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Trevor Willsmer (London, England)

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Altered States [Blu-ray] [1980] [US Import]
Altered States [Blu-ray] [1980] [US Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.62

4.0 out of 5 stars A good Blu-ray transfer, but this is a film you really need to see on the giant screen, 27 April 2015
Home video doesn’t do Altered States any favours. In the cinema, particularly from the front row in 70mm with six-track stereo, it’s stunning (so stunning, in fact, that when I saw the film at a preview at the old Warner West End’s biggest screen, Ken Russell was urging everyone there to move back, telling them “You’ll be sorry”). It’s diminished even on the largest of small screens, where it seems less of an all-encompassing trip and more of a Ken Russell film (when you hear a zonked-out William Hurt screaming, “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! I’m witnessing the birth agonies of a nun!” you know our Ken’s calling the shots). Much of it is still effective as Hurt’s experiments with sensory deprivation and mind-expanding drugs cause him to revert to earlier evolutionary life forms, but on the small screen it’s the framing sequences and Jekyll and Hyde plot rather than the intense psychedelic imagery that tend to work best – unless, of course, you’ve dropped a few tabs yourself, in which case you probably won’t need it anyway.

Warner’s Blu-ray relelease is a major improvement over the previous DVD, with an excellent transfer that handles the shifts from darkness to overexposed light equally well and a very decent sound mix that can’t quite replicate the original ‘Megasound’ mix that was also used on Wolfen, but handles both the impressive sound effects that at times mesh seamlessly with John Corigliano’s jabbing score as well as the dialogue quite impressively. Sadly the disc comes up short on extras – just the original trailer – which is a shame considering the film’s contentious production history: the film had a false start at Columbia with Arthur Penn directing and John Dyskstra providing the special effects before Warner Bros. picked up the project only for Russell and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky to fall out (apparently over Russell’s handling of the dialogue scenes), with Chayefsky taking his name off the picture. With most of the participants still working and Russell still alive at the time the disc was produced, a documentary or audio commentary seems a real missed opportunity.

The Fly [Blu-ray] [1958]
The Fly [Blu-ray] [1958]
Dvd ~ David Hedison
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £9.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Fox helps The Fly to a superb Blu-ray transfer, 27 April 2015
This review is from: The Fly [Blu-ray] [1958] (Blu-ray)
The original 1958 The Fly feels a lot like a short story padded out to feature length: much of the first half hour is taken up with Vincent Price’s besotted brother-in-law and Herbert Marshall’s civilized detective just why Patricia Owens crushed her husband to death and whether she is insane and much of the last twenty minutes over whether the story she unfolds in flashback is true or the product of a deranged mind. Even when the film gets to the meat of the story, we never see David Hedison’s disastrous teleportation experiment that leaves him with the head and claw of a fly, the emphasis remaining on mystery as it saves the revelation of his new form for an effective shock and a quite impressive feat of twitching makeup surprisingly late in the picture. Interestingly it's one of the few monster movies where the creature never kills anyone, the tension instead coming from the threat of violence as the insect half fights for control of his body. The Fly itself or even the infamous "Help me! Help me!" moment aren't the funniest moments in the film - that honor goes to the cat's interdimensional mewing - but on the balance it's more good good than bad good.

Fox’s new Blu-ray release boasts excellent picture quality that’s easily the best the film has ever looked on home video, a truly beautiful restoration with vivid colour, strong definition and none of the usual problems associated with transferring 50s CinemaScope films to home video. There’s a good package of extras carried over from the boxed set of the three original films – a brief featurette covering the trilogy, an audio commentary by David Hedison (still billed as Al Hedison in the film) and David Del Valle, a Movietone newsreel extract of a parade of movie monsters attending the film’s premiere, the ingenious original trailer that shows virtually none of the film after Vincent Price steps in to stop the action in favour of stray lines of dialogue over graphics, and a decent Biography Channel documentary on Price that even includes footage of him as a youngster hamming it up in college home movies.

The Giant Claw (Region 2)
The Giant Claw (Region 2)
Dvd ~ Jeff Morrow
Offered by Acid Vibes
Price: £15.28

3.0 out of 5 stars “There it is now, attacking the United Nations Building!”[/, 27 April 2015
This review is from: The Giant Claw (Region 2) (DVD)
Spreading panic from Broadway to Bombay, 1957’s The Giant Claw boasts perhaps the ultimate flying monster in movie history. Described by one terrified Quebecois witness as “La Carcagne – she’s de devil in de storm with de face of de wolf and de body of de woman with wings, bigger than I can tell,” it doesn’t say much for Canadian women since when we finally see it in focus it’s a cross between an overgrown buzzard, a chickenhawk and Gonzo the Great. But this isn’t just any old giant turkey – impervious to rockets, invisible to radar and with a taste for swallowing parachutists whole and pecking away at the United Nations Building, it’s an extraterrestrial giant turkey from an anti-matter galaxy millions of miles from Earth that’s come here to build a nest: “No other explanation is possible.”

Luckily for humanity Jeff Morrow, test pilot and “chief cook and bottle washer in a one-man birdwatching society,” invents a weapon to disable its impenetrable shield so they can hit it with everything but the kitchen sink – but don’t worry: Morris Ankrum’s general assures him “We’ve got kitchen sinks to spare, son.” – just in time for a last-minute clinch with co-star Mara Corday. Some of the dialogue has dated rather unfortunately – “I admire your spunk, and you keep climbing on our backs whenever we’ve messed up” – and strangely enough it’s nowhere near as much fun as a film with a giant flying turkey should be, but the beast itself is such a truly memorable creation for all the wrong reasons that it’s hard to dislike even if you are liking it for all the wrong reasons. And full marks to the cast for delivering gem after gem of direlogue with a straight face: “Honest to Pete, I’ll never call my mother-in-law an old crow again!,” “The only trouble is that the last time I talked to a chaplain there wasn’t any telephone line to the one and only place where we can get the kind of help we need” and the immortal “There it is now, attacking the United Nations Building!”

20 Million Miles to Earth / It Came From Beneath [Blu-ray] [US Import]
20 Million Miles to Earth / It Came From Beneath [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £6.11

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent Harryhausen scifi double bill but missing the impressive extras of the standalone discs, 27 April 2015
Previously released by Sony as very impressive single disc special edition Blu-rays with a wealth of extra features and both colorised and original black and white versions, Mill Creek's double-bill offers a no-frills single disc pairing with both films in their original black and white versions.

