Once upon a time, Godzilla vs. Biollante was a highly desired release, having been absent from home video in America for so long. Since its release to Blu-ray in 2012, though, it has also been bundled with other films and generally made quite easy to obtain. In 2014, with the craze of Godzilla (2014) in the air, Lionsgate made an agreement with Miramax over the distribution of their film library, which included this production. As a result, we have ourselves with another release of this late 1980's film to the format.
I generally consider the earlier Echo Bridge release to be a pretty strong offering for the price point. While I was expecting the same video materials, I was still curious to see how Lionsgate tackled the film, hoping that they kept the same great disc menu from before. Opening up the case and popping in the disc I was greeted with... the Echo Bridge logo. I literally popped the disc out to make sure I hadn't mixed it up with the 2012 release. As it turns out, this Blu-ray features slightly new packaging, a new (boring) disc label... but is otherwise the same exact disc that Echo Bridge put out. Not even a Lionsgate logo to be found.
That said, this release offers the same good value of the earlier one. This means good video, audio that is on the slighter stronger side and some worthwhile extra features.
This release utilizes Toho's HD source from their 2009 Blu-ray, but with what looks like a very slight uptick in the level of compression being applied. As a result of both of these, the image looks soft, lacking the sharpness possible with the format. The colors here are also on the slightly muted side, lacking a truly vibrant array although at least there is no color distoration visible. In terms of brightness, the image is clear to make out, although the saturation level appears to be a little high as it washes out the details in Godzilla's ray most of the time.
The version of the film used here is the original Japanese. This means the original Japanese title screen but also comes with the downside of burned in subtitles for the numerous English speaking parts. On the plus side, the movie looks to be in good condition with no overt signs of print damage or heavy grain.
Godzilla vs. Biollante is presented in its
original aspect ratios of 1.85:1 and is anamorphic for widescreen TVs.
A total of three audio tracks are found on this Blu-ray. Two of these are for the Japanese version and one is for the international English dub, which many fans will be familiar with from its use on VHS in the United States.
For the two Japanese audio tracks, one is the original 2.0 stereo version and the other a 5.1 surround audio track, which has been kicking around since Toho first released the film to DVD in Japan. Purists will probably flock to the stereo version, although the 5.1 track does offer som added directionality to spice things up. The effort to convert the film to surround, though, isn't the greatest. So don't expect buildings and other explosions to sound rich across all the different speakers, but it does offer a slightly different experience compared to the stereo one.
The third track on the disc is the English dubbed version. For older fans, this version will likely hold a nostalgic place for them, being so widely heard back in the 1990's. Furthermore, given the awful performance of the English speakers in the Japanese version of the film, the dub does offer a reprive from that as they are redubbed. Unfortuantly, though, this track is a meager 1.0 mono presentation. It would have been great had a stereo version been included, or at least created, for this release. In terms of quality, the track is mostly accetable but does have the slight audio hiccup in the music that occurs when the Super-X2 is taking off.
The disc comes with optional English subtitles. Two different subtitle options are available as well: subtitles for the Japanese version of the film and "dubtitles", which are subtitles for the English dub audio.
Extra feature wise, this disc contains two bonus features, which account for an overall 52 minutes of added content. Both of these features are in Japanese with removable English subtitles.
The first of these extras is the excellent Making of Godzilla vs. Biollante featurette. Originally released as a stand alone VHS, this content includes interviews with director Kazuki Omori, special effects director Koichi Kawakita, writer Shinichiro Kobayashi, special effects cinematographer Kenichi Eguchi, cinematographer Yudai Kato, special effects production designer Tetsuzo Osawa and Kaoru Saito who did lighting for the special effects. The feature contains a wealth of insight and behind the scenes footage, along with a brief, but cool, b-roll of Godzilla wading through the water. For example, one cool moment is hearing the special effects team in vocal awe after they successfully get Biollante to charge at Godzilla. The main allure, though, are the deleted scenes that are sprinkled through out the feature. These have some crude special effects applied at time and stock music, such as one sequence that uses the Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) theme from Ostinato. The result is more compelling version a slient take. All in all, the extra is very engaging from start to end, although does suffer a little quality wise due to its creation. First off its a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, is standard definition and quality wise leaves a little to be desired for a Blu-ray release. Regardless, though, its a must have feature and great to see it included here. Hopefully though, some day, they release the cut scenes in better quality and high definition.
Next up is a three minute "Behind the Design" feature. These feature covers four different models, three for Biollante's rose form and one for the Super-X2. While this extra is a little too short, it's great to see the unused models for Biollante and have them explained a bit as well. Like the "Making of" feature, this is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is in standard definition.
All in all, we get the best extras from the region 2 release, although it would have been nice to have a few of the others that were left out like the trailers.
Overall, while nothing stellar, this is a good budget release. It offers a good presentation of the actual movie and two worthwhile extras to enjoy. The same praise I lavished on the Echo Bridge menus is also true here, and they still to this day blowout anything else that has been done menu wise around the Godzilla series. All in all, this is a worthy addition to fans collection if they didn't already pick up the Echo Bridge release. If fans are debating if they should pick up this or the 2012 release, both of the contents of the disc are exactly the same. So it comes down to exterior presentation. The 2014 release has a cleaner, more attractive version of the cover, while the 2012 release offers actual disc art. It's pretty close between them, but I will personally go for the 2012 version, as the gray disc on the Lionsgate release looks almost bootleg-like in the lack of effort placed into it.