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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Giant Monsters > Satire > Space Opera > Thriller > Mystery > Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire 4K (2024/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Hardware Wars (1978/MVD Blu-ray)/Last Stop In Yuma County (2023/Well Go Blu-ray)

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire 4K (2024/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Hardware Wars (1978/MVD Blu-ray)/Last Stop In Yuma County (2023/Well Go Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B+/B+/B- Sound: A-/B+/B Extras: B/B/B- Films: B/C+/C+

Here's a good mix of films that mix genres a bit within their own genre...

The Warner Bros. / Legendary Pictures Titan-Verse is the American re-imaginings of the classic characters King Kong and Godzilla and retooling them for the modern generation. We have reviewed these titles on this site including Godzilla (2014), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021,) all of which are now available in a 5-film 4K UHD set from Warner Bros and individually. There was also a (perhaps too dramatic) Apple plus TV series called Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (2024), which divided fans a bit and likely won't see a physical media release as Apple has a tight grip on their programming to get up streaming numbers.

Casual Godzilla fans don't want to confuse these American interpretations from the Japanese films, specifically the fantastic Oscar winner Godzilla Minus One, which is tonally a different film and was released a few months in theaters prior to The New Empire. Godzilla has become a versatile character much like Batman, with films of different styles and flavors, this interpretation (The New Empire) is more of a high budget, high concept theme park ride of a film as opposed to the more grounded realistic approach to the material that Godzilla Minus One is.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire 4K (2024) picks up where the last film (Godzilla vs Kong) left off and sees the two Titans fighting together to overcome a new threat which has derived from Hollow Earth, the place in the center of the planet where all of these ancient kaiju originated centuries ago. The New Empire is directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest), who also directed Godzilla vs. Kong, but of whom will not be returning for the third installment sadly. It's interesting to see different filmmakers make the films in this series with Wingard's films being a bit more crowd pleasing.

The New Empire stars Rebecca Hall (Godzilla vs. Kong, Iron Man 3, The Prestige, The Night House), Brian Tyree Henry (Godzilla vs. Kong, Atlanta, Bullet Train), Dan Stevens (Gaslit, Beauty and the Beast), Kaylee Hottle (Godzilla vs. Kong), Alex Ferns (The Batman) and Fala Chen (Irma Vep). It's notable that Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) did not return for this installment, which is surprising as her character was a large part of the past two films in the series.

Time has passed since the destruction of Mecha Godzilla and Kong and Godzilla have spent some time apart. However, distress signals in Hollow Earth cause a ripple effect that puts Kong back in action with the scientists at Monarch. What starts off as helping the Titan with a toothache soon becomes an investigation that leads the humans to discover another ancient creature named Scar King whom threatens a tribe of giant apes (along with new child-like companion that befriends Kong) in Hollow Earth's center.

Meanwhile, Godzilla defends the Earth's surface against various threats and seems to be evolving into a more powerful being. When Kong needs Godzilla's help, the two reunite and go against Scar King and another Titan he has enslaved named Shimo. The fate of the planet Earth hangs in the balance as humans attempt to co-exist with battling giant monsters. The climax of the film is a bit cartoonish and silly fun with logic going out the window as much as the anti-gravity matter of Hollow Earth. But at the end of the day the movie is about a giant radioactive dinosaur fighting a giant ape so you kind of have to leave logic at the door with this one.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire 4K is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with Dolby Vision / HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and audio tracks in lossless, English Dolby Atmos / Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The film has jaw dropping digital VFX which only have gotten more refined and detailed with each film in the franchise, with the 4K UHD really showing off the artistry behind the film. Character details are eye popping and the money is on the screen in terms of overall sound and picture presentation. Warner Bros. never fails to put out great 4K product and this film is no exception. The score by Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road, Justice League) and Antonio Dilorio is a satisfying and riveting romp of a soundtrack that guides the film through its narrative with action and a sense of urgency. If you're a fan of this film like myself, I highly suggest giving the score a listen on its own.

