Well, it happened. After 5 whole years of waiting, preparing and mentally preparing myself, we finally got Godzilla King of the Monsters. I saw this movie in beautiful Imax, but was it worth it? Well I’m here to tell you ladies and gentlemen that YES, this movie was certainly worth it. Did I love this movie, not really but I most certainly enjoyed it. Enough of this opening paragraph, let’s get into this super special and long time coming review. (Heads up! There will be MASSIVE SPOILERS in this review, so turn back now if you want to avoid being spoiled.)
This story is a mixed bag for me. One one hand I find this story to be serviceable at best and somewhat poor at worst. So what is this story? I’ll tell you. After the events of 2014, with Godzilla and the MUTO’s the world isn’t doing so good. The government wants to exterminate these beasts called Titans, while the secret organisation Monarch wishes to protect and coexist with them. Meanwhile the eco-terrorist Alan Jonah kidnaps the mother daughter duo of Emma and Madison Russell in an attempt to bring about a new age for the planet earth, one ruled by monsters with humanity quashed into oblivion. Meanwhile, Mark Russell, the estranged father to Madison and wife to Emma, is brought on by Monarch to help find and locate both the Titans and his family. But where’s Godzilla? Well he’s swimming around hunting the newly released alpha predator titan, King Ghidorah, in an attempt to maintain his title as king. If that seems like there’s a lot happening, that’s because there is. This movies biggest weakness is that the pacing is too fast and has little to no breathing space. What I expected to happen in the first 15 minutes happens in the first 5, and what I expected to happen in the third act happens in the second. This movie happens too fast and as a result it can be hard to take in all that’s happening around you. This plot is pretty weak and as a result your focus can slowly drift away since the tension fades away along with your interest. But for me, this is slightly alleviated by the monster moments, which the movie is focused on. This plot is meant to serve as an intro to all these big fights that are happening, and the way the characters just hop skip and jump the the conflicts proves that the monsters take priority. Which isn’t necessarily bad, after all it’s a Godzilla movie, but the plot still needs to be gripping so we have something to chew on while the monster moments subside, and there was just too little to chew on during the down time. I feel like they could have chopped out a good 15 minutes of this movie and spaced out the resta and the weak plot wouldn’t have bugged me that much, but the fact that it was so fast really made it hard to keep up at times. However, I will praise the movie for the third act and climax. It’s so intense and exhilarating I was gripping my set like a madman. It’s so intense and the pacing really does get better, and the ending is just the most satisfying finisher for a Godzilla movie i’ve had for a while. So overall the story isn’t horrible, but it’s too fast and a little weak to be considered totally good, except for the third act which is an absolute blast and an adrenaline rush so intense to left me in a sweat.
- Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) – The typical everyman hero, Mark Russell serves as the eyes of the audience for the most part, and is the hero of this story. Well I use hero lightly since he doesn’t do much that;s grand when compared to the monsters around him. His plight does leave you hoping the best for him and siding with him. His motivations are believable, as in he wishes the extermination of the titans for their part in the death of his son, but seeing him come round to support and root for Godzilla is a satisfying arc. Not much else to say as his weakest aspect is that he doesn’t have much else going for him.
- Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) – I was praying that they wouldn’t got the route I said they would in my Hopes and Thoughts post for this movie a while back. Emma in this movie is the typical mentally unstable broken mum who sees humanity as a sikening blight that needs to be extinguished, all for a little grief over her lost family. I was expecting her to fight the intentions of the villain, when in fact she’s also in cahoots with him, which makes her even worse. She carried no believability, and any likeability she did have was squashed when her intentions were revealed. A weak motivation and arc, an admittedly strong performance from Vera Farmiga, but an overall unsatisfying character.
- Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) – Madison Russell is probably the best of the Russell trio, probably because she’s the most likeable. She is a misguided child, grieving the loss of her brother but unlike her mother she isn’t absorbed by revenge, nor anger like her father. Madison’s inclusion in the movie does seem pretty dry, as her reaction to many things is pretty blank, but it’s a small gripe as Millie Bobby Brown plays her pretty well. I do like her bond with her mother and the way her relationship with her evolves and changes from allegiance to concern to outright hate is a developing arc that I found satisfying to watch, especially since it shows Madison the idiotic and misguided intentions of her crazed mother. She seems pretty detached from the plot except for ushering in the final fight in some ways, but she was still a good character to follow throughout the movie.
- Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) – If you thought Emma Russell was a weak antagonist, get a load of Tywin Lannister over here. Jonah is the most typical ‘humanity hating’ villain you can find, he believes mankind is killing the planet and for some reason sees that as a justified reason to exterminate us all. I wouldn’t mind so much is he had charisma…but he does not. He wears the same expression throughout the movie and even when his plan falls apart he displays about as much distaste as I do when I find out there’s no more ramen in my cupboard, in fact I probably display more anger. His end credit scene (which I will not actually spoil) does hint at a much larger plan of his and I like the implications it offers should the Monsterverse continue.
- Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) – My favourite character by a margin so large you’d need a telescope to see it, Serizawa returns in full force and I once again find him to be the most consistently enjoyable and likeable character among the cast. He suffers extreme loss in this movie, his assistant Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) is killed by Ghidorah, his faith in the military is shattered by the use of the Oxygen Destroyer and he very nearly loses the ink to his past in Godzilla, even dying to revive the big G. His death was something I predicted and the way he dies was too, but I was still shocked to see him go. His death was not in vain and his actions are ones that helped propel the movie into the final fight which I appreciate greatly. Rest in Peace Mr Serizawa, and thank you Mr Watanabe for a great performance.
- Other Characters – As said before, Sally Hawkins character, who I didn’t care for in the first film, just shows up to die, her placement in the movie is negligible to the point of irrelevance and her death was a shock, but mainly for the event itself and not the character. The G team cast were somewhat pointless, they were mainly just voices we had to listen to during the fight and Bradley Whitford and Thomas Middleditch were serviceable characters who helped usher the plot along in a good way. That sums up the majority of the characters in this movie, they exist mainly to move the plot along as opposed to provide compelling character moments, but I personally don’t mind since a good 80% of them are still enjoyable to watch.
Here it is, the shining aspect of the movie. This movie boasts some great CGI, selling you on the sheer size and scale of these monsters in a great way. This movie shines in beautiful cinematography and shots, many shots like like they’re taken straight out of comic books, each one is like a computer wallpaper. The movie did suffer with an overabundance of close up shots in some places, and the movie did seem pretty messy with some of its action sequences, serving more as a sensory overload rather than a sensory experience. The fight scenes in the movie, for the most part, were pretty good, you felt the weight of these beasts and their heavy hits could be felt throughout their bodies. But this movie really shines in the final fight, a great sequence with some human viewpoints, to aid in showcasing the magnitude of these beasts, while also having some creative moves for the titans to do. Plus the finishing few moments really did leave me sweating with glee and amazement. I usually dont talk about music in my reviews but god damn I am in love with this soundtrack, the remixes of the classic music was great fanservice and the credit song is a wonderfully cheesy song that I love listening to. Overall, some great effects, ok action sequences, and a straight up baller of a final fight.
- Rodan: I’m torn on Rodan in this movie. His entrance sequence is extremely cool and rife with glorious destruction. His fight with Ghidorah was short but sweet and I did actually like how he becomes Ghidorah’s servant, showing the sheer power of the three headed monster as he brought this engine of destruction to its knees. Rodan’s fight with Mothra was more of a curb stomp than a fight but I do like his ending scene as it shows his shift in allegiance to Godzilla and how he’s pretty awkward about it, I imagine him saying “Sorry we tried to kill you…but you know let bygones be bygones amiright?” So Rodan had some great moments of destruction and chaos, but I was kinda hoping for more.
- Mothra: Ahhh Mothra, I really wish I had good things to say here…but I don’t. Mothra’s introduction is rushed beyond compare and is kind of brushed aside, even though an escaped titan is a big deal. Her pupation period is also pretty rshed and while I like the idea of her symbiotic relationship with Godzilla, her actually actions don’t have much weight to them. Her fight with Rodan, as mentioned previously, was mainly her getting beat down fiercely, until she pulls out a sucker punch maneuver and impales Rodan with her stinger, a nice addition to her moveset in my opinion. Visually she’s pretty awesome, but otherwise she’s the weakest of the titans, both in terms of her placement in the movie and her actual power.
- King Ghidorah: The big villain of the movie, and oh boy is he big, and a villain. Ghidorah is the absolute best part of the movie, barring Godzilla himself. His introduction is dripping with menace and his power is so fierce it leaves you shaking. His powers are unstoppable, even showcasing some new powers with a spiked tail and the ability to regrow his heads, which was a nice surprise. His heads all have different personalities, a touch that I absolutely adore. The main head is the big evil leader, the right one is a submissive servant type, and the left head is just a complete idiot, a dynamic that you wouldn’t think to find in a three headed dragon alien monster. His whole attitude is one of destruction and fear, he revels in his dominance and his control over all titankind really is one you can feel, the shot of him standing proudly atop a volcano roaring in triumph while a crucifix lies in the foreground is a shot straight out of an art piece, truly showcasing that King Ghidorah doesn’t only hold control over titans, but life itself. I love the angle of him being an invasive species the serve as the rival alpha to Godzilla, and while I am sad he didn’t escape like he usually does in his earlier films, if the end credit scene is anything to go by we shouldn’t be waving goodbye to the King just yet.
- Godzilla: The true King of the Monsters is back, and I’d say back with a bang but I don’t feel that does him justice. Godzilla in this movie is like a disgraced leader, on his way back to the top hoping to usurp his evil rival. Godzilla has more personality in this movie, acting like a determined warrior, hellbent on revenge survival, and not giving a damn about the trail of bodies he may leave in his wake. His design is updated, and while the changes aren’t major, they add to his a lot, especially his spines. The introduction of Burning Godzilla was a shocker, but oh boy it was a shocker I greatly loved. As a long time fan, its satisfying to see him use this form, and the slow build up had be squealing in the theatre, but not too loudly cos I didn’t want to be thrown out. The final shot shows Godzilla towering over all the other titans, and as they bow before him he lets a out a might roar, showing once and for all that he has taken back his title of King of the Monsters. If Godzilla 2014 put the God back in Godzilla, this movie elevated him above and beyond the divine and into realms unbeknownst to us all. Long story short, he was awesome.
- Story: 3/5 – A thin plot that serves mainly to drag us from one flashy sequence to another, but I don’t think it’s horrible as i do like the angle they go with the world not taking too well to titans and the resolution is an interesting one.
- Characters: 3/5 – This 3 is carried by Ken Watanabe and Millie Bobby Brown, otherwise these characters are either too inconsequential or just downright stupid, Farmiga and Dance’s characters, while having good performances, have no substance and the cast serves more as platforms for action moments rather than people we’re meant to follow.
- Presentation: 4/5 – There is the odd close up that does annoy you, but otherwise, a combination of great CGI, some spectacular shots, great music, and an enthralling final fight and final shot, this presentation gets a thumbs up from me.
- Enjoyability: 5/5 – I have had A LOT to criticize this movie on, I know that, but I still find this movie enjoyable beyond compare. It has great fanservice for long time fans, introduces new ideas I’m a huge fan of, and has some moments that have cemented themselves as some of my favourites among the Godzilla franchise.
- (Unique Grade) Monster…ness: 6/5 – They really pull out all the stops for this movie in the monster department, While Mothra may lack and Rodan left me wanting more, Ghidorah was a spectacular beast and a great incarnation of the three headed beast and Godzilla himself has gone beyond his 2014 days and risen to heights of coolness and power I cannot describe. Even the new monsters are great and I really do hope that they come back for future movies.
Final Grade: 4/5
If you’re a nitpicker, you will find so many nitpicks with this movie. I will not call it a good movie in fact I can see why so many critics are crushing this movie and declaring it a disaster, but I don’t think this movie deserves this reception. It has weak characters and a weak plot but they aren’t horrible, also for the critics who are saying they didn’t like the monster moments…it’s a monster movie, of course there will be monster actions. So I do recommend this movie, whether or not you’ll like this movie really is down to how much of a fan of big explosive action you are, as a Godzilla fan I loved it, and I do hope that we get to see more of the Monsterverse as this cinematic universe continues next year with Kong vs. Godzilla.
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