Blu-ray: The H-Man / Battle in Outer Space (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Order

The H-Man / Battle in Outer Space


English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

The H-Man / Battle in Outer Space Sci-fi Double Feature

Sound:

Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)

Subtitles:
Length:
Release:
Company
:
Discs:
Aspect Ratio:

English
86/90 minutes
2020
Mill Creek Entertainment
1
2.35:1 Anamorphic

Movie:

H-Man / Battle in Outer Space

Blu-ray

Extras

  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (11/10)
  • Audio Commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski

Captures


Review

By: Anthony Romero

When Sony released their Battle in Outer Space Blu-ray and Mill Creek Entertainment issued their Mothra Blu-ray I was a bit sad. Not because we were getting these films on Blu-ray, as that was great, but because these were two out of the three films in the Icons of Sci-fi: Toho Collection DVD set. So my fear was that H-Man, the last film in that set, was going to get ignored. Thankfully, that fear was unjustified.

Mill Creek Entertainment returns with a double feature release that includes both the 1958 monster flick alongside the 1959 space opera, the second time the latter film has been released to Blu-ray in the States. This set, with material provided by Sony, offers comparable quality for Battle in Outer Space to Sony's 2018 Blu-ray release. Meanwhile, H-Man benefits from the work Sony did for the older DVD release, although looks even better now in high definition and with less compression. This creates a package where one film looks okay at best while the other looks and sounds quite good.


 Video: Star Rating


Two movies across two discs, each with both a Japanese and US version of the film. We'll review each movie separately. First is H-Man, which makes its Blu-ray debut here. Of the two movies, this one is presented better. Biggest praise is the condition of the source used, as scratches and other source damage is rare. The exception is the stock footage H-bomb explosion at the start, which is badly damaged but is mostly an isolated case. There is some minor light flickering, but it's not that noticeable. As with the Sony release before it, the colors here also look great. There are nice greens on the vegetation or deep reds on lipstick and other details. The colors also aren't as over saturated as it was on the DVD edition. Unfortunately, one area the presentation slips on is the movie being a bit too dark. The black levels are also very deep, giving a true black but this combined with the overall darkness does obscure some of the details during the many night scenes in the film. The movie could also look a little sharper, and given the visible film grain the lack of sharpness doesn't seem to be directly tied to noise reduction attempts.

As for the US edit, this is the same one Sony constructed for their DVD. I praised it on the original release, and it's worth praising again here. The reason for that praise is that it's a well done reconstruction of the US version as it leverages the well preserved Japanese source to recreate it. It's well done as it's carefully constructed. It cuts to the interesting US title screen, has the Columbia logo and uses sources for moments that were unique to the American version, such as newspaper headlines or even hand written notes that were in English. This also includes honoring edits done to the movie, such as cutting out the liquidizing scene of the dancer and also the scene of looking at her remaining clothes. To make it clear, she still perishes in the US version, it's just not focused on much. As a result, this version runs about 9 minutes shorter. The only area the reconstruction slips on is the opening H-bomb explosion, which with the Columbia logo is cropped, and the ending, which features the original Japanese ending title card. As for quality, it's on par with the Japanese version outside of the first few minutes of the movie.

H-Man is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs. It gets a score of 3.5 stars out of 5.

Next we have Battle in Outer Space. To be clear, as I'm sure some are curious, the quality is about identical to the video presentation found on the Sony Battle in Outer Space Blu-ray. In fact, I did screenshots from both and did a blind test to try and tell which was better, only to come out not noticing a real difference. This means this disc has many of the same complaints that release did. Chief among these is the source damage as it sports a lot of scratches and other signs of damage. These other signs in particular tend to rear up on the edges of the frame, becoming distracting during some of the darker space scenes. Colors are also more muted here, certainly not as distinct as on H-Man. Oddly, despite the colors being muted, there are still signs of over saturation on the Japanese title card, as the red bleeds a little. Noise levels are also an issue, and become distracting on occasion where the frame is doesn't have a lot going on to distract the eye. The film also doesn't quite look as sharp as it could, although this is a more minor problem compared to the other issues here.

