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Godzilla: Turn Off the Dark!

The many editions of 'Godzilla' (2014) on Blu-Ray and DVD. (Image courtesy of www.SciFiJapan.com).

The many editions of ‘Godzilla’ (2014) on Blu-ray and DVD. (Image courtesy of www.SciFiJapan.com).

Some people complained that Godzilla didn’t get enough screen time in his big budget reboot this past summer. Now those people may think he’s seen even less! The Blu-ray of Gareth Edwards’ monstrous movie has such subpar picture quality, you’d have an easier time spotting a ninja in the dark.

I reviewed Godzilla earlier this year when it was released in theaters.

When I read an early review that complains this Blu-ray has horrid picture quality, I didn’t want to believe it. Other reviews are kinder, saying that the film is already dark (in terms of lighting), making it difficult to transfer to home media. So, like any good fanboy, I went into this hoping for the best.

I am disappointed.

While I didn’t quite notice any muted colors during day scenes, the night scenes are definitely murky. Much of the film’s epic monster battles take place at night, so this increased darkness hurts the film. I was particularly annoyed when I saw the final scene where Godzilla kills the MUTO. I couldn’t enjoy his triumph because I could barely see it!

Adding insult to injury—as the previously mentioned negative review reported—the clips used in the special features are at the proper brightness! It’s as if Warner Bros. is taunting fans.

The DVD included with the Blu-ray has the same problem. I popped it in and compared a few scenes to the Blu-ray after I watched it.

I hear the film looks much better on the 3D Blu-ray, so if you have a 3D TV, you can enjoy a brighter version of the film. Sadly, not everyone has that luxury, and it seems those who don’t, got the jip.

Ironically, the sound on this Blu-ray is incredible. The high definition 7.1 sound thunders through speakers. Every roar, explosion, and creak can be heard. It reminds you somewhere in the darkness there are battling beasts.

Special Features:
This disc has more special features than the Blu-ray for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it still seems a bit underwhelming; more could’ve been added. Target sells an edition with an exclusive 30-minute feature entitled, “Godzilla: Rebirth of an Icon,” but half of it is cobbled from other featurettes on the disc. What is different—some details on creating Godzilla’s roar, for example—is much-appreciated.

The other special features include:
“Monarch Declassified”: A series of three featurettes that actually build off each other. They were made as if they were created by people in the film’s universe. “Operation: Lucky Dragon” explains Godzilla’s origins more thoroughly, and is done in the style of 1950s documentaries. (The title is a reference to a fishing boat whose crew was exposed to radiation in 1954, an incident that partially inspired the original Gojira). “Monarch: The M.U.T.O. File” supplements the previous short by explaining the MUTOs’ origins in a modern style. “The Godzilla Revelation” actually takes place after the film and looks like a YouTube video made by a conspiracy theorist. It even features a little sequel baiting.

“Godzilla: Force of Nature”: A 20-minute feature on the making of the film. It includes interviews with cast and crew. Strangely, screenwriter Max Borenstein is left out (although, he is in the Target exclusive feature). It recounts some of Godzilla’s beginnings and what everyone involved with the film thought of the character. Arguably the best of the special features.

“Into the Void: The H.A.L.O. Jump”: A 5-minute featurette on the making of the spectacular military free fall sequence. For Edwards, it was more than a cool scene: it played into the themes and symbolism of the film.

“New Level of Destruction”: An 8-minute special effects featurette that shows how the art department used a combination of on-location footage and some CGI to create ruined cityscapes. Green screens were kept to a minimum.

“Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.O.s”: A featurette on the creation of the MUTOs. Without the Target exclusive content, these creatures get more time dedicated to them than Big G himself.

Again, this is all good, but Warner Bros. still dropped the ball. The scene featuring veteran G-film actor Akira Takarada—who was given a cameo thanks to an online fan campaign—that was cut from the film is nowhere to be found when the studio promised it would be included. There’s no Comic-Con 2012 teaser trailer. For that matter, none of the film’s excellent trailers are included. No commentary. No deleted scenes. Nothing on crafting the story. That’s just a few opportunities the studio missed.

The menus for both the DVD and Blu-ray are lazy but easy to navigate. If you’ve bought any Blu-rays or DVDs from Warner Bros. lately, you’ll know what I mean. It’s just an unanimated image with a few icons. Warner Bros. has made a habit of reusing this set-up, even for their major releases.

It’s a standard Blu-ray/DVD jewel case and slip cover for most editions. There’s also a FuturePak (metal pack) case that plays Godzilla’s roar.

I love this film, so I expected much from this Blu-ray. Maybe the bad picture quality is due to compression issues and it already being a dark film. I’d like to think that’s the case; however, after spending three weeks writing Blu-Ray/DVD guides for G-film collectors, I’ve been reminded, once again, how G-fans often get the shaft when Godzilla movies are released on home media. You’d think with this being one of Warner Bros.’ biggest films of the year they would have given the movie a better release. Only those with 3D TVs can enjoy the film as it was seen in theatres. It makes me glad I saw it in IMAX.

There may be hope. Producer Thomas Tull, the CEO of Legendary Pictures, told Toho Kingdom there would be an extended cut of the film. I haven’t seen that reported anywhere else, though, so I don’t know if that will happen. There’s already an online fan petition to re-release the film on Blu-ray and DVD with better picture quality and the Takarada cameo—I signed it.

In the end, I’m not sure if I want to recommend this Blu-ray. The film is great, but it deserved better treatment. It you want to hope against hope for a re-release, skip it. Otherwise, buy it to complete your collection.

Final Grade: B-