Godzilla (2014) 3D Blu-ray Review

The Japanese icon is finally Americanized with care

Godzilla is an imperfect blockbuster about a perfect American military butting up against three massive natural anomalies who also happen to be a box office draw. Any blame as to pacing (and there are many) falls back on director Gareth Edwards, although on repeat viewings, his cut away madness takes better precedence over the piece. A dazzling finale of CG spectacle makes it all worth it, and Godzilla becomes the triumphant screen chomping denizen he should be.

Read DoBlu’s full theatrical review for Godzilla for more and follow our Summer of Monsters promo for additional giant monster goodness.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

This is a visually complex film which demands supreme black level adjustment, careful muting of color, and hefty encoding parameters. For Warner’s Blu-ray, “two out of three ain’t bad.” Central here are blacks which may lack the thick density associated with many premium blockbusters, but they cast enough care on the existence of shadow delineation and visual effects to off-set the loss of pure contrast. Godzilla’s finale is that of smoke, haze, fire, and darkness – all of which are kept visible through careful calibration. In terms of representing a city under siege, it’s often beautiful.

Likewise, this movie is hardly a delight as the screen swarms with variations of reds and oranges in the midst of browned out locales. Rarely are there instances where patches of green appear flushed. Dour mood is central to the themes. Washed out grays push scenes at sea and a lightly vintage sepia introduces the opening sequences. The disc has no issues in this replication of the source.

From Warner’s recent crop of releases, Godzilla is amongst those which suffer from errant compression. Problems begin early as subtle smearing and noise appears as cameras perform sweeping pans over water. Banding shows up as red warning lights signal imminent danger in the nuclear plant or during prep for the halo jump. Lightly visible artifacting can be spotted in aerials where sharpness is otherwise astonishing. Close-ups are often smeary and mildly waxy. A few manage to escape that fate.

Most of this is restrained to live action. Much of the all-digital computer effects are great, despite some misgivings over smoke. Compared to the theatrical presentation, this finale seems comparable based on memory. The rest? Not so much. Raw fidelity feels lost and energy is sapped when in motion. It’s passable, but the routine of the studio’s wayward encodes is growing tiresome.

Post-converted into 3D, viewers will discover additional video quirks and with limited benefit. Black levels take a substantial hit in the process, adjusted enough to where visible banding is a frequent visitor. What was once hidden in shadow is now readily visible. The resolution cut will bring around flickering, albeit in only a handful of rare instances over the two hours.

While those may not seem like much, it’s not worth the switch. Godzilla’s visual design is, as stated, immensely dark. In 3D, the space feels crushed by the lack of light and compositions are ill-considered of the eventual conversion. Cross talk is invasive at multiple junctions. Visible depth during the spectacular climax is consistently nill. The number of effective uses is in the single digits – notably one shot from a crane which is super charged to sell space, plus a few ambient moments caused by debris – but the rest sags in total disinterest.

2D-Video ★★★★☆ 

3D-Video ★★☆☆☆ 

Winning the argument @ 1:44:27

Thankfully, Warner’s audio work suffers none of the same problematic home media transition issues. This is an all-out bombing of powerful bass from the opening credits into a meticulously crafted soundstage which builds the finale’s awe-inspiring sense of scale. Balance is sublime, and in some cases better than the personally attended, over-cranked IMAX exhibition. The full width of the 7.1 mix is displayed with intense ferocity and subtle panning to create a full space of audio purity.

Not an action scene passes without reference quality escapism, from the rush of a tsunami or explosions, rising up to a thunderous foot stomp to ensure Godzilla’s full mass is sold through this DTS-HD work. Monster roars create an admirable echo, from the MUTO’s screechy calls pinging from buildings to Godzilla’s stupidly aggressive and forceful alpha predator roar. Build up is substantial, with tank and jet engines readying to reach their positions, panning through the stereos or rears as needed as they move on from the fame. Ambiance on board a US aircraft carrier keeps a sense of urgency as workers clamor for info and there is a superb bit inside of a casino before it’s destroyed.

One note: At 1:18:02, as a train is derailed, a skip occurred in the audio track. It’s unknown at this whether this was our review copy or something affecting the wider release. As such, for now, we’re ignoring it until confirmation is made. [Update: Checking a retail release, 2D and 3D alike, did not reveal the same issue. It appears to be a quirk in our original review copy.]

Audio ★★★★★ 

In some sense, these bonuses are lacking. No deleted scenes mean ignoring a brief cameo with long time Toho Godzilla staple Akira Takarada. Likewise, no commentary means disallowing an involved Gareth Edwards a chance to sell his distinct style and choices.

But, on the flipside, what’s here does well for itself, even if these brief featurettes feel limited by time. Godzilla Uncovered is the lengthiest item here at close to 20-minutes. While mostly selling the film with an overlay of praise, the material is rich enough to be satisfying. A Whole New Level of Destruction (8:24) focuses on production design, namely with those scenes of scattered debris.

