Movie Review and Recommendation – Godzilla - King Of The Monsters
I had been looking forward to watching this for a long time. The one, the only, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. Ever since the promotion of movie started ramping up the trailers, this movie had my undivided attention.
I had to see this movie on the biggest screen. So IMAX it is! However, the showing at the time had all the prime seats taken. So I took the seat near the front and stared at the screen towering over me at an inclined angle. Not the best view.
And how was the movie? It is amazing! For the entire length of the movie I was fully engaged and the monsters in the movie are glorious. My unfortunate seat had a surprising benefit. The inclined view shrinks my presence, making Godzilla and the kaiju even bigger than before.
Yes! Make them big!
The movie follows the Monsterverse continuity and picks up where Godzilla 2014 left off. Having dealt with the MUTOs, Godzilla retreats to the sea, leaving a scene of carnage behind him. Humans suffered many losses and the land that the kaijus trodded on are heavily radiated. After that spectacle, the world now knows the existence of large monstrous beasts lying dormant somewhere out there. Monarch, who has been hiding these kaiju from the public, is forced to disclose their worldwide operation.
Humanity now knows that they are no longer rulers of the earth.
Immune from various man-made weapons, the ancient titans are poised to usurp humanity, who still hold the dominant share of the planet. Aside from Monarch, the governments and the public, another side of humanity has sprung up. Eco-terrorists or I should say anti humanity advocates, have taken action to speed up the fall of humanity by waking up all the sleeping titans discovered by Monarch. Now it’s Monarch’s mission to stop the eco-terrorists from causing a global cataclysm as the awakened kaijus begin to wreak havoc to achieve dominance over the pack. So how many kaijus are coming out to play?
Seventeen of them... and counting.
The stars of the show, the Big Four from Toho. Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah, and Rodan. They look amazing! The director, Mike Dougherty, put in some extra effort and created a new look for the four titans while keeping most of their original look from the Toho films. For example, Godzilla's 2014 form is updated with the spiky scales from Toho's original look. A good service to the fans. Rodan and Ghidorah are given a spectacular make over, making their appearance similar to their elements and formidable at the same time. Mothra is given a more realistic look but is still given the grace and beauty that earned her the title of ‘Queen of the monsters’.
Look at them! Look at how big they are compared to vehicles surrounding them!
Oh, but that's not all. These kaiju aren't just looking tough. They are all packing earth shattering strength, ready to unleash their power on the helpless humans. And boy did they deliver on laying waste to human civilization! I kept anticipating when the kaiju would just let loose their destructive potential. For example, even though I already seen Rodan decimating a city with his shockwave from the trailers, I was still on the edge of my seat when I saw a shot of the city. And the payoff, wow. I wanted to cheer Rodan on. The destruction is extended a bit longer with a full makeover of the city landscape. That is still not enough though. I felt wanting more.
Yes! More destruction and death! Don’t stop at one city! Do the entire state!
And the creme de la creme, the centerpiece of the movie, Godzilla! Every scene he is in is wonderful! Right off the bat, Godzilla's first scene establishes the fact that he is not on the human's side and would attack them at the slightest provocation. This is good. Humans are annoying. Even more so to large godlike lizards. I am glad that Godzilla and humanity aren’t buddying up like Hiccup and Toothless. Leave that to the movies for toddlers.
Nope. Get out of here.
Godzilla remains unchallenged since 2014. When the other kaijus awaken, one in particular does not sit well with Godzilla. Ghidorah. A three headed dragon kaiju. An absolute With Ghidorah now in play, Godzilla's reign as the apex life form on Earth is challenged and both kaijus are set to battle each other to the death with humanity caught in between. This paradigm will be the main force driving the movie. The movie is shown from Monarch’s point of view on the cataclysmic event set forth by the kaijus’ awakening.
Ghidorah. A recurring rival to Godzilla throughout the Toho series.
So how is the movie? Well, calling it a visual spectacle is still underselling it. The scenes and set pieces look stunning and the four main Kaiju, Godzilla, Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra looks and performs spectacularly. The movie does well in conveying how massive and formidable the kaiju are. All forms of human weapons are mere hindrances and buildings built out of steel and concrete break apart and crumble as the kaiju ploughs through them with little effort.
