Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, the sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, which follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters that have risen, now leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

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

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

95
Details:

Studio and Year: Warner - 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 132 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atoms/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Wantanabe
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Music by: Bear McCreary
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Region Code: A

Release Date: August 27, 2019
"Long Live the King"
Synopsis:

“The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

I thought I would start things off with a few words from my review of 2014’s Godzilla as there as many things which Godzilla: King of the Monsters has in common with its predecessor:

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. He has become an iconic figure which has spawned numerous films over the years. The 1998 Roland Emmerich film left many fans with a bad taste in their mouths but I personally don’t mind its Americanized spin that features plenty of special effects, disaster laden destruction, and a corny yet fairly entertaining script. When I read the announcement for Godzillaand then saw the trailer I was intrigued and high hopes that it would invigorate the character and genre.

I am ashamed to admit that I never got to see it in the theater. My son went to see it and wasn’t blown away. I expressed interest but couldn’t enlist anyone in the family to venture out so I opted to wait and see it on Blu-ray in the familiar environment of my home theater. I have read many complaints regarding the film’s screenplay. Specifically, overplayed melodrama, the lack of character development, and the prolonged absence of Godzilla himself. Considering the fact that the intent here is to sort of reboot Godzilla I expected something a bit different. While I would agree that the primary characters were on the thin side I think that they worked within the narrative construct which in and of itself is fairly shallow.

I didn’t get out to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters in the theater for much the same reasons that I didn’t see the first film in the theater. That didn’t keep me from salivating at the though of seeing it in my home theater so, I eagerly awaited its arrival. So, let’s begin with the bad, the script is pretty weak. The characters and narrative here are pretty contrived, with only a base level of development that in and of itself seem pretty forced. The attempts at familial drama are downright cringe worthy and, as the story progresses features a series of eyeroll inducing shenanigans that on several occasions prove laughable.

Now, that aside, lets be frank, did anyone really sit down to watch a monster movie expecting well rounded characters, highbrow cinematic storytelling and emotional melodrama? I didn’t. I came in wanting to see lots of monster action, head turning special effects and a passable plot that stiches the moments between the action together. Essentially that is EXACTLY what Godzilla: King of the Monsters brings to the table. Check your brain at the door, bring a big bag of popcorn, sit back and enjoy the ride. Those concerned about there not being enough monster action need not worry, you get it here in spades.

The film runs a bit too long, especially given the plots shallow elements and, I would have liked a bit more screen time for Rodan and Mothra but, all in all, these are relatively minor quibbles. As I said with its predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters] is the epitome of a summer blockbuster and pays appropriate tribute to one of the most iconic figures in monster movie lore. I watched it with my wife and we had a blast. Looking forward to what’s to come.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of destruction, some language, mayhem and creature 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(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Dolby Atmos Rating: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
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Godzilla: King of the Monsters comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was rendered from digital sources and finished on a 2K DI. The film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in both its 1080p and Ultra HD presentations. This isn't a colorful film however its palate of sepia tones and variants of blue/red benefited from UHD's wider color gamut, appearing noticeably warmer and pleasing to the eye. Resolution gets a slight boost although the differences between the UHD and 1080p renderings are closer than I would have liked. Close-ups tend to be better refined with resolvable texture on surfaces and physical features being a bit easier to detect.

I think what I enjoyed most about the presentation was the implementation of HDR. This isn’t an overtly bright film, and the added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the plethora of low-level scenes that take place above/below ground or within the confines of vessels or meeting rooms is immediately noticeable. The cinematography makes frequent use of shadows, cascading/streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural, and when applied, brilliant light caused me to blink/squint in reaction to it.

Stylistically speaking, Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn’t the type of film that is going to dazzle with continued use of eye scorching dynamism or vivid color. There is no question that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful and when compared to the 1080p rendering, makes for an appreciable improvement that elevated the source material.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I found the HDR applications to be close but, the Dolby Vision presentation edged out the HDR-10 rendering. This came primarily in the form of increased delineation in the variants of primary colors like blue and red. I also thought that specular highlights were slightly more gradational and lifelike. In most respects each of these presentations share many of the same positive attributes. I suspect that those capable of viewing it in Dolby Vision will find it to be just a notch above.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes effective use of the platform. This film is tailor made for immersive sound as the blend of audio objects placed in the height channels contains atmospherics and discrete effects. At times it creates a tangible level of 3D immersion that is attention grabbing.

Godzilla’s first encounter Ghidorah in the Antarctic is the film’s first big action sequence as the various sounds/effects turn the room into a multi-dimensional listening space. The mix effectively places effects/sounds within the soundstage which place you within the scene, in turn, adding an enriching element that heightens the intended feeling like something is passing overhead, traveling through the room, or emanating from a specific location.

There are both large set pieces and smaller/brief sequences/moments that show off this well-crafted immersive sound design. Everything comes together during the final act’s battle as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere, discrete object placement and foundation rattling bass. I consider this Dolby Atmos mix to be involving, entertaining and, among the best that I have heard since the format’s introduction. Woo Hoo!

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

Blu-ray Video:

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

 
  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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  • Compression: 
 

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Dynamics: 
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  • Surround Sound presentation: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Godzilla: King of the Monsters looks great on Blu-ray.

I had high hopes for this soundtrack in the home environment and I wasn’t disappointed. This lossless soundtrack is demonstration quality and sounds terrific. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts an aggressive and loud sound design that in my opinion would make listening at reference levels to be difficult. Dialog is reproduced clearly, with appropriate soundstage prioritization. Front channel separation and imaging is spot on. This helped draw out both large and small sound elements, allowing their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be readily definable. The mix makes effective and aggressive use of the surround channels, submerging the listening position in a rotating web of sound that combines sound effects and musical accompaniment.

This is a dynamically charged sound mix that frequently utilizes the subwoofer to provide viscerally potent impact. The audio’s low frequency effects are applied authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive aspects of the presentation and it does so quite effectively. Its palpable presence is never in question as it contains bass quality that is powerful and room energizing. Listening to opening sequence provides an example of what this soundtrack has to offer. It sounded so good I played it back several times. From there, prepare to be treated to an engaging listening experience as this is a sophisticated sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, timber rattling low frequency effects, and music. Each is clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement. I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed this audio presentation.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Godzilla: King of the Monsters Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Godzilla: King of the Monsters Blu-ray
    • Commentary by Director
    • Godzilla: Nature's Fearsome Guardian
    • Mothra: Queen of the Monsters
    • King Ghidorah: The Living Extinction Machine
    • Rodan: Airborne God of Fire
    • Godzilla 2.0
    • Making Morthra
    • Creating Ghidorah
    • Reimagining Rodan
    • The Yunnan Temple
    • Castle Bravo
    • The Antarctic Base
    • The Isla de Mara Volcano
    • The Undersea Lair
    • Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature
    • Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight
    • Monsters Are Real
    • Welcome to the Monsterverse
    • Deleted Scenes
  • Digital
Final Thoughts:

Like its predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters gives a fun, fanciful and entertaining facelift to one of B cinemas most recognizable icons. What it may lack in storytelling is more than makes up for with top notch production values and good old-fashioned monster action that elevate the overall experience. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring solid Ultra HD video, in HDR10, HDR10+ and, Dolby Vision flavors, excellent high definition audio/video, a spectacular Dolby Atmos sound mix, and a fan friendly supplemental set. If you’re a Godzilla fan Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a must have for you collection. If you’re a home theater enthusiast looking for a rock-solid audio demonstration disc, this is just the ticket.
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 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