“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a solid installment in the newly birthed Monsterverse and a strong contender in the legacy of all Godzilla films.
Godzilla is more than just the King of the Monsters. He’s the king of international cinema. Godzilla first appeared in 1954 and instantly became a legend, enjoying multiple eras of films and the title of longest-running film franchise ever (35 total films!).
However, of that storied legacy, only three films about Godzilla have been made in the West… and they haven’t been all that great. 2014 brought about the redemption of Godzilla in Hollywood, with the film that shared the monster’s name and kicked off the Monsterverse that we currently find ourselves in.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” functions the same way that any other “middle child” of a franchise does — it’s a lot of fun with very little substance, and it really only serves as fuel for the hype train. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s call a spade a spade.
In “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the crypto-zoological (that means monster scientists) agency Monarch faces off against a menagerie of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Michael Dougherty (“Trick r’ Treat” and “Krampus”) takes the lead as director of the project, which is, honestly, a perfect decision given how well he does with movie monsters. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe and Ziya Zhang.
I’ll say this for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters:” It knows exactly what it is.
It’s understood that we’re all here to see the monsters fight. We’re here for the creature reveals and the kickass shots and the moment where Godzilla fires his Atomic Breath. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” understands this, and therefore it has a hard time finding any kind of concrete message.
The narrative and the conflicts are a little haphazard and confused, and they seem every bit the filler between monster showdowns that we all secretly know them to be. It makes sense that that worst part of a monster movie would be the humans, but that’s also a real shame because our cast are the only real stewards of the movie’s greater themes.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” suffers from a phenomenon that I’ll call “pick it up and put it down” conflict. Problems and plot threads are introduced, briefly focused on, and then put back down without any reference back to it. It’s equal parts confusing and frustrating.
All of that being said, the monsters were awesome. Every bit the larger than life introduction that characters like Rodan and King Ghidorah deserve.
Of course, the effects and visuals were top notch. The monsters were equal parts terrifying and hauntingly beautiful, and extremely badass to watch on screen. Some of the mythology and, I guess, “rules” of the world were a bit spotty but, c’mon, you’re there to see monsters fight. Who cares if it doesn’t make perfect sense?!
Some of the highlight shots featured Mothra and Godzilla, with this beautiful lighted quality. Perhaps one of the better-executed style choices in the film.
“Godzilla: King of Monsters” has a lot of fun little nods to previous films in the franchise, which opens up a world of possibilities for the future of the Monsterverse. Even if it isn’t telling of what’s to come, it’s a great feature that speaks to only the most attentive fans of the kaiju genre.
My verdict? “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is just okay. Not particularly deep, but very confident in what has set out to do. A perfect movie for a night in!
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS”
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is jam-packed with Easter eggs, clues and a whole post-credits scene of what to expect.
We already know that “Godzilla vs. Kong” is coming in 2020 and there are tons of references to Skull Island and the previous events in “Kong: Skull Island” hidden within “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” It’s also worth noting that 17 “titans” had been discovered during the events of the film. Again, TONS of possibilities on where this Monsterverse could go.
Finally, our post-credits scene reveals the discovery of an intact severed head of the villainous dragon, King Ghidorah (this is important because KG has hydra-esque regenerative abilities). Does this signal a return of the King?
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is in theaters now!
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.