Godzilla Vs. Kong (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Back in March, far too many fans of the King of the Monsters and the Big Ape didn’t have the opportunity to experience their epic brawl, Godzilla Vs. Kong on IMAX (or any traditional theater, really) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most, if not everyone I knew in Los Angeles, avoided the big screens unless it was a drive-in. Fortunately, the fourth film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse was available, like other major releases from Warner Bros. this year, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max for one month. For those of us with 4K TVs, this meant a pretty pristine – although small no matter how big your television was – presentation. And this is assuming you had a fast internet to stream that fancy 4K Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos. So does this traditional boxed version hold up? Is it noticeably superior to what you saw on HBO Max? Let’s find out!



Set three years after the events in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), the first time we see Godzilla, he seems pretty pissed off, causing mayhem at a plant in Pensacola, FL. Up until this point, in the recent big-budgeted American films, the giant lizard has been destructive but a protector of Earth, a la force of nature. He might have almost squashed Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ford Brody in Godzilla (2014) but never on purpose. After all, there were the MUTOs to battle in that film. In KotM, there were a ton of so-called Titans led by Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. And, of course, that flying jerk Rodan, who we all know is a dick. But here, in the first 15 minutes, Godzilla is smashing buildings and using his fire breath in a heavily populated city with no titan in sight. Why? Has the scaled one gone rogue?

I’ll try to keep this mostly spoiler-free, but I was perplexed when in the trailer, papa Russell (Kyle Chandler) exclaimed to his daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown): “Creatures like people change. Godzilla’s out there hurting people, and we don’t know why!”. My heart sank. Would director Adam Wingard’s at-bat for the series mean turning the hero of this trilogy into a villain because, lazily, American audiences will naturally cheer the Kong, anyway? The answer is, sort of, and no.

In terms of the easier-to-grasp notion of emotions like our own, the Kong represented here is basically the same decent being we saw in Kong: Skull Island in 2017. As long as you don’t bother him, you’re good. And he now has a pal of sorts that he protects like the ultimate big bro, tiny little girl Jia (deaf actress Kaylee Hottle), whom Kong apparently, communicates via ASL. She’s Kong expert Ilene’s (Rebecca Hall) surrogate daughter, who, I guess, is not related to Mason (Brie Larson) from the 70s era adventure. Ilene ends up escorting Kong along with her ex, Nathan (Alexander Skarsgård), across the planet to prove that the titans originally came from our planet’s core. Sadly, they do not stop at Naboo’s underwater world of the Gungans.

Through a bunch of plotty stuff that I’m not gonna spoil, the bulk of the movie is about getting Kong from point A to B, and then C with Godzilla showing up to get in Kong’s face. This is what would have put the butts in the proverbial seats had there not been a pandemic. To see these two titans duke it out, and on that level, this film doesn’t disappoint. There are three fantastic set pieces. And unlike Edwards 2014 film or Dougherty’s 2019 sequel, the fights are mostly in the daylight with no rain to hide the GCI, no shots too closed in to hide their size. When Kong jumps off a navy ship to avoid Godzilla’s fire beam from underwater, it’s realized with a powerful sense of scope and heft. When Kong picks up a battle hammer seemingly made for a Titan, we anticipate just how exactly we’ll see him use it. When Godzilla knocks Kong on his ass, and we cut to a close-up that looks almost like he’s smirking, it’s gold.

Wingard’s made excellent small-scale horror/thrillers like You’re Next (2011) and The Guest (2014). His instincts to allow tension to ramp up are perfectly used on this much bigger canvas. He has a gift for letting the audience in on what the characters know (or don’t) in relation to their attackers. So he understands that when Godzilla and Kong size each other up, we as the audience look for clues as to what will happen. Often this leads to most of the humans left on the sidelines when it counts, though.

This isn’t to say the cast isn’t strong. Chandler, Brown, and newcomers like The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison are all solid. However, as a fan of Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison from the previous installment, I was bummed that her trek is mostly Titan-less and, thus, not as compelling, although Brian Tyree Henry, who is along for the ride, is fun. So like I said, this is not a knock on the cast at all. Everyone is doing what’s required. It’s just that, as much as KotM was criticized for the human stuff, I thought it worked. By that, I mean using a family dynamic to raise the emotional stakes might be the obvious route, but the cast sold it. When Madison’s mother (Vera Farmiga) makes a questionable decision, the ramifications are not just on the Titans but on how her daughter and ex-husband reacted. And in classic screenwriting 101, the fallout of that choice gave her an arc—ditto papa Russell. By the end of KotM these characters were changed. That goes a long way.

Godzilla vs. Kong pretty much ditches that. The humans here are either straight-up good mustache-twirling villains. I get that this is not really why we’re here, but a better script wouldn’t have presented such binary good/bad scenarios. Then again, the upside to one-dimensional baddies means when Kong looks at one of them – enormous eye to puny tiny eye – and flat out takes them out, it’s awesome.

I’ve avoided the big last act surprise, although if you’re a fan of Godzilla, you probably know already. Suffice it to say, I was impressed with this character’s design and, more importantly, the staging of the big finale with all the necessary Titans. One of my favorite aspects of this entry is how each being represents itself, literally and metaphorically. Kong’s use of a giant hammer is so simple yet effective as “this being uses tools,” just as Godzilla’s frequent buzzing, glowing back equals “this being is a walking, stomping natural disaster.” It’s a credit to the script that the big surprise fits in the script’s ongoing conversation about nature, mankind, and technology.

Finally, the main events of Godzilla vs. Kong are arguably the best monster scenes in Legendary’s series to date. The use of color by cinematographer Ben Seresin (World War Z) is welcome, as is the wonderful score by Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road). This feels like a very rewatchable movie, provided you skip most of the Brown shenanigans as you see fit, largely because this film, to paraphrase Ken Watanabe, lets them fight!


Reviewer’s gear: I am using an LG CX OLED 55” with the recent firmware update. The 4K player is an Xbox Series X, which has HDR. I was able to view DV on my Apple TV 4K via the digital code. The audio was a Sony Soundbar 5.1

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Like all of the big WB 4K releases this year, the transfer is based off a 4K resolution. It can easy to shrug just how good a new film is compared to a catalog title, but Godzilla Versus Kong is a stunner. I have a pretty fast streaming set up, so my HBO Max viewing looked terrific, but this is better. It can be subtle, but the disc really lets one take in all the art and computer imagery as well as the textures in Alexander Skarsgård’s comfy sweater. One of the best ways to tell you’re watching a disc, as opposed to, say, an excellent stream, is continuous clarity. Look at a small scene with Hall and Skarsgård in the Kong’s jungle containment #243. The characters are in focus, and the background trees are soft but never wavering. It’s pretty impressive.

Depth: Excellent. A big portion of this movie is looking at CGI creations, yet Kong and Godzilla always “fit” in the world around them. Little things stand out too, like Kong’s furs that bristle in the wind while on a huge ship in the ocean.  Motion is filmic and smooth with no issues regarding any motion jitter, blurring, or any other distortion.

Black Levels: Though overall this is a wonderfully bright and colorful feature, there are plenty of moments when night does fall, and those are filled with amazing inky blacks. No textures, patterns, or details are hidden from darkened fabrics, surfaces, or shadows. I didn’t see any crushing, which can happen with streaming.

Color Reproduction: From deep into the planet’s core, dubbed the Hollow Earth to jungles to cityscapes, there are plenty of opportunities to see how bathed in light all these colorful vistas can be. Great use of neon is another strong proof of spot-on color reproduction. HDR is perfect.

Flesh Tones:  Skin behaves naturally and is consistent throughout. It’s especially noticeable in the “teens on a mission” plot thread, where there is plenty of more grounded, sort of Spielberg-like warmth. Looks great.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Italian: Dolby Atmos, Italian: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: From Godzilla’s roar to Kong’s well, roar and explosions between every sound are incredibly pronounced.

Low-Frequency Extension: The low booms of an underwater tussle are powerful.

Surround Sound Presentation: Sounded excellent with my Sony soundbar.

Height: As jets shoot missiles at Godzilla, the way they fly up and down in the sky is remarkable.

Dialogue Reproduction: I might not love all the dialogue, but I absolutely can hear it loud and clear.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Using my special headphones, I heard in front, behind, above, and below. It’s not videogame precise, but as far as big-budget action, this is pretty perfect.


Godzilla Versus Kong comes in a standard plastic case with a cardboard slipcover. A 4K digital code is included. The audio commentary is on both the blu and 4K discs. The rest of the extras are on the Blu or included with the digital version.

  • Audio Commentary (1:53:00) – Director Adam Wingard shares his experiences, inspiration, and more regarding the production. Recorded before theatrical release.
  • The God (HD) – The following are focused on Godzilla.
    • The Phenomenon of Gojira, King of the Monsters (9:52)
    • Godzilla Attacks (6:25)
  • The King (HD) – The following are focused on Kong.
    • The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World (7:53)
    • Kong Leaves Home (7:56)
    • Kong Discovers Hollow Earth (8:25)
    • Behold Kong’s Temple (5:52)
  • The Battles (HD) Each brawl is given an in-depth if brief once over.
    • Round One: Battle at Sea (5:06)
    • Round Two: One Will Fall (5:58)
    • Titan Tag Team: The God and the King (7:59)
  • The Rise of Mechagodzilla (HD, 7:05)


I can’t imagine not owning this if you’re a fan of Godzilla, Kong, or just terrific modern spectacle in general. The extras are solid with filmmaker Adam Wingard, a smart fella who loves monster movies. The disc is the best version we’ll see of this for the foreseeable future. So what are you waiting for? You don’t wanna make either of these titans mad, right? Right?

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