That’s concrete and steel behaving like cardboard. Yup.
So, is the movie perfect? Sigh I wish.. Much like the good things in this movie, there are just as many problems with it. So what is dragging the movie down? What is stopping the kaijus from stomping the box office? Well, just like Godzilla (2014)… It’s the humans.
Dargh! Darsh! God! Damn! Humans!
For your information, the screen time for Godzilla (2014) is around 10 minutes. That is including the scenes where his fins is just peeking out of the order. 10 minutes… Ugh. Now for Godzilla : King Of The Monsters, Mike Dougherty promised that there will be twice more Godzilla screen time on top of screen time for Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra. So, that should be plenty of kaiju fans to enjoy. However, the screen time for the kaiju is very minimalistic. Ghidorah and Godzilla have ample screen time, no problem there. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Mothra and Rodan. Their screen time are bare bones; only featuring their introduction scene and nothing else. Heck, even the fight between Rodan and Mothra, which is supposed to be prime time for the two kaiju is designated to the background of the fight between Godzilla and Ghidorah.
This is an image I came across featuring two shots of the movie. If those are actually Mothra and Rodan, they are shoved into the background, destined to fight it out in a place where the audience couldn’t see. Such injustice.
And where does that screen time go? To the humans. Yet, the humans are still struggling to contribute to the greatness of the film. There is a main cast of human characters as well as a side cast of human characters. Way too many of them. Someone in the movie production noticed this as well and killed off one of the characters mid movie as well. Alas, it is not enough as the new cast is tacked on haphazardly.
This is a shot of the movie. I can already see two characters that aren’t needed in the movie.
With all this unnecessary characters, screen time have to be laid down for them and BOY are those scenes just as unnecessary as the characters. Setup to one liners that is at best stupid and at worst appalling. Padded scenes that would otherwise be shortened and streamline had they been a background character. Contributing little to the plot or the action pieces. Have I made it clear that these characters are unnecessary? That precious time would be better off used in fleshing out the main cast. Or better yet, give more time to Mothra and Rodan.
This duo is one half of Toho’s iconic Big Four. More screen time should be devoted to them.
I’ve already addressed the human cast except for one group. The human antagonists in the story. Their motivation to commit kaiju themed eco-terrorism is frankly just petty and something no one can get behind. Kaiju are large, powerful beings and releasing them from their slumber carries with it a lot of destruction and mayhem. With consequences so dire, the ends do not justify the means. That makes them a crazy cardboard villain and that’s not compelling to the audience. The movie may have tried to follow Toho’s trend of over the top villains, but in a time after Thanos stunned the world in Avengers: Infinity War, petty villainy is not going to fly.
Them MCU writers must be playing with a lot of philosophy to be able to make this madlad Thanos from a Thanos who has a boner for Death.
Now there is another aspect I want to address and that is the execution of the scenes. There was one awesome scene with Godzilla. Very nice. I was grinning the entire time. However, after the awesome scene ended, the human characters acted in a way that conveys “Alright, the scene is done. Time to pack up and move on to the next scene.” That way of ending the scene make the whole setup looked forced in order to show the awesome bit. Another problem of scene execution can also be found in the kaiju fights. Yes. The best part of the movie also has its problems. A large portion of the kaiju fights have the camera up close. Too close. Often times the camera zooms towards the kaijus, cutting down the impact of the fights significantly. It’s hard to explain so I’ll use a close analogy to explain my point. Mixed martial arts.
A close up shot of the MMA fighters | A shot of the fighter as well as the arena
Have a look at the close up shot. You can see the raw emotion, the injuries, and almost feel the weight of the hits as they strike the body. However, for the kaiju fights, the kaiju are always fighting in a dark setting. This makes the CGI look more real but it sacrifices the details, making the close up scenes ineffective. Save for showing the impressive trade of blows between the kaiju, the close up shots limit the potential in the kaiju fights. Now look at the arena shot. The wide view allows the audience to catch the movement and techniques the fighter pull to get ahead of each other. This arena shot was frequently used in the Toho kaiju films. The kaiju were shown in full and utilized various tactics and techniques to defeat their opponent. Close up shots are used only for showing the kaiju’s injuries or a close up to the kaiju’s face. This results in more variety and engagement in the fights. That’s a good thing.
