Godzilla: The Showa Era Films, 1954-1975 Blu-ray boxset review

Collecting the first run of 15 Godzilla movies – Godzilla (1954), Godzilla Raids Again (1955), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Invasion of the Astro-Monster (1965), Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) – this eight-disc boxset is nirvana for anyone who enjoys watching men in monster suits trampling miniature cityscapes to dust.

Running the gamut from nightmarish nuclear horror to creature-feature battle royales and goofy kid flicks, these ‘Showa era’ Godzilla films vary wildly in their approach and quality. But even at their worst, they're never less than fun – although All Monsters Attack definitely tests that notion. At their very best (the original Godzilla, Mothra vs Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Hedorah), there’s nothing that comes close to matching their eccentric, destructive charm.
Movie rating: 3.5/5

Picture: Despite squeezing up to three films on to a single BD at times, Criterion’s HD encodes are the best-looking home entertainment releases these titles have ever received. However, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. Almost all of the colour 2.40:1 ’TohoScope’ productions (everything after the first two 1.37:1 monochrome films) exhibit anomalous image information at the top or bottom of the screen on cuts between shots. Ideally, this should have been masked off. The issue isn’t consistent, but can be very distracting – Mothra vs Godzilla and Godzilla vs Hedorah are the worst offenders.

Beyond that, image fundamentals are generally strong across the board, particularly when it comes to close-up detail and colour saturation. However, minor traces of age-related wear (including dirt, scratches and even some staining) are also prevalent.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: All of the films feature Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono soundtracks, with the exception of King Kong vs. Godzilla , which sports an English LPCM 1.0 mono mix for the US edit and a Japanese DTS-HD MA 4.0 track on the alternative Japanese version (see Extras below). The mono mixes sound excellent given the limitations of the source material, with plenty of range, good dynamics and no significant technical issues. The 4.0 track opens up the front-end and expands the score into the rears for a more expansive feel. Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla also boast Dolby Digital mono English dubs.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: The original Godzilla's extras include a commentary by genre expert David Kalat, interviews, a look at the film’s photographic effects, and an HD presentation of the alternate US re-edit, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, with its own chat-track. King Kong vs. Godzilla is also supplied with its US edit.

The eighth disc – with the superior Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla – also has additional interviews, trailers, a video appreciation by Alex Cox, and a compilation of unused special effects sequences from various Toho movies. There's also an info-packed illustrated hardcover book.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: This big boxset is a tempter for monster-movie fans – but there's room for PQ improvement.

 Godzilla: The Showa Era Films, 1954-1975, The Criterion Collection, Region B BD, £150