I met Godzilla once. Told me everyone keeps pronouncing his name wrong. Turns out to be pronounced as "Fred". Who knew?
My History with Gojira
My childhood was filled to the brim with monster movies, creature features, and basically anything that fell under the horror/sci-fi/action genres. Godzilla was the perfect blend of it all; there was the sheer terror from the earlier films, the goofier ‘child-friendly’ entries that came sometime down the line, the fantastically mythological installments that delved a bit deeper into the Godzilla mythos, and there was the straight-up destructive action throughout them all. I loved all of it as a kid and a lot of the Godzilla flicks hold a warm place in my heart to this day. Hell, I still have most of the Godzilla toys I played with as a kid… I’m keeping them forever. Mine. Admittedly it has been a number of years since I have gone back to revisit most of the franchise, but I can pop a Godzilla flick in about any time and still have a great time… with the exception of a select few, such as Godzilla’s Revenge. No. Just… just no.
In 2014 I actually went to the theater with a buddy to check out the Gareth Edwards directed Godzilla, at the time I enjoyed it immensely. In hindsight, that was largely due to the astonishing third act climax that the film had. Looking back I now realize so many flaws that the movie had up until that point. The majority of the characters were bland and forgettable, all except for Bryan Cranston’s character who perishes only twenty minutes into the narrative. Every time the action would start to ramp up with the giant monsters it would cut away to the aftermath instead, which got extremely irritating as it persisted for approximately ninety minutes straight. On the plus side, it was well made with gorgeous effects and some of the best action ever put to screen involving Godzilla. However, I almost never feel a need to revisit that particular film in comparison to the ones that came prior.
King of the Monsters 2019
It’s been five long years since I’ve seen the giant beloved lizard back on the big screen, how does 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters stack up against its predecessors? Is it a step in the right direction for this newly rebooted cinematic monster universe or have we fumbled it a bit more? I personally found it to be pretty fun and extremely entertaining. Godzilla: King of the Monsters feels as though it is a personal apology for withholding all the chaos and mayhem back in 2014 and injects one giant action beat after another for a large portion of its over two hour runtime. It's very exciting to witness the carnage unleashed between all of these massive beasts. It’s not a perfect film, nor would I say that it ranks all that high against the rest of the franchise. With that said, it was a blast to watch in the theater.
Five years have passed since the world was introduced to the god-sized monsters that unleashed havoc amongst the world. Now the secret organization called Monarch faces off against a group of eco-terrorists that plan to unleash all of the creatures that still remain dormant, allowing them to destroy all in their path. It is up to Godzilla to restore balance before his ultimate nemesis, King Ghidorah, tears the planet apart.
Turn Your Brains Off
Some films, it is necessary for one to suspend their disbelief and in this particular case it is crucial to do so or else they are simply asking to be miserable in that theater. Trust me, there are criticisms of the film that I will touch on shortly. In the meantime, I want to focus on the better qualities: qualities that can only be admired if the viewer turns their brains off to simply have a good time. Keep that in mind.
As I mentioned above, there is a lot of action. Any excuse that the filmmakers can make up in order to have these big fire-breathing monsters fight, they will do it several times over, which is probably the ultimate strength of King of the Monsters. Without as many of these epic action sequences and the enormous spectacle present, I could have seen myself growing restless. Even with as much action as there was, there was a significant segment in the first act where I was somewhat antsy. Luckily that didn’t last long as the narrative does its best to push through the slower moments in order to propel the audience into the brutal fights as soon as possible, which was greatly appreciated.
Every monster fight here is gorgeous to behold with near perfect CG work and visually gripping camera angles chosen to capture these monsters duking it out, it’s pretty frikkin’ awesome. Any time Godzilla, King Ghidora, Rhodan, Mothra, etc. would show up onscreen I was completely into what was going on. Totally excited to see what stunning visuals and destruction was instore next, at no point did the action become stale for me personally. When the next gigantic battle was about to commence, I was enjoying my sit. Seeing these monsters trying to kill one another in animalistic fashion was fantastic. Not to mention the fact that I admired the effort that was put into creating a sense of personality within these monsters. They aren’t all simply big and badass; there are subtle details that each creature contains painting them with their own distinct characteristics. My favorite being that of the three heads from King Ghidora as it appears that the left head is a bit on the simpler minded side, if you will. That was something that kept cracking me up as that specific head seemed to be dumber than the other two heads.
The Exposition Bots
This is the aspect that I really come down on this movie; for the entire first act and even a large sum of the second, most of the dialog between all of the characters is simply explaining everything to one another. To the point where it even contains one of the most cliché expositional lines ever written, “As you know”. If they know then why are you explaining it to them again? Because there’s a camera making a movie here now, I guess. It’s lazy and gives me practically no one to care about as all of the characters seem mostly basic. There was never a specific character that annoyed me by any means, but if anyone died, I didn’t care all that much with the exception of one. I won’t be spoiling who it is, but because it is such a talented actor who perishes in the third act, I did find myself saddened to see him go.
As the film went along, there were secondary characters that did manage to spring a little life into the scenes that centered on the human element instead. Actors such as Bradley Whitford, Ken Watanabe, Thomas Middleditch, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. were probably the only few to keep me somewhat engaged in what was going on with the humans. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, and Millie Bobby Brown all do well in their performances; unfortunately there is barely anything to their roles to work with so I didn’t really care one way or the other on how their arcs would progress and resolve. Charles Dance is wasted in this film, playing the leader of the eco-terrorist group and he maybe has all of fifteen minutes of screen time? At best. And when he is on screen, there is nothing to him other than that he’s the bad guy.
Character motivations, whether with protagonists or antagonists are kind of all over the place. For instance; someone who is a part of the eco-terrorist group is determined to unleash all of these creatures so they may destroy the world basically in hopes to result with the planet thriving again and life continuing on before it destroys itself from what modern man has done to it. In short, they’re trying to pull a ‘Thanos’ from Avengers: Infinity War. Then when the monsters start destroying everything, only then does this character realize that the monsters are… well… destroying everything and they abruptly see that as a bad thing now. Alrighty then. There’s not much in the way of consistency here.
Setting aside the negative qualities to be found, I still had a good time with Godzilla: King of the Monsters. No, it isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. The characters lack depth and at times personalities of their own, but they never dragged the movie down enough to where I wasn’t enjoying my time in the theater. There was more than enough grand scale spectacle and humungous monster battles to keep my interest intact. I didn’t love the movie, I have my problems with it certainly, but I also had no problem having a fun ride with it either. Even though it is fun, would I ever watch this again on my own steam at home? Probably not. At home I could pop in about any other Godzilla flick so I don’t see much of a reason to go out of my way to seek this out. Although I am glad that I saw this in the theater on the big screen because the action does warrant that theatrical experience in my opinion. Not a masterpiece, but who needs a masterpiece when you have Godzilla biting off heads and Mothra lighting the skies with neon colored awesomeness?
Godzilla Cinematic Universe
In terms of this recent cinematic universe with all of these big monsters including Godzilla and King Kong, my favorite of the three installments thus far is hands down Kong: Skull Island. Skull Island is a total blast from beginning to end with colorful characters and amazing action scattered throughout. I do hope that this franchise continues to improve in the future. I am definitely excited to see the next entry, Godzilla vs. Kong, coming next year. My hopes are high, but I find it to be a necessity next time around for there to be better attention supplied to the writing of the human characterizations. It’s still more than possible to have a good time with the movie regardless, but I would like if the film learns from the mistakes of the past. Fingers crossed!
What's Your Favorite of the New Monster Cinematic Universe?
That’s All Folks!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters, what is your take on the colossal monster film? Did you like it or dislike it? Agree or disagree with my review? Hoping that Godzilla will stomp on my house and flatten me into a bloody pancake? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a monstrous day!
© 2019 John Plocar
John Plocar (author) from Weatherford on June 05, 2019:
@Stephen P. Signorelli
I definitely agree that everything to do with Godzilla and the rest of the monsters was awesome. I dug a whole lot about this movie and I had a pretty damn good time with it as well. If I didn't have to write a review I probably would have been able to ignore the negative aspects I found a bit more, but nothing about the flick ever severely broke my enjoyment that I was having. It's a fun as hell movie that I totally recommend anyone who wants a true theatrical experience to go check out in the IMAX, for sure!
Stephen P Signorelli from USA on June 05, 2019:
As someone who used to sit glued to a small black and white TV in the 1970's waiting for the 4:30 movie during "Monster Week" this film was like meeting Da Vinci to me. THIS is the film I imagined when I used to play with my Shogun Warriors Godzilla and Rodan when i was a kid. I didn't give a damn about the humans, their acting, or any plot holes. I got to see a big part of my childhood updated and modern and in huge IMAX Glory, something I never imagined I would ever live to see. From hearing Mothra's song to the Godzilla theme and march, it was all i could to to stop from jumping up and down in the cinema, fist in the air, screaming "YES!!!!" at the top of my lungs.
It was glorious, and the best time I have had at the movies since my late father and I saw the original Jurassic Park.
Now bring on that damn dirty ape!!!!!