The beginning of his long-running relationship with Columbia Pictures and his lifelong partnership with producer Charles H. Schneer - albeit under the auspices of churn `em out fast and cheap executive producer Sam Katzman - It Came from Beneath the Sea is one of Ray Harryhausen's earliest creature features and, sadly, one of his weakest. The biggest problem is that most of the first hour is taken up with conversations, briefings and press conferences as the unseen object that damaged the Navy's latest nuclear sub is finally revealed to be a giant octopus drawn to the surface in search of food after becoming irradiated in a nuclear test and inadvertently warning off its natural prey. Guess who's on the menu now...

Unfortunately the infamously six tentacled beast (easier to animate) stays unseen for all but a couple of minutes in that opening hour, not really breaking the surface properly until the one hour mark when it develops a taste for the Golden Gate Bridge. Up until then we have to make do with fairly flatly directed and acted speculation and mild romantic complications as the reliable Kenneth Tobey's sub commander woos Faith Domergue's marine biologist away from scientist Donald Curtis, which isn't difficult since he doesn't put up a fight (not too surprising with Domergue hardly setting the screen alight). When the destruction finally comes it's worth the wait - just - though it's a definite step down from Harryhausen's much better funded first solo stop motion animation effort The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which also starred Tobey.

The third and last of Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer's pictures for churn `em out fast and cheap executive producer Sam Katzman, 20 Million Miles to Earth is a decent mixture of sci-fi and monster movie. Rather than having its humans travel to another world and confront monsters or having ancient monsters reawaken and wreak destruction on the modern world, it tweaks both formulas to have a doomed mission to Venus bring back a sample of alien life with them. At first this creature is minute, but exposed to earth's atmosphere it doubles its size every day...

Although it's far from one of their best efforts as a film, some intelligence has gone into the script. The Italian setting allows the Ymir to fight for our entertainment on the same locations (the Colosseum) and against the same kind of creatures (an enraged elephant and well-armed fighting men) that gladiators did centuries earlier. And rather than going the King Kong route, there's no sympathy for the creature here - to the humans it's just an animal to be examined and then destroyed when it objects. But what really stands out about 20 Million Miles is the extraordinary quality of Harryhausen's special effects.

A close relative to the Kraken in Clash of the Titans, the Ymir is a huge leap forward for Harryhausen, the first of his own creatures to have a personality, conveyed through beautifully acted body language and credible reactions. It's also remarkably fluid compared to earlier efforts, constantly reacting - even when it's asleep it still breathes. Much of the animation is particularly complicated, not least a sequence when the Ymir is caught in a net. Throughout he's integrated into sets and real-life locations like the Rome Zoo, the Ponti St. Angelo and the Forum rather than just standing in the foreground as in much of Harryhausen's earlier work, even interacting properly with the shadows as the light source shifts. It's the moment that Harryhausen outdoes his mentor Willis O'Brien for the first time.

At the Earth's Core [Blu-ray] [1976] [US Import]
At the Earth's Core [Blu-ray] [1976] [US Import]
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: £18.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the best of the John Dark-Kevin Connor-Doug McClure fantasy adventures, 27 April 2015
Before Luke Skywalker, there was Doug McClure… His John Dark-Kevin Connor fantasy adventures were a mainstay of Summer holiday movies in the days before Star Wars: they weren't masterpieces, they didn't boast state-of-the-art special effects, but they were exactly what an audience of kids wanted from a film back in the mid 70s.

On the rather impressive new (sadly Region A-locked) US Blu-ray of At the Earth's Core there's an interview with director Kevin Connor, who in passing mentions that after that and The Land That Time Forgot they were going to continue mining Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantasy novels and do the John Carter series but it proved too expensive so they ended up doing Warlords of Atlantis instead. While The People that Time Forgot is awful and looks incredibly cheap, At the Earth's Core gives some idea of how good a John Carter film from the Kevin Connor-John Dark-Doug McClure team could have been: it tells the story in 90 minutes without drowning in exposition while constantly moving from cliffhanger to cliffhanger and action scene without wearing you out - where it takes two reels for John Carter to get to his damn cave of gold, by that time in At the Earth's Core McClure and Cushing have burrowed to the centre of the Earth, been chased by a monster, captured by Sagoths, met Caroline Munro's captive princess and seen two monsters fight it out, all the while flowing so naturally it doesn't feel rushed or leave you asking any questions about the exposition.

It catches just the right tone for the appropriately named Burroughs’ pulp adventure about Victorian inventor Peter Cushing and the inevitable Doug McClure ending up in the underground world of Pelucidar and battling its evil telepathic fighting dinosaurs. This time the dodgy puppets from The Land That Time Forgot are gone in favour of men in monster suits, which is a lot more fun if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, and if you’re not there’s always Caroline Munro’s cleavage to look at. Aside from what may well be Peter Cushing’s worst performance, an irritating but dottier rehash of his movie Dr Who (“You can’t mesmerize me, I’m British!”), it’s easily the best of the Dark-Connor-McClure fantasy adventures, and is surprisingly well directed even if Connor doesn’t rate the film much himself

The odd fire-breathing frog aside, the special effects are surprisingly good: yes the creatures are guys in rubber suits, but they're pretty good rubber suits that are more pleasingly organic than many modern CGi critters), and the look of the film is fantastic - shot entirely on soundstages the production design gives it a rich otherworldly look that's so desperately lacking in Andrew Stanton's botched version of John Carter and Alan Hume's photography has a terrific use of colour. Never especially good at exterior scenes, Hume’s work gains immensely from the control a studio set gives him to paint a luridly vivid world worthy of a pulp novel cover. No-one will ever mistake it for a $306.6m budgeted movie but it's a whole lot more fun – it’s not high art but it’s definitely great Saturday matinee fun.

