Thursday, February 23, 2012

Godzilla (1954) Criterion Blu-Ray Review


Well, ladies and gentlemen... the wait is finally over. As you may know, I was absolutely ecstatic when the Criterion Collection announced that they would be releasing Godzilla, the original 1954 classic, on Blu-Ray. So it comes as no surprise that, when I finally stopped running around the block screaming, I ordered it. Now it's arrived, and, to be perfectly honest, I'm still pretty ecstatic. This new Blu-Ray release is even better than I had hoped for, and let me tell you why...


First off, I've got to touch on the simply fantastic packaging. When Criterion first announced the set, I wasn't especially thrilled with the cover art, but I can safely say that it's much nicer and more painterly in person than it appears in the above picture.


I should probably mention that this edition does not come in the standard, clear Criterion Blu-ray case. Instead, we are treated to a very classy digipak with a gorgeous pop-up cut-out of the Big G himself.

The pop-up literally jump-scared me when I opened it. Bloody awesome!

Moving onto the disc contents, we've got a phenomenal bunch of special features on display. Criterion has provided the American version of the film, Godzilla: King of Monsters, giving it the same high-definition treatment they gave the original film. On top of that, there are separate commentaries for both versions of the film (both by Godzilla expert David Kalat). We also have some great interviews with lead actor Akira Takarada, Akira Ifukube (the film's composer), special effects artists Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai, and Haruo Nakajima (the man who portrayed Godzilla). A wonderfully revealing featurette on the special effects (some of which I didn't even realize were special effects at all), an audio essay on the real-life tragedy that inspired the film, a look at Godzilla's standing in Japanese culture at the time of the film's release, and theatrical trailers round out the extras package very nicely.



The picture quality for the main feature is quite lovely, but it's clear that the film has been through some rough times over the years. Scratches, print damage, and other occasional age-related wear and tear are visible throughout, but it's all source-inherent and never dips into Stagecoach levels. Detail's quite good, and there's a nice layer of film grain over the proceedings. So, in the world of Criterion Blu-Ray transfers, think less Beauty and the Beast and more Seven Samurai. The audio's great, and the theme music, stomping, and roaring pack more punch than ever!

In short, this is an absolutely must-own edition of a fantastic film. PQ and AQ don't disappoint, and the extras package is phenomenal. If you are even the least bit curious about this film/edition, you can safely buy with confidence.

"I'm the king of monsters, and I approved this message"

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