Thursday, September 12, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The latest installment in the Godzilla monster franchise is now available on 4K and all other formats. The epic monster drama has an all-star cast including Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”), Bradley Whitford (Get Out), Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Thomas Middleditch. The film is directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Superman Returns).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
In the year 2014, Godzilla destroyed much of San Francisco. A young boy named Andrew was killed in that attack. Andrew’s mother Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) works for the Monarch Corporation. Monarch has been searching for the Titan Godzilla while keeping other creatures, known as Titans, locked away. Dr. Russell has been working on a device called the Orca that will create an alpha frequency allowing her to control the Titans. Her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) is an incredibly brave teenager who doesn’t hesitate to come face to face with the Titan Mothra when her mom is in danger. 

Madison’s father Mark (Kyle Chandler) used to work for Monarch but now spends his time out in the field with your run of the mill predators, like wolves. The loss of Andrew was hard for the whole family and undoubtedly lead to the parent’s separation. Monarch appears before a Senate committee, explaining that they can determine which Titans are here to protect mankind and which plan to destroy it. Co-existing with Godzilla, may be the only way for humanity to survive. When Emma, Madison and the Orca device are taken, Monarch turns to Mark to get them back. Mark created the Orca with Emma and he will stop at nothing to save his family. Humanity has come to fear Godzilla but soon they will meet Mothra, Rodan and Ghidora. All Titans may not be bad, and Godzilla may be the only hope to save the world from total annihilation.

Godzilla: King of Monsters has a large supporting cast full of very good actors. However, this is a clear case of an ensemble cast that is out of hand. There are far too many humans in this film, each with their own backstory and drama going on. The plot is simply too complicated. The concept of Godzilla being on our side is an interesting one. The filmmakers should have focused on that, and maybe just one central human character. This is why I enjoyed the film much more upon repeat viewings. After knowing what the story was, I started to ignore it and just appreciate how cool the monsters are. The action is well supported by Bear McCreary’s score. The CGI Titans look incredibly real and the lines between live action elements and computer-generated effects is seamless. With lowered story expectations, the film becomes quite enjoyable.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a very dark film that fairs well on 4K. The Titans are found in underground facilities. They break through snowy Antarctica and even make their way to Boston’s Fenway park at night. The dark blues and blacks are prevalent during much of the action. Brighter blues come as the creatures use their radioactive features. Reds and oranges when the monsters breathe fire is also worth noting. Human skin tones are authentic and monster scales and textures are very detailed.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby Atoms soundtrack performs very well throughout the film. Explosions and gunfire ring true with appropriate directionality. When the Titans roar, your sound system is put to the test. It is very easy for the listener to be drawn into the story. Bear McCreary’s score is well placed and supports the robust action sequences. The destruction and the screaming are authentic in this excellent audio presentation.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains all of the following supplemental features:
  • Monsters 101(5:32 total) – Available with play all function or individually:
    • Godzilla: Nature’s Fearsome Guardian (:59) – A brief introduction to the icon and fire breathing hero.
    • Mothra: Queen of the Monsters (2:01) – The second most recognizable monster, and this films only female creature.
    • Ghidora: The Living Extinction Machine (1:30) – The three headed dragon with lightning, Godzilla’s rival predator.
    • Rodan: Airborne God of Fire (1:13) – The Titan described as a living atomic weapon.
  • Evolution of the Titans (27:24 total) – Available with play all function or individually:
    • Godzilla 2.0 (8:39) – The filmmakers discuss the desire to live up to Godzilla’s legacy and his iconic history.
    • Making Mothra (7:01) – A look at Mothra’s unique qualities and the challenges of visualizing her beauty and strength.
    • Creating Ghidora (2:02) – The high expectations for King Ghidora, in both visuals and sound. Includes a look at the motion capture and other behind the scenes details.
    • Reimagining Rodan (5:21) – The powerful airborne monster, The King of the Skies.
    • Monarch in Action (32:56 total) – Available with play all function or individually:
    • The Yunnan Temple (6:58) – Storyboards and pre-visualization of Mothra’s home and birth.
    • Castle Bravo (6:19) – A look at the Monarch organization and their underwater base.
    • The Antarctic Base (6:25) – An explanation of the site of Ghidora’s awakening.
    • The Isla de Mara Volcano (5:56) – The volcano that houses Rodan, the Fire Demon.
    • The Undersea Lair (7:19) – Godzilla’s home is detailed here.
  • Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature (4:07) – Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown is the focus of this supplemental feature.
  • Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight (8:34) – A look at the military grade tech used and invented for this film.
  • Monsters are Real (14:18) – An academic discussion of monsters and mythology.
  • Welcome to the Monsterverse (3:42) – A look at 2014’s Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (5:01) – A handful of moments that ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • Theatrical Trailers – Life, Supremacy, Over the Rainbow and Wonder Rumble
  • Audio Commentary – Feature length audio commentary with Writer-Director Michael Dougherty, Producer Zack Shields and Actor O’Shea Jackson.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
When it comes to a Godzilla film, all I ask is that someone with a thick Japanese accent calls him Go-jira. That happens a lot in this film. The monsters are really cool and very detailed. It’s clear that the film was made by a Godzilla super fan. The plot and screen time is crowded with humans but overall, I still enjoyed the monsters. Nobody comes to a Godzilla film to see the people, and if there is another one, I hope the filmmakers focus on the Titans. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a very dark film, and it deserves to be seen on 4K to appreciate the detailed action. The Blu-ray contains a healthy list of extras that are well thought out but not terribly deep. Recommended.

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