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Just in time for the new computer generated Godzilla to stomp on New York City, Simitar Entertainment takes us back to the giant rubber-suited lizard’s Tokyo smashing roots with their release of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS ($20). GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is the Americanized version of the Japanese film GOJIRA which has been dubbed into English and contains inserts of Raymond Burr who portrays American reporter Steve Martin. Burr’s character serves as narrator and appears in scenes created for the American version. Burr also interacts with the Japanese version’s characters by cutting him into scenes with the use of close-ups of Burr and doubles for the Japanese actors. The plot of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS concerns the aftermath of nuclear weapons testing, which resurrects the prehistoric monster and sends him on a rampage across Japan. Godzilla seems unstoppable until a Japanese scientist’s new discovery is deployed against the fearsome creature. Ishirô Honda directed the original Japanese version of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS and was responsible for a number of the long-lived creature’s successive outings.

Simitar Entertainment offers GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS in both Letterboxed and full screen version on opposite sides of the DVD. Both versions were taken from an original theatrical print, which does show some signs of age and wear. The full screen version is fine for those so inclined, but the wide screen version is more fun. The Letterboxed presentation seems a bit more film like, making GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS that much more enjoyable on DVD. The black and white transfer is in the neighborhood of a 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and appears compositionally balanced. While there are blemishes on the film element, the black and white image is very sharp and has excellent contrast. Digital compression artifacts weren’t too bothersome on this DVD, although a bit more noticeable than on most "A" titles. Actually, this DVD has fewer artifacts than any other Simitar title that I’ve viewed thus far.

Simitar has done something unusual with the soundtracks. A standard monaural track is available with the Letterboxed version, while the full frame version also offer a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Personally, I found the monaural track more satisfying, since the artificial nature of the 5.1 channel track tended to be a bit distracting.

The DVD’s interactive menus offer access to a Godzilla trailer collection, trivia game, Godzilla art gallery, film facts, a Raymond Burr biography, and a sci-fi monster documentary. The "documentary" is made up from the public domain trailers to a number of important and not so important science fiction films. For those of you with a DVD-ROM drive in you computer, this DVD offers screen savers and printable photos and art.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS remains a lot of fun because it has the charm of a film from 1956 featuring a guy in a rubber suit stepping on miniature sets. It is a classic of the genre and can never be compared to its 1998 high tech counterpart. Simitar has done a good job with the DVD which I’m sure Godzilla’s legions of fans will want to own. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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