DVD Review: 'Godzilla' restoration cleans up flaws

It's been more than 55 years since Godzilla stomped and bellowed his way into American consciousness and iconhood in the form of “Godzilla, King of Monsters,” Terry O. Morse's English-language re-editing of Inoshiro Honda's 1954 “Gojiro.” In 2004 — after numerous sequels and a lame American remake — the Japanese original was finally released here. Sony's subsequent home video edition included both versions, as does this new release from Criterion.

The Sony was passable, but had some visual flaws. This new restoration/transfer is much better. The Criterion presentation of the American version has also been substantially cleaned up. A comparison of Honda's and Morse's versions would make a fine film school lesson in the power of editing — both negative and positive.

The Criterion has the usual wealth of extras: audio commentary by historian David Kalat on both films; more than 50 minutes of recent interviews with actors Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima and special effects men Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai, plus another 50 minutes with composer Akira Ifukube; a 10-minute look at the film's photographic effects; and a 15-minute appraisal by leading Japanese film critic Tadao Sato. There is also a brief, fascinating look at the real boating disaster that inspired the film.

Godzilla (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95; DVD, two discs, $29.95)

-- Andy Klein

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