Godzilla is an inevitability, so says the message of the franchise’s second cycle. Where nuclear reliance remains prevalent, so will Godzilla. Here, after being deleted from modern times by 23rd century futurism professionals, Godzilla returns via a slippery time travel concoction from writer Kazuki Ohmori.
King Ghidorah is decades separated from Godzilla 1954’s kaiju origin story contextually, less concerned with metaphorical punch than it is metamorphosing into screen shattering, brainless entertainment. Into the ’90s, Godzilla’s beefier rebirth turned toward a fascination with comic book-esque ray battles and robotic transformations.
Ohmori’s fascination with writing mechanical scenarios brushes characters aside, discarding psychic Miki Segusa (Megumi Odaka) who would become the lone recurring face in each of these films. King Ghidorah provides her with nothing of consequence. Toho regular Kenji Sahara offers no disruptions as Minister Takayuki Segawa, joining a cast who takes residence in a non-descript facility to stare aimlessly at TV screens – a boring commonality in Hesiei offerings. How anyone films these battles for government viewing is never clear.
This leaves King Ghidorah wanting: epic when monster scuffles are brought into the fray, banal until miniatures undergo destruction. Ghidorah, now a nuclear being rather than of alien origin, floats over plate shots of Tokyo with super-imposed, sparky explosions placed over them. It’s an early sign of crimping budgets.
Koichi Kawakita’s effects still dazzle as Godzilla performs his lumbering march through downtown centers, even if it comes to pass over an hour into the feature. Characters have been discarded and time travel intricacies (or lunacy) have played out, allowing the full breadth of a monster duel to strike the screen. Resurrected from an earlier melee, Ghidorah returns with a robo makeover for something different as opposed to series traditionalism.
Everything occurs from a basis of sheer nonsense, the narrative blind to logic, ignoring how little of the film needs to take place at all. People of the future stop by the early ’90s to rid the world of Godzilla and install their own Ghidorah – senseless considering time travelers could enact their plan without telling anyone in the present day.
Explosions and radioactive breath do ample work to cover the dopey effects of Robert Scott Field’s android M-11, but knowing the crunched production schedules on these features offers clemency for such errors. The English speaking “actors” can be lumped in as well.
King Ghidorah remains a substantial entry whether the narrative flops or otherwise. Phony Stateside outrage upon release over supposed anti-American philosophies at least gave this piece some press. However, it utterly ignored Japan’s prosperous economic spurt being extinguished by the same filmmakers alongside the debatable (and brief) WWII brutality. Those same Lagos Island war duels also produce grounding for Godzilla’s birth. King Ghidorah is the film providing substance to the mythology, showcasing the beast pre-mutation as a lost dino relic who survived an extinction event, only to be respawned by Bikini Atoll testing in ’54. Even as a dinosaur, Godzilla was unstoppable. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]
After forgetting about their Heisei Godzilla library after a rush of DVD releases in 1998, Sony (mostly) does the fan base right. Gone is the dub only, 4:3 transfer of King Ghidorah on a flipper disc. This 50GB Blu-ray restores the widescreen scope and leaves each film to its own disc. No flipping, no doubling up.
That makes the upcoming disappointment crushing, for a bit. While the source master is voided of the edge enhancement frequently blasted onto the Sony DVDs, it appears to be the only change. Discouraging resolution sullens the grain and leaves it floundering. Fidelity dissipates up close or at a distance, and when giving space for Ohmori’s softened cinematography, the disc still returns a lumpy appearance.
Print choice returns a faded, dusty range of saturation, with allowances set aside for bloated reds and yellows. Any density marginalizes and blips of damage still pop up. While the format’s resolution boost provides a touch of DVD besting, it’s too frail for Blu-ray consideration.
Once the time traveling crew returns to (then) modern Japan, grain takes on a more natural form, no longer clumpy. A touch of precision appears on the frame and affords a dab of improved detail. The difference is immediate near the 43-minute mark. While print damage increases, fidelity jumps and images appear sharper – allowances made for softer cinematography. Although color remains flattened, it’s as if two prints were spliced together to create this Blu-ray master. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
Uncompressed audio will provide a boost to Akira Ifukube’s return to Godzilla theme composition, brimming with clarity in the drums and horns. The phenomenal score, a blending of familiar and new, is a genuine thrill despite pitiful stereo separation. DTS-HD 2.0 means little for the individual channels. Action offers no directional priority to either front channel, lending credence to this being a mono mix.
King Ghidorah’s dub blasts the speakers with dialog, not only elevated due to the recording method but in terms of overall volume. It’s ridiculous. As always, the clean fidelity of the Japanese track is preferred. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Four trailers are the only bonuses, of interest for the teasers offered since any clips of Ghidorah are from the 1964 original. Note the main feature uses the truncated American opening and closing credits. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.