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Roland Emmerich
Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Hank Azaria, Maria Pitillo, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer, Arabella Field
Writing Credits:
Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich

Size Does Matter.

Box Office:
$125 million
Opening Weekend
$55.726 million on 3310 screens
Domestic Gross
$136 million
Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 139 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 7/16/2013

• None

4K Blu-Ray
Music Soundtrack

Search Products:

Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Godzilla [Blu-Ray 4K] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 4, 2013)

Years ago I dated a woman who constantly reminded me that her perception was her reality. It didn’t matter if I could prove that she was wrong about something. If she interpreted the matter differently, that was that. If she felt 1+1=3, then it did as far as she was concerned.

Though most people don’t take their perceptions to such an extreme, similar trains of thought affect most of us, and such biases play a big part in determining whether a movie is seen as a hit or a flop. Case in point: 1998’s much-hyped remake of Godzilla. The folks behind the flick stupidly touted it as the greatest thing ever committed to celluloid, and they actually were dumb enough to predict it’d top the recently-crowned box office king, 1997’s $600 million-grossing Titanic.

Basically, those who promoted Godzilla did everything wrong, and the movie fell far short of expectations. The film didn’t even make the top five in a fairly lackluster box office year, and its gross was much lower than anticipated.

However, viewed objectively, the movie did take in a reasonable piece of change. Based on public perceptions of its performance, you’d think Godzilla grossed 135 cents instead of 135 million dollars. No, $135 million wasn’t a great take for an expensive, absurdly hyped flick – not even in 1998 - but it wasn’t chump change either.

It probably didn’t help that many viewed the final product as little more than the sum of its hype. As with the following year’s The Phantom Menace, a lot of the folks who saw Godzilla left the theater disappointed. The filmmaking team of director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin made a lot of money with 1994’s Stargate and 1996’s Independence Day - the biggest hit of that year – but they don’t seem to have a lot of diehard fans. Instead, they do suffer from a long list of active detractors, and those folks came out in droves to feast on the remains of Godzilla.

Personally, I thought Godzilla delivers a reasonably entertaining experience. Its main problem stems from its duality. When the movie concentrates on its action sequences, it can be fun and exciting, but when it delves into its cardboard characters, it totally collapses. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time with those people, so Godzilla can be something of an endurance test.

At the start of the film, we see an attack on a Japanese fishing boat. One crewman survives, but he provides little information for investigators. However, some mysterious critter swims toward the US and leaves damage in Panama. That’s where our protagonist becomes involved with the story. A specialist in mutations caused by nuclear waste, Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) theorizes that such effects created this monster.

He – and we – follow this creature as it proceeds toward the eastern seaboard of the US. Eventually it arrives in Manhattan, where Nick finds that it’s a giant lizard we’ll come to call Godzilla. There we encounter struggling aspiring journalist Audrey Timmonds (Maria Pitillo), who just happens to be Nick’s ex-girlfriend from college. They eventually reconnect after she sees him on the news.

Why am I bothering to provide this level of detail for my synopsis of Godzilla? Here’s what you need to know: the lizard comes to NYC and mayhem ensues – end of synopsis.

No one goes to a movie of this sort and expects rich and deep characters or a compelling story. We want action and destruction, and in those domains, Godzilla delivers the goods. The movie starts slowly, but once the fur begins to fly, it really begins to go somewhere. From a sequence set in Madison Square Garden to a finale on the Brooklyn Bridge, the third act provides one long action piece, and most of this material seems energetic and exciting.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers feel the need to attempt characterizations of the humans, and those drag down the movie. Godzilla actually features a pretty solid cast, as we find folks like Jean Reno, Harry Shearer, Michael Lerner and Hank Azaria on board. However, their roles almost never rise above the level of cartoons. Lerner gets the worst of the bunch. In a “clever” slam on film critics, Lerner portrays Mayor Ebert, a character obviously based on Roger. He even gets a bald sidekick named Gene! Maybe someone else finds this witty, but I think it seems pathetic.

Of the humans in Godzilla, only Reno manages to stand out from the crowd. It ain’t easy to make a French guy look like a butt-kicker, but Reno does it routinely, and as “insurance agent” Philippe Roache, he offers yet another fun and compelling performance. If France had more guys like him, they’d have stopped the Germans back in ’40.