The region A-locked disc has a particularly good transfer with a new interview with Munro, vintage making of short and US trailer (selling it as a Satanic monster horror movie!) but I had to give up on the audio commentary - it's obviously a real love it or hate it affair, but I hated it. Unwelcome moderator Bill Olsen hasn't done any research on the movie and hasn't got a clue what he's talking about (he even gets Kevin Connor's name wrong when introducing him!), which wouldn't be that much of a problem if he'd just let Connor speak, but he constantly interrupts when the director's trying to talk and keeps on going off on increasingly bizarre tangents - when he's not laughing at his own jokes. The only entertainment value it had was imagining the increasing look of horror on Connor's face as he realised he was stuck in the booth with this guy for another hour.

Gamera: Ultimate Collection 1 [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Gamera: Ultimate Collection 1 [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £8.16

4.0 out of 5 stars The most prolific of Godzilla's rivals, 27 April 2015
Perhaps the most prolific of Godzilla's rivals, Gamera is one of the more bonkers kaiju creations: a giant fire-eating nuclear-powered flying turtle that eats fire and is nourished by radioactivity. Gamera may trash the odd city and power plant or incinerate terrified bystanders when he gets cranky but he wouldn't dream of hurting a child, which is just as well since his films were increasingly aimed at small children as he graduated from menacing Japan as "the devil's envoy" to defending the Earth over the course of eight films between 1965-80. Mill Creek's region-free budget Blu-ray collection offers the first four films in no-frills editions on just one disc, which means quality is about on par with the earlier DVD releases from Shout Factory.

The first, GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER, was more of an old-fashioned monster movie clearly influenced by both The Beast from 20,000 and Gorgo (the latter at one time intended as a Japanese co-production). Like Gorgo, there's a mysterious affinity between the creature and a young boy who wants to protect it ("Please excuse him, he's overly fond of turtles.") Like Ray Bradbury's beastie it's awakened from its centuries-long slumber by a nuclear explosion, here the result of an unidentified plane being shot down in the Arctic with its nuclear payload, and like Bradbury's beastie he makes his next appearance at a lighthouse. And, naturally, the authorities try everything and nothing can stop it...

Some thought has actually gone into why conventional weapons have no effect on him, while the fact that he's nourished by radioactivity means they can't just drop a bomb on him. So the finest minds in Japan decide to do what children have been doing to turtles for centuries - turn it on its back so it can't right itself. When this doesn't work, it's time for Plan X, which will at least ensure a sequel.

It's certainly not up to the standard of even Toho's non-Godzilla movies, often clumsily made and clearly shot on the cheap in black and white (the last kaiju film to do so), though the budget did at least stretch to widescreen. The effects are variable, some charmingly weak, others about as good as you can possibly expect a man in a turtle suit to look in the film's big rampage that sees Tokyo get it again - including a bunch of hip kids who won't listen to their elders and abandon their happening club ("Nothing's gonna stop this shindig, so let's dance!"). The main characters are one-dimensional at best, while the bit parts don't often get that lucky. As was common for Japanese and Hong Kong films, the American characters are played by ordinary people the filmmakers found in Japan, and boy does it show. While the Japanese cast struggle with their few lines in English, the Americans fare even worse, not least the American general reading. His lines. From. A piece of paper. It doesn't help that they have to contend with direlogue like "Huge turtle. 60 metres. What's going on around here?" "I don't know, sir. Looks like a huge turtle made its appearance." Thankfully they're only in the movie for a few minutes, but they sear themselves into your memory.

Yet the film has a kind of charm going for it even in its cut-rate third-hand way, at least in its original Japanese version, and you can see why it had enough appeal to launch a series that would add colour and new monsters for Gamera to vanquish in increasingly silly scenarios. Unfortunately like Shout Factory's NTSC Region 1 DVD, budget outfit Mill Creek's Blu-ray transfer doesn't have a great transfer. It's certainly better than Public Domain releases and is in its original 2.35:1 ratio with English subtitles, but it's a little flat-looking and lacking in detail and contrast in places. The infamously atrociously dubbed and re-edited US version is sadly not included because the owners of the only decent widescreen copy wanted too much money to license it, and nor are the extras from Shout's DVD release (an audio commentary by August Radone, an interesting half-hour featurette covering the series that includes interviews with director Noriaki Yuasa and writer Nisan Takahashi as well as a reconstruction of the intended final film in the series, a booklet and the original Japanese trailer that's largely made up of specially filmed footage of the cast delivering dialogue that bears little relation to the film while falling pillars bounce off their heads). In fact none of the four films on this disc have any extras.

Although the original Gamera series has never enjoyed the greatest of reputations even among kaiju fans, the first sequel, GAMERA VERSUS BARUGON, turns out to be pretty good and an improvement on the original. Now in color as well as CinemaScope, it briefly brings the energy-seeking flying turtle back to Earth before the obligatory human plot that will take up most of the screen time takes over. In this case it's a treasure hunt for a fabulous opal hidden on an island in New Guinea during the war, which inevitably leads to the greediest of the treasure hunters getting his partners out of the way for a larger share. Only it turns out that it's not an opal but an egg and, one convenient burst of infrared later, it's hatching in Kobe Harbor where, quickly growing to enormous size, it sets about the obligatory rampage of destruction. But the crocodile-like Barugon is a rather more ingenious beast than usual: rather than breathing fire, he breathes a vapor that turns everything to ice, has a rainbow death ray that springs out of its back but a fatal weakness for diamonds and water. Naturally, when The Diamond Strategy and Operation Rear View Mirror fail, as all efforts by puny humans in monster smackdowns are doomed to do, it's up to Gamera to take out the new beast on the block...

Still aimed more at undemanding adults than children, it's surprisingly well made with decent production values and some good visuals, and while it has Gamera saving the day it's less because he sees himself as the defender of Japan, more because he's an animal who doesn't want any competition in the city-destroying stakes. The Bluray has a decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with subtitled Japanese original soundtrack only - the dubbed English soundtracks, audio commentary by August Ragone and Jason Varney and a stills and poster gallery that were on Shout's DVD have not been carried over.

"What is it, a bird or a reptile?"
"I think it's a monster."

Despite being more than a little bonkers even by kaiju standards, GAMERA VS. GYAOS is a surprisingly decent third entry in the series, pitting Japanese cinema's favorite giant flying fire-inhaling turtle against a prehistoric monster bat with two throats that emit deadly ultrasonic rays, can regrow lost body parts and has a taste for human flesh (particularly reporters) who gets woken up from his long nap by the eruption of Mount Fuji. The most popular of Gamera's adversaries, Gyaos can only be destroyed by ultraviolet light, so naturally the authorities have a plan for dealing with him. It's probably the daftest single plan ever devised in any kaiju at that: they'll spray thousands of gallons of fake human blood over the area from helicopters to lure him to a revolving restaurant where they'll spin him around until he gets too dizzy to fly away when the sun rises and be destroyed by its rays... When, for some inexplicable reason, this doesn't quite work out, it's up to Gamera to save the day in the usual deathmatch.

