Godzilla (2014) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Sound
The Supplements


In this 2014 Hollywood reboot of the famous franchise, 'Godzilla' returns to its roots as a fun popcorn creature feature and somewhat of a hero, fighting a number of malevolent creatures. Warner Bros. offers up the film here for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an Atmos mix and HDR.

Godzilla (2014)Gareth Edwards, director of 2010’s Monsters, unleashes his CGI work in this reboot of Japanese studio Toho’s 1954 monster movie classic, Gojira, better known to Westerners as Godzilla. This isn’t the first time the “king of all monsters” has been approached by Hollywood. There was a rather lackluster effort from 1998 starring Matthew Broderick that lacked all the campiness of the original franchise.

Edwards’ Godzilla manages a good balance of modern seriousness, big Hollywood escapism, and downright silliness, while wowing viewers with an awesome display of CGI and an absolute assault of sound. This is escapism at its best, though it won’t be winning any Best Picture awards any time soon.

The film opens with a montage of 1950s nuclear tests that is a nod to the original film and also acts as a basis for some events that happen later on in the plot. We then skip forward to 1999 and find scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his family living in Japan. He’s working as an engineer at a local nuclear power plant that has been experiencing odd seismic activity. His wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) works there as well, and on one fateful day, a large quake causes a massive meltdown and a complete collapse of the plant, something their young son Ford (played by CJ Adams) witnesses from his school. 15-years later, Joe is still seeking answers, but Ford (now played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has moved on. He’s in the Navy, married and has a son of his own when he gets called back to Japan to collect his father. Joe has been arrested for trespassing in the quarantined zone where the meltdown occurred. He’s convinced the government is covering something up. And he may be right.

Convincing his son to go with him back to their destroyed home in the quarantine zone to collect data, Joe and Ford end up arrested by the local police and US military when disaster strikes. A scientist, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), and his assistant (Sally Hawkins) have been studying a strange object, an egg or cocoon of some sort. It’s too late before they realize it has been feeding off of the radiation. They try to kill it, but it hatches and starts out on a rampage. The winged beast, now dubbed MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object), seems unstoppable and is soon hooking up with a second even larger creature, a female that was being stored in the nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada.

The emergence of these two MOTUs awakens the super-predator, Godzilla, yet another unstoppable beast. Initial plans to kill all of the creatures with nuclear weapons go awry as the three wreak havoc through Honolulu and Las Vegas. It becomes clear that Godzilla may be humanity’s only hope to restore balance to the natural order. “Let them Fight” Dr. Serizawa declares, and fight they will, but not before causing major devastation.

Longtime creature feature followers may be surprised to find Godzilla emerging as a hero of sorts in this new Hollywood take on the Japanese classic, but they won’t be disappointed by the obvious allusions to the B-movies of old, which include numerous stampedes of screaming crowds running from what is certain doom and moments of absolute unintended humor. Equally, the film has its moments of intensity and suspense – case in point, Ford and fellow soldier Sergeant Tre Morales (Victor Rasuk) cross a darkened railway bridge to check if it’s okay as a MUTO lurks behind them in the shadows. It’s a bone chilling scene that will have you at the edge of your seat.

Edwards’ mastery of the CGI effects is clear as both Godzilla and his two nemeses cast an ominous presence on the screen. Even with its good elements, however, Godzilla is just too poorly structured. It feels all too much like three films pasted together. The opening, which sets up a false set of heroes who disappear for the rest of the movie, could easily have been excised without the film dropping a beat. And Aaron Taylor-Johnson who takes over duties as the main hero (human hero anyway) lacks charisma on screen. The middle part of the film drags somewhat, with far too much muddling around with scientific theory and who knows what about what, until finally it gets to the spectacular final act we’ve all been waiting for which, when it gets going, is a real thrill ride, to be sure. A better monster film along the same lines is the Korean film The Host (Gwoemul) which, certainly while owing a debt to Godzilla, played the genre more perfectly and without much of the unnecessary overwrought baggage that weighs this film down.

The Video

Godzilla was originally shot on the Arri Alexa Plus 4:3 with Panavision Primo, C-Series, PVintage, ALZ11, ATZ, AWZ2 and Panavised Cooke 10:1 Zoom lenses in ARRIRAW (2.8K) 4:4:4. This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is taken from the 2K DI and upscaled to 4K with HDR10, framed at 2.39:1 and encoded in HEVC 2160p (4K UHD). You would really be hard pressed to be able to tell this was a digital production given how filmic the image looks. There’s a thin veneer of digital ‘grain’ that gives the image an organic look and feel. It has a MLL of 498 nits and a MaxFALL of 92 nits. There isn’t a particularly bright look to the image, but there is more than enough contrast and nuance in the shadows that get rather inky. Specular highlights ‘pop’ nicely in certain places and bring out colors in what is mostly desaturated image. We can see the green ‘pop’ of light in one scene with the military prepping, or the neon lights of the city showing multiple colors. Then there is of course the ‘pop’ of amber from MUTO or the red warning light as the soldiers ready to parachute out. Detail is crisp and three-dimensional with hardly any frames looking soft. This is really reference straight through.

The Audio

Get ready for an Atmos mix to give your home theater a good workout with this one. While the low-end, while still beefy, seems to be a little bit timid to my ears compared to the previous Blu-ray, I could be nitpicking. Godzilla sounds thunderous, but never unwieldy and there are plenty of moments where there is good height awareness in the mix, with choppers flying overhead, sounds of announcers moving about, or lots of ambience.

The Supplements

In addition to a digital code, the Godzilla 4K Ultra HD Combo comes with the previously released extras, all on the included Blu-ray:

  • MONARCH: Declassified – Discover explosive new evidence not contained in the film that unravels the massive cover-up to keep Godzilla’s existence a secret.
    • Operation: Luck Dragon
    • MONARCH: The M.U.T.O File
    • The Godzilla Revelation
  • The Legendary Godzilla – GO behind the scenes with the filmmakers and cast for an even deeper look at the larger-than-life monsters in the film.
    • Godzilla: Force of Nature
    • A Whole New Level of Destruction
    • Into the Void: The H.A.L.O. Jump
    • Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.O.s

The Final Assessment

Warner Bros. delivers the goods with this 4K Ultra HD release of Godzilla. While the bonus features don’t bring anything new to the party, the 4K picture with HDR and Atmos mix are a thrill ride for this fun popcorn creature feature. Watching this again in 4K HDR in the comfort of my home almost matches the thrill of when I first saw the movie at Dolby Labs in 3D.

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Godzilla is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo March 23, 2021 from Warner Bros.

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | Legendary Entertainment | Disruption Entertainment | Dune Entertainment | Toho Company | Warner Home Video
  • Director: Gareth Edwards
  • Written By: Honda Ishirô (based on the character: Godzilla, owned and created by) (as Toho Co., Ltd.) | Murata Takeo (based on the character: Godzilla, owned and created by) (as Toho Co. Ltd.) | Kayama Shigeru (based on the character: Godzilla, owned and created by) (as Toho Co. Ltd.) | Dave Callaham (story by) | Max Borenstein (screenplay by)
  • Run Time: 123 Mins.
  • Original MSRP: $24.99
  • Street Date: 23 March 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (compatible w/Dolby TrueHD 7.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH | Latin Spanish | Parisian French

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In this 2014 Hollywood reboot of the famous franchise, 'Godzilla' returns to its roots as a fun popcorn creature feature and somewhat of a hero, fighting a number of malevolent creatures. Warner Bros. offers up the film here for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an Atmos mix and HDR.Godzilla (2014) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)