Godzilla vs. Gigan DVD Review

It's hard to spot when the Godzilla series began a steep decline. Many will tell you it was when Godzilla first turned into a good guy in "Ghidorah," others will say "Godzilla's Revenge." By the time Toho studios reached "Godzilla vs. Gigan," it was blatantly apparent there was no turning back.

Gengo Kotaka (Hiroshi Ishikawa), an aspiring comic book artist, finds that he may have a job at a new children's theme park. Though excited, he senses there is something wrong within his new place of employment. It turns out he was right. Using the park as a cover-up, aliens from Space Hunter Nebula X are about to summon King Ghidorah and Gigan to take over the world as theirs has been devastated by pollution. It's now up to Godzilla and former foe Angilas to save the planet from the new Earth-destroying combos.

Rewritten more than a few times, "Godzilla vs. Gigan" has aspirations to be an all-out monster epic. Four monsters are plenty and the scenes of destruction here are outstanding. That is, when they're original and not culled from a previous entry in the series.

Through the constant cost cutting measures from Toho due to dwindling attendance, director Jun Fukuda and his special effects crew managed to find some unique ways to get around the lack of funds. Most obvious is the re-used Godzilla suit, which is literally falling apart in a few scenes. Ghidorah suffers as well, barely even mobile half the time. It's obvious only a few less than talented puppeteers are handling this creature.

New addition Gigan is a wholly unique design, referred to once as a "giant space chicken." That's as good an explanation as any. His buzzsaw-for-a-chest and razor arms make him one of the goofiest monsters to ever come from Toho. Angilas makes a return here as well and the suit is reused from "Destroy All Monsters." This one is in far batter shape than Godzillas.

Unlike the few films prior, almost all of the music is taken from the long list of Akira Ifukube, a great positive for the film. Yes, these tracks are used as another cost cutting measure, but the music is just fantastic stuff and does help the film get away from the cheesier moments. It certainly helps draw the audience away from the practically useless human characters who only exist to save Godzilla near the final frames.

Had the monster fights all been original, this one might have been more respected than it is. There is a fantastic fight amongst an oil refinery, a pyromaniacs dream if you will. In fact, it stands as one of the most intense segments in the series. Unfortunately, the film takes the cheap route like so many others from this era and delves into the Toho vault. They didn't even do a careful job with the stock footage either. It's blatantly obvious that night changes to day almost at will, Godzilla has multiple form changes, and other monsters (Mothra, Rodan) that aren't even featured in the film show up in the background. Oh, almost forgot. The monsters talk in this one. Seriously.

This is far from the worst entry in the incredibly long running series, but that's making excuses for it. In a way, it's cheap fun like many of the 70's films, but in another it's yet another movie non-fans see to make them all the more confused as to the appeal. This one is worth it for a few original scenes, but have your finger ready to fast-forward at a moments notice. (** out of *****)

This is yet another great print from this recent string of release. Excusing the stock footage (which is full of scratches, lines, and specks), there is almost no damage to it whatsoever. As for the transfer, the colors are strong, bright, and clean. There is a light layer of grain over a few sequences and backgrounds exhibit a bit of noise, but these are minor complaints. Compression is well under control, almost never showing through in a distracting manner. (***)

Two language options are here, both Japanese and English. The original language track is far superior, not only because you don't have to deal with dubbing, but also the clarity is superb. The English track is almost hard to make out at times. It's a shame we can't have the 5.1 mix the official Toho Region 2 disc has, but it barely makes a difference anyway. (***)

Extras? None here. Only a few trailers for related DVD's are included. (No stars)

The series would move onto what is almost undisputedly the worst film Toho would ever shovel out, "Godzilla vs. Megalon." It brought back Gigan, most likely just so they could borrow footage to be re-used from this one. At least "Godzilla vs. Gigan" has some decent original battles.

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