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GODZILLA
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche
Director: Gareth Edwards
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 123 Minutes
Release Date: September 16, 2014

The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control, and not the other way around.”

Film ***

Godzilla has been romping and stomping for a good 60 years now…that lizard must have some kind of agent!

The Japanese studio Toho crafted and perfected the big guy in all his wonderful, cheesy glory, as he evolved from a somber treatise on the nuclear era to the sometime destroyer, sometime savior of the planet as he battled other-worldly beings. Why was he sometimes good and sometimes bad? I don’t know...don’t really care, either.

The actor-in-a-rubber-suit-smashing-miniature-sets approach had its campy fun, but what really caused career setbacks for G was when he tried to make movies for American studios. Budgets were bigger, and the special effects were (sometimes) better, but somehow, these films weren’t so bad they were fun…they were just plain bad.

Consider that situation thoroughly rectified. This new version of Godzilla has definitely learned from old mistakes. This film is as big and action-packed as you might expect…what will surprise you is the fact that the humanity doesn’t get lost in the spectacle.

What do I mean? Well, have you ever noticed in a Godzilla movie that cities tend to be wiped out, and presumably, many, many people killed, but there seems to be no real feel for the devastation and loss of life? I mean, if something that big did that much damage, you’d certainly notice the impact, right?

In this Godzilla, there is much more humanity…not only because there is a better cast than usual for such a picture, but because there IS a real feel for loss of life. One early scene, in which engineer Joe Brody (Cranston) is faced with a life-or-death dilemma, sets the emotional tone for the rest of the film.

Don’t get me wrong…this is not a big, weepy saga. This film delivers what you would expect from Godzilla, and then some…the destruction is awesome, the effects are incredible…in other words, being more human didn’t take away the film’s sense of the kind of escapism we seek from monster movies.

And one of the best aspects of a Godzilla movie is when we get to see him battle other gigantic beasts, and not just stomp cities to dust. Here, we have the awakening of two “MUTO” creatures (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), along with the usual hodgepodge of science explaining how they were awakened…yada, yada, yada.

So here, we have not the bad Godzilla, but the good guy Godzilla, who comes into play to restore the balance…in other words, have an epic battle with the two new bad kids on the block. The chaos ranges from Japan to Honolulu to San Francisco…hey, these guys need a large playing field.

This is by far the best American attempt ever offered for a Godzilla film…it’s sure in its history, delivers the visuals we expect, and yet is well-acted and has some real emotion. And no zippers. Seriously, what more do you want?

Video ****

This is a gorgeous and perfect high-definition transfer from Warner. The 3D version is exemplary; crisp and clean and with very little ghosting. If there is one complaint, it’s that some of the darker scenes are made even darker by the 3D glasses…your call; the 3D is super fun, but you get even better clarity with the 2D.

Audio ****

Without a doubt, this is the single best audio track I’ve yet heard on disc. It’s explosively dynamic and detailed; the sounds of the MUTOs and Godzilla’s guttural roars are powerful and amazing to listen to. Not to mention the almost non-stop use of the surrounds, which are potent but carefully balanced for maximum impact. And the subwoofer? Strongest signal I’ve heard to date. Seriously, you WILL be feeling this movie as well as hearing it.

Features **1/2

The extras are all on the 2D disc, and they include three amusing “declassified” shorts about the events of the film, plus four production featurettes.

Summary:

Godzilla delivers the goods, especially on this outstanding, reference quality Blu-ray offering from Warner. Your home theatre couldn’t ask for more than what this disc brings to the table.

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