Saturday, November 23, 2019

Goddammit Godzilla!

As all good movie fans know, The Criterion Collection, Inc. is a purveyor of high-end DVDs and blu rays. They release painstakingly restored and remastered versions of important classic, contemporary and independent films, packed full of director commentaries and tons of special features.

Earlier this fall Criterion put out a special edition of Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975. As the lengthy title suggests, it's a collection of the first fifteen Godzilla movies, which came out during the reign of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, commonly known as the Showa period. No, really! That's why they call it that.

Included in the set are hi-def transfers of: 
Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963)
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Invasion of 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)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

Pretty cool stuff! Unfortunately this box set retails for a preposterous $224.99 (!). I don't give a sh*t how good they look or how many special features they crammed into the set— there's no way in hell it's worth that price.

Fortunately Barnes & Noble's annual 50% Off Criterion Sale is going on all this month, which brings the price down to a more reasonable $112. That's not too awfully bad, as that works out to about $7.50 per movie. If you hurry you can get it during the sale.

Anyhoo, I've been a Godzilla fan since I was a wee lad, so I was excited to pick up this set. Imagine my surprise though when I hurried in to my local B&N to grab one during the sale, and actually saw it in person. Jesus Christ! Look at the size of that thing! 

I assumed it was just going to be an ordinary blu ray box set. I had no idea the discs would be packaged inside a freakin' giant COFFEE TABLE BOOK! I measured the ferkakta thing, and it's approximately 10.5" x 14.5"— sure to fit perfectly on any movie fan's shelf!

I assume Criterion went all out with this set because it's their official 1000th release, and they wanted to make it special. That's all well and good I suppose, but... what the hell am I supposed to do with a giant-ass book full of discs?

Long-time readers of Bob Canada's BlogWorld (both of you) know I am NOT a fan of elaborate, oversized novelty DVD box sets. In fact I even poked fun of such packaging here several years ago. Just give me a normal human jewel case, thanks. That's all I need.

I went ahead and bought the set, but I wasn't very happy about the packaging.

Ah, but it gets worse! Once I got the set home and opened it, I saw that the discs are stored in shallow trays in the back of the book, making it nigh impossible to pry them out of the thing. I'd end up scratching the discs all to hell sliding them in and out of those tight, narrow slots.

I decided there was no way I was keeping the discs in this stupid book, so I decided to do something about it.

First thing I had to do was find a blu ray case that holds eight discs. That was a lot easier said that done. Lots of stores carry single disc cases, but you're never gonna find eight discers at Target or even Best Buy. 

Found some on Amazon, but they were inexplicably priced at an absurd $36 EACH. For what is probably a dollar's worth of material at most. Yeah, I don't think so. Eventually I found a blank eight disc case on eBay for a reasonable price and ordered one.

The next step to tackle was the cover. I scrounged around online and found a hi-res scan of the official front and back of the book. I then opened the scan in Photoshop and rejiggered it (Oh, c'mon, spellcheck! You don't flag "rejiggered?"), shrinking it and altering the proportions so it would fit the standard blu ray insert dimensions.

I had to re-typeset most of the text on the back, because it was too small and blurry after I shrank it down. Eventually I managed to wrangle it into a smaller reasonable facsimile of the book cover. 

I gotta say I don't much care for this box set's gaudy cover art. It's way too pop-art for my tastes, and doesn't seem to match the subject matter at all. That's surprising to me, as Criterion usually prides themselves on their top-notch graphic design. This looks more like a child's Little Golden Book about Godzilla rather than a high-end collectible box set. Ah well. I worked with what I had.

I printed out the cover and then slipped it into the outside of the disc case.

And there you go! A Godzilla box set with normal, human proportions that'll actually fit on a shelf. The only caveat this new case is blue, as most blu ray packaging is. Criterion typically uses clear plastic cases for all their releases. I couldn't find any clear ones anywhere, so again, I had to work with the materials on hand.

This is what their release SHOULD have looked like in the first place. I shouldn't have had to go to all this trouble to fix the goddamned thing. If they wanted to include a book of art and movie facts, they could have easily made one that'd fit inside a case like this.

Or here's an idea if they wanted to make special 1000th release packaging, give the consumer the option of ordering a giant oversized novelty book or a nice, normal case that goes with all your other discs.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for doing this work! This set is on my Christmas list. I read that unfortunately, several English dubs are missing from this set, which was disappointing.


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