This pretty much establishes the series as the poor man's Godzilla, and the defender of Japan Godzilla at that. Playing of the beast's popularity with children there's naturally a small kid along who knows the turtle will save the day, though they don't belabour the bond between them or `humanise' the critter: Gamera is still fundamentally an animal (well, reptile) and behaves like one, with no special feeling for people. The effects aren't as good as the Godzilla films, with the Gyaos suit and puppets much more limited in their movement and not always shot with an eye to their limitations, and there's a distinct lack of personality to either of the critters that the end title montage of far more dramatic shots from the previous film only underlines, though there's enough quality destruction to satisfy most kaiju fans. And, of course, there's comedy both intentional and unintentional along the way (the subtitling on Shout's US DVD adds another layer with translations like "Don't wuss out, man!") as well as that curiously reactionary worldview that would carry over to the modern Gamera series: here in the human conflict between the corporation building a road through a small town and the locals opposing them, it's the greedy villagers who are in the wrong in their determination to squeeze every last yen out of the poor construction conglomerate!

Gyaos would get a much better vehicle and a detailed back story in the first film of the 90's series, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, but while this is nowhere near as smart or as well made it's still a surprising amount of fun in its original Japanese version.

There's a tendency to deride the original Gamera series as kid's films, which is rather unfair since that's exactly what most of them were intended to be once producers Daiei discovered that the giant flying turtle played better with children than with adults. Certainly GAMERA VS. VIRAS aka Gamera Vs. Space Monster Viras/Gamela Vs. Bailus/Destroy All Planets is an enjoyable kids movie despite its limitations that see it recycling a huge amount of footage from the first three films (even if part of it is in black and white) as aliens scan Gamera's brain waves to find his weaknesses from their bee-like spaceship. The plot isn't a million miles away from the standard Godzilla/aliens template, with invaders from the planet Viras seeking to control Gamera to conquer the Earth - and they would have got away with it too if it weren't for those pesky kids. In this case rather than an allegedly cute infant we get a couple of likeable Boy Scouts, one Japanese (Toru Takatsuka) and one American (Carl Craig, presumably to help with foreign sales). Despite being potentially irritating pranksters they've both got enough personality and genuine screen chemistry with each other to have you rooting for them in a low-on-logic plot that sees them kidnapped by the aliens as a bargaining chip to get the humans to surrender, which, naturally, they do until the boys' ingenuity saves the day. Reality doesn't really get much of a look-in here, so it's pointless complaining about the unlikeliness of that particular plot development - this is, after all, a film where scientists allow unsupervised children to pilot malfunctioning minisubs, so this is more about juvenile wish fulfilment that understands its target audience perfectly.

Complaints about the space monster are perfectly valid, however. Despite a half decent twist on its nature it unfortunately looks like a cross between a giant squid and the bad-tempered Sam the Bald Eagle from The Muppet Show, so it's impossible to take seriously, which is a pity since the Gamera effects are much better than in Gamera Vs. Gyaos. But silliness comes with the territory in many a kaiju flick, and this is one of the more enjoyable of the Godzilla wannabes, never outstaying its welcome at a sprightly 82 minutes.

As with Gyaos, the Blu-ray has a decent widescreen transfer with both original Japanese soundtrack and no extras.

Gamera: Ultimate Collection 2 [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Gamera: Ultimate Collection 2 [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £8.16

3.0 out of 5 stars More one for the die-hard Gamera completists, 27 April 2015
Perhaps the most prolific of Godzilla's rivals, Gamera is one of the more bonkers kaiju creations: a giant fire-eating nuclear-powered flying turtle that eats fire and is nourished by radioactivity. Gamera may trash the odd city and power plant or incinerate terrified bystanders when he gets cranky but he wouldn't dream of hurting a child, which is just as well since his films were increasingly aimed at small children as he graduated from menacing Japan as "the devil's envoy" to defending the Earth over the course of eight films between 1965-80. Mill Creek's second region-free budget Blu-ray collection offers the last four films in the original series in no-frills editions on just one disc, which means quality is about on par with the earlier DVD releases from Shout Factory. Sadly this volume is more for the die-hard completist, with only one of the films much good.

"We'll eat their brains raw while they sleep!"

GAMERA VS. GUIRON is a definite step back after Gamera Vs. Viras (to be found on Mill Creek's first collection of Gamera films) despite not having nearly half as silly looking a monster for our giant fire-breathing flying turtle to battle. Once again the plot revolves around a Japanese and a foreign sales-friendly American boy, but this time the pair are younger, blander and not only devoid of much in the way of personality but, more damagingly, lack the screen chemistry of Toru Takatsuka and Carl Craig. While you could believe their predecessors really were best friends, these two only seem to be together because the casting director put them next to each other and because of their ability to remember their lines and to stand where the director tells them. Which is a problem when most of the plot evolves around them. It's another exercise in juvenile wish-fulfilment, a Hansel and Gretel in space story that sees the two would-be astronomers who dream of a world without wars or traffic accidents spot a flying saucer land in the woods near their house and, naturally, fly it to its home planet, whose last two inhabitants welcome them with open arms, beaming smiles and drugged donuts, planning to use the spaceship to escape their Gyaos-ridden world and use the boys as rations en route - but not before eating their brains to assimilate their knowledge so they can fit in on Earth. Naturally Gamera is in hot pursuit to save the children, facing off against the aliens pet attack-monster Guiron with his knife shaped head and his love of slicing his opponents into little bits and throwing them around.

While it's always fun to watch Guiron slice'n'dice, the film's just rather flat, the budget struggling with the script and frequently losing - the interior sets are okay but the model spaceship never looks more than three inches tall and the alien world seems a bit on the make do and mend side: films like At the Earth's Core managed to do much more with what were probably even smaller resources. It's unengaging stuff but fairly painless to watch.