Special Features several studio produced featurettes which include:

GxK: Day of Reckoning

Evolution of the Titans: Godzilla Evolved

Evolution of the Titans: From Lonely God to King

Into the Hollow Earth: Visualizing Hollow Earth

Into the Hollow Earth: Monsters of Hollow Earth

The Battles Royale: A Titanic Fight Among the Pyramids

The Battles Royale: The Zero Gravity Battle

The Battles Royale: The Titans Trash Rio

The Intrepid Director: Adam Wingard: Big Kid

The Intrepid Director: Adam Wingard: Set Tour

The Imagination Department

The Monarch Island Base: Portal to Another World

The Evolution of Jia: From Orphan to Warrior

Bernie's World: Behind the Triple Locked Door

and a Feature-Length Audio Commentary track by Director Adam Wingard, Visual Effects Supervisor Alessandro Ongaro, Production Designer Tom Hammock and Editor Josh Schaeffer.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a fun blockbuster that is a bit cartoonish at times, but dumb fun all around. If the powers that be don't see this film as the perfect excuse for a theme park ride at Universal Studios then they aren't paying attention. The scene where the characters enter Hollow Earth seems perfect for an intense indoor roller coaster ride to me. (Just saying.)

As far as the film itself is concerned, Adam Wingard is clearly a filmmaker who loves and understands these characters and whom did a fine job of updating them for a modern younger audience with these past two films. If there is one thing that these Legendary Pictures produced films prove is that the characters can be up to interpretation greatly depending on who is calling the shots, and often times with mixed results.

Overall, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a fun blockbuster that is housed on a fantastic 4K UHD disc that will give your home theater system a workout with its intense sound and picture presentation. Recommended.

Ernie Fosselius' Hardware Wars (1978) is at the top of the list for Star Wars parodies and one of the first and most infamous. Years before Mel Brooks' classic Spaceballs (and not as witty or as high budgeted as that film), Hardware Wars is a thirteen minute short preview trailer that re-imagines some classic scenes from Star Wars (A New Hope, 1977) with primitive technology and a no budget, using toasters and household appliances as star ships.

Of course nowadays, any fool with an iPhone and a Tik Tok account can make a low budget version of a multi-million dollar blockbuster, but this was really the start of that train of thinking. This is the best looking release of this film to my knowledge and has a lot of cool extras and different versions of the film so if you are a fan of this then this is (as of this writing) the ultimate home video edition. But is it actually funny? It has aged considerably, but it has a few clever twists on the original Star Wars source material, but the biggest laughs are more in the special effects being so terrible more-so than the talent of unknowns onscreen, which includes the director himself.

Hardware Wars is a ultra low budget film from 1978 and so it is a bit surprisingly that it looks as good as it does on this single disc (BD-25) Blu-ray release. While there is a disclaimer before the film starts that MVD and company have decided to stick with leaving in the imperfections of scratches and dirt on the negative for this 2K release which was from the only known surviving element, a 16mm Color Reversal Release print presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

The disc has two audio tracks in lossless English LPCM 2.0 Stereo and LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit) sound. The sound effects and music used are derived from stock libraries and sound very silly. Of course everyone knows that Ben Burtt's work on Star Wars is some of the most iconic sound design in cinema history and this takes no claim at trying to best his work, but merely impersonate it badly. Overall, the HD transfer here allows you to see the strings on the models and personally I like the fact that they left these in imperfections in an attempt to mimic what the audience saw in the theater (or drive-in) at the time of its original release in 1978. Overall, MVD did a nice job with this release and I would recommend it.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Ernie Fosselius

Hardware Wars Directors Cut

Hardware Wars Prequel featurette

Hardware Wars Foreign Version

1978 Creature Features Interview with Writer / Director Ernie Fosselius

Hardware Wars Saves Christmas featurette

Hardware Wars Trailer

Awards Reel

Porklips Now: a 1980 parody of "Apocalypse Now" from director Ernie Fosselius

Plan 9.1 From Outer Space (20:46, SD) 2009 parody remake of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" with puppets from director Ernie Fosselius

Reversible Artwork

Collectible Mini-Poster

and a Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only).

Hardware Wars is a classic spoof and this is a nice release of it on Blu-ray disc.

Francis Galluppi's Last Stop In Yuma County (2023) dives into slick Tarantino/Coen Brothers territory with an attempt to do multiple story lines (for what we get, they are only so separate) as one man arrives at an old-styled (read 1950s, we've seen this a few times recently in itself) at the same time some bank robbers do and other local eccentrics come in as well. The screenplay, directing and some of the editing want to be slick, but its idea of Neo-Noir is a few generations down despite the efforts of the actors and it is too little too late.

Still, at least it was trying to be about something and we've seen worse, but this was forgettable, but I think all will have better luck next time.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is fairly good, but has some some softness throughout and the color is not quite 100% and it is a style choice that does not work here. Maybe this would work better in 4K. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is a little better, consistent, articulate enough and is the default highlight of the release. I think any attempt to expand the tracks further would probably be a bad idea.

Extras include two feature length audio commentary tracks, a Making Of featurette and Original Theatrical Trailer.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Yuma) and James Lockhart



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