• Godzilla Vs. Biollante



    Released by: Echo Bridge Entertainment
    Released on: December 4, 2012.
    Director: Kazuki Ohmori
    Cast: Kunihiko Mitamura, Yoshiko Tanaka, Masanobu Takashima
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Kazuki Ohmori in 1989, Godzilla Vs. Biollante was released on DVD overseas but never did make it to the format in North America. Now, as part of the acquisitions deal they’ve arranged with the Weinsteins, the movie is finally hitting both DVD and Blu-ray. So how does this much anticipated release stack up?

    The film picks up right where Godzilla 1984 left off. After an opening scene in which we see Godzilla tossed inside an active volcano, hopefully never to be seen again, we witness an unnamed American military types make their way into a highly protected secret lab in order to score some of Godzilla’s tissue which was rescued from the creatures last appearance and has been used for testing ever since. These commandos are shot by a secret agent type sporting dark sunglasses who steals the cells and whisks them away to his homeland, the country of Sardania where a Japanese scientist named Shiragami (Koji Takahashi) is to use them in some sort of experiment involving plant tissue.

    When a bomb goes off in the lab and his young daughter Erica is killed, Shiragami somehow ascertains that her spirit has been transplanted to a rose bush in the area. He travels back to Japan where he starts working for the government and takes some samples from this bush and uses it in his experiments. Eventually combining Godzilla’s cells with those of the rose bush his daughter’s spirit inhabits, he winds up creating a creature that starts off as a bunch of weird plant tentacle things but quickly evolves in the Biollante! This creature starts to pose problems just around the same time that Godzilla makes an escape from the volcano. All of this poses a problem for the military, who want to use Shiragami’s Antinuclear Energy Bacteria creation to take out Godzilla. Also on hand is a fancy new attack ship referred to as the Super X2 – but will it be enough to stop two colossal monsters from once again destroying large portions of Japan?

    This one takes a good forty minutes or so to really start moving but once it does it proves to be entertaining enough even if it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more established Godzilla classics of the sixties. There are some great monster battles here and Biollante turns out to be one of the more menacing and interesting looking killer plant creatures to ever grace the silver screen. Godzilla’s also a bit beefed up here, using his rays to blast things out of the sky and wreaking plenty of destruction cutting a path across Japan. Some miniatures work is obvious as is the inclusion of some very obvious stock footage but that won’t surprise most familiar with the films in the first place. Overall, the effects work is pretty good here, it never really takes us ‘out of the moment’ or distracts from the story.

    If the movie has one major problem it’s that a few of the plot threads seem pretty unnecessary. The whole bit with the commando guy in the sunglasses doesn’t really add much to the story at all and the whole ‘ghost daughter in a rose bush’ angle seems unnecessarily goofy but for the most part this is a nice return to form after Japan’s most famous cinematic export was reborn a couple of years prior.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Godzilla Vs. Biollante arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer framed at 1.78.1 that is in decent shape as far as clarity and print damage are concerned but which shows some fairly consistent compression artifacts throughout the duration of the movie as well as some minor banding here and there. Grain can sometimes look a bit on the noisy side but detail is better than what DVD could offer and colors come through looking very good but black levels aren’t as deep as most will probably have hoped for. Some of the problems with the picture go back to the original photography, it’s a rather soft looking film and so it’s unrealistic to expect the image to pop the way the best Blu-ray’s are able to but a higher bit rate would have helped here. The positive side is that the movie is here at all and in high definition in its proper aspect ratio in a transfer that shows reasonably good texture at times. Skin tones look pretty natural and contrast seems to be okay. Is this a perfect picture? Nope, it’s not, but it’s definitely watchable.

    The main audio option on the disc is a Japanese language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Mix, though a Japanese DTS 2.0 Stereo track is included here as is a Dolby Digital English language Mono dub. Removable subtitles are provided in English with an option to also subtitle the onscreen text included. There are also English SDH included which translate the English dubbed track - so you’ve got the option of subtitles or dubtitles. The 5.1 mix is front heavy with some good left to right channel action noticeable throughout and rears used occasionally for effects and music. Levels are well balanced and dialogue is clear throughout. The music used throughout the movie sounds very good, you can make out the different instruments used in the score, and some of the more action intensive scenes benefit from the larger sound stage that this track provides. The Japanese lossless mix has more power and weight behind it than the English track does, and it feels more authentic as well but both options are here for those who want them and that’s a good thing indeed.

    Extras include a making of featurette that clocks in at almost fifty minutes in length and which features a load of great behind the scenes footage shot during the production of the movie in addition to some cast and crew interviews. It’s all presented in its native Japanese language with English subtitles. Additionally, a three minute gallery of design work is included here too, along with some menus and chapter selection for the feature.

    The Final Word:

    Godzilla Vs. Biollante is a pretty decent later era entry in the long running fan favorite series with a couple of interesting twists, a few decent monster battles and some pretty solid effects work. The Blu-ray release from Echo Bridge isn’t flawless but it should make a welcome addition to the collection of any Godzilla fan and it comes recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!