Two of cinema's most revered and iconic monsters duke it out in Godzilla vs. Kong, a surprisingly satisfying blockbuster littered with spectacular visuals and sensational thrills. The monster flick wreaks absolute havoc in 3D with gorgeous video, an impressive 7.1 audio mix, but a rather disappointing collection of bonuses. Nevertheless, the overall package makes a Recommended addition to the 3D Blu-ray library.
This review has been reposted from our 2021 Godzilla vs. Kong - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Two iconic monsters clash for absolute supremacy in the fight of the century simply dubbed Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth installment in the larger shared franchise series known as the MonsterVerse. As a King Kong fan, my money was on the chest-pounding Eighth Wonder of the World to easily dominate a ginormous radioactive lizard. You know, that whole opposing thumbs, tool-making, and evolution stuff giving the advantage to a gigantic gorilla that can literally coldcock any opponent with a good right hook or pretty much turn any nearby object into a deadly weapon. The odds were riding on the massively muscular ape walking into a fight like a heavyweight boxer in their prime and can do more than use its tubby body to shoulder shove, whip someone with its tail, or light up its spine to blow its hot breath. This is essentially like watching Butterbean vs Tyson and just as difficult to predict a definitive winner.
However, in this plot by Max Borenstein, who has been a part of the franchise since Godzilla, and longtime MCU writer Eric Pearson, a clear champion is pretty much declared by the third act, or at the very least, strongly suggested. Naturally, the confrontation is not without some amusing buildup and lots of hype surrounding their inevitable showdown, littering the screen with other smaller but visually captivating bouts. For one, the detour to the Hollow Earth was surprisingly more fun than expected, generating more mystery to Kong's mythos while also expanding on the MonsterVerse with interesting possibilities. And at heart, this is the reason for watching this mash-up in the first place. Thankfully, the many CG visuals throughout are impressive and inventive, complemented by Adam Wingard's strong direction and Ben Seresin's vividly colorful cinematography bathing the earth-shattering action with animated energy and urgency, making the 113-minute runtime a satisfying feast for the imagination.
Of course, there are some humans involved as well, but their actions — either born of some pompous self-importance or dumb decisions with lucky coincidences — are ultimately at the service for shaping and guiding events to the monstrous confrontation. Basically, their stories are the undercard bouts to the main event with the Scooby-Doo adventures of Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Julian Dennison supplying the primary mystery that brings the horror icons out of hiding. Henry's conspiracy theorist and Dennison's timid computer nerd are an absolute delight together, injecting the right amount of contrast and humor to Brown's determined seriousness, who sadly falls flat in this third sequel. Alexander Skarsgård is arguably of more interest, as his involvement carries a quasi-redemption aspect that is more emotionally engaging than his tag-along partners, Rebecca Hall's Monarch scientist and her adoptive daughter (Kaylee Hottle) — neither of which add significant value.
At the center of both subplots is the most obvious, mustache-twirling villain Demián Bichir's CEO of a tech organization searching for the solution to what he deems as the "Titan problem." Unfortunately, outside of setting the stage for the fight, he's too much of a conventional, two-dimensional baddie to really be of notable interest. Granted, along with his right-hand henchman (Shun Oguri), his rather boringly archetypal obsession with the iconic behemoths leads to the introduction of another mecha legend to the franchise, which is an admittedly welcomed although still laugh out loud twist for the third act. In the end, and in spite of its weaknesses, the blockbuster monster flick comes together surprisingly well and satisfies expectations with the sort of sensational thrills and spectacular visuals expected of such popcorn spectacle while also being another great installment to the franchise.
For another take on the film, check out our theatrical review HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The 3D Blu-ray
Warner Home Video brings Godzilla vs. Kong to 3D Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. My original release came with a Digital Copy code (which expired on 6/30/22 and can no longer be redeemed) - current editions may not have a digital code any longer. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static main menu screen with the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background. The discs are housed in a standard case.
Godzilla vs. Kong was shot digitally in 2D, then post-converted to 3D on a slightly higher level than the previous two Legendary Godzilla films. While those two looked good enough to be mistaken for native 3D, there were only a handful of moments where the use of it really stood out. Kong: Skull Island, on the other hand, I felt was an incredible 3D experience, largely owing to its island setting shot in Hawaii. This one is about halfway in between- it starts out on Skull Island (or so we think!) and immediately there is lush foliage that looks nice enough to reach out and touch, but the setting soon changes to a darker atmosphere like the other movies. While the 3D is still quite pleasing overall one feels more could have been done with it- most notably when Kong reaches Hollow Earth and finds huge rocks floating in space- they could have come out of the screen towards the audience but that doesn’t quite happen.
The aspect ratio is 2.35, and encoded well enough for no visible compression artifacts or banding to be present. While most of the movie’s setting is dark, one of the final city battles at night has the buildings lit up in bright neon colors which is very nice to look at even if not so realistic.
Although Warner should be commended for continuing to issue 3D Blu-Ray titles in the US while other studios have given it the shaft, it has been quite frustrating that many of them lack the Dolby Atmos mixes which have still been present on the included 2D discs. The previous three Legendary “Monsterverse” titles had paltry 5.1 DTS Master Audio tracks, but this one gets a slight upgrade to 7.1. The opening Warner Bros. Home Entertainment logo on the 3D disc is still in Atmos which is quite a tease.
Having said that, the 7.1 mix here is no slouch. It still provides an enveloping sound field, although my receiver’s “upmixing” did not deliver much back to the missing height channels like Skull Island did. The use of surrounds is aggressive, with sounds that will have you looking over your shoulder wondering if they’re part of the movie or real sounds from outside. The two title characters may not speak any language coherent to us humans but they certainly have plenty to say, roaring at each other rivaling the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park. The LFE channel is aggressive as well, putting out more sound from my subwoofer (which is well hidden in my setup) than I’ve heard in quite a while. Adjusting my volume level properly during dialogue scenes, the action sequences are VERY loud intentionally and I’d like to thank my neighbors for not complaining.
The 2D Disc includes the same Atmos mix as the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - see the linked review above for more information
The 3D Blu-Ray contains no extras, not even the commentary track. The 2D disc includes the following:
Littered with the sort of spectacular visuals and sensational thrills we'd expect from such a popcorn spectacle, Godzilla vs. Kong is a surprisingly satisfying installment to the franchise. Although thin on plot and characterization, the monster flick nonetheless works and delivers on the blockbuster spectacle promised, making it enjoyable mindless escapism. The 3D could have been a bit stronger but it’s still quite pleasing and will make those who missed getting a 3D display jealous. The audio is near-reference quality with the 7.1 mix on the 3D Blu-Ray and Dolby Atmos on the 2D presentation. With a rather disappointing collection of bonuses, the overall package nonetheless makes a welcome addition to the library. Recommended