After the release of Gareth Edward’s Godzilla in 2014, the message was received loud and clear “we want more Godzilla!”. This wasn’t an outcry because the film was hugely popular, audiences literally wanted more Godzilla because of how little he was featured. Godzilla: King of the Monsters aims to rectify this by not only giving us more Godzilla but also throw in some popular kaiju from the original Toho franchise, the more the merrier as the old saying goes. Now where I am a sucker for films portraying human stories and as a form of artistic and visionary expression, sometimes, you’ve just got to see giant monsters have a good old fashion beatdown. On this basis, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers some of the best giant monster fighting in recent memory, but it carries a lot of excess weight on its shoulder from just about everything else in the film.
Shall we get right down to the stars of the shows, the Titans as they are known in the film (no idea why they couldn’t just stick with Kaiju)? The first thing audiences will notice is how viciously designed they are. With Godzilla, not much has changed from the 2014 Godzilla, however, some eagle eye viewers may spot changes in his dorsal plates. It’s the introduction of the new titans that impress and are going to leave a big impact on the minds of the audience because of the spectacle they bring with them. As someone who admires the Toho Godzilla films, even the campier films that came later, it was remarkable to me that the three monsters I admired the most being Mothra, Rodan & King Ghidorah would be getting mainstream attention. Easily the monster that made the biggest impression is King Ghidorah, he felt incredibly intimidating and even more impressive is that in terms of giving the monster a character, the three individual heads of Ghidorah felt as though they had their own personality, from time to time you often see the heads interacting with each other wanting to be the more dominant.
The actual fight sequences themselves live up to the size of the monsters themselves. A common praise of the 2014 Godzilla is how well Gareth Edwards captured the sheer size of Godzilla through a myriad of teases until the slow pan upwards to reveal the king of the monsters himself, this time Michael Dougherty is in control and while the cinematography style of the 2014 film is somewhat scrapped, the close-ups are still featured, however most scenes that involve the monsters are shot from either a wide or extreme wide angle. This may seem to go against what the 2014 film had set up; however, I think they achieve the same intended effect. In one scene you have Godzilla and King Ghidorah is a classic stare down which is shot from an extreme wide angle, but because of how predominantly bigger Ghidorah is to Godzilla, not only is the threat established well, but it makes Godzilla look tiny in comparison, so when Godzilla does get the upper hand, the audience is more satisfied.
For a long time Godzilla fans there is a lot to appreciate in the detailing of the monsters, in particular, how the film carries over certain aspects of the monsters from the Toho series of Godzilla film. To people, these increments of information serve no purpose, however, I can see lifelong Godzilla fans appreciating the inclusion of such information as I’m sure many including myself were worried that the monsters would be completely reinvented, so it’s nice to see the filmmakers doing their homework. Admittedly it is information that is being tossed around, it’s very unlikely that they’ll be brought up again.
You’ll have noticed that I’ve only given my praise to the monsters of this film. That’s because, they are the only praiseworthy pieces of the film, everything else around them falls into the laughable, so bad it’s bad category. When we’re not aweing over monster battles we must battle through a monstrously underdeveloped script. There’s no other way to describe the humans in this film other than laughably bad, especially when the sole type of dialogue seems to be expository. I understand that this is a new cinematic universe and the filmmakers want to set the ground rules and what role do humans and Titans play, but you still need to make it feel like you’re taking these characters on a journey which is backed by believable motivations, wants and needs.
I always like to comment on who I believe gave the best and most noteworthy performance, but I can’t motivate myself to do this because there are no standout performances. Not even from Millie Bobbie Brown who after the widely successful Stranger Things, I thought was going to dominate the screen. To those who don’t believe you need amazing characters as well as amazing monsters, I redirect them to films like Jurassic Park, Jaws, Aliens, films with memorable characters and lines we still quote to this day. Who in the future is going to be quoting “My God…” “…zilla”?
Without getting into too many spoilers, there killing blow to having any faith in the quality of the story was delivered in the first act where the film decides to give us a twist that is quite frankly ridiculous in every sense of the word.
I do have to thank Godzilla: King of the Monsters for two things, one for making Godzilla and Co. stars in every sense of the word, but more important than that, it made me realize the Godzilla film I wanted. Godzilla was born out of the devastation of the atomic bomb dropping of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he quickly became a metaphor for the Atomic Age getting out of control. I would love to see a Godzilla that made us afraid of nuclear bombs again, not only would it give substance to the monster battles, it would be a metaphorical powerhouse. But until that day comes, you get what you pay for in Godzilla: King of the Monsters and if it’s for seeing colossal monster fights, then it will be money well spent.
Final Result: 3/10 – Poor
7/10 – Good (For monsters only)
Have you seen Godzilla: King of the Monsters? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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