Sony // 2004 // 65 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // September 3rd, 2004
If you missed this animated adventures of Sony's big-budget, low-return remake to the Toho Titan, you didn't miss much.
It seems Sony Entertainment was certain it had the next Jurassic Park on its hands when it resurrected the King of Kaiju in 1998, bringing the Japanese giant up to day with a spiffy new CGI skin in deference to his traditional rubber britches. With dinosaur fever at an all-time high, how could it miss? It missed. Well, never mind that because there was also an endless line of toys, games, t-shirts, lunchboxes, trading cards, candy dispensers, and, of course, a new Saturday morning cartoon. The film itself unwittingly became the loss-leader for the new Godzilla economy and Sony was left desperate that something -- anything -- would click with somebody -- anybody?
Like so many spin-off animated adventures that seek to transfer the excitement of a big screen feature to the small screen crowded by the Cocoa Puffs contingent, Godzilla: The Series aspired to keep the action alive, the audience enthralled, and the cash register full. The only problem here was this series had based itself on a bad idea from the outset: an unlikable Godzilla redesign pitted against an insufferable Matthew Broderick reinvention. Oddly, this series tallied a whopping 40 episodes that few folks ever saw. Premiering on the Fox Network on Saturday, September 26, 1998, the weekly series ate up two years of the 9:00-9:30AM time slot.
The story? Ah, yes, the story. Well, this particular disc, subtitled The Monster Wars Trilogy, accounts for three episodes presented as a sort of mini-series midway through Season One. Here, we meet up again with Nick Tatopolous and his band of twentysomething scientists who make up the HEAT research team. The dire matter of the day involves the strange uprising of giant creatures, mostly insectoid, who wreak havoc in major cities around the globe. Nick and the HEAT team, however, have our own Godzilla on their side, he who seems to have a sympathetic aura orifice for the needs of Nick and his clan. Soon, however, Godzilla's allegiance wanes as it becomes ever apparent that aliens have infiltrated our planet and are controlling the minds and wills of the giant monster uprising. With designs to wage a monstrous war using the giant creatures, the aliens intend a forced depletion of the world's armies, leaving mankind defenseless in the wake of the insipid invaders.
Neat-o, I guess.
Well, you could say Godzilla: The Series is dramatically superior to Godzilla: The Movie and nowhere would an eyebrow be raised in retort. As Saturday morning fare goes, this series showed some promise but, as this three-episode DVD betrays, the plotlines were doomed to formulaic framework. Expect that each episode will follow the path of, 1) a new threat has arisen to challenge mankind, 2) Nick and the HEAT team call upon Godzilla for protection, 3) Godzilla is badly injured in battle and may have fought his final fight, and 4) HEAT persists to the point of their own demise just as Godzilla rises again to save the day. Woo-hoo, kiddies. If you're okay with that sort of unchallenging entertainment, this disc will probably provide about an hour of light entertainment. The animation itself is generally as unrefined as the story content itself. As far as young viewers go, you'll be glad to know there's nothing off-color or inappropriate for your curtain climbers to ingest here, so it's safe to leave the room while this disc's spinning (if they'll sit still for it).
It's interesting that Columbia TriStar chose to pluck these three episodes out of the middle of the first season rather than present chronological offerings or an entire Season One set. In my estimation, this smacks of a lack of confidence in the product, this tepid collection being floated up in test-balloon fashion. The quality here is reasonably decent, I suppose, the transfer sporting a colorful full screen image yet wavering in detail consistency. You'll find a surprisingly energetic Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix that actually coaxes the rear channel into action from time to time but the subwoofer is generally left undisturbed. C'mon team, this is Godzilla! If there's anything to be said of consistency here, it's that the disc consistently disappoints, as the extras consist of just a forgettable few non-related trailers tossed in the mix. I could be wrong, but I sense this first release of Godzilla: The Series will likely be the last (and will anybody ever care?).
Godzilla: The Series did its job in offering temporary distraction to the Saturday morning enclave but does little to excite DVD enthusiasts to own, much less rent, this apathetic entry. Save you money and rent or purchase some classic Godzilla fare instead. You and the kids will probably be much more entertained along the way.
The insignificance of this DVD warrants a complete dismissal and discharge of any future motions made on behalf of this "new Godzilla" and its ilk.
Review content copyright © 2004 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 65 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated