[Fresh on 4K] ‘GODZILLA VS. KONG’ a smashing blockbuster littered with sensational thrills and impressive visuals

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

GODZILLA VS. KONG

Rated PG-13, 113 minutes.
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Alexander SkarsgårdMillie Bobby BrownRebecca HallBrian Tyree HenryShun OguriEiza GonzálezJulian DennisonKyle ChandlerDemián Bichir and Kaylee Hottle

Now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD.

Not too long ago, it seemed like audiences were doomed to wait an eternity for the much-anticipated matchup between legendary titans Godzilla and King Kong ever since the wildly successful 2014 GODZILLA reboot. But now that the showdown has finally graced the silver screen not three months ago, it feels rather strange to see GODZILLA VS KONG (2021) hit store shelves so soon after its theatrical run. Has enough time passed for audiences to want to step back into the ring once more? Only time will tell. That being said, a gigantic ape swinging a comically massive ax at the King of the Monsters without showing the slightest regard for the unparalleled destruction left in their wake has never looked this good. 

Movie Grade: B-

From our theatrical review:

“Director Adam Wingard and screenwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein (who work from a story by Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields) bestow the film with a decent balance between the human shenanigans and the kaiju calamity, but they wisely tip the scales towards the big action set pieces.”

:Of the film’s three big, brutal battles with these behemoths, all put character at the fore – a gargantuan feat in a film like this – and each has its own gorgeous aesthetic where you’d want to frame each frame. The first clash between Godzilla and Kong, their oceanic brawl, carries gravitas (even upon Kong’s first sucker punch and Godzilla’s slapback) and an epic level of narrative weight. It also benefits from Tom Holkenborg’s booming score and John “DJ” DesJardin jaw-dropping visual effects.”

“It’s an earned fight this series has been building towards between two established icons, duking it out for dominance, laying waste to fighter jets and battleships as if they were toddlers in a bathtub. Their second fight is much more animalistic as the pair get scrappy amidst the neon-lit skyline of Hong Kong. The final climactic face-off with a mysterious foe (one an international trailer spoiled) serves as a decent culmination of the human plotlines. Most of the film’s set-ups are logically paid off.”

“Still, for every crashing, thunderous sequence, the feature also succeeds in its quieter scenes where character is manifested and evolves. Gia’s friendship with Kong functions as the beating heart of the story. They communicate with each other both through sign language and the unspoken language of compassion and empathy. It’s not pressed upon too heavily, but they both suffer from deception, and the weight of that slight betrayal feels poignant. Hottle herself demonstrates charisma and magnetism, carrying her scenes with a poised, assured stature for her tiny frame – especially against a massive creature, who benefits from anthropomorphized character designs.”

“Yet, what sticks with us the longest aren’t the dramatics, themes, or human character construction – though, ideally, it could be all these things. It’s the monsters themselves, who serve up lots of bloody good mini-movie-moments, like Kong ripping the head off an otherworldly creature and quenching his thirst by using its head as a chalice. Further joy can be found in spotting the references to 1963’s KING KONG VS. GODZILLA and 1933’s KING KONG.”

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: A

Arriving on 4K UHD by means of a native 4K Digital Intermediate, GODZILLA VS KONG may just be the best-looking 4K presentation so far in 2021. Textures for live-action elements such as facial pores and costume details are perfectly clear. But the definite standout for this film is the copious amounts of digital effects on display from start to finish, and they simply do not disappoint. 

Subtle details like Godzilla’s skin and scales move independently ever so slightly over his bone structure are much more noticeable and add an extra layer of realism to the character. Additionally, strands of fur on Kong’s arms and face are incredibly realized in the many close-up shots of the ape’s face. But it’s not just the more minor details that are improved in 4K. The bombastic fight scenes are further enhanced still when sparks fly, shards of glass fall, and buildings are reduced to rubble, all in utterly pristine visual fidelity.

The inclusion of HDR10+ and Dolby Vision makes the numerous night scenes far more watchable, with virtually no crushing or noise to be seen. One fight scene in particular where our titular titans duke it out surrounded by bright neon pink and green city lights is a marvel to behold with the added color density. 

Additionally, the Dolby Atmos audio mix is superb. The hollow earth sequence, in particular, makes many fun uses of the above and surrounding channels, and it goes without saying that the subs are given a run for their money when the creatures provide the audience a mighty roar.

Extras Grade: B-

Aside from the audio commentary track (which can be found on both the 4K and 1080p disc), all special features are located on the standard Blu-ray. They are certainly worth a look but will likely not warrant a second viewing after that. A 4K digital copy code is also included. 

A full list of extras can be found below:

  • Audio Commentary 
  • The God
  • Godzilla Attacks (6:25)
  • The Phenomenon of Gojira, King of the Monsters (9:52) 
  • The King 
  • Kong Leaves Home (7:56)
  • Kong Discovers Hollow Earth (7:53)
  • Behold Kong’s Temple (5:52)
  • The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World (8:25) 
  • The Rise of Mecha-Godzilla (7:06) 
  • The Battles 
  • Round One: Battle at Sea (5:06)
  • Round Two: One Will Fall (5:58)
  • Titan Tag Team: The God and the King (7:59)

Final Grade: B+

Warner Bros pulled out all the stops in the audio/visual department for this release. Viewers without a fancy 4K TV and audio system may fail to see what all the fuss is about, but home theater enthusiasts looking for their next demo-worthy disc need to look no further. 

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