French nuclear testing (?!) in the Pacific leads to the mutation of iguanas (!?), and giant one makes its way to New York to nest. Scientist Matthew Broderick hooks up with old-flame TV journalist Maria Pitillo and French secret service guy Jean Reno to try to stop the rampage.
You’ll note that I did not refer to the giant iguana as “Godzilla.” The monster in question here, designated by Toho studios as “Zilla” and known in Godzilla fandom under the name GINO (“Godzilla In Name Onl…”), emphatically fails to live up to its title billing. As does the movie. Why Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, after demonstrating that they knew how to destroy real estate in Independence Day, unaccountably reign in their monster here (as well as emasculating it of its majesty and power), which is a little like making a sex-free porn flick. As monster movie, this isn’t terrible, and the excitement level remains high. In fact, as a remake of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (whose plot it follows quite closely), it ALMOST passes muster. As a Godzilla film, though, it’s a disaster and a desecration. The imposter here is very satisfyingly annihilated in the recent Godzilla Final Wars.
BOOOM! On this level, the disc certainly delivers. The environmental effects are tremendous, whether we are talking rain, thunder, or destruction. The monster’s footsteps shake the room, and the placement of all the booms and whooshes is first-rate. This release removes the 2.0 option that was available on the previous version, but it isn’t missed.
Here the transfer is a step forward. The previous release was 2.35:1 widescreen, but not anamorphic, an oversight that has been corrected here. The picture has a bit of grain, but nothing severe, and there is no visible edge enhancement. The image is sharp, generally speaking, and the colours are very strong. The blacks are very good, too. It’s a nice transfer, but not as eye-popping as those on the other recent releases of the Japanese films.
Everything that was on the original release is back, minus the cast and crew bios and filmographies. Returning then, are the music video (“Heroes” by The Wallflowers), the lackluster series of pictures showing New York before and after the rampage, the publicity stills gallery, the promotional making-of featurette, and the dryly technical commentary by FX supervisor Volker Engel (what, Devlin and Emmerich weren’t willing to explain themselves?). New to the disc is a production art gallery, “All Time Best of Godzilla Fight Scenes” (really a glorified trailer for the Sony Godzilla discs) and three episodes of the cartoon series (the new one, not the one from the 70s). Limited animation aside, these actually deliver the goods more than the feature they sprang from. The episodes are “Where Is Thy Sting?”, “Monster Wars Part 1” (only part 1?) and “What Dreams May Come” (and there you go: Godzilla with a Hamlet reference). The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
For a “Monster Edition,” this is pretty underwhelming. Much like the feature itself.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- “All Time Best of Godzilla Fight Scenes”
- Music Video
- “Godzilla Takes New York” Picture Gallery
- Publicity Stills
- Production Art Gallery
- 3 Episodes from the Godzilla Animated Series