Director Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters fixes many of the problems this reviewer had with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla from 2014, making this entry much more entertaining, but it’s still not a very good movie.
The Production: 3.5/5
It’s been five years since Godzilla destroyed San Francisco, and hasn’t been seen since. In his stead, more and more monsters, referred to as Titans, have appeared and wreaked havoc on major metropolitan areas around the globe, despite the fact that Monarch has been keeping many of these Titans at containments facilities all over the world. Monarch scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) has developed a device called ORCA, which emits sound waves that have been able to subdue these creatures. Her most recent experiment with ORCA has been on Mothra with much success, only to find the facility under attack and she and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown, Strange Things) taken hostage by eco terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). Her estranged husband, Mark (Kyle Chandler), is contacted by representatives from Monarch, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and Sam Coleman (Verizon spokesperson Thomas Middleditch) about his wife and daughter’s abduction, and reluctantly rejoins the Monarch team as they hunt for Godzilla with the hope that the mighty king of the monsters can defeat what apparently is the Titans’ leader, Ghidorah.
If only the plot for Godzilla: King of the Monsters were that simple. The screenplay by director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus) and Zach Shields (Krampus) is overstuffed with characters and subplots that tend to bog down the human element of the story. We never really know what Jonah’s motivations are for being an eco-terrorist other than he believes than by setting the Titans free, he is helping to heal Earth from overpopulation and destruction. What the film does succeed at (and 2014’s previous entry, Godzilla, failed at) is the many battles between Godzilla and the Titans, such as Rodan and Ghidorah, and even teaming up with Mothra. These battles are executed with great love and affection for the old Toho Godzilla movies, and are a lot of fun to watch.
3D Rating: NA
Godzilla: King of the Monsters was captured at 3.4k and 6.5k resolutions using Arri Alexa 65 and Mini cameras, then completed as a 2K digital intermediate. Warner’s 2160p upscale preserves the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and includes high dynamic range grading in HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. The film was reviewed on equipment that was only HDR10 capable. There are a lot of darkly lit sequences in this film, and HDR really helps those sequences retain a lot of detail, such as electronic displays and surface textures. The wider color gamut also allows for more detail to be seen, especially as Godzilla becomes aped up before going nuclear. There were no obvious compression artifacts like banding or pixilation whatsoever.
Warner has fitted Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a default Dolby Atmos track that is a sonically immersive treat. Godzilla’s thunderous footsteps and ferocious roars will rattle the floorboards thanks to a very active LFE track. Sounds of destruction come at you from every conceivable angle. All the while, dialogue remains clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 4/5
With the exception of the commentary track, all of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray edition.
Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Michael Dougherty, Producer/Co-Writer Zach Shields and Actor O’Shea Jackson, Jr.: This is a lively and fun track, as the three men share their fondness for the genre and discuss many aspects of the production. The track is accessible on both the UHD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.
Monsters 101 (1080p; 5:32): Each section takes a very brief look at the four monsters featured in the film – Godzilla: Nature’s Fearsome Guardian, Mothra: Queen of the Monsters, Ghidorah: The Living Extinction Machine and Rodan: Airborne God of Fire.
Evolution of the Titans (1080p; 27:24): A look at the development of the four monsters through CGI – Godzilla 2.0, Making Mothra, Creating Ghidorah and Reimagining Rodan.
Monarch in Action (1080p; 32:56): A look at five of Monarch’s containment sites featured in the film – The Yunnan Temple, Castle Bravo, The Antarctic Base, The Isla de Mara Volcano and The Undersea Lair.
Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature (1080p; 4:07): A look at the young actress.
Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight (1080p; 8:34): A look at the military tech, both real and created for the film.
Monsters are Real (1080p; 14:18): “Experts” discuss the history of monsters through the ages.
Welcome to the Monsterverse (1080p; 3:42): This is for those who may not be aware that this film is part of a growing monster franchise that includes Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 5:01): Only two scenes are included, an extended version of Mark’s Flashback and Boxing Practice.
Theatrical Trailers (1080p; 12:08): Four of the film’s trailers are included – Life, Supremacy, Over the Rainbow and Wonder Rumble.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
I was not a big fan of 2014’s Godzilla, but I did enjoy Kong: Skull Island and feel like Michael Dougherty has corrected the course of this franchise with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and we will have to wait and see if this correction continues when Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters next year. The presentation on UHD is exceptional, and the commentary is probably the best of the special features.