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The original radioactively mutated, giant lizard is back in all his flame-snorting, city-stomping glory - bigger, better and badder than ever before! An earth-shattering explosion rocks the French Polynesian Islands, and a nearby supertanker is swiftly and inexplicably destroyed. Was an explosion — or something far more horrifying — responsible for the devastation? The giant footsteps trailing from the wreckage seem to provide the answer. Soon the newly awakened monster is leaving a mysterious trail of carnage in its wake as it cuts through miles of Panamanian forests, heading directly to a small, densely populated island... Manhattan. It's up to two teams of investigators, each with their own agenda - headed by nuclear scientist Nick Tatapoulos and aspiring reporter Audrey Timmonds - to band together to discover the secret of Godzilla ...and determine the only way to stop him.
For more about Godzilla and the Godzilla Blu-ray release, see Godzilla Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Harry Shearer
Director: Roland Emmerich
» See full cast & crew
Godzilla Blu-ray Review
The definition of "loud" stomps onto Blu-ray courtesy of Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 9, 2009
All the king's horses and all the king's men may not be able to put the Big Apple together again.
Only one word can adequately describe Director Roland Emmerich's Disaster movies: "spectacle." Love his movies or despise them, Emmerich's pictures never fail to provide the latest in visual and sound technology; big action sequences; massive destruction of landmarks; lots of noise; and most importantly, a popcorn-munching good time. Whether Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, or Godzilla, Emmerich strives not for Shakespearean poetry in his dialogue or Hitchcockian visuals to accentuate mood and atmosphere; instead, he goes for the jugular, bombarding the visual and aural senses with an onslaught of effects-laden visuals and sound combined with corny dialogue and over-the-top plot lines and devices, and that's just fine. Escapist entertainment is just as important as film-as-high-art, and nobody fills that niche better than Roland Emmerich.
Scientist Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick, Glory) is recalled from Chernobyl to study large and mysterious footprints in both Panama and Jamaica, while simultaneously comparing notes against the choppy accounts that claim a large creature known as "Godzilla" has been capsizing fishing boats around the world. Before he can offer anything but conjecture, "Godzilla" -- a stories-tall creature that resembles a dinosaur -- rudely emerges from the waters off of New York City and promptly lays waste to the Big Apple. With the city under threat of total annihilation, Tatopoulos is flown in to work in conjunction with the U.S. military to stop the creature before it's too late. Meanwhile, Tatopoulos' ex-girlfriend, Audrey (Maria Pitillo), a city reporter looking for her big break, rekindles her relationship with Niko but must choose between her man or her career, a decision that could impact the fate of both the city and the world.
Among Director Roland Emmerich's Disaster pictures, Godzilla may very well be the worst, but it's still not a bad picture based solely on what it sets out to accomplish. Needless to say, a paltry story doesn't help, but the film's highly generalized wave of destruction has a "been there, done that" feel to it, even if it does play as bigger, better, and louder than any of the Godzilla films before it. Fortunately, the film's downfall is also its saving grace. The story -- good, bad, or indifferent -- is completely irrelevant when it comes to a movie like Godzilla. The 139-minute movie, whittled down to one line ("monster ravages New York City"), can get away with shallow characters, poor dialogue, stretched logic, useless humor, and worthless background information because they simply can't -- and don't have to -- compete with the spectacle of a creature laying waste to the city's landmarks in rapid succession. The plot need only be strong enough to get the movie from one disaster scene to the next, and in that regard, Godzilla succeeds.
Nevertheless, Godzilla serves up a few extras meant to compliment the onslaught of destruction and lighten the load throughout, and as one might expect, there are both hits and misses scattered throughout the film. Godzilla sets up two characters solely to poke fun at film critic Roger Ebert and his late companion, Gene Siskel, in what is easily the film's most groan-inducing plot line. It fares little better than something out of Disaster Movie, and it's about as sophomoric, too. In a film where absolutely everything is contrived, the "Mayor Ebert" plot line is the worst offender. On the other hand, Godzilla features a nice little homage to Creature Disaster pictures of the past with a clip from It Came From Beneath the Sea playing on a television set. Small nuances like that add a nice touch and reward genre fans, and it's one moment where Godzilla will have lovers and haters alike smiling at the attention to detail and respect for the genre.
While words like "worst," "paltry," and "contrived" might make it sound like Godzilla is a terrible movie, it's important to analyze a film like this in context and give credit where credit it due. As alluded to before, Roland Emmerich films don't set out to win Oscars (except, perhaps, for sound design and special effects), so it's unfair to directly compare them to something they don't strive to compete with. On its own merits, Godzilla makes for a decent enough popcorn-crunching good time at the movies. It's no Independence Day, but the film's effects-heavy visuals and devastating sound design do a marvelous job of capturing the intended spirit of the film. Simply stated, Godzilla is an amusement park ride come to life on the big screen and a fine example of escapism entertainment that relies on grandiose technical achievements to wow audiences. Though its effects might look dated more than 10 years after its theatrical release, Godzilla's sound design remains impressive, and together, they make the movie a fun ride for those willing to suspend disbelief and give it a chance.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Video Quality
Godzilla surfaces on Blu-ray with a quality 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. There's no doubt the visual presentation plays second fiddle to the devastating soundtrack (more on that below), but this is a solid technical presentation in its own right. Godzilla is a fairly dark and dreary film; the primary action takes place at night and in the driving rain, and many interior locations feature low lighting levels, all of which keeps the transfer from offering a sparkling array of colors or all that much in visibly intricate detail. The early Panama scenes probably fare the best; the dry, daylight, exterior shots feature a good sense of depth, solid detail, and nice color reproduction, particularly amongst the green grasses that are so prevalent in the sequence. Though some backgrounds look a bit undefined, clarity and sharpness are solid, too. A few colors do stand out nicely in the rain-soaked and darkened New York City shots, for instance yellow cabs and forklifts and the red, white, and blue of an American flag against a gray and dreary distant New York skyline. Even underneath the precipitation and darkness, general imagery appears nicely detailed, whether close-ups of faces, rain dripping off of camouflaged parkas, or the texture on paved streets and manhole covers. Blacks are fairly strong, and flesh tones look solid underneath the thick veneer of darkness. Accompanied by a layer of grain, Godzilla isn't the stuff of high definition visual bliss, but it looks good for what it has to offer.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Godzilla stomps onto Blu-ray with a hard-hitting DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Want volume? Godzilla's got volume. Want bass? Godzilla's got bass -- enough to shake the house down. This is the sort of soundtrack that defies description and is much better experienced first hand than read about second hand, but suffice it to say, this is a devastating, room-shaking, speaker-blowing, brain-scrambling soundtrack. Even at more than 10 years old, Godzilla is still one of the standard-bearers for ridiculously aggressive, terribly powerful, yet crystal-clear and highly entertaining sound mixes. Early in the film, thunder and rain explode through the soundstage, and from the monster's first attack on a fishing vessel onward, there's no mistaking that this is anything but a surround sound and bass-happy extravaganza. It seems almost pointless to mention specifics, because this one rarely lets up in its ability to create a large and seamless sense of space, make fantastic use of the surround channels, and deliver consistently tight and devastating bass. The subtle downpour that accentuates most every exterior scene, the reverberating thuds as the creature stomps through the city, the din of heavy artillery and gunfire, or Godzilla's deafening screams travel through the soundstage and into the ear drums to almost punishing effect. This may be too much for some listeners at reference volume, but a slight decrease in volume doesn't too terribly adversely affect the quality of the listen. Also featuring solid dialogue reproduction that doesn't really become muffled or lost under the rain and bass, Godzilla makes for a so-loud-it's-silly listen on Blu-ray.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of Godzilla, unfortunately, doesn't come with a monstrous selection of extras. First up is a commentary track with Visual Effects Supervisor Volker Engel and Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Karen Goulekas. A nuts-and-bolts technical track, the two do a fine job of covering a nice spectrum of effects-related comments but also delve into more basic items such as shooting locations. Fans interested in digital effects might want to give this one a listen, but general audiences might want to spend their time with other endeavors. The Ultimate 'Godzilla' Multi-Player Trivia Game provides players (single or multi) with either 10, 15, or 20 multiple choice Godzilla-based questions, with a 15-second time limit for each answer. Behind the Scenes of 'Godzilla' With Charles Caiman (480p, 6:58) is a generic behind-the-scenes piece hosted by movie character Charles Caiman (Harry Shearer) that features cast and crew discussing the film, the characters, the special effects, and more. Next up is All Time Best of 'Godzilla' Fight Scenes (480p, 10:14), a compilation piece that features the famed creature as seen in various other films. Also included is the "Heroes" Music Video by The Wallflowers (480p, 4:11); BD-Live functionality; Sony's "MovieIQ" that offers live, up-to-date details about every scene, including cast and crew filmographies and biographies, soundtrack listings, and more; a special sneak peak of the upcoming Roland Emmerich-directed 2012 (1080p, 2:32); and 1080p trailers for Ghostbusters, The Da Vinci Code, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Year One, The Sky Crawlers, and Monster House.
Also included is Sony's new on-disc digital copy that allows for transfer from a PlayStation 3 (PS3) to a PlayStation Portable (PSP). The digital copy's icon appears below the movie's icon on the PS3 XMB (Xross Menu Bar) and is accompanied by a written reminder that the digital copy must be redeemed by 11/3/10 and is not available on rental discs. Clicking on the icon signs users into the PlayStation Network where a prompt to enter the included code appears on-screen. Following code entry, the digital copy is transferred to the PS3 hard drive. Once the process is complete, an icon for the film will again appear under the "video" tab of the XMB. To transfer to the PSP, highlight the digital copy's icon, press the "option" (green triangle) key on the remote, and scroll to "copy." From there, users will be prompted to connect the PSP to the PS3 via a USB cable, and then to select "USB Connection" from the PSP's "Settings" menu in the XMB. Once the PSP is connected, users may need to once again select "copy" under the digital copy's "options" screen on the PS3 to begin the transfer. Once the transfer is complete, the film will appear under the "Video" tab of the PSP's XMB. When the movie plays, the "X" button and "start" button both pause the film; the "circle" button and the "select" button return users to the XMB; the "triangle" button reveals a series of options; the "square" button reveals a menu to select scenes from the film at either 15 second, 30 second, one minute, two minute, or five minute intervals; the "left" and "right" arrow keys on the directional pad fast forward and reverse the film in increments of 1x, 2x, and 3x speeds; the "up" and "down" arrows on the directional pad increase and decrease the playback speed from a range of 0.5x speed to 2.0x speed; and the "left" and "right" shoulder buttons serve as chapter skips, though there are no set chapters here, and the "left" button only returns the film to the beginning. These PSP digital copies are quickly proving themselves superior to those compatible with the iPod. Godzilla is a film primed to look poor via digital copy considering the darkness and haze that surrounds most of the major sequences, but it looks quite good on the PSP Go. Banding and blocking are kept to a minimum, even in the darkest corners of the screen. Color reproduction is good, and detail is nicely rendered. The soundtrack is sufficiently loud to enjoy in a quiet setting without the assistance of headphones, and while range is expectedly limited, clarity is decent. The headphones allow for more space and volume, and while the track certainly doesn't hold a candle to the Blu-ray presentation, it's a nice alternative for on-the-go viewing.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
They don't come much bigger and louder than Godzilla. Though not the special effects spectacle it once was, Roland Emmerich's Creature Disaster movie remains a severely flawed but thoroughly entertaining popcorn movie that might be the sort of thing that's nominated for Razzie awards (several, in fact) but it's also the sort of thing people go to see in droves. At the end of the day, it's just fine for what it is and wants to be, and in that light, Godzilla is a success on its own playing field. Sony's Blu-ray release delivers a strong 1080p transfer, a knockout of a lossless soundtrack, and a few throwaway extras. Recommended for fans of the film, noise, and bass.
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Godzilla Blu-ray, News and Updates
• PSP Digital Copy Included on Sony Blu-ray Releases - September 29, 2009
Beginning with the November 10th Blu-ray releases of 'Godzilla' and 'The Ugly Truth', Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will include a digital copy especially for the PSP on select Blu-ray disc releases. The announcement comes just days before the release ...
• Emmerich's Godzilla Stomps on Blu-ray in November - July 1, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that it will bring the 1998 version of 'Godzilla' on Blu-ray on November 3, tying in with the theatrical opening of Roland Emmerich's latest disaster movie, '2012'. As a major catalog title, this include Sony's new ...
• Sony Confirms Godzilla Blu-ray Release - October 3, 2007
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has confirmed that they will bring the 1998 version of 'Godzilla' to Blu-ray on March 28th in a "Monster Edition". Video will be presented in 1080p accompanied by a PCM soundtrack. Extras will include a featurette, a music video ...
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