Godzilla famously perishes, and Sony gives the sight a video master worthy of such an event
Godzilla’s internal nuclear reactor is set on meltdown, certain to cause a worldwide radioactive cataclysm. As luck would have it, Japan is prepped with freezing weapons… because they needed them for something else?
Kazuki Ohmori’s final Godzilla script isn’t rife with logic. Often, Destroyah (or Destroyer) is pitted by slim scientific purpose and spotty, puny effects work. Production design is eye rolling for its needless complexity while Japan’s capsulized version of Alien sprouts pitiful energy with special forces battling newborn monsters.
And then, Destroyah comes alive. Pouring on Akira Ifukube’s dramatic and poignant score adds a definitive merit to Toho’s Heisei series-finishing classic. Nostalgia sprouts a return for Momoko Kochi, 40 years after her breakout role in Gojira, and twisting connections to the 1954 original tighten this script further. Kenpachiro Satsuma spurs on an active performance inside of a now ignited Godzilla suit, super heated by internal lights which creates a dazzling show as the creature mashes Asian locales.
Finality sums up Destroyah as it served as a send-off for not only the Heisei Godzilla, but Ifukube, Satsuma, Ohmori, Kochi (who would pass away three years later), Megumi Odaka as psychic Miki Segusa, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, and special effects director Koichi Kawakita. All would leave the franchise for a multitude of reasons, handing it off to an American studio to, well, do what they did.
Somber design permeates action as humankind fouls up micro-oxygen to spawn the transforming Destroyah, flight capable and unrelenting. Despite the ’90s era forever increasing Godzilla’s imagined scale, Destroyah’s final bi-pedal crustacean form looks over Toho’s icon. Intimidation is absolute.
Foreign perspective on Godzilla is interesting, with onlookers who have seen cities and homes mutilated through the ages by this beast, eliciting a sympathy for this creature’s suffering. American monster movies traditionally devastate their opposition, with celebratory cheers and congratulations. That doesn’t happen here, and instead, Destroyah serves as an iconic, national loss (albeit a temporary one) for Japanese film goers. Sympathies are appropriate.
Toho’s all-out spectacle is satisfying, a rare example of a character’s marketable dying moments not succumbing to fan betrayal or egregiously built-in marketing. While trailers bellowed the eventuality, the execution through painful, melting CG was apropos and joyless. To think a man in a suit could cause such a reaction. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Sony’s Toho Collection Godzilla Blu-rays have stumbled upon a winner. Destroyah is the only Heisei film in this set of releases to display an aptitude toward mastering processes, marking itself with natural sharpening abilities and an eye for grain reproduction. Encoding is slightly noisy, although when in comparison to the soggy prints used elsewhere, Destroyah’s visual win is by a proverbial landslide.
Alarms sound from specific problems, most notably the nauseating gate weave which is amongst the most severe outside of public domain offerings. Opening moments are bouncing and jumping everywhere, slowly settling down into an inconsistent occurrence as Destroyah moves on. Print damage is likewise noted on this print, on occasion rather heavily.
It is safe to settle in beyond those misgivings as splashes of color, black level density, and fidelity begin their march to digital stardom. Close-ups of human actors are substantial in their density, displaying an abnormal level of clarity for a Toho sci-fi feature on home video. Creature suits appear fantastic while lighting helps assure their details are appreciated.
Some analog halos sprout early, no fault of Sony’s or Toho’s own mastering work. Instead, Destroyah can be given the impressive all clear. The finale is cloaked in fog and smoke, enough to send any compressionist batty, but maintained without fault. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Although true to the source, the DTS-HD 2.0 mix is a come down from the 5.1 offerings of Mechagodzilla and Space Godzilla. Ignoring the faded and quaint English dub, Destroyah’s crucial goal is Ifukube’s grand score. Horned sections blare clarity, reaching a crescendo when Destroyah’s final form is revealed. There is no loss to its power.
Stereo work spreads wide, especially apparent during a raid on a facility with local authorities battling a miniature crab form of Destroyah. Sides are utilized extensively to spread the soundfield, including monster action. Flight patterns are sharp as creatures pan, while roars take notice of positioning. Any dimming due to almost 20 years of age is non-apparent. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Three theatrical trailers are the only bonuses, all proclaiming, “Gojira shisu.” [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.