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

 DVD Review: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Released by: Sony Pictures
ISBN: 1-4049-6468-1
Price: $24.96
Reviewed by: Brett Homenick

As part of Godzilla’s 50th anniversary, Sony Pictures released a series of classic Godzilla films on DVD the way fans have been wanting for years: letterboxed and subtitled. The subject of this review, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), comes showcased in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio with the option of English or Japanese dialogue and English or French subtitles. Most purchasers seem impressed with Sony’s handling of the material, and while it ostensibly is a G-fan’s dream come true, the DVD remains imperfect.

For instance, the English subtitles employ the much-maligned “dubtitling” technique, taking dialogue verbatim from the dubbed track and transcribing it for use as the film’s subtitles. This questionable shortcut can lead to sheer absurdity, as Professor Miyajima appears to say, according to the subtitles, “The bowl’s metal includes a?????” to describe his “powerful pipe.” Such word-for-word reliance on the often-unintelligible Hong Kong dubbing sometimes gives rise to embarrassing gaffes like this example.

Another drawback of the DVD is its dearth of extras. Aside from scene selections and a number of trailers for other Sony releases, the disc is rather bare-bones. Normally, the lack of bonus features would not amount to such a problem, but the DVD usually sells for $25 in retail stores, which is a steep price for a disc with only a smattering of extra material.

Despite the flaws listed above, special mention should be made of the crystal-clear picture quality presented on the DVD. It stands out as the best, most pristine transfer of any classic Toho film seen previously in the United States. For that reason alone, this DVD is worth every penny. Moreover, the sound quality is equally notable on the Japanese language track, though that of the dubbed track does not hold up quite as well.

All in all, Sony gets it right with Mechagodzilla. The film quality has never looked better, and Godzilla finally receives his due respect on this side of the Pacific. Though you may find it rather expensive, Sony’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla DVD will please even the most discriminating Godzilla fan.

Article © 2005 Brett Homenick/Visagraph Films International.