After the limp and disappointing Gamera Vs. Guiron, Daiei pulled their socks up a bit with GAMERA VS. JIGER, giving it a noticeably bigger budget, better monster smackdowns and a better script. Set around Japan's Expo 70, which gives them a huge ready-built set to play with, it plays a bit like a spin on Mothra without the singing fairy girls and the native dance numbers as archaeologists arrogantly take a statue from a remote island to put on display only to release yet another monster who's soon heading for Tokyo having left Gamera stuck on his back - well, he is a turtle...

By now the series was unashamedly aimed at children, set in a world where no-one is to surprised when monsters appear and when the solutions are only found when adults listen to children in a modern day fable. There's even a Tinker Bell element to it - you have to believe in Gamera for him to win. Once again it offers a Japanese and American juvenile lead, and while there's not much spark between them they're better actors, though as always the real stars are the men in the rubber suits. It helps a lot that this time the hero in a half-shell gets to face off against one of his best opponents (the film even offers a neat solution to why the statue kept him trapped for millions of years). Just as welcome is the fact that they don't scrimp too obviously on the budget as they would in later entries. Though the appearance of a minisub makes you think you'll be seeing the minisub vs. Gamera race from Gamera Vs. Viras again, it's put to rather more imaginative use - the only recycled footage this time is in the title sequence. Even Gamera's theme song gets new lyrics. It's naturally silly stuff, but it's certainly entertaining for kaiju fans even if it isn't up to Toho's standards.

After raising their game with Gamera Vs. Jiger, it's back to the minors for Daiei with 1971's GAMERA VS ZIGRA, which is not only so poor it never got a release in the US but unsurprisingly put the series on hold until the largely compilation flick Gamera the Space Monster nearly a decade later - not least because the studio went bust before it came out. As so often in Japanese monster movies, there's the obligatory eco-message: man is too 'ugly' to use the oceans and simply pollutes them, which is just inviting aliens to invade the Earth with their giant metal alien goblin shark (think swordfish) and replace humans' brains with those of dolphins and save them for food. As you do. Naturally it's up to everybody's favourite fire-breathing flying turtle to save the day in another smackdown, but not before alien babe Eiko Yanami has chased children around the Kamogawa Sea World, who probably gave them a good deal to get some publicity that helped keep the budget at rock bottom.

Once again the target audience is small children, which is one reason why the theme tune is shouted out by what sounds like a bunch of hyperactive kids having a Who Can Be The Loudest competition. The kids at the centre of the story aren't likeable but at least they behave like believable real kids, bored and smartarse with adults, attention spans that make goldfish look nostalgic and unable to see a camera without sticking their tongue out at it. They don't really serve the drawn out plot much - they never provide the vital information needed to defeat Zigra and though they're around for the major setpieces they play no active part in them, more or less spectators for most of the running time. It's as if the audience were in the movie but just standing around watching and occasionally shouting something at the stars. Miss Yanami has more to do, and she's largely there to give the dads something to look at.

It does have perhaps the most surreal moment in the series' history that puts Godzilla's much derided shay dance in Invasion of Astro-Monster into context - Gamera doesn't just defeat Zigra, he actually plays his theme tune on its spine as if it were a xylophone before breaking into a disco dance. It's worth the price of the disc on its own, but you do have to watch the whole film to get there....

The best that can be said of 1980's GAMERA THE SUPER MONSTER is that, thanks to Gamera Vs. Zigra, it isn't actually the worst Gamera film. Which isn't the same as being much good. A Kind of That's Gamera! stringing together greatest hits footage from the first six colour sequels, now reduced from Scope to 1.85:1 widescreen, with a new plot involving three space babes exiled on Earth tracked down by evil aliens who threaten the Earth with their army of monsters, it's not good. Trust me: that is an understatement.

Once again it's a kids film, our juvenile hero this time a comic-book reading Hammond Organ playing kid who can talk to his pet turtle and helps bring Gamera to save the world. Most of what's going on in the new framing footage has no impact on the stock footage or plot - the characters do little more than stand by watching on the beach or on TV - and the finale, with Gamera taking on the star cruiser, happens offscreen just to add to the sense of irrelevance and disappointment. The new effects are a mixed bag, with obvious early video effects combined with more traditional model shots (though the flying shots are surprisingly good), the look of the film low budget and second hand, throwing in bits of Star Wars - the opening live-action shot after a space battle shown in still paintings is a direct copy of its overhead spaceship opening shot - and Superman with very 80s family film comedy and Japanese children's fantasy shows like Ultraman. There are a couple of in-jokes where Gamera scares off an animated Space Cruiser Yamato and knocks down a Godzilla poster, to which the only logical response is "In your dreams, Shellboy."

As with the previous collection, there are no extras, with all three films offered in unexceptional 2.35:1 widescreen transfers with only the original subtitled Japanese soundtracks offered (the Shout Factory NTSC DVD releases also included English dubs).

Godzilla Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Godzilla Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £15.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect introduct to the big feller, 26 April 2015
Classic Media were the first company to try to do Godzilla justice on the English-speaking DVD market, and this exceptionally reasonably priced boxed set offers all their DVD releases in one handy set. It's not a complete collection by any means - Sony, Lionsgate and Warners have other titles - but it includes many of the best, including the original.

It's a strange and almost unnoticed fact that the two Japanese films of 1954 that put Japanese cinema at its most poetic and its most populist on the international map both starred Takashi Shimura. The same year he led a group of Ronin to defend a poor village for Akira Kurosawa he was also trying to unravel the mystery of Gojira, only to get sidelined in the US version of the film in favor of a not exactly seamlessly edited in Raymond Burr. Classic Media's Region 1 NTSC DVD of GODZILLA in both its incarnations is a nice presentation of a movie that isn't quite as good as you'd like it to be but still isn't bad for all that.

While the Japanese version, with its heavy Hiroshima and Nagasaki allegorical overtones, is the better film, the American version isn't exactly negligible. Restructuring the film's timeframe, beginning in the aftermath of the destruction of Tokyo and framing much of the film as a flashback to explain the need for narration, it sidelines the nuclear subplot but still offers much of the flavor of the original, as well as offering a couple of bizarrely charming moments of camp from Raymond Burr: it's almost worth it for the little look he gives the security officer in the helicopter.

Picture quality on the Japanese version is sadly not as good as the US version, but it's more than acceptable for all that.

