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DVD Title
 King Kong vs. Godzilla
International Title
 King Kong vs. Godzilla
Movie Length: 98 minutes Original Length: 98 minutes
Company: Toho Release: 2001
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic: Yes
Region: 2 Discs: 1
   
Language/Sound:
Japanese (4.0 Stereo), Japanese (5.1 Surround)
Subtitles:
Japanese
Extras
· Menus (Japanese)
· Chapters (24)
· Trailers: King Kong vs. Godzilla (4 Theatrical, 1 News Flash)
· Commentary with Koji Kajita and Yu Fujiki (Japanese)
· 4.0 Stereo Isolated Soundtrack
· 2.0 Mono Isolated Soundtrack
· Cast Profiles (Japanese)
· B Time 10 Sheet Poster (4 Minutes)
· Theatrical Promotions
· Sonosheet "The Great Fierce Decisive Measure" (2 Minutes)
Captures
Review
Anthony Romero

One of Toho's most successful movies of all time, King Kong vs. Godzilla is sadly given a fairly lackluster release here from the company itself. Perhaps this was just the result of a company still generally new to the DVD format, but for whatever reason the video quality here is disappointingly poor, while a good audio and extra presentation have a hard time overcoming this.


 Video:

Toho really dropped the ball on the video presentation for their 30th Anniversary film, as this disc display's one of the company's worst transfer efforts to date. In fact, so many things go astray with the track here that one can just be thankful that this is an exception to the quality found on most of their releases, instead of a norm. To run down the list, the first thing one notices is the coloring, which is often faded yellow through out the movie, with the exception of the title screen which appears overly red in hue. The colors themselves aren't too great either, as it appears that Toho increased the saturation to try and enrich them, resulting in washed out look that is made much worse on account of the brightness level also being too high. Sadly, this DVD also features a lot of digital inconsistencies, including noticeable compression in the form of artifacting. Edge enhancement is also apparent, which is particularly disheartening given that the movie still looks very soft and blurred without a nice sharp focus on details. Print damage is also apparent, particularly during mat shots and other effects like Godzilla's ray. Grain itself is thankfully less noticeable, but this is probably due to a combination of the artifacting present and the overly soft image.

On the plus side, the movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs. True video enthusiasts might also appreciate that it is completely uncropped, unlike the region 1 discs, as apparent in a side by side comparaison between this one here and the 2005 Universal disc here. Although its also pretty apparent how much better looking the Universal one is in every other aspect, making it tough to give this one much credit at all.


 Audio:

This DVD comes with the original 4 channel stereophonic sound track that it was originally released with, and a new 5.1 surround presentation of the movie, both in Japanese. In terms of inconsistencies, both fare pretty well with only a very slight hiss to be heard faintly in the background, which is pretty good considering the film's age at this point. Of the two, I would say the 4 channel track is superior in terms of quality and overall presentation, although the 5.1 mix also isn't bad as scenes like the Giant Octopus tearing apart the hut sound great with the added channel depth.

The audio tracks are accompanied by, removable, Japanese subtitles.


 Extras:

Despite the sheer amount of bonus material present, quite a few of these features feel rushed or inadequate. It doesn't help either that the menus are incredibly ugly too, looking like what one would expect to find on a bootleg release from someone who had just discovered Photoshop's filters and effects. This lack of effort extends to other aspects as well, including the selection of trailers, the first four of which are the same theatrical one shown again and again, each time with lots of discoloring and artifacting. Each one is tied to a different viewing medium or release, the oddest of which is a black and white full screen version that simply crops the sides, but all of them are the same exact trailer in terms of scenes. Thankfully, the last one is pretty interesting. Dubbed a "News Flash", this advert starts off with a unused scene of Godzilla firing his ray before moving into a montage of footage from the feature set to music from The Mysterians (1957). It then ends with the main title to The Hidden Fortress (1958) playing in the background.

Following this are some cast profiles, which are set up with minimal effort as they just show a screen capture off the DVD with the character's name and then the actor/actress who played them. Thankfully the added audio options really shine on this release, as it features a commentary track with assistant director Koji Kajita and actor Yu Fujiki. The movie can also be watched with just the musical score playing, which is available in either 4.0 stereo or 2.0 mono.

Next up is a four minute video oddly titled "B Time 10 Sheet Poster". The title comes from the start of the video, which is fairly uninteresting as one gets to see people sticking up sheets to create a giant version of the poster for King Kong vs. Godzilla for an event for Godzilla's 40th anniversary. What follows is footage from inside the event, which is far more interesting than the title would indicate, as it shows various moving attractions including Godzilla vs. Gigan, Mothra, Battra, Mecha-King Ghidorah and an amazingly articulate Mechagodzilla. It also shows some of the actual props that were including in the festivities, including the Shobijin from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) and the SY-3 from Destroy All Monsters (1968). There is also a gallery included for various promotions related to King Kong vs. Godzilla, including lobby cards and posters.

Finally, the last extra is a short audio supplement that was created from the original 33 1/3 sonosheet that was released for the movie. For those who are unfamiliar with this, the sonosheet is an incredibly rare item, fetching quite extraordinary prices whenever one does rarely show up. Unfortunately, its draw is simply from its scarcity, as the contents presented here amount to only a little over two minutes. This includes some formal announcements made before the audio from the "New Flash" trailer is played. The presentation here is also riddled with pops and crackles, giving it some nostalgic authenticity perhaps, but it doesn't sound as pleasant as it could.


 Overview:

Bottom line, given that this is one of Toho's Anniversary films, and one of their all time box office blockbusters, it's surprising to see them give it such a lackluster release. This DVD really is begging for an enhanced edition to be released from the company at some point in the future, as presently it's pretty hard to suggest at its retail price.