GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

Is there anything out there cooler than Godzilla? I mean, seriously. He’s a gigantic, intelligent, charismatic dinosaur with the ability to shoot atomic breath out of his mouth. He’s one of the most badass movie characters ever and without a doubt the most badass giant monster in the film history. While King Kong may have been the original movie monster, Godzilla is the King of the Monsters. No matter who or what crosses him, he always wins and always comes back to protect the Earth. Just like he endures in the movies, his franchise still endures to this day, both in Japan and now in America with WB’s Monsterverse (aka Cinematic Universe Attempt #23), consisting of these new films and Kong: Skull Island. Regardless, no matter what capacity, I’m always down for more Godzilla. 

Disappearing after the events in 2014, Godzilla: King of the Monsters has been off the radar, just chilling out in the ocean. Well, his time of relaxation is brough to a halt by those pesky humans meddling with nature. Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is a paleobiologist who works with the Monarch corporation, who specializes in studying gigantic creatures known as “titans”. After freeing the creature Mothra, Emma and her daughter Madison (Milly Bobby Brown) are kidnapeed by eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). Alan plans to unleash the other titans around the world to bring balance to the world and Emma slowly begins to accept his plan. This puts the military into action to take down the threats, with the help of Emma’s ex-husband Dr. Rick Stanton (Kyle Chandler). Good thing they have Godzilla on their side, who is none too happy, as he now has to clean house with all of these monsters running amok. 
 
As you can probably tell from the opening paragraph, I’m a little biased when it comes to Godzilla. I grew up watching the movies and having my own monster fights with the toys, so I just adore the character. While I still enjoyed Godzilla (2014), I completely understand people’s criticisms of the lack of monster fights, screentime for the titular character, and compelling characters. Well, Godzilla: King of the Monsters basically rectifies every problem people had with the last film. If you want giant monster fights, you got ‘em. There’s plenty of them here and they’re all magnificent. There’s not a whole lot of dark soot or creative camerawork to keep Godzilla hidden this time around. He’s all there in his full glory, with a beautiful turquoise color pallet, mostly brought to life through his glowing spines. Every monster gets their own hue, with Mothra being a brilliant blue, Rodan a smoldering red, and King Ghidorah, yellow, with his constant lightning. It’s just a gorgeous film with some wallpaper worthy shots of giant monsters getting ready to face off. As with the last film and Kong: Skull Island, the effects are flawless. The monsters are impressively detailed and the fight scenes have a heavy weight to them. Godzilla will blow a monster back with his atomic breath and they slowly crash back into a bunch of buildings. The sound design is also incredible, with the roars and crumbling buildings moving all around the theater (seriously, go to one of the AMC Dolby theaters). Like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, it feels like writer-director Michael Doherty and his co-writer Zach Shields all sat in a room for a week just to brainstorm all of the crazy stuff they can come up with. 
 
What you don’t really go to a Godzilla film for is the story. Sure, the original Gojira is a very serious film that acts as an allegory for the power and destruction of nuclear war, but 99% of the reason you’re here is for the massive destruction. The plot is definitely silly, with eco-terrorists and crazy scientists wanting to free these creatures in order to bring balance to the world, but the characters motivations make enough sense to keep things intriguing. There’s definitely not a main character, focusing on the Russell’s family drama, but I was genuinely invested in it. I liked the idea of multiple family members grieving the death of their son/brother from the destruction caused by Godzilla, having to come to terms and learn to work with him along the way. The story and characters arcs were thin, but they were serviceable enough to keep the plot engaging. It helps that the plot is so quickly paced and constantly keeps moving, with some unexpected twists throughout. The dialogue is definitely cheesy, but we have a lot of talented actors like Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, and a whole lot more that elevates it. During both the monster and human scenes, I felt like I was watching a $200 million B-movie and I adored every bit of it. 
 
While there’s certainly not a main human character, these films aren’t about the humans. It’s about the title character, Godzilla and he’s without a doubt the main character and most entertaining part of the film. He actually has a character arc where he has to convince the human race not to fear him as much as they do. He needs to prove he’s a positive force of nature by taking down King Ghidorah and the other titans. If there’s anything this series has gotten right, it’s the titular characters. He’s the mofuggin’ King of the Monsters and he proves it! It’s always a treat to watch him battle his foes and with the detailed effects, they’re able to retain his iconic personality. Godzilla isn’t just a giant, radioactive lizard, but