The first of many sequels, 1955's GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN is a typical example of the low-budget quickie sequels that used to be knocked out with more of an eye on getting into the theatres as quickly and cheaply as possible rather than on quality. Kurosawa favorite and star of the original Takashi Shimura only turns up for a single scene in this drawn-out number that introduces the monster mash theme of subsequent films with a giant terrapin but gets bogged down forever treading water with bland characters and a surprising lack of any urgency to the proceedings. The destruction quota is pretty low: this time it's Osaka's turn in an impressive setpiece at the film's halfway point that offers a striking shot of the city burning in the distance that summons up memories of mushroom clouds before adjourning to an island and an interminable series of bombing runs that allow special effects man Eiji Tsuburaya's aviation obsession to run riot. The special effects themselves are considerably worse and its all very dull and drawn out. This did set path for future films by giving Godzilla a rival monster (Anguirus) to battle, though he's disposed of at the halfway point, and it's worth noting that this second Godzilla is the creature that would appear in all the subsequent films in the original Showa series (the original Godzilla being reduced to a skeleton in the first film), but it's primarily of historical interest. Unfortunately this was bad enough to send Gojira into hibernation until the early Sixties where he'd have to work his way up through the ranks again as a supporting player to other monsters.

The much-altered version released in the US as Gigantis The Fire Monster probably didn't help matters either. Rather than crudely editing an American star into the film a la Raymond Burr in the original Gojira, it was originally planned to simply use the monster footage and build an entirely new American movie to be called Volcano Monsters around them, even importing the Godzilla and Anguirus suits to shoot additional carnage only for the project to fall through. Instead the film was eventually dubbed into English by Keye Luke, who provides the almost constant running commentary and at one point utters the immortal line "Banana oil!", George Takei, Paul Frees and several others (including, from the sound of it, Yogi Bear), padded out with stock footage from newsreels and old educational films, rescored with cues from Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter's scores for Kronos and The Deerslayer and belatedly released in a flop double-bill with Teenagers From Outer Space in 1959. Along with major changes to the Japanese version's dialogue and characters, even Godzilla found himself renamed Gigantis. Unfortunately Toho have done a little fiddling around of their own on Classic Media's generally excellent recent Region 1 DVD, removing the US title for a clumsily grafted on video graphic.

Including both Japanese and American versions of the film, extras on the disc aren't plentiful but are very good, including an excellent audio commentary on the American version and an informative stills-led featurette on the suit actors in the series (the original and most prolific Gojira performer, Haruo Nakajima, had actually played one of the bandits in Seven Samurai!). Not a great film in either version, but a surprisingly satisfying DVD.

The best-loved of the Godzilla sequels and the film that set most Westerner's perceptions of the Kaiju genre, MOTHRA Vs. GODZILLA doesn't hold up as well as memory has it. Yes, it has the iconic image of the giant egg on the beach and it has a couple of tiny singing fairy girls, but it's not exactly a lavish production nor a particularly exciting one. It's a long wait for Godzilla's first appearance (32 minutes) and a longer one for some monster-on-monster action (a full hour, although the US version does include a brief but spectacular scene cut from the Japanese version of the US Navy shelling Godzilla), and when it comes it has to be said that Mothra and it's two caterpillar offspring aren't exactly the most exciting of critters, with a very limited bag of tricks between them. Still, the sequence where Godzilla's head (quite accidentally) catches fire is quite striking. It's also of note for being the last Godzilla film for twenty years to present the big feller as his original evil destructive self, with subsequent films presenting him as the protector of Japan.

After their sterling efforts on the first film in the series, Classic Media's DVD is something of a disappointment: the original subtitled Japanese version is in a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio but looks like a somewhat soft standards conversion with a somewhat dupey look to the color, while the dubbed American version retitled Godzilla Vs. The Thing is presented in a cropped 1.85:1 with not much better picture quality. The audio commentary on the American version is good and there's a nice brief featurette about series composer Akira Ifukube, though otherwise only the unsubtitled Japanese trailer is included alongside a poster gallery.

Grabbing a rare day off from the protracted shoot of Kurosawa's Redbeard, star of the original Godzilla film Takashi Shimura returned to the series for the last time, this time as a psychologist, in San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai No Kessen/Earth's Greatest Battle aka GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER - or Ghidrah if you watch the US version. Marking Godzilla's first time crossing the line from villain to hero (albeit very reluctantly) which many hardcore fans regard as the beginning of the end for the big feller, while it's certainly enjoyable, like most Toho monster mashes this spends much more time with the humans than it does with the critters. This time the plot revolves around a plot to kill a princess of an obscure kingdom during her visit to Japan which goes awry, as these conspiracies so often do, when she steps out of her plane into a gap between dimensions and emerges as a Venusian prophetess of the end of the world at the claws of Ghidorah, a rather impressive cross between a flying dragon and an economy-price Hydra (half the heads, all the destructive power) with previous for laying wastes to whole worlds.

Godzilla and flying monster Rodan are also back on the rampage, and it's up to the two singing fairy girls from Infant Island and Mothra to persuade them to save the Earth in a dementedly enjoyable monster summit where they translate the surly critters' grievances with the pesky human race that is always picking on them. Unfortunately Rodan is one of the least impressive of Toho's monster roster, and here the model work is particularly bad, turning him into across between The Giant Claw and Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show, while Mothra is still in its larva stage purely because its cheaper to do special effects with a giant slug than a giant flying moth (its twin from Mothra Vs. Godzilla having conveniently died between movies presumably for the same reason). When the monsters do finally slug it out in the last half hour, it's something of a disappointment. The big feller's battle with Rodan consists largely of the prehistoric bird pecking him on the head while he kicks rocks at it, although a sequence where the two throw and head the same rock between each other, Mothra watching like a spectator at Wimbledon, is amusing. Similarly, the final battle with Ghidorah never lives up to its potential, with the beasts considerately having their showdown in the countryside to keep the city stomping to an affordable minimum.

