Godzilla appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though it demonstrated a couple small problems, overall the picture of Godzilla looked pretty terrific.
Sharpness seemed solid. The movie consistently appeared crisp and well defined. I noticed virtually no examples of softness or fuzziness during this distinct and accurate presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I did detect some light edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I saw none, though some minor artifacting appeared at times.
Due to the film’s rainy setting, Godzilla didn’t exactly present a Technicolor extravaganza. Nonetheless, the hues always came across as vibrant and nicely delineated. They seemed clear and as bright as the situations demanded. Black levels appeared quite dense and deep, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not overly murky or opaque. Due to all the rain, smoke and fog effects in use, Godzilla provided a difficult image to replicate on video, but the DVD generally handled the picture well.
I experienced almost no complaints when I checked out the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Godzilla. Say what you want about Devlin and Emmerich, but they always deliver excellent audio for their films, and Godzilla might provide the best of the bunch. The soundfield made extremely vivid use of all five channels virtually constantly throughout the movie. Music remained mostly oriented toward the front, where the score offered crisp and well-delineated stereo imaging.
The effects popped up from all around the spectrum and created one of the most vivid and involving soundfields I’ve ever heard. I could try to select a standout sequence, but that would be tough. So much of the film made great use of the surrounds and side channels that no single segment seemed stronger than the rest. However, the various artillery and helicopter attacks appeared excellent, and the swarm of Godzilla offspring also provided another amazing piece of work.
Audio quality came across as consistently top-notch as well. Despite the high necessity for dubbing, speech seemed natural and warm, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic, as the score was clear and rich at all times. Effects seemed distinctive and lively. They showed solid accuracy, with no signs of distortion or shrillness. Bass response appeared loud and rich most of the time, though low-end occasionally was slightly boomy. Frankly, that last minor issue was the only thing that kept the audio of Godzilla from an “A+”. Otherwise, the movie offered one of the all-time great soundtracks.
How did the picture and sound of this 2006 “Monster Edition” compare to the original 1998 DVD? Both seem identical. I noticed no differences between the film’s presentation on either DVD.
That old Godzilla disc came out in the relatively early days of DVD, and this 2006 “Monster Edition” stands as the first re-release of the film. For the most part, the extras on the “Monster Edition” duplicate those of the prior disc, though they add a few pieces. I’ll note new elements with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, that means the component also appeared on the prior disc.
First we find an audio commentary from visual effects supervisor Volker Engel and associate visual effects supervisor Karen Goulekas; after about 55 minutes, Godzilla designer Patrick Tatopoulos joins them as well. Some greeted the fact that director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin failed to deliver a commentary as a disappointment. Those people never heard their tracks for Independence Day and/or The Patriot.
In any case, this commentary has become regarded as a pretty dull one too, and I won’t try to counter that consensus. All of the participants seemed like nice people, but the piece generally broke down into technical minutiae that often failed to maintain my attention. Granted, some of the material was reasonably informative, and the pace became a bit more compelling as the program progressed; it started quite shakily, and it took the main pair of Engel and Goulekas a while to find a groove. Effects freaks or big Godzilla fans may enjoy this commentary, but most folks probably will not get much from it.
After this we move to a six-minute and 59-second featurette. Presented as a fake new report from “Charles Caiman” – the egotistical anchor played in the film by Harry Shearer- this piece involves shots from the set, many movie clips, and comments from writer/producer/director Roland Emmerich, producer/writer Dean Devlin, creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos, and actors Jean Reno, Hank Azaria, Matthew Broderick, and Maria Pitillo. Very promotional in nature, the featurette tosses in a few decent facts, but it mostly exists to tout the movie, so it offers little in the way of useful information. Shearer does get a few funny bits, but I could live without hearing the cast and crew pretend that Godzilla’s a real actor on the set.
A montage of All-Time Best Godzilla Fight Scenes lasts 10 minutes and 13 seconds. We get clips from the 1998 Godzilla along with snippets from Son of Godzilla, Godzilla Vs. Hedorah, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, Godzilla Vs. Gigan, Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla, Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster, Rebirth of Mothra I & II, Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah, and Godzilla Final Wars. The title of this feature is deceptive. It implies we’ll se a few specific battles, while we really just see lots of very brief snippets compiled into one long promo piece. It exists to interest us in the other Godzilla flicks and it’s a waste of time.
Godzilla Takes New York gives us some “before and after” visual effects material. It includes stills for five scenes: “Godzilla Rips Through the Fulton Fish Market”, “Godzilla Crushes Wall Street”, “Godzilla Storms Grand Central Station”, “The Metlife Building’s Been Hit”, and “Godzilla Terrorizes the Flatiron Building”. The small size of the comparison photos makes it tough to see some of the alterations very well, and the overall presentation doesn’t seem very good. Actual pre-and-post-effects film footage would have been much more useful.
Three episodes of Godzilla: The Series show up next. We find “What Dreams May Come”, “Monster Wars Part 1” and “Where Is Thy Sting?” in this collection. Each one lasts about 21 and a half minutes. The series started a few months after the movie’s May 1998 debut and picked up where the flick ended. It used many of the same characters as they dealt with Godzilla’s offspring and other nutty beasts. Don’t expect the original actors, as only Kevin Dunn occasionally reprised his role. Some moderately well-known performers appear, though. 90210’s Ian Ziering takes over for Matthew Broderick, while Joe Pantoliano does the Hank Azaria role.
The series lasted two seasons and made it through 40 episodes. Here we find programs seven, 12 and 34. These seem like odd choices, as they serve to do little more than tease us. I’d have liked to see the first episode, and it’s almost cruel to offer one part of “Monster Wars” but not the second and third segments. Obviously these shows appear here to entice us to buy the separate Godzilla: The Series DVDs.
The Photo Gallery features 14 small and somewhat blurry images, and we get the music video for the Wallflowers’ cover of Bowie’s “’Heroes’”. Mostly comprised of lip-synch performance footage, the clip does integrate Godzilla in a fairly clever manner, which makes it a bit better than the average music video from a movie. A 50-still *Production Art Gallery includes a nice set of drawings created for the film.
Does this set lose any extras from the old release? Yup. It axes a few trailers along with some cast and crew biographies. It also drops a booklet with text production notes.
Despite all of the criticisms leveled toward it, I continue to enjoy Godzilla for the most part. Yeah, it presents some weak characters and performances and occasionally approaches a level of incoherence, but the many wild action scenes compensate for these flaws. The DVD offers generally solid picture along with excellent sound and a smattering of unexceptional extras. Godzilla may not be the king of DVDs, but fans of loose and occasionally silly action should give it a look.
The big question becomes whether or not Godzilla partisans should pick up this DVD instead of the original from 1998. If you have the old disc, don’t bother. The new one offers identical visuals and audio along with most of the same extras. The new components aren’t good enough to warrant a second purchase.
If you don’t have any Godzilla DVD, I’d still not push you toward this one. Sure, it’s a little stronger in the supplements department, but it’s also a few bucks more expensive than the 1998 DVD. Whichever costs you less money is the one to get.
To rate this film, visit the original review of GODZILLA (1998)