Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Godzilla Blu-rays/DVDs, part 2

Following from the previous post, here is the second part of my long-delayed look (hardly breaking news anymore) at upcoming Godzilla- and related kaiju DVDs and Blu-ray discs for the 60th anniversary.

Mill Creek has an licensing agreement with Sony Pictures to release some of Sony's films on DVD and Blu-ray. In February, Mill Creek released the Sci-Fi Creature Classics 4-movie DVD set, with The Giant Claw, two Ray Harryhausen films (It Came from Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth), and the original 1961 Mothra. Unfortunately, all four movies are on one DVD, with the compression issues one might expect and no extras. Each of these films can be found on other sets or individual discs with better presentations.  I haven't seen this yet, so I'll let others judge the quality. If you have only a passing interest in these movies, it might be worth it if found at a discount price.

Perhaps the biggest disc news for the year (so far) is the re-release of Sony's collection of Heisei-series Godzilla films on May 6th. These are titles for which Sony continues to retain home video rights. Eight of the films are headed to Blu-ray for the first time in a series of four double-feature discs: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994), Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Each are remastered in high-definition, with Japanese or English soundtracks in 5.1 DTS. Original Japanese trailers are the only extras on the majority of the discs, with making-of featurettes for both Tokyo S.O.S. and Final Wars.

Media Blasters broke the news on their Facebook page that licensing with Toho has been worked out for a re-release of Destroy All Monsters (May 1st) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (July 22nd) on both DVD and Blu-ray. Both had been released previously: DAM on DVD and Blu-ray, and Megalon only on DVD.

If you have the previous release of DAM with the commentary and other special features, or one of the lucky few who found a wealth of undocumented special features on your Megalon DVD, hang on to them. Toho's licensing agreement only allows extras that they provide, so there might only be trailers on the re-issued discs.

I'll do my best to be more timely with any other forthcoming announcements...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

New Godzilla, King Kong, Gamera Blu-rays and DVDs on the way

I'm a big fan of giant monsters -- if you couldn't tell already. It's very exciting to read about all the great kaiju stuff on the way this year in the wake of the US Godzilla movie out in May. I had hoped we would see a few new DVDs and Blu-rays to coincide with the film, and it seems that wish has been granted in some big ways.

A bit of this is old news from January (I've been sitting on way too long), some just leaked this past weekend.

Kraken Releasing picked up the rights to at least three of the Showa-era Godzilla films previously released on DVD by Sony. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster/Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla on Monster Island/Godzilla vs. Gigan, and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep are all due on both DVD and Blu-ray on May 6th, just before Legendary/WB's Godzilla hits the theaters. Elements are being provided by Toho, including the original Japanese audio and Toho's International English dubs. It's unclear if these are the same transfers that were used for Toho's R2 discs. No extras planned aside from the original Japanese trailers. I had really hoped that Smog Monster's theatrical AIP English dub would be included, but that seems very unlikely. Kraken/Section23 Films are some of the same people who were involved with ADV.

Universal first released their Toho King Kong films on DVD timed with Peter Jackson's King Kong. To coincide with the new Godzilla film, King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes! get Blu-ray upgrades that hit the street on April 1st. Apparently new HD masters were made for the DVDs, so even if those masters are used, these films should look even better now on Blu. Just as with the previous DVDs, no extra features are planned.

Not to be forgotten, Daiei's Gamera series sees its first Blu-ray release from Mill Creek. The eight Showa Gamera films previously released by Shout! Factory are out on April 29th in two four-pack sets, and a DVD collection of the eight films plus the three Heisei Gamera films from the 90s that were released on Blu-ray last year. Mill Creek was responsible for last year's great Daimajin Blu-ray set, so I'm sure these will be worth the Blu-ray upgrade.

Next post: Mothra, Heisei Godzilla, and Megalon!