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After all the negative reviews that director Roland Emmerich's GODZILLA ($25) received at the time of its release, I thought there was no way in the world this movie could be any good. Boy, was I wrong. Sure, no one will ever mistake GODZILLA for great cinema, but this monster movie is so much fun to watch because itís big, itís loud and itís dumb- not that thereís anything wrong with that. With GODZILLA, Roland Emmerich definitely had a great time reinventing the giant Japanese science fiction icon. I think the level of fun Emmerich brought to this project is infectious, because every time I sit down to watch GODZILLA, the higher functions of my brain instantly switch off, as though they were attacked a highly contagious popcorn movie virus.

While the purists may miss him, the 1998 edition of GODZILLA doesnít contain a guy wearing rubber lizard suit while stepping on miniature sets of Tokyo. In this film, Godzilla is a gargantuan computer generated lizard that is able to rip through Manhattan Island with realistic splendor. My biggest complaint about GODZILLA is the fact that the filmís special effects are better than the story. In my opinion, a better balance between these two elements would have helped the film to become sequel worthy. The plot of GODZILLA concerns a gigantic amphibious lizard that is created by the fallout of nuclear testing in the south pacific. Thanks to the lure of fish and an instinct to migrate, Godzilla travels around the world, and ultimately he sets up housekeeping on the isle of Manhattan. Of course, New York residents donít take kindly to an oversized tourist taking over the town. Like the Japanese Godzilla films that inspired it, the Americanized GODZILLA features the requisite battle sequences, in which the military try to evict the rampaging monster from his new home.

GODZILLA stars Matthew Broderick as Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, an expert on genetic mutation, who is brought in as a military advisor, once the gigantic lizard is discovered. Maria Pitillo plays Audrey Timmonds, an aspiring television news reporter who hopes to bolster her career by using her past relationship with Tatopoulos to get closer to the story. Jean Reno is terrific as Philippe Roachť, the French government operative working behind the scenes to eliminate Godzilla. Hank Azaria supplies much of the film's comic relief as news cameraman Victor "Animal" Palotti. Harry Shearer also adds a comic touch as pompous new anchorman Charles Caiman. The cast of GODZILLA also includes Kevin Dunn, Arabella Field, Michael Lerner, Philippe Bergeron, Vicki Lewis and Doug Savant.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made GODZILLA available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Considering how much of GODZILLA takes place at night or under rainy conditions, it should come as no surprise that this film doesnít lend itself to creating a pretty picture. Still, the 1080p presentation is pretty terrific, rendering everything thrown at it with remarkably good results. High definition makes for the sharpest, best-defined presentation of GODZILLA that one is likely to see; heck, I donít think the movie looked as good in the theater as it does on Blu-ray. Dimensionality is generally quite good; otherwise, it is all that the material will allow. Texturing is very quite nice, although the extra resolution does make some of the slight weaknesses in the visual effects more evident. Colors demonstrate good saturation, without appearing overblown. Flesh tones look appropriate. Contrast is relatively smooth and shadow detail is very good. The elements from which GODZILLA have been mastered appear virtually free from flaws. Image grain is fairly minimal for such a dark movie.

GODZILLA is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Once again, I have to say GODZILLA features a monster of a soundtrack. The track as rendered here, is quite similar to what was found on the original DVD release, but the lossless encode makes it seem as though it is even more pumped up on steroids. As this is a killer soundtrack, I have to advise caution at higher volume levels and it is in your best interest to stow the breakables. The bass channel is going to rock your world and shake hour home theater to its foundations. GODZILLA sports an aggressive sound design places the viewer in the middle of a Manhattan being torn apart by a giant rampaging monster that is fending off non-stop barrages of very loud weapons fire. During the action, sounds are launched at the viewer from all sides and leap across the soundstage without effort. Dialogue is cleanly rendered almost all of the time. French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with special effects supervisor Volker Engel, associate supervisor Karen Goulekas and Godzilla designer Patrick Tatopoulos. Since GODZILLA is special effects laden, their commentary is appropriate and very interesting. Behind The Scenes With Charles Caiman, a fairly humorous seven-minute Featurette, All Time Best Of Godzilla Fight Scenes is a self-explanetory ten minutes. A Music Video for the song Heroes performed by The Wallflowers is also provided. A Digital Copy of the film is also provided for those with a PSP. GODZILLA is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

GODZILLA is a good, dumb fun monster movie with terrific effects. The Blu-ray looks great and sounds outstanding. If you are a fan, you will want the movie in hi-def. Recommended to the anointed.



Godzilla [Blu-ray] (1998)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 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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