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Up from the depths.. That is how many of us remember Godzilla in his cartoon form. Or how about a man in a suit with very short arms fighting another man in a suit with spiky metal appendages? Some of us were very excited when Godzilla was announced and the teaser trailers were shown however the film itself was considered a flop. Five years later it has been released on Superbit DVD. How does it fare? Read on.

Godzilla: Superbit

The Film
It is rare that the film industry blames an entire race of people for a potentially world destroying problem. However in this case the French get blamed for not only nuclear testing, but for creating Godzilla as well. And so it begins. Matthew Broderick plays Dr. Nick Tatopoulos who is studying the affect of the radiation of Chernobyl on earth worms. He concludes that the radiation has made them bigger and is then whisked away by the military to investigate the beaching and destruction of a transport boat carrying some form of tinned fish. It is here that we see the projected size of the creature as Dr Nick stands in what he discovers to be, a footprint.

If you were a huge 50 storey monster where would you go to nest if you were originally spotted near China? Manhattan – exactly! So the monster heads to America where it carves a path of destruction matched only by the destruction caused by the US Army’s attempts to stop it. This is the basis and general premise of the whole story. The monster wants to find somewhere full of food for its babies, and the rest of the planet wants to kill it deader than the dodo. So in some respects it is a sad film, after all it is not Godzilla’s fault the French created him, and it is not his fault humans won’t share the planet with him. This, a poor creature that can only breed asexually was not given any slack, directed to a deserted island to live on happily every after. Nope he was attacked.

Five years after Jurassic Park, and the year after Jurassic Park 2 the feature borrows heavily from the dinosaur effects, especially the babies which are essentially bulkier ‘raptors and move in an almost identical way. As a monster movie fan, I enjoyed this when it came out and even when I bought the original DVD however today I do not think it has become for me at least, a classic monster movie. It is not scary enough to be kept for its “jump” factor, and it is not funny enough to be kept for its humour. This particular re-watch quite let me down in that the story is fairly poor too. Broderick is his usual self in this which is no bad thing, and the head of the French Secret Service played by Jean Reno is how I assume Americans perceive French people in that they have a very dry sense of humour and are fairly emotionless with the rest of the secret service following his lead. He does play it well though and it is hard not to smile at some of his lines. For me, this film has turned into a very mediocre affair indeed however I still live in hope for a Godzilla part 2 with a new story, director and cast.

Godzilla: Superbit

Video
It is hard to understand why a film with an already great video transfer required the Superbit treatment. Again, presented in 2.40:1 as it was when last released, the print is for the most, clear and well presented with dark black levels and no artefacts. During the rainy scenes it did appear that the print suffered from grain however this might have been intentional to give the impression of a mini monsoon. I studied both DVDs and found that the original DVD is slightly lighter which means it does actually carry ever so slightly more detail however this means the Superbit title manages to dim the white sheen that older CGI work tends to be associated with. Even so without pausing and staring blankly for a few minutes at each no-one is going to notice a difference except possibly in the sheen in certain scenes where it is more obvious. The above picture shows the original on the left and the Superbit on the right - see if you can spot the difference! Overall, a decent transfer, not really any different from the already high standard of the original release.

Audio
For me the main benefit for “upgrading” to a Superbit DVD is the DTS soundtrack, however the original Dolby Digital 5.1 was a pretty good soundtrack so has this been an improvement or not? Well yes, but only marginally. The DTS soundtrack does sound fuller and more vibrant. It is also louder; a feat which the equivalent Dolby Digital can match by utilising the volume control. Bass is fairly deep and resounding and channel separation is adequate. Only adequate however. Vocals are legible throughout so my only gripe with this is the slight lack of definition in certain scenes which should have been made a lot more directional instead of just blasting the sofa with the same sound from every speaker.

Extras
Zip. Zilch. Nada. As is the way of all Superbit DVDS.

Godzilla: Superbit

Overall
A disappointment for me, this film used to be enjoyable but now I find it less so. I still hold out for Godzilla 2 though which one day could grace our screens. The DVD is not a great example of a Superbit DVD and to be honest, I would recommend staying with the regular version for all but the most ardent fans that are searching for the absolute best presentation of this film. The regular version was only slightly behind this edition in terms audio quality and essentially on par for video quality and with it being cheaper, it has a lot going for it – especially if you want a couple of extra features. If the Superbit brand does not start picking better films to add to its collection, people will soon be seeing it as a way to try and sell films that are not that great, again – it should be reserved for all but the most worthy films.


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