Into the Void’s five minutes are concise with a pre-vis look, and Ancient Enemy tells the story of MUTOs from their earliest conception. Finally, there is a three-part segment labeled Monarch Uncovered, which exists as conspiracy fodder about the film’s events. It’s viral material long after such content has seen its usefulness.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

  • This seems to be a dark, murky transfer. More disappointing is the serious lack of special features.

  • This is the disc that’s going to test every calibration out there. And for those that aren’t calibrated? Ouch. I’m surprised there were no additional tweaks made visually for home video because it’s going to be a tough one for a lot of displays to handle.

  • I think I smell a special edition waiting in the future.

  • Target’s version will have this exclusive bonus content:

    Godzilla: Rebirth of an Icon 25 min. featurette – Track Toho’s iconic Godzilla from his post-war beginnings in Japan
    and enduring, worldwide phenomenon, to his triumphant return to the
    big-screen in this modern, epic blockbuster!

  • Amir Kameron Laz

    I sure hope there will be one were you can see the deleted scenes especially the one with Akira Takarada in it.

  • I’m sort of floored that A, it’s not here, and B, it hasn’t leaked out somewhere. All that’s made it to the public is a still image. That’s a shame.

  • TheMantaBluRay

    I thought Gareth Edward’s “Godzilla” was okay. By NO means is this film terrible, but it’s an overall very pedestrian Godzilla film (with some spectacular visuals). Quite frankly I wish the story had Cranston and Watanabe as the lead characters instead of Aaron Taylor Johnson’s very dull performance. Hopefully I’ll like the sequel better.

  • Pingback: La Bodega Movies & TV Shows » Godzilla (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)()

  • Michael David Hafer

    Some very minor brightness and contrast correction in Photoshop gives us this:

    http://i.imgur.com/5A6HhLD.png

    Big-G with some flecks of color instead of completely jet black. The blu-ray mutes and darkens the shit out of everything, removing all kinds of great color and nuance. Compare:

    http://i1.wp.com/www.doblu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/godzillareboot14616.jpg

    Hopefully a future “special edition” comes remastered.

  • By brightening it, you’re also revealing compression and taking all of the weight out of the image. Yes, it’s dark, but it’s a screen shot on (what is likely to be) viewed a non-calibrated monitor. In action on a properly calibrated set, it actually appears a touch washed out compared to what I’m seeing on my laptop monitor. A remaster won’t fix what was intended, at least a proper one won’t.Compared to what I saw in theaters, the Blu-ray is accurate to the source.

    What will be interesting is the 3D which of course dims the whole thing further. I saw that in IMAX with a pretty hefty brightness.

  • cezar211091 .

    i agree that Cranston should have been the main character…along with Watanabe.

  • Michael David Hafer

    By “weight” all I see is darkness.

  • Sure, and I can totally acknowledge that in the screen shot. It’s why no matter what’s done at the source, they’re an imperfect measurement. I’d be interested to see what you think about the disc itself. While I think some will have issues if they’re sets are running on Dynamic (or something of its ilk), most won’t have any problems – outside of personal preference for lighter films of course. I’m speaking purely on a technical level.

    Do pop back in with your thoughts after the release!

  • I’ll say this for Cranston: It’s SO unexpected for something like that to happen to a lead character. Trying to avoid spoilers here, but the film as a whole does a lot of things it shouldn’t, from cutting away from battles to keeping Godzilla off-screen. In some way, that’s almost daring – but it doesn’t necessarily help the movie either.

  • cezar211091 .

    nah,cutting away in the battle scenes was just perfect.cranston’s character’s death and the unlikely rescue of johnson by helicopter are the things i dislike the most.

  • If people were wondering, the Target exclusive is only available on the 2-D BD.

  • Person

    I’m usually very sensitive to transfers that are too dark, either by intent or by poor authoring, but I thought this was fine. Just watch it at night in a dark room and you should see everything you’re supposed to. I’m a little surprised that the entire movie and extras (on the standard release, at least) only amount to about 37GB of space; why they wouldn’t take advantage of the full 50GB escapes me. I bought the Target edition and I’m happy with the special features; the audio on this also rocks.

  • Leaving space open on the disc is the Warner way. I don’t know why. It could be so they can use the same encode side on a high-end digital release without tweaking anything. That’s a left field guess though.

  • Person

    What worries me is that I have the Target disc, which apparently is the same size as the general release despite having an extra 30ish minute bonus featurette in 1080i (i think).

  • No, it would be an extra cost to re-compress the movie and the profit margin isn’t worth pinching for a retailer exclusive. I’m sure the video file sizes are the same. I don’t have the Target disc to give you the exact answer though unfortunately.

  • Person

    Well Warner has done that with Target exclusives like Argo, Gatsby, and Man of Steel, and Walmart exclusives for Man of Steel and Pacific Rim, so it’s not completely implausible. But hopefully you’re right. In any case, the Godzilla disc still looks great to me, as long as it’s viewed in proper lighting conditions (and frankly no movie should be seen in complete daylight on an improperly calibrated set, anyway).

  • Some very interesting spectral analysis done on the surround track:

    http://data-bass.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/291-godzilla-2014-discussion-poll-closed/

    The audio clips in several spots and has little bass content below 25 Hz. Bassheads weren’t too happy with Godzilla’s audio.