With Godzilla vs Kong headlining the current crop of movies playing alongside the likes of Furious 9 after lengthy closures, Warner has also re-released the 2014 version of Godzilla in the 4K Ultra HD format. Time for a closer look at one of the earlier films in Legendary’s current batch of monster movies to see how the new transfer fares.
We’ve seen plenty of big budget adaptations of Godzilla in the past 25 years, but the 2014 version stands out because of how dark it was. Quite literally in this case, with menacing scenes that often take place in relative or even absolute darkness. For this reason we didn’t expect a 4K remaster to suddenly pop with vivid colors, but we were curious to see how HDR would improve the experience and if the color balance was better than in the original release. Short answer: yes, and by quite a lot.
Not having seen the original release in theaters, the BluRay version of Godzilla (2014) was my introduction to the film, and I couldn’t help but think “this is too dark to see”, in the sense that it felt like a lot of detail was somehow lost. And although the 4K (2160p) resolution doesn’t rectify that, a regrading of the colors and the addition of HDR have certainly improved the video quality, giving me a newfound appreciation for this film.
The upgrade doesn’t suddenly make Godzilla a different film though – it’s still dark, light is still sparse and Godzilla prefers the night over the day, it seems. HDR makes the rare flares of light pop way more than before though – from weapons that are firing in all directions to fiery explosions, which now also light up the areas around them much better than before. Outside of action sequences, the new color grading also helps detail and warmth come out in other scenes, while showcasing the VFX in panoramic shots much better as well.
Even more impressive than the video, however, is the audio mix – though this was already a strong point in the original release. The current 4K release features a Dolby Atmos track for receivers that support it, but there’s also a 7.1 TrueHD track which will downscale to 5.1, 2.1 or whatever output you’re using. Audio is where Godzilla really shines and where the darkness suddenly becomes an effective filmmaking tool, because hearing the monster’s screech pierce through the shadowy contours of a scene is a haunting feeling indeed. Helicopters, gunfire and a thrilling train sequence are other example of where audio makes a big difference here, though we’d definitely recommend playing this over a dedicated speaker setup and not through a TV output because you’re going to want those low sounds to really rattle you.
If this ever comes back to theaters for a monsterverse marathon, I’m catching it because of this new remaster – this 4K release feels like the audiovisual spectacle I never saw when it first came out.