Godzilla Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Godzilla, the 1998 monster spectacle that stars Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno as unlikely heroes who team up to save New York City from the giant, fire-breathing monster.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 1998
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 139 minutes
Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Doug Savant, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Music by: David Arnold
Written by: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: May 14, 2019

“Size Does Matter…”

Synopsis:

“Following the French atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, an unknown creature is spotted passing westward through the Panama Canal. Scientist Niko Tatopolous is called in to investigate the matter, and he quickly arrives at the conclusion that a giant, irradiated lizard has been created by the explosions. Godzilla(r) then makes its way north, landing at Manhattan to begin wreaking havoc in the big city. Even with the combined forces of the U.S. military to fight the monster, will it be enough to save the people of New York?” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

I reviewed Godzilla when it released on Blu-ray in 2009 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film and bonus content is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos mix are contained below.

Growing up I used to love watching the Japanese monster/disaster movies. I was never much of a King Kong fan and always rooted for Godzilla. This 1998 Roland Emmerich film is quite different from those vintage movies. It puts an up to date and Americanized spin on the genre that features plenty of special effects, disaster laden destruction, and a corny yet fairly entertaining script. This was one of the early discs I bought on DVD and I find it to be an enjoyable guilty pleasure that I like to revisit from time to time.

It loses something when compared to the monster’s movies of old but Roland Emmerich and company know how to liven things up with plenty of city leveling action, soldier stomping mayhem, and lightly veiled humor that keeps interest going. The plot is simple, a giant fish-eating reptile hybrid invades NYC in order to nest. It lays waste to the half the city and terrorizes its inhabitants while battling the military and establishing its nesting location. With little known about its origins or what it seeks in NY It is up to a worm seeking scientist, his ex-girlfriend wannabe news reporter, and a French undercover government agent to stop the creature and his brood from multiplying and eventually taking over the world.

This of course isn’t meant to be artistically deep cinema. I think it achieves its goal with over the top thematic elements and lots of action/special effects (that by today’s standards are quite dated but, get the job done) that in the end make it quite fun to watch. Keep that in mind the first time you see it and you’ll probably have a good time with Godzilla.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sci-fi monster action/violence.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Godzilla comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Godzilla recently underwent a 4K re-mastering and its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Godzilla has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

Looking at the film’s opening moments, I wasn’t immediately struck by the upgrade in resolution however as the scene played out and then later, the improvement in depth, definition and color rendering became more obvious. The interior shots of tanker, the panel van used by the French room and the military situation room revealed delineated and natural color rendering as well as an uptick in fine detail, not present on the 1080p rendering. The addition of high dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The military’s two nighttime encounters with Godzilla in the city, with its various explosions and streaming lights, had appreciable specular highlights and brilliant whites.

Dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. The image isn’t razor sharp and, there are intermittent issues with innate softening, but detail rendering is very good overall. Grain remains intact with predominantly natural rendering that occasionally takes on more emphasis. Godzilla looked solid and represents the film in its finest light since coming to home video.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done quite well and, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. This is an overtly active Atmos presentation that occasionally borders on relying too heavily on the height channels (a minor complaint/observation).

I noticed that the front overhead channels were used for adding depth to the soundstage while the rear overhead channels contained more discrete sound objects/effects. In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several sequences that bring everything together. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Godzilla Ultra HD Blu-ray (Includes 3 trailers)
  • Disc 2: Godzilla Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Godzilla doesn’t fall into the category of being considered classic cinema but. I find it to be enjoyable, mindless entertainment that I like to revisit from time to time. This represents another strong catalog title release on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It features beautifully restored Ultra HD video, an entertaining and complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and legacy bonus material. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the Ultra HD/Dolby Atmos upgrades, this Ultra HD release is highly recommended.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems