Rodan / War of the Gargantuas (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring (Rodan) Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Akihiko Hirata, Akio Kobori, (War of the Gargantuas) Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, Nobuo Nakamura, Kenji Sahara
Both directed by Ishirô Honda
Distributed by Classic Media
Ah, the sheer goodness associated with the old Japanese Kaiju flicks! Classic Media, god bless their man-in-a-rubber-suit-loving hearts, has been doling out Godzilla films for a couple of years now, and lots of attention has gone into each release. They always give us both the English and the original Japanese versions of each movie, some on DVD for the very first time, along with comprehensive featurettes detailing every aspect that has gone into making these gems as special as they are. With this package they stray a little from the Godzilla brand name to give us two more Japanese golden greats that belong up there with anything the Big G was ever in!
First up is Rodan. I must admit, when it comes to all of Godzilla's foes, Rodan does the least for me. He's just kind of dorky looking, and his super power? He doesn't breathe fire or have some sort of cool looking projectile that he blasts off every now and then. He just makes wind by flapping his wings. Color me unimpressed, but damn it, the old bird has earned his place in Kaiju (Japanese term for giant monster for those of you not playing along just yet) history.
In this origin film the festivities begin when a small village falls prey to giant man-eating insects (which, too, are cooler than Rodan). What are the townsfolk to do? Simple -- send in an exterminator before they are all wiped out! Though things get a bit trickier than that. This is Japan we're talking about, people. Monsters are everywhere! While dealing with the bug problem, the kill squad ends up discovering two giant pterodactyls living deep in an old mine shaft. Now roused, these beasts take to the air and cause all manner of chaos. Cue the tiny tanks. Roll credits. You see, for me a better movie would have been having the Rodans fight the bug monsters! Now that could have been cool! But hey, what do I know!?! I'm a blood-lusting silly American!
On to the next film in this set, which is an absolute favorite of mine and the single most reason to plunk down your greenbacks for this DVD ... War of the Gargantuas!
A deadly Gargantua is loose on the streets of Japan, falling cities and sinking ships. The beast is totally out of control, but thankfully the military is prepared to down the rampaging beast. What they aren't prepared for, however, is the creature's brother coming and putting a stop to their high-powered shenanigans. In typical brotherly fashion, once together, these monsters don't get along at all, and before you know it, the giant monstrosities are locked in a duel to the death on the streets of Tokyo.
Oh ... hell ... yeah!
Simply put, this flick rocks on so many levels it's hard to even know where to start. The monsters themselves are so silly looking that you'll instantly fall in love, and the destruction they cause while oafing about rates about an eleven on the one-to-ten disaster scale. Even cooler now that we can finally see the Japanese version, we can revel in the fact that this is indeed a true sequel to Frankenstein Conquers The World (review here)! For whatever reason (I'm thinking money) all references to the first film were cut from War of the Gargantuas by the time it hit American shores in 1970. With this DVD Classic Media has righted that wrong, and fans now win big time!
Speaking of win, as if there wasn't enough of it flying around this package already, also included here on the Rodan disc is probably the single greatest documentary about Godzilla I have ever seen called Bringing Godzilla Down to Size. This, my friends? This is the mother lode. The jackpot! Running an hour and ten minutes long, this slice of fried gold traces the rise of Godzilla into film history by concentrating mainly on the series' incredible miniature effects while offering a rich history of the people who brought them to life. Stellar! Reason #2 to own this set.
Bottom line? You just cannot lose. Two movies and a great documentary for one low price? How could anyone possibly resist? Kaiju fans ... your day has come. Get this DVD set like yesterday, and be ready to relive all the fun and goodness of yesteryear in grand fashion. Bravo.
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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