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Invasion of Astro-Monster 
Written by: on July 4th, 2007

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1965
Director: Ishirô Honda
Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa
Cast: Kumi Mizuno, Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Nick Adams, Akira Takarada

DVD released: June 5th, 2007
Approximate running time: 94 minutes (Japanese Version), 93 minutes (U.S. Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Japanese Version), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (U.S. Version)
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese (Japanese Version), Dolby Digital Stereo English (U.S. Version)
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Classic Media
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Synopsis: A new planet simply known as X is discovered just beyond Jupiter. The inhabitants of planet X as Earth if they can borrow Godzilla and Rodan to help them destroy a monster named King Ghidrah which terrorizes their planet. Unknown to the people of Earth that their generosity would be used against them as the aliens from planet X use all three monsters to help them conquer the Earth and make it one of their colonies. Will the people of Earth become slaves to their new master or will they be able to find a way to get rid of the monsters and aliens from planet X once and for all.

After several films of seeing various monsters like Rodan, Godzilla and Mothra try to destroy the Earth the next logical progression would be to go into outer space to find Earth’s next foe. This time around aliens would make an attempt to gain control of planet Earth and they will sue their extra ordinary powers to have the monsters of the Earth fight for them. The story while not as far fetched as some of the later Godzilla films still shows signs that the series had already come to a crossroads and was running out of ideas.

The sets and special effects also fail to match the level of pervious Godzilla films. The costumes the aliens from planet X wear looks silly and like they are trick or’ treaters and not from another planet. Never do these aliens ever look or feel imposing at anytime during the film. There are many things in this production that do not add up or make very little sense. It is also because of this why this film has built up a cult following who get its innate charms.

The film features many of Toho’s regular performers like Akira Takarada,  Jun Tazaki, Akira Kubo and Kumi Mizuno. In one of the lead roles is American actor Nick Adams Astronaut Glenn. Adams had previously starred in the Kaiju Eiga Frankenstein Conquers the World. Adams performance and presence is one of the strongest parts of the film. Ishirô Honda’s direction is solid as he approaches this film like a workman with a few moments of brief brilliance interjected through out. Ultimately despite is flaws Invasion of Astro-Monster is still a lot of fun especially if approached with an open mind.

The DVD:

Both versions of Invasion of Astro-Monster is presented in an anamorphic widescreen. The Japanese version is in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio while the U.S. version is in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Transfer wise the Japanese version looks better of the two versions included with this release. Both version look clean, detailed and colors look nicely saturated.

The Japanese version comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo Japanese mix with removable English Subtitles. The U.S. version comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo English mix. Overall both audio mixes sound clear, evenly balanced and free of any audio defects.

The extra content is highlighted by an audio commentary by Film Critic Stuart Galbraith IV. Other extra content includes the original Japanese trailer, Tomoyuki Tanaka Biography (9 minutes) and a image gallery and a poster slide show (16 images). Overall Invasion of Astro-Monster is at best an average Kaiju Eiga film which gets a first rate DVD release from Classic Media.

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