This is an epic shot. If the fight is carried out in that wide shot, the tactics and techniques the kaiju will use will be crazy.
So why is there so many close up shots? It’s not to show the size of the kaiju. The buildings that are used for size comparison lacked detail in the dark setting and they simply get destroyed in the end. In fact having a wide shot of the kaiju among the buildings compliments their size better than the close up shot. However, the scenes always pan the camera to the humans.
ACK! GAH! GODDAMN HUMANS!
Argh, it has to be interference by thick skulled higher ups. There is a lot of focus on the humans and a lot less for the kaiju. Often times the kaiju scenes always serve to transition to the humans. More focus is placed on the humans, yet the human element of the movie is terrible! What the hell?! And if there is so much human plaguing the scenes, why is it only Monarch? Monarch seems to have a lot of funds to spend on jets, crazy weapons and military assets. Yet their bases are raided by eco thugs with guns. wat. Also, where are all the governments of other countries? If anything they should have all the military assets. Since it’s only Monarch, the setting of the movie is a bit lacking, ain’t it? If you’re gonna do humans, do them right!
Also this. They can afford a goddamn airborne operating base/aircraft carrier but could not afford better security?
Alright, okay. A large portion of my post is criticizing the movie. There is a good reason for that. The human scenes aren’t bad. The plot is coherent and the characters are doing a good job in their scenes. It’s just the execution. The focus. The setting. The character quirks. They all fall short. Then there are some moments that is just downright cringey and like a bull in a china shop, they just highlight everything else that is lacking. If I have to put it into a score, Godzilla – King Of The Monsters gets 70 points out of a hundred. That is the passing margin. Yet, there is SO much potential for this movie to be great! It’s like a teacher seeing a student with so much potential flubbing the test because he fell asleep halfway.
Godzilla on the other hand is fine. A stellar student.
So should you watch Godzilla – King Of The Monsters? Yes, a definite recommend. If you like the concept of giant beasts fighting or just monsters in general, this movie will be a wild ride. The human aspect is quite a downer, but the lore about the kaiju and the kaiju themselves serve to elevate the viewing experience. Do you have to know more about Godzilla’s legacy in the Toho movies? No, not really. The Legendary movies are quite separate from the Toho franchise but getting familiar with the old Godzilla movies will let you identify the easter eggs in the movie, enhancing the movie experience. If you are willing to have a look at the Toho movies before checking out Godzilla – King Of The Monsters but could not find the time to watch them or heck, even find the movies (there are like 30 of them), I recommend checking these two Youtube channels out.
Alexthehunted is a kaiju fan and his videos gives his take on the Toho kaiju movies. He enthusiastically explains the movie scenes as the plot flows and adds his own opinion to it. Up From The Depths is a channel that analyzes the kaiju movies in great detail. The videos are very professional and give great insight about the movie in review. Alexthehunted shows you a lot about the Kaiju fandom and their passion towards the movies while Up From The Depths gives a deep analysis of the old kaiju movies and the impact it created during its release. Watch a few of their videos and you can get caught up in no time.
Godzilla is recognizable to me since my childhood. I only recently become a fan of Godzilla. Quite late to become a Godzilla fan, mostly because I had a bit of history with Godzilla. That’s a post for another time. I’m a bit downtrodden because I missed the window when Godzilla – King Of The Monsters was in theaters but do check it out when it releases on DVD and Blu-ray. Godzilla vs Kong will be released next year in March. A bit early after Godzilla – King Of The Monsters but I hope it will be epic. I’m not much of a fan of Kong so the side I’m rooting on is clear.
YEEEAAH!!! Kill that Frankenstein wannabe! Godzilla is the King!
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