Now unlike the Sony Blu-ray, this release features both the Japanese and US versions. The Japanese version makes it Blu-ray debut here, although like H-Man Sony recreated their US version from the Japanese source. As a result, outside of the opening title card and a few other English instances, there isn't much difference between the two, including in terms of quality.

Battle in Outer Space is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs. It gets a score of 2.5 stars out of 5, higher than the Sony release for including the Japanese version here.

 

 Audio: Star Rating


Two movies, four audio tracks. Starting off we have the H-Man, which offers two Mono tracks with one in Japanese and one in English. The Japanese one sounds great, with both dialogue and Masaru Sato's more lively score coming through with good clarity. Inconsistences are also very rare on this track as well. The English one sounds less pristine, though, and definitely lacks the clarity of the Japanese one. This is notable not just in the dialogue, but also the music as well.

Removable English subtitles are provided for each version of the production, which correspond to the dialogue. However, the Japanese subtitles are lazy at times, borrowing from the dubbing on occasion. The audio presentation gets a score of 3 stars out of 5.

Now Battle in Outer Space, like the video side, isn't presented as well as H-Man. Most notable is the clarity, which is a bit lacking. This is particularly obvious during Akira Ifukube's exciting battle music, that lacks some of the "pop" it should have. Dialogue also suffers a bit, although not as much as the score. As for the English source, this one sounds even more murky, with clarity reduced further although it's still serviceable. This is the original US version, though, which does replace a lot of Ifukube's battle music for stock music.

Removable English subtitles are offered for each audio track of Battle in Outer Space, but are "dubtitles". This means they are correct for the English dub, but are repeated for the Japanese version and inaccurate. This is obvious for things that are named differently, such as the JSS-3 which is called SJ1 in the dub, and painful during scenes where there is added dialogue for the dub, and so subtitles appear when no one is talking in the Japanese version. The audio presentation gets a score of 2 stars out of 5.

 

 Extras: Star Rating


The two disc set has one bonus feature: an audio commentary track for Battle in Outer Space. This is with authors and Japanese film experts Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. As expected, this is the same commentary track that was included on the Icons of Sci-fi: Toho Collection DVD set and more recently on Sony's Battle in Outer Space Blu-ray release. For those who haven't experienced the commentary track, it's quite informative on both the 1959 space opera and also Japanese movies as a whole from this period, although more often on science fiction flicks.

As a side note, worth talking about the packaging and the menus. First off, the cover to this release is quite boring, as it's a mash up of the US posters/lobby cards for both the 1958 and 1959 films. However, if you open up the case you'll see art that was created specifically for other markets, both on the discs themselves and the reverse side of the cover. The H-Man one in particular looks great, which was used in Germany, with a semi-ghostly looking painting of Yumi Shirakawa's Chikako Arai character as the H-Man looms overhead while the sewer scene is captured on the left with nice detail. It's a shame this art wasn't used for the cover instead. As for the menus, they utilize the US poster art similar to the cover. On at least one of my Blu-ray players, though, I found it very hard to navigate the H-Man menu. For example, changing to the US version was a real challenge. For the Battle in Outer Space menu, though, it seemed to work well across the devices I tested.

 

 Overview: Star Rating


I bumped up the score due largely to the value here, as it's a two pack, and the fact that H-Man is presented pretty well. In other words, had this been a review just of H-Man, and it had the commentary track, it would have gotten this score. While it's unfortunate that Battle in Outer Space didn't get a better presentation, H-Man is handled pretty well. Furthermore, for fans of the 1959 space opera, they can rest easy knowing this release completely eclipses the Sony one from a couple of years ago, as it contains similar quality but also boasts the Japanese cut that didn't make that release.