Back when it hit screens in 1998, the filmmakers heavily touted their movie’s effects. While generally fairly good, those elements don’t seem as positive as I’d like. Wisely, they use rain to hide many of the flaws, but still the movie offers quite a few shots in which Godzilla gets awkwardly inserted into the action.

In addition, the critter varies radically in size throughout the movie. There seems to be little rhyme or reason in that domain, as the effects guys appear to alter Big G’s dimensions to fit the movie’s different situations.

As a fan of loud action flicks, I generally like Godzilla. It provides enough excitement and mindless destruction to keep me entertained. However, it definitely falls well short of greatness due to unusually poor human characters and a tendency to run too long. At 139 minutes, the flick simply seems like it should end a good half an hour earlier. Nonetheless, folks who enjoy this sort of movie should find enough worthwhile material here to provoke their attention.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A+/ Bonus F

Godzilla appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. . For the film’s second Blu-ray release, it comes as part of Sony’s “Mastered in 4K” line. What the heck does that mean? Here’s what Sony’s press release promises us:

“’Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray releases will feature titles sourced from pristine 4K masters and presented at high-bitrate 1080p resolution, with expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source. When upscaled via the Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs, these discs serve as an ideal way for consumers to experience near-4K picture quality. ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray Discs can be played on all existing Blu-ray Disc players.”

Old DVD fans will remember Sony’s “Superbit” program, as it came with similar promises. Superbit DVDs and “Mastered in 4K” BDs jettison all supplements to theoretically optimize picture/audio quality.

Overall sharpness seemed good. The movie went with a slightly gauzy feel at times, and that left a few shots as a smidgen soft. Effects elements could also impact definition. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the movie displayed very nice delineation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Grain seemed appropriate – especially with all those effects – and print flaws failed to mar the image.

Due to the film’s rainy setting, Godzilla didn’t exactly present a Technicolor extravaganza. Within those parameters, the hues seemed fine; they didn’t dazzle but they looked how they should. Black levels appeared dense and deep, while shadow detail was fine. With all that rain, some shots were a bit thick, but that was an artifact of the original photography and unavoidable. I went with a “B+” here simply because the various minor distractions kept the image from greatness, but those did appear to emanate from the source; this was the strongest reproduction of the film I’ve seen on home video.

I felt totally satisfied with the killer DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Godzilla, as the soundfield made vivid use of all five channels virtually constantly throughout the movie. Music remained mostly oriented toward the front, where the score offered crisp and well-delineated stereo imaging.

The effects popped up from all around the spectrum and created one of the most vivid and involving soundfields I’ve ever heard. I could try to select a standout sequence, but that would be tough. So much of the film made great use of the surrounds and side channels that no single segment seemed stronger than the rest. However, the various artillery and helicopter attacks appeared excellent, and the swarm of Godzilla offspring also provided another amazing piece of work.

Audio quality came across as consistently top-notch as well. Despite the high necessity for dubbing, speech seemed natural and warm, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic, as the score was clear and rich at all times.

Effects seemed distinctive and lively. They showed solid accuracy, with no signs of distortion or shrillness. Bass response appeared loud and rich throughout the flick. Honestly, the movie offered one of the all-time great soundtracks.

How did this 4K Blu-ray compare to the 2009 Blu-ray? Audio was virtually the same, as I didn’t detect and changes between the two DTS-HD MA soundtracks. However, visuals delivered obvious improvements, mainly due to the new transfer. It eliminated the original Blu-ray’s minor print flaws and gave it a better sense of definition.

As stated earlier, the 4K line leaves out any extras. That means the commentary and other elements get the boot here.

Despite all of the criticisms leveled toward it, I continue to enjoy Godzilla. Yeah, it presents some weak characters/performances and occasionally approaches a level of incoherence, but the many wild action scenes compensate for these flaws. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and stunning audio but lacks bonus materials. To be honest, the prior disc’s supplements weren’t particularly good, so I admit I don’t really miss them. The visual improvements on the 4K Blu-ray make it the one to own.

To rate this film, visit the original review of GODZILLA (1998)

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main