• Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S./Godzilla: Final Wars

    Released by: Sony
    Released on: May 6th, 2013.
    Director: Masaaki Tezuka/Ryûhei Kitamura
    Cast: Noboru Kaneko, Miho Yoshioka, Mitsuki Koga/Masahiro Matsuoka, Rei Kikukawa, Don Frye
    Year: 2003/2004
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    The Movie:

    Sony offers up another pair of later era Godzilla movies on Blu-ray for the first time in North American and each on their own disc. Here's a look!

    Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.:

    Released in 2003, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. begins with the return of Mothra, the winged beastie deftly avoiding defensive attacks from the Japan Defense Force so that the Cosmos Twins (Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka) to get in contact with Professor Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi, reprising his role from the 1961 Mothra film!). The Twins express to Chujo their concern that in using the recently deceased Godzilla’s remains in the creation of Mechagodzilla, there could be problems. Chujo’s nephew, Yoshio (Noboru Kaneko), feels all of this is needed in order to keep Japan safe, but the Twins seems to be offering up a warning, the kind that often goes unheeded in Japanese monster movies.

    Chujo, however, takes up their cause. He tries to convince the officials to rethink things but given that Mothra has caused some fairly rampant destruction in her time, they more or less ignore Chujo’s pleas. Of course, eventually Godzilla makes his return – the signs arrive in the form of the dead corpse of a monster named Kameba and then shortly after an attack on a submarine. It’s not long before he rises from the sea and once again sets his sights on Tokyo. The Japan Defense Force gears up to attack, but we all know it’ll take more than that to save the day…

    This is one of the better 2000 era entries. While it takes a half an hour or so for Godzilla to really get going here, the lead up with Mothra and the Cosmos Twins is interesting (even if Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka don’t exactly look like twins!). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how all of this is going to play out, the early scenes basically lay it all out for us, but the last hour of the movie features Godzilla prominently and offers up a few decent twists and plenty of monster mayhem. It borrows a few too many ideas from some of the earlier movies, particularly the ones that feature Mothra, so in that regard it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table but we do get a few interesting scenes showing the various characters in their respective quests to help and the story goes in some interesting directions there.

    When you figure that both Mothra and Mechagodzilla are some of the more ‘classic’ foes to square off against Godzilla himself and that all three of them get plenty of screen time here, it’s hard to go wrong with Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. even if it fails to break any particularly original ground or bring anything new to the franchise. Some of the CGI used in the movie is painful to watch and some of the acting stilted, but if you can look past that and enjoy the fairly constant barrage of chaos and destruction that the film offers up you can easily have a good time with this one.

    Godzilla: Final Wars:

    The second feature was directed a year later by Ryûhei Kitamura, the man who made Versus. It starts off in the sixties near the North Pole where Godzilla winds up being trapped under a huge avalanche from which all assume he will never escape. After this opening, we fast forward a few decades and find that various atomic testings have resulted in not only a new rash of giant monsters but also a breed of human mutants. This puts regular old humans in a bit of a pickle, so the United Nations creates the Earth Defense Force and from the Earth Defense Force they form the M-Organization, which is basically a tactical squad making up ‘the best of the best’ of those aforementioned mutants.

    The story then follows Shinichi Ozaki (Masahiro Matsuoka), an M-Organization hotshot who winds up accompanying a beautiful scientist named Miyuki Nemu (Rei Kikukawa) to Hokkaido. It seems that the skeleton of a giant monster has been discovered there and they need to go check it out. Around the same time, giant monsters begin laying waste to some of the most populated cities around the globe but before the Earth Defense Force can do much about this an alien scout ship populated by some outer space beings called the X-Seijin arrives to warn them that the Earth is soon to smack into another planet. This is not good. The X-Seijin, of course, offer to help the Earth but Shinichi, Miyuki team up with a reporter named Anna Otonashi (Maki Mizuno) to try to find out the truth about Earth’s new guests – and of course, it’s not good.

    Eventually EFF Commander Douglas Gordon (Don Frye) realizes that Earth really only has one hope to save the planet from the X-Seijin and the monsters that they seem to have dominion over, and that’s to unleash… Godzilla.

    The fiftieth anniversary Godzilla movie that is Final Wars is a fairly mediocre affair. It brings together ideas from a whole gaggle of earlier Godzilla movies and recycles a lot of their plot points and concepts but fails to really improve on them. Kitamura does stage a few impressive action scenes but again, there’s the whole early 2000’s bad CGI to contend with more often than most fans will want to see in a movie like this. It’s fun to see Kane Kosgui (Sho’s son and a movie star in his own right) pop up in a supporting role but the members of the main cast are fairly wooden even if Rei Kikukawa is really easy on the eyes. Attentive viewers will see a quick cameo from the American Godzilla that’s kind of amusing and some of the monster designs here are pretty impressive. The camera work is nice and the action is slick… but the story is almost entirely recycled.


    Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. and Godzilla: Final Wars arrive on Blu-ray from Sony in 2.35.1 widescreen both with AVC encoding at 1080p high definition with each film on its own 50GB disc. These look better than the nineties era Godzilla movies that are being released on the same day but once again suffer from some of the same flaws, mainly a somewhat flat looking image. While there’s no denying that we get a noticeable improvement over past DVD releases, it looks like once again Toho have supplied Sony with some older masters to work with. Grain can sometimes look a little clumpy and black levels more of a dark grey. Detail in the close up shots isn’t bad and color reproduction is okay though. These aren’t abominations of anything, but you get the impression that they could have looked better (particularly when compared to the transfer we saw on the Kraken Releasing Blu-rays of the older titles).

    Each film is given English and Japanese language options in DTS-HD 5.10 Master Audio with optional subtitles (which seem to translate the English language track, so call them dubtitles if you prefer) in English, English SDH and French. There isn't a whole lot of channel separation here to note but the levels are properly balanced. Hiss and distortion are never an issue and there is sometimes some pretty decent depth and surround evident throughout both movies on this release. Bass response is also pretty solid, there’s nothing to complain about here, the movies sound good.

    Extras are limited to trailers for each of the two movies and a few promo teaser spots. Menus and chapter selection are included on each disc and inside the keepcase you'll find a download code for a digital copy of each film.

    The Final Word:

    Sony’s Blu-ray release of Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S./Godzilla: Final Wars isn’t the special edition some would have liked to have seen but it’s decent. It’s not perfect and it leaves room for improvement but it does offer noticeably better video quality than the DVD release and considerably better audio quality. These aren’t the best entries in the series from the 2000’s, but they’re fun.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

    Godzilla: Final Wars