This also ups the comedy: with body language straight out of Oliver Hardy and getting zapped in the butt and the groin, you half expect Godzilla to get a custard pie in the face at times. The special effects are a step down from previous entries, with a lot of unconvincing puppet work, while plot inconsistencies abound - the two singing fairy girls say they don't want to attract attention, yet appear on a Where Are they Now? TV show - but do you really see a Godzilla film for the plot? Unlike previous entries in the series, the US version included alongside the original Japanese version on Classic Media's Region 1 DVD is more a case of trimming and tidying the chronology than a radical overhaul, though it does change the princess from a Venusian to a Martian and adds shots of Rodan to Godzilla's early rampages to make them seem less unmotivated.

The Japanese version includes featurette The Father of Godzilla - Eiji Tsuburaya and the Japanese trailer while the US version (on the same disc but a separate menu) includes an audio commentary by David Kalat and stills and poster gallery. Both versions have decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfers.

Despite its curiously low IMDB rating and the fact that the big feller isn't at the center of the plot, INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER aka Kaijū Daisenso/War of the Monsters aka Godzilla Vs. MonsterZero may be the best classic Godzilla follow-up of them all. Unlike many of the films it doesn't limit the monster action to the last two reels, spacing it out more evenly and integrating it more effectively into the human story, while the final orgy of destruction is epic stuff rather than just another battle in an isolated mountain area even if it is bulked out with a bit of stock footage from Rodan and Mothra. It's also surprisingly well-plotted, with sunglass wearing polyester-clad aliens offering a cure for cancer in exchange for the loan of Godzilla and Rodan to rid their barren planet of Ghidorah - or so they say. Instead they plan to use all three monsters to turn Earth into a colony planet and its up to astronauts Nick Adams and Akira Takarada and Akira Kubo's impoverished inventor to stop them.

The result may be no 2001, but it is a lot of fun. The film has a fabulous 60s comic book look to it and the special effects are fun: in no way photo-realistic, but undeniably appealing. The Rodan effects are much improved this time round, as is the fight choreography with the comedy largely limited to the fan-enraging sight of Godzilla doing a victory shay dance (best compared to a sailor's hornpipe as performed by British comedians Morecambe and Wise!). Not released in the US until 1970 because of Nick Adams' suicide shortly after finishing the film, Classic Media's Region 1 NTSC DVD includes both the very slightly trimmed US release version with audio commentary by Stuart Galbraith and the original Japanese version. There's also a featurette The Creator of Godzilla - Tomoyuki Tanaka and the original Japanese trailer, although sadly the DVD does not include the blooper of Godzilla's model foot bouncing away included on the Japanese DVD!

As the audio commentary on Classic Media's Region 1 DVD informs us, ALL MONSTERS ATTACK aka Godzilla's Revenge is the subject of much debate among Godzilla fans as to whether it's the worst or merely the second worst film in the series. While it's not quite as bad as Godzilla vs. Megalon, in which the big feller is reduced to a last reel cameo, there's little enough to recommend here. There's certainly little new for diehard fans, with the majority of the fight scenes simply stock footage from Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs Ebirah (even if you haven't seen them, the difference in Godzilla suits is striking). Worse, this is literally kid's stuff, with the framing device showing a bullied daydreaming latchkey kid learning life-lessons from a talking Minilla/Minya, the adopted son of Godzilla, on Monster Island who has to face a bully of his own in the form of Gabara, a monster with an uncanny resemblance to one of Top Cat's sidekicks. Godzilla's big on tough love - when Minilla runs to him for protection, he not only pushes him back to the bully but even knees him in the groin to hasten him on his way. Meanwhile, back in the real world, in a plot development that makes Home Alone look like neo-realism, the kid is kidnapped by a pair of incompetent payroll thieves and likewise has to learn how to fight his own battles. While this may seem like a very short (69 minutes) cut-and-paste job to the cynical, it's really a film with a message for the youth of the day: stand up for yourself and you too can become one of the bullies instead of the bullied, with our young hero happily ending the movie taking over the bully's gang and setting out on his first steps of a reign of terror. Ah....

As per their previous releases, Classic Media's R1 NTSC DVD offers both the Japanese and American versions though aside from the dubbing there are few differences - aside from the misleading US retitle Godzilla's Revenge, the biggest change is the removal of the completely bonkers Japanese title song screaming out lyrics like `Bang! Crash! Bang! Crash!/They destroy everything!/Sorry, sorry, but living is hard for us also' like a cat mating on a wobbly dustbin lid.

Despite reuniting many of the key players in the series’ early success – director Ishiro Honda (his last feature film), producer Tomoyuki Tanaka and composer Akira Ifukube - it’s not altogether surprising that 1975’s [b][i]Terror of MechaGodzilla[/I][/b] aka [i]Monsters From an Unknown Planet[/I] saw the series put to rest for a decade. It’s a long way from the worst Godzilla film, but it doesn’t quite catch fire and after a title sequence recap of his battle with his robot nemesis in the previous year’s entry, it’s another 45 minutes before Godzilla himself makes an appearance to liven things up.

A direct sequel to Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (not included in this set), it begins with Interpol of all people looking for the wreckage of MechaGodzilla but finding instead Titanosaurus, an amphibian dinosaur that looks like a giant kangaroo who turns out to be part of an ongoing alien plot to take over the Earth. Naturally when the humans – one of whom falls in love with the cyborg daughter of the Earth scientist building a new Mechagodzilla for the aliens (cue the immortal direlogue “Even if you’re a cyborg I love you.”) – prove unequal to the task it’s up to Godzilla to sort things out with another bout of monster wrestling (highlight: Godzilla dusting himself off afterwards). There’s a slight increase in the violence level as well as a surprising bit of gratuitous nudity but for the most part it’s not surprising that Toho put the big feller into hibernation until 1984.

The Japanese version includes featurette The Women of Godzilla – 1954-1975 and poster and stills gallery while the US version includes an audio commentary by Keith Aiken and Bob Johnson.

All in all a very impressive collection.

Godzilla Box Set Dvd [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Godzilla Box Set Dvd [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.0 out of 5 stars The changing face (and rubber suit) of Godzilla over the years, 26 April 2015
Columbia's now deleted boxed set offers a trio of Godzilla flicks that covers his changing personality (and rubber suits) over the years.

1967's Son of Godzilla is from the period when the movies had abandoned their apocalyptic roots and were aimed firmly at children, with a more benign Godzilla who may trample the odd building, but only on his way to take out some giant mantis beating up on his newly hatched son. Like Son of Kong, this is largely played for laughs, with dad teaching junior (the unfortunately named Minilla) how to breathe fire or inadvertently finding his tail used as a skipping rope for the little tyke. It's not one of the best of the series, but if you're in an undemanding mood it's entertaining enough and has a typically funky Masaru Satoh score.

