Godzilla 2000 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a surprisingly iffy presentation.
Sharpness became a significant distraction, as the movie never displayed the accuracy one expects from Blu-ray. Some of this appeared to stem from the cheapness of the production and the awkward effects, but those factors didnít seem to explain all the softness. Even basic shots of humans with no effects involved tended to seem tentative and fuzzy. These issues may have resulted from the original photography, but Iím hard-pressed to understand why; a movie from 1999 shouldnít look this ill-defined.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Print flaws failed to appear as well. The movie lacked specks, marks or other issues.
Colors became another weakness, as the hues tended to be flat and pale. At no point did any of the tones seem well-defined; instead, they remained drab and lifeless. Blacks were acceptable, though they tended to seem a bit washed-out, and shadows were decent but occasionally dense. Maybe the Blu-ray represented the film as well as possible, but the image looked consistently dull and bland.
I felt more pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Godzilla 2000, as the soundfield seemed broad and engaging throughout most of the film. All five channels received a nice workout as they blasted action that effectively conveyed the onscreen affairs.
While much of the audio blended together well and also displayed some adequate panning, at times I found the track to seem too ďspeaker-specificĒ; the environment appeared less seamless than Iíd like. Nonetheless, itís a robust mix that matches the action.
Audio quality seemed generally strong. Dialogue appeared artificial but accurate and distinct; I felt the speech didnít blend well with the action, but I canít criticize the intelligibility and clarity of the lines.
Music was bright and crisp and displayed solid dynamic range, while effects sounded vivid and nicely hyperrealistic. All of the fight sequences came across without distortion; they blasted the action cleanly and with strong fidelity. Bass response sounded deep and rich. All in all, I found the soundtrack of G2K to offer a very engaging experience.
How does this Blu-ray compare with the original DVD from 2000? Audio gave us a bit better clarity and punch, and visuals seemed somewhat tighter and better defined. I preferred the Blu-ray because it lost the edge haloes from the original and showed greater detail, but it had enough flaws to make it a mediocre upgrade.
While the old DVD included just American cut of the film, the Blu-ray expands that. It gives us the US version (1:38:54) as well as the Japanese edition (1:46:56). The review in the body of this article discusses the American version since thatís the one found on the original DVD.
Although I donít think it makes G2K a good film, the Japanese edition does work better. Sure, it still suffers from the amateurish effects and general cheapness involved, but it seems more involving. The American cut trimmed a lot of scenes, and these tend to fare better in their longer format. The Japanese G2K seems to have more room to breathe and comes across as more fulfilling in terms of its development and movement.
Still, itís the elimination of the bad English dubbing removes a lot of the campiness from the American version. The dialogue remains flat, but the original Japanese actors deliver the lines in a much more natural manner that brings more gravity to the experience. Again, this doesnít turn G2K in a quality film, but the Japanese version delivers a substantially more satisfying take on the tale.
Donít expect improvements in visual quality, though. The comments I made about the American versionís transfer continue to apply here, as the Japanese cut shows the same ups and downs. Unfortunately, it displays less involving audio, as it replaces the American editionís 5.1 mix with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. It sounds reasonably good but lacks the strengths of the 5.1 version.
Alongside the US version of the film, we get an audio commentary from writer/producer Mike Schlesinger, editor Mike Mahoney and supervising sound editor Darren Paskal. To my surprise, this was a pretty interesting track. Frankly, I never knew that so much effort was put into adapting films for American distribution; Iíd thought they just translated the dialogue, dubbed it and left it at that.
However, as I learned during this commentary, the transformation is much more complex than that. In the case of G2K, the film was partially rescored and edited, and dialogue was changed to recast the movie in some different ways.
Schlesinger dominates the discussion and he does a nice job of describing all the ways that the American version differs from the original film. He also clearly is a big fan of the franchise, and his enthusiasm makes the commentary more enjoyable. In fact, heís so worked up about the movie that itís often difficult for Paskal and Mahoney to get a word in edgewise. Nonetheless, I think this track offers some interesting information and I like it.
In addition to the filmís Japanese trailer, we find two minutes and 15 seconds of Behind the Scenes footage. I expected a ďmaking ofĒ featurette here, but instead I got some entertaining raw shots from the set.
These all offer effects pieces, most of which concentrate on Godzilla as he stomped around the city. If youíve seen Pee-weeís Big Adventure and remember the part in which Pee-wee bicycled through the big lizard shoot, youíll find similar footage here; it looks like that film captured the style of filmmaking accurately.
In any case, I really like these pieces, especially when we see the director (I guess) give advice to the actor in the suit. I canít understand what he says, but it doesnít matter - bad acting is universal.
Godzilla 2000 offers a campy experience that may please fans of the original Japanese films. Will it be compelling for anyone else? Thatís more of a problem. The movie does little for me, as I find myself put off by its many flaws. The Blu-ray brings us bland visuals, strong audio and an array of supplements highlighted by the movieís superior Japanese version. The latter makes this worthwhile for Godzilla fans, but the American cut remains a dud.