Sony’s Toho Collection Blu-ray series releases this monster sequel with questionable video results

Months after Godzilla’s unusually limp retreat into coastal waters (after Japan unleashed another iteration of Mechagodzilla as a form of counter attack), the country ignites their highest alert. Shocking no one, Godzilla IS one for revenge.

Tokyo SOS is specialized, a rare direct franchise sequel which locks into the narrative of 2002’s Godzilla x Mechagodzilla. Required understanding is limited as SOS refreshes the human roster, with veteran Hiroshi Koizumi returning from his role in 1961’s Mothra in an otherwise scrawny bit of characterization.

Puny set-up is needed to bring about heroism in the third act, but SOS is decisive regarding its monster-riffic (sorry) pacing. Kaijus rise for a three, even five-way dance once into the center of the second act, rousing an audience who may have been lost within the imprecise delivery of life-based metaphors.

In some ways, SOS is corrective, charging at criticisms rightfully levied at the prior Mechagodzilla which often stunted its action with an obviously empty Godzilla suit as military action commenced. Here, Tsutomu Kitagawa adds dazzle to his Godzilla performance, with heavy, elaborate motions adding life to a monster design often too stiffened for believability. Shame then the editing tends to misfire when piecing shots together, with distracting inconsistencies.

An injection of Mothra, both in twin larvae and flight capable adult, add a spirited level of mysticism to tie in to the rather anemic exposition for Mechagodzilla’s DNA-fueled malfunctions. Because science is forever malformed in cinema, Japan’s robotic defender is constructed over the skeletal system of the original Godzilla. Script writer Masahiro Yokotani and one time screenplay writer Masaaki Tezuka skirt the issue, and eventually succumb to Japanese respectfulness for the dead, even if the dead happen to be nuclear birthed monsters.

SOS shows an acceptance for theater goer wants, which exceptionally plentiful miniature crunching, landmark scattering, and close-up kaiju fisticuffs. While entering the routine, action composition is refreshing enough with some daring angles to accentuate size. Explosions are thick, and military response proves sharp. Few will consider the feature a sequel necessity, but not many of the Godzilla follow-ups ever were. SOS is enough of a cinematic, special effects driven ruckus to earn its place. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

Fired @ 49:33

Sony chooses to pair SOS with Godzilla Final Wars instead of this film’s predecessor, an odd choice considering how non-connected these two are. But, maybe it’s for the better as SOS is absolutely deplorable in its Region A Blu-ray debut. Despite markings of Sony, this disc would best appear under the banner of an Echo Bridge, a distributor with limited care and budget. In terms of major studios, SOS may stand amongst the worst video presentations.

Usually, there is speak of resolution and clarity at this juncture – but there is none. AVC encoding or not, SOS is abysmally softened and lowered to the level of upscale. Whatever technology handled that process is awful.

Grain is thickly presented without a sense of being naturally layered onto the film stock. While certain sequences (in particular Mothra’s first and spectacular introduction) are bitten by video noise, most of SOS seems afflicted to some degree. The continual haze which sits over these images are brutal in effacing fidelity. Close-ups are bland, human or monster, and peered through a fog of ugliness. Medium shots are simply gross. Only black levels are spared.

On the print itself, damage protrudes in the form of dirt and specks, unacceptable given the age and a sign this master is disturbingly close to the one used for Sony’s DVD. While it should be applauded that this studio used individual discs for each film, when their masters are in such despicable condition, what’s the point? [xrr rating=1/5 label=Video]

A lone saving technical feature are dual DTS-HD 5.1 mixes, both in English and Japanese (with ‘dub’titles, the latter considered here. SOS is a sonically raucous movie, with immediate panning and LFE jumps as jets track a clouded Mothra in the skyline. Gunfire is scattered with force and satisfyingly placed in the appropriate channel.

Underwater, a submarine attack is centered as Godzilla warps metal and sends water inward with the focus on enveloping listeners. On land, destruction casts an audio shadow of debris with lumbering assistance from the low-end. Helicopters swirl around, and beam weapons are ejected from the proper speaker. And, while all of the missiles are firing, SOS still has time to focus on little things, like leaky pipes underground as characters sift through destruction. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Out of of all of Sony’s Toho Collection Blu-rays, this is the only set with behind-the-scenes material. Here, there is an offering of 22-minutes of raw set footage, combined with the finished shots. It’s fascinating to watch. Also provided is a 30-second trailer. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

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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.


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