Terror of Mechagodzilla (Mekagojira no gyakushu) (1975)
Alternative Version-US version of the film
|Year Of Production||1975|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Ishirô Honda|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Terror of Mechagodzilla commences, over the titles, with a montage of scenes from the climax of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla made the year before. In that film Mechagodzilla had been defeated by Godzilla, his metal body parts scattered into the sea and the space invaders defeated. Now the Japanese Marine Institute has sent a submarine to try to find and retrieve the head of Mechagodzilla for research. While searching the submarine is attacked and destroyed by a dinosaur like creature.
In Tokyo Interpol agent Jiro (Katsumasa Uchida) and marine biologist Akira (Katsuhiko Sasaki) decide to pay a visit to the home of Doctor Mafune (Akihiko Hirata). Mafune had been disgraced and thrown out of the Institute 20 years before for his research on controlling animals by sonic waves and his purported discovery of a marine dinosaur he had called Titanosaurus. At his house they meet his beautiful daughter Katsura ( Tomoko Ai). Although Interpol are unaware, the aliens from outer space led by the Commander (Goro Mutsumi) have retrieved Mechagodzilla’s remnants and are rebuilding him with Mafune’s help, the intention being to activate both Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus (which is controlled by Katsura through sonic waves) and destroy the Earth peoples, starting with Tokyo. Mafune helps because he wants revenge on those who harried him from the Institute; Katsura because after an accident in which she was nearly killed, the spacemen revived her and rebuilt her to be more cyborg than human, capable of controlling Mechagodzilla through a device implanted in her body. Despite this, Katsura cannot help but feel the love developing between herself and Akira.
As the monsters are unleashed upon Tokyo amid exploding buildings, tank and aircraft fire and terrified populations, and the military hurry to develop a sonic weapon that will neutralise Titanosaurus, Godzilla rises from the sea to do battle, Interpol attack the alien’s base and Katsura has to make a fateful decision about whether she is human, or cyborg.
For Terror of Mechagodzilla (Mekagojira no gyakushu) two of the people who in 1954 had created the original, magnificent Godzilla, director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube, reteamed in an attempt to revitalise the Godzilla series for Toho. The result is a far darker, far more adult film addressing the themes of honour, love, loss and what it means to be human. This gives the film a sense of melancholy and a strong ethical base that is quite moving; and the monster mayhem is pretty good as well. While some stock footage was used, and some scenes from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla from the year before, there is some terrific model and monster work here, culminating in the 25 minute climactic destruction of Tokyo in a mayhem of explosions, flame and wind and the three way battle between Godzilla, Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus that sways first one way then the other. All with the fabulous score of Akira Ifukube, including the returning Godzilla march, underpinning the action.
The attempt by Toho to revitalise the Godzilla franchise with Mekagojira no gyakushu failed and this was the final film in the Showa series (1954 – 1975) until a meaner, leaner Godzilla returned nine years later in 1984 with the start of the Heise series. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Terror of Mechagodzilla is a failure. It’s not. Indeed, director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube have delivered a beautiful, moving film, with some great monster fights, that is a worthy climax to the Showa series.
Terror of Mechagodzilla is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is a very good looking print. While some back projection scenes and matte paintings lack sharpness, the rest of the film looks very sharp indeed. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, brightness, contrast and skin tones are good and the colours warm and natural. There is mild grain but I did not notice any film or film to video artefacts.
The English subtitles are in a yellow font in American English. Otherwise I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.
Audio is a choice between Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps. There is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps for the US version of the film (this is covered below in extras). The Japanese 5.1 is again quite good, and I prefer it to the 2.0 mix. Dialogue was clear, it has separation and reasonable clarity, the surrounds are used for music and some effects and the sub woofer did support the music and explosions in a minor way. It is not particularly enveloping but is effective. The original theatrical release was in mono so we have this track on the DVD. It is also quite effective.
The music by Akira Ifukube is fabulous and enhances the viewing experience. One of the best in the Godzilla series.
Lip synchronisation is generally good.
|Surround Channel Use|
Although nowhere noted in the packaging or in the menu, the US version of Terror of Mechagodzilla, running 75:30 (the Japanese version runs 79:52), is included on the DVD. It can be watched by accessing the English dub from the “Set Up” menu. The video specifications are identical to the Japanese version, the audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, but subtitles are not available. The English audio is actually a good track, with better panning effects in the surrounds and a more robust subwoofer use. The US voice acting, especially the voice of Katsura, is however very poor. The US version cuts blood and bullet hits, but more crucially it removes all reference to (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Katsura’s suicide, by which decision and action she saved the human race. With this out, the ending makes a lot less sense, and is less moving.
Trailers for other films from Madman. Included is Cutie Honey (2:07), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1:43) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (2:27).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There is a Region 2 Japanese version with an audio commentary by cinematographer Sokei Tomioka, interviews with Director of Special Effects Teisho Arikawa (30 min) and the wife of the Director Ishiro Honda (40 min) plus featurettes, but nothing is subtitled in English. The US Region 1 disc is non-anamorphic and contains the shorter US cut of the film. Region 4, with both versions of the film, is the best choice for English speakers.
Two of the people who in 1954 created the original, magnificent Godzilla, director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube, reteam for Terror of Mechagodzilla and create a far darker, more adult film than is usual in 1970s Godzilla. The DVD has good video and audio and the US version of the film is an excellent extra.
Terror of Mechagodzilla is included in the Madman 6 disc box set Godzilla Showa Classics Volume 2 along with Godzilla: All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: (1974). Terror of Mechagodzilla is a terrific film and for a RPI of $49.95 this set is a fabulous way to stay in touch with “the original monster of mass destruction”.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|