1975's Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla is from his protector of Japan period and sees him up against a giant robot replica controlled by space monkeys. It's an attempt to move back into slightly more adult territory with increased (but not terribly convincing) violence and some hand-held camerawork, although the presence of space monkeys and the fact that Godzilla's ally, King Caesar, is a curious cross between the Cowardly Lion and a Pekinese dog, make it seem a somewhat half-hearted one.

By contrast, 2003's Godzilla Tokyo SOS, part of the third wave of Godzilla flicks, returns the Big Guy to his mean city stomping roots (no sappy protector of Japan stuff here) in a surprisingly well directed number with some superb visuals, is much more successful and one of the most exciting in the series. The film hits the ground running with a great opening that sees a jet chasing an unidentified flying object hidden in the clouds, with only a giant beating wing dimly visible, before setting out its stall as a direct if somewhat belated sequel to the original Mothra. The attempt to impose a moral dilemma on the narrative doesn't really work because it's so confused: unless Godzilla's bones, used to build the giant MechaGodzilla robot to defend Japan, are returned to the sea, Mothra will attack Japan. If they are, Mothra will defend Japan from Godzilla. Naturally they don't listen, only for Mothra to end up defending Tokyo anyway when Godzilla attacks... Go figure.

There are plenty of nice touches, including having the showdown in a part of Tokyo that still hasn't been rebuilt after Godzilla's last rampage, the first full appearance of Mothra amid falling peony blossoms is a strikingly beautiful piece of imagery, and best of all, not only is Godzilla back to his old bad*** self but the singing Japanese fairy girls are back. With particularly good special effects and action sequences, it's a highly enjoyable addition to the canon.

Extras on Sony's deleted US NTSC set are thin on the ground: Godzilla Tokyo SOS has the brief Japanese teaser trailer and 21-minutes of behind the scenes footage, but aside from offering good 2.35:1 transfers with either the original subtitled Japanese soundtrack or a dubbed English-language version, the only extras are brief trailers for other DVD releases.

Godzilla Vs Biollante [Blu-ray] [1989] [US Import]
Godzilla Vs Biollante [Blu-ray] [1989] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £6.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting ideas, but not one of the Big Feller's best, 26 April 2015
Despite - or perhaps because of - being picked up for US distribution by Miramax, 1989's Godzilla Vs. Biollante has long been one of the hardest entries in the series to find in an English-friendly version, with only an Asian Region 4 DVD offering (occasionally bizarre) English subtitles until Echo Bridge's much delayed US Blu-ray and DVD finally hit stores. It's tempting to think that its above average reputation is a case of absence making the heart grow fonder because it's not one of the big feller's better films. There are certainly some good ideas, but the script and execution are rather inconsistent and occasionally leave much to be desired.

This time the evil is not nuclear but bioengineering as various multi-national companies fight (literally) over Godzilla's cells to create a nuclear energy eating bacteria, only to discover that by creating a biological weapon to take on Godzilla they risk creating an even bigger monster. Of course, it doesn't help that the brilliant Japanese scientist working on the project borrows some of the cells to cultivate a new plant spliced with some of his dead daughter's genes, which is the sort of thing that never ends well. Sure enough, when Godzilla makes his belated reappearance from the volcano he was consigned to at the end of 1984's The Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985, there's a giant carnivorous plant with giant flytrap tendrils to contend with while the Japanese authorities find themselves watching on the sidelines knowing that they'll have to deal with whoever wins...

The film takes the series' ecological message to its logical conclusion by making the ultimate villains a ruthless Arab oil kingdom this time round, though the subplot with their hit man taking out everyone in their way isn't any more convincing than the atrocious English language abilities of the cast: much of the first half hour is delivered in what is allegedly English, but it's delivered in such a phonetically stilted style through such thick Japanese accents that you'll be reaching for the subtitle button on the new release (the already awkward English dialogue was even more awkwardly translated on the Chinese DVD so that lines like "We're in trouble" were rather charmingly translated into English as "Oh bugger."). It doesn't help that even the presumably native English speakers in the cast can't act and put the emphasis on the wrong syllables or are handed atrocious direlogue - at one point the hit man says "Kiss you guys!" to a trio of Aussie mercenaries who won't be appearing in the rest of the film.

The effects are variable as well. While Biollante is for the most part surprisingly well realised, even if you do expect it to start singing "I'm a Mean green Mutha From Outer Space and I'm Bad" at any moment, the redesigned Godzilla suit in the film fares particularly badly with the less than flattering 80s film stock that makes it look rather flat and plastic. Some of the model work in the highrises of the Osaka Business Park that Godzilla stomps his way through is surprisingly undetailed and much more obviously artificial than usual too. But more of a problem is that it seems caught between trying to do something new with the formula only to cast its seed on stony ground and go back to the usual we've-tried-everything-and-nothing-can-stop-it routine, which is at times a little bit too routine. Nor is it helped by a score that at times feels like it's been laid on the wrong picture by mistake, veering from the classic Godzilla sound - albeit at one point given an 80s rock makeover - to a jaunty little march that sounds like something from an old British war movie. It still has its compensations like Godzilla's return being heralded by the shared dream of a classroom of psychic school kids or a nice "He's behind you moment," but it never really rises to its potential and ends up feeling just a bit average.

The picture quality on Lionsgate's region-free Blu-ray reissue (it was originally released on a region-free disc by Echo Bridge) doesn't really make much of a case for the format - it's hard to imagine the master material Toho provided looking that much better than the DVD - but is acceptable for a budget title and it comes both with the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub, with different subtitles for each. Better still, it actually has extra features: a short featurette on the design of Biollante and the Super X2 and a very good 49-minute documentary about the making of the film with substantial interviews with the crew, much behind the scenes footage and even some deleted footage, including understandably unused stop-motion animation and the original hand-drawn animated ending. An audio commentary was recorded, but due to delays in Toho clearing it wasn't included on the initial pressing, though the label still hopes to include it on future pressings - though considering how notoriously tardy Toho are in signing off on extras, don't hold your breath.

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