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Category:    Home > Reviews > Giant Monster > Action > Comedy > Godzilla (1998): Mastered in 4K High Definition Series Edition (TriStar/Sony Blu-ray)

Godzilla (1998): Mastered in 4K High Definition Series Edition (TriStar/Sony Blu-ray)

Picture: A+ Sound: A+ Extras: D Movie: B

In the wake of the new American Godzilla film directed by Gareth Edwards (who also directed the Australian giant monster movie - Monsters - which is excellent if you haven't seen it), comes an incredible re-release of Roland Emmerich's highly panned 1998 adaptation on the origin story of the King of Monsters. I remember seeing this film on opening night back in the eighth grade when my exposure to Godzilla was not really as polished as it is today and saw it then with a look of wonder. Seeing the film now in my adult years and having seen a huge majority of the Godzilla library, I can see the film with a more critical eye, which I will address in this review.

Bottom line is that this new upgraded Blu-ray is incredibly detailed and the film has never looked better. If you are looking to showcase your home entertainment system then this is the disc. As mentioned, Sony has mastered the film in 4K definition and the details are so crisp, it really pushes the format to the limit. Seeing this film on various formats (VHS, DVD, first Blu-ray release) this looks even better than it did in the theater in the nineties. Upon assignment of this release, I was told that it was incredible but didn't believe it until I saw it. I'm very curious to see Sony's other 4K releases, especially the Spider-Man films.

Right after the dynamic duo of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich gave us the wam bam double punch of Stargate and Independence Day, their short-lived partnership brought us this version of Godzilla. A film that boasts a very excellent and underrated score by David Arnold, and stars Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and Jean Reno (Leon the Professional - who was perfectly cast) along with other stars like Hank Azaria (voice of Homer in The Simpsons) and the incredibly beautiful and hardly seen again actress Maria Pitillo as Broderick's love interest Audry. The Godzilla monster was created by Hollywood Special Effects Legend Patrick Tatopoulos - Underworld) to resemble more of a mutated gigantic iguana than the traditional design for the creature. Personally, I don't mind the redesign but this version pales in comparison to the new re-imagining in the 2014 version, which I find more akin to the other conception of the creature and cooler overall.

In this version, we see Godzilla pretty early on, probably about twenty or thirty minutes into the movie, attacking New York and making its profound appearance. The CGI still holds up pretty well, which is surprising on this expanded and more detailed release. There are many references in the film, including the Mayor being named Ebert (and resembling him) and his political partner Gene, many Jurassic Park and Jaws references and of course the infamous death scene which is huge rip off of the death of King Kong. The film has a lot more humor than the recent version and a fair bit of heart to be fair including some really cool moments (Zilla's foot stepping down and barely missing Hank Azaria), the breathtaking helicopter chase scene with the Monster, and the climax where Godzilla chases the taxi cab and chews on the car like a twix bar. I'm actually more a fan of the opening title sequence in this film than I am in the new one, which pretty much ripped off the same idea. The film is slightly dated (you can see the Twin Towers in many scenes, Josta Cola and Blockbuster logos, and VHS is used as a broadcast format) but I find the films still fun to watch.

Now I will address a few of the main issues with the film that people love to bash about it. The first point is that obviously Godzilla doesn't fight any giant monsters in the movie. Personally, I don't have a huge problem with it as this was supposed to be the first film in a planned trilogy that never happened, and was meant more as an origin story. Second, is the whole Godzilla producing asexually and the baby Godzillas in the third act - which I admit, was kind of a bad move. They resemble the velociraptors in Jurassic Park and Yoshi in Super Mario Brothers a little too much and most importantly - the monster's trademark atomic fire breathing was halted to a mere one sequence. Matthew Broderick as the lead was also a glaring issue for people but I find this personally suitable for this less than serious take on the Toho Franchise. It pretty much deviates from the classic Godzilla film structure in every way when you think about it. If I would have been in Roland Emmerich's shoes, I would have cast James Spader in the lead role and put Mothra in the film, but that's just me and that's just a different film.

To his credit though, Emmerich was trying something different here and many of the digital and practical effects shots still stand up. The film has incredible production value. The destruction that the Monster does to the city looks pretty realistic and he did a good job of making him a sympathetic monster. The scene where Broderick is face to face with Godzilla when he goes to the trap set by the Military with the giant stack of fish, you can see the innocence in his eyes which is a great moment in the film that I really appreciate.

Unlike the new film, which made Godzilla into a hero of sorts, this film gives him more of a natural and innocent approach. This giant radioactive lizard accidentally just wanders into downtown New York and the American bad guys just start firing at him. Poor guy! In the new version, Godzilla is fired upon and not even affected in the least. If anything, it stings him enough to get even more prone to destruction causing. At least they kept his roar the same.

The transfer and sound as I said really push the bar and are top notch for the Blu-ray format. Created from the highest quality 4k resolution picture source, the new expanded color brings out the textures like never before and it should be noted that the film was actually issued in select theaters with three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor 35mm prints. That color is evident in some scenes here. For best viewing experience you should have a xvYCC- compatible TV and compatible Blu-ray player. The high digital transfer in 1080p preserves the original 2:40.1 aspect ratio. The audio is mastered in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless with English and French audio tracks available. Subtitles on the disc are English, English SDH, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin traditional), French, Korean, Spanish, and Thai).

Since so much of the disc's capacity was used for the transfer, there are unfortunately no extras on the disc. The main feature I would be longing for ironically are the marketing for the film, which I remember they had a great one that took place in a museum, where Godzilla’s foot came down on a dinosaur skeleton.

In short, I admit that I am partial to this film due mainly to my childhood and for my love of basically any giant monster fair. While the film isn't the best in the genre, it still holds up surprisingly well and has even fun moments to have re-watch ability. If you are a fan of the film then this release is DEFINITELY worth a look because you simply won't believe how great this new transfer looks and sounds!

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