The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Godzilla vs. Kong from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


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



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



Studio and Year: Warner - 2021
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action

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

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza Gonzalez, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Written by: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein
Region Code: A

Release Date: June 15, 2021

"Who Will Win?"


The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance. – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

My Take:

Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.

I thought I would start things off with a few words from my review of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island as there as many things which Godzilla vs. Kong have in common with this latest installment in the cinematic “Monsterverse”:

The story of King Kong has been told on the big screen on numerous occasions. Each has been good in its own right, delivering big ticket thrills via a heartwarming, beauty and the beast type story. Kong: Skull Island presents a differing take on the tale of the giant primate, bringing audiences to the mythical island in a period-based story, that eschews the “romance” and return to the big city, instead, settling for a fairly straight up action/adventure story. The script is set to a brisk pace, with a light comedic tone, that quickly makes introductions before jumping into the meat of the plot.

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 saw 2014’s Godzilla I was pleased with the update of the character and the general handling of the story. The same was more or less true with Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

With COVID-19 creating all of the known issues surrounding movie making/releases [iGodzilla vs. Kong[/i] was made available on HBO MAX day and date with its release in theaters. Theaters in my area remained closed so that was my only option to see it and I was pretty excited to see how it would play out.

So, let’s begin with the bad, the script is pretty weak. The characters and narrative here are fairly contrived, with only a base level of development that in and of itself is pretty forced. I did like the relationship between Kong and Jia which, frankly, is the story’s only endearing quality. The whole subplot involving Bernie, Madison and Josh’s “Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew” detective adventures 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, let’s be honest, 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 these iconic big screen titans square off, head turning special effects and a passable plot that stiches the moments between the action together. Essentially that is EXACTLY what Godzilla vs. Kong brings to the table. Check your brain at the door, bring a big bag of popcorn, sit back and enjoy the ride.

I have to say that I wasn’t surprised by the outcome but, I thought the handling of the encounters between Godzilla and Kong were quite entertaining. I wasn’t crazy about the integration of the third foe but, at the end of the day had fun with the finish. Godzilla vs. Kong isn’t perfect but, it pays appropriate tribute to one of the most iconic rivalries in monster movie lore. I originally watched it with my wife and we fun with it. This revisit felt very much the same.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language.

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

    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
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    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(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 vs. Kong comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Godzilla vs. Kong was rendered from 3.4K/6.5K digital sources and finished on a 4K DI.

Godzilla vs. Kong is a sci-fi/fantasy/action film that features two worlds that blend of mix cinematic visuals, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. Primary colors are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and punchy. When utilized, secondary colors pop off of the screen. The combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones look absolutely terrific.

I also enjoyed the implementation of HDR. Primarily speaking this isn’t an overtly bright film. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes, such as those that take place in the film’s during the attack on the facility in Florida, the interior of the lab/facility in Hong Kong, the nighttime storm sequence aboard the sea transport, the trip/entry into Hollow Earth and, the inside of the fortress in Hollow Earth is excellent. The cinematography makes use of shadows, 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. In the aforementioned sequences the blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked great, and when applied, brilliant light caused me to blink/squint in reaction to it.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close-up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. At times, the level of minutia is excellent, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, clothing and interior spaces is resolvable. The CGI featured in the film has appreciable delineation which adds an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic. There is some innate softening due to the extensive CGI, but it’s rarely depreciating. I found the sequences that take place in Hollow Earth to be beautiful. In general, the level of detail, color depth, and deep blacks made for an incredible enriching and engaging visual display.

There is no question that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful and when compared to the 1080p and streaming renderings, 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 HDR10 presentations for Godzilla vs. Kong, I found the HDR applications to be close but, the Dolby Vision presentation edged out the HDR10 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 dynamic. In most respects each of these presentations share many of the same positive attributes which didn’t require deductions. 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 takes advantage of all of the tools in the immersive soundtrack shed. This film is tailor made for Atmos 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 and Kong’s first encounter 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. I loved every minute and found that it easily surpassed the lossy Atmos mix on the streaming version.

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: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
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    • Compression:

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

    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Godzilla vs. Kong comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This high-definition rendering 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 observed some minor banding during the scenes that take place in Hollow Earth as well a moment or two where compression related noise crept in but, none proved overtly problematic. In general Godzilla vs. Kong looks solid on Blu-ray.

After hearing the lossy streaming version on HBO MAX I had concerns about this soundtrack. Luckily, 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 music.

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. Right from the opening moment, its palpable presence is never in question as it contains bass quality that is powerful and room energizing. The first encounter between Godzilla and Kong sounded so good I played it back several times. Things continue from there as you’re treated to an engaging listening experience via this 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 vs. Kong Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Godzilla vs. Kong Blu-ray
    • Kong Discovers Hollow Earth
    • Kong Leaves Home
    • Behold Kong’s Temple
    • The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World
    • Godzilla Attacks
    • The Phenomenon of GŌJIRA, King of the Monsters
    • Round One: Battle at Sea
    • Round Two: One Will Fall
    • Titan Tag Team: The God and the King
    • The Rise of MechaGodzilla
    • Commentary by Director, Adam Wingard (only on 4K and Blu-ray)
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Depending on your expectations Godzilla vs. Kong may not live up to its source material’s legacy but, there is no denying that it makes for an excellent popcorn flick. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring reference quality Ultra HD video, excellent high-definition audio/video, a spectacular Dolby Atmos sound mix, and a fair supplemental set. For those that enjoy its genre, Godzilla vs. Kong is simply a must have. If you’re equipped for Ultra HD Blu-ray and immersive sound, you’re in for a treat.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 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
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems