Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the movie is everything your brain would make you think it would be. When you picture that title, you get a certain movie in your head. That is exactly the movie that gets delivered. Godzilla. Monsters. And a Wrestlemania match to determine who is king. Oh and, like wrestling, some worthless human drama you want to skip over.
That isn’t to say that the movie is completely mindless. It isn’t Transformers. There is substance to this movie. There is movie to the movie. Maybe not as much as some audience goers would want, but it isn’t devoid of craft beyond well done CGI. The movie isn’t insulting you for watching it.
Now, maybe there is a Godzilla film someday that’s sort of Cloverfield-esque and focuses on the disaster movie side of how you could tell this where it’s all about a really interesting drama on the ground following an ensemble cast of not-invincible characters. But when you put Godzilla in the title, you gotta deliver on Godzilla. This movie does exactly that.
It’s Godzilla. It’s monsters. It’s well done destruction porn without feeling like Man of Steel. It’s a big, dumb, fun, good, well made, cheesy movie. Plus, have you ever subscribed to the theory of “F*ck Boston”?
It isn’t just a retread of a 1v1 monster fight as if it were a procedural show. “This week on Godzilla, he fights Ghidorah!” They really spider-webbed out to make this “universe” bigger without going all The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
If you’re a long time Godzilla fan, you’re gonna get your easter eggs and mythology. If you’re new-ish, you’re gonna get your mythology and a few nods you might remember. If you’re new-new, then I think it does a decent job of introducing you to the world and catching you up. If you’re a fan of the Fallout games, well this may be your new head-canon.
Since 2014 they’ve realized that there are more than just three or four of these giant monsters. Secret government organizations are researching them and trying to harvest/control them. There are fanatics who see Godzilla as basically Jesus. You have your “lets just blow them up!” politicians and military people. You have your scientists that are so horny for the science that they get blinded by the science so they don’t really see reality. That’s neat because it’s accurate. The human-world side of this is intriguing because we’re no longer the alpha species and watching people react to this is endless potential.
But the human-people story side is always so lame because they have to Main Protagonist Power a select few individuals where convenient plot armour protects them from the dangers of the world that everyone else is vulnerable to. I guess I get it. They’re actors, you’re paying for some name value, they want to deliver a performance, etc. It can just feel silly at times. It doesn’t help that the human-people story side of it kinda flatlines and stops evolving after like 40% of the way into the movie.
The Dad gets kind of annoying. The Mom sucks. Millie Bobby Brown is pretty good. Charles Dance didn’t get enough screen time to really round things out and fill up his character to max potential. The rest of the humans were adequate.
Ken Watanabe steals every scene. He really gets to act his ass off and its a pleasure. He’s the best human in the entire movie and really gets to shine. Full praise. I’d have rather he was the main character in the film instead of a supporting character. Less can be more though.
They get into it pretty early with the monsters/Titans and emphasize how little of a chance the humans have. Its almost a running gag that every time the humans are like “blah blah containment fields/our anti monster guns/super bombs” that the monsters brush it off as if it was a mildly coordinated house fly attack.
The McGuffin is pretty dumb. The rest of this paragraph is mild is spoilers for the first 14 minutes of the movie. How do you mimic something you’ve never been able to encounter ever just by spinning a dial? That’s like being able to speak a language just because you brained really hard. Yes, coexistence good. But the idea that all these monsters somehow all speak the exact same language and you just need to spin the computer dials like it’s a hack mini-game from Arkham Asylum is full on dumb. The existence of the Brown Note is more realistic.
There’s some Venom level dumbass-ness that happens. Like comically dumb plot just to make that plot get plotting. And that’s where I started to really tire of the characters we’ve been hanging out with. Luckily, outside of two extended lulls, they keep the monsters doing monster stuff.
The money in this movie really does go to the look and sound of the Titans. From the monster growls to the way they sound when they move to the sound of their breathing, it’s amazing. And then the music is even better. It’s a great score that never overpowers you but totally hangs out as a really good sidekick to add to the scenes.
The cinematography is good and has a few of those key frames that make you go “Wow!”, but I’m not really sure if this movie is shot any better than the previous one. There were a few times where the camera felt like it was doing too much and moving too freely and when that happens it can make the action and the monsters feel smaller than they are. It’s only a couple times, but I noticed it.
Every monster looks distinct and they each get their own colour which really aids the aesthetic. Most of the movie is so dark that it could have been a bit of a mess trying to track Godzilla vs Ghidorah and Rodan, etc. But because Godzilla gets blue, Ghidorah gets yellow, Rodan gets red, etc. it makes it easy to follow. They’re all lit excellently. It isn’t quite Pacific Rim with it’s colour palette and lighting, but it makes sure you know what is happening which is always appreciated in action movies of this scale.
They give the monsters their own characters. And while it largely isn’t much above Titans fighting to be the alpha, you get a sense of personality from them. Without giving too much hinted at+stated plot away, Ghidorah’s more about anarchy+destruction while Godzilla is about order and a semblance of coexistence (but he still makes sure the humans know who the king is). Mothra gets a bit of character and so does Rodan. It isn’t much, but it’s another step to making them more than just fighting monsters.
Much like the first Godzilla movie, this one is an In Theatre experience. You need to see it on a big screen with a booming sound system to really help add that weight and effect to the scale of these monsters. When your seat shakes as the monsters rumble, it helps the movie feel that much more visceral. When one of them roars loud enough to shake a building, you want that vibration. A D-Box showing would be an excellent way to get every penny out of your movie ticket.
If you wait until Netflix for a movie like this, you’re not going to get that chair shaking audio every time Godzilla steps forward. And with how much of the movie takes place at night time and in storms, you’re dealing in a lot of grey, navy and black tones which always suffer in the digital compression of movies on streaming services.
There isn’t much more you could want from a Godzilla movie. Unless maybe he fights King Kong next.