If Godzilla attacked your local nuclear power plant in 1996, chances are that dropping a man made, lunar black hole onto his face would be stress relieving. Enter the eccentric science of Godzilla vs Megaguirus which pits an isolated robotic engineer, vengeful G-Grasper lieutenant, and rogue inter-dimensional insect against this refreshed interpretation of Japan’s icon.
Tsutomu Kitagawa zips up this gnarly spiky-backed Godzilla suit to rampage through reborn historical context, irritatingly resetting again after the prior Godzilla 2000 instituted another cinematic series of monster epics. This creature, we’re told, was an infrequent mainland visitor until Japan’s energy needs spiked, doubling up on plasma power and thus weaponizing the material as a satellite mounted black hole gun.
Multi-time Godzilla screenwriters Hiroshi Kashiwabara and Wataru Mimura bend their characterization around a monster war, loosely fitting personal squabbles into the reigns of exposition in order to explain technology. Yuriko Hoshi, decades on from her appearance in 1964’s Mothra vs Godzilla adds face value if little else as head scientific mind of the G-Graspers, a unit designed to handle any radioactive monster outbreaks.
Tedious scripting begins to wane with 10 minutes of unnecessary bulk neither building an entertaining character roster or tensions. Thus, Megaguirus places bets on scrappy kaiju brawls with invigorating results. First time genre director (aside from assistant work) Masaaki Tezuka spins a campy bit of cartoon-born joy as Godzilla taunts his latest airborne adversary. With a loss of real world sensibilities, Megaguirus is freeing, doing what it pleases to smack physical reality in an exchange for endearingly brazen choreography.
Megaguirus itself is often derided, his scraggly face lacking in personality and put together with questionable CGI, poorly melded to any physical props. Then again, this feature is everywhere with its imagery, and special effects director Kenji Suzuki would disappear from any series credits after this entry. Suzuki too often splits compositions between real backdrops and pale miniatures, or stiffens machine flight with implausible maneuvers.
But, this is not the Godzilla film to rail on over such misgivings. It’s ultimately an oddball stand-alone wherein the title creatures are caught up in the midst of science progress and without being locked to an allegory. Creative shackles are shredded as Godzilla heaves himself skyward for 100-foot tall frog splash onto a trapped Megaguirus. Call it a moment of tremendous camp – it relives the freeing bliss of the 1970s, if only for a second. The rest is a slam fest of marvelous kaiju character (more so than anyone in the human cast) and a testament to practical suit effects. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Sony drops this Millennium series offering to Blu-ray without any consideration as to whether the master used was ready for the format. Short answer? No. Blu-ray’s history hosts pitiful discs destroyed with digital manipulation or crummy source film prints. In comparison, Megaguirus is what happens when masters are not updated for over a decade.
In 2003, Sony plopped a DVD version of the feature into stores with an overload of edge enhancement in tow. Mercifully, end results here ignore that unwarranted sharpening gesture. Instead, resolution is squandered with these materials best left to the content walls of cable TV. Imagery is crushingly soft, enough to void any sense of grain structure and thus the fidelity which should be visible behind the natural film process.
It is hard to label something an upscale, although Megaguirus is skirting the line. Marketing on the case sprouts, “Mastered in HD,” , although when this was mastered isn’t stated. Other signs of ancient (in technological time anyway) methods is color saturation. Primaries are unnaturally bold and even distracting. Godzilla lifts from the water during a second act scene with a neon tongue, all while vividly blue G-Grapser suits are dwarfed by his size.
Hope for definition immediately dissipates after an introductory scenario is told through flashback. Without knowledge of the prior home video release, Megaguirus could be passed off as DVD to untrained eyes. Squinting to find suit details or better appreciate miniatures isn’t worth the effort. Those elements are absent. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Video]
Both an English dub and Japanese dialog are offered in DTS-HD, while both tracks share subtitles. It’s ‘dubtitle’ time. Those avoiding the original language will be robbed of surround use. Dubbing overlaps the superb mixing and drowns out separation. Some forcible LFE is gone too.
Thus, stick with Japanese, hokey subtitles or not. The Megaguirus spawn flood each channel with precision as they fly about, and roars split into an appropriate speaker. Missiles and rocket launchers are slung around with fantastic impact while jet engines split across the sound stage. Accuracy is impressive if overblown in spots.
Thundering subwoofer support adds girth to building destruction and kaiju slams, sans the aggressive levels of American blockbusters. A test sequence of the micro black hole gun is spiffy too, both in terms of surround use and LFE. Plus, outside of the core action scenes, city and forest ambiance adds an additional layer of activity. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Two trailers are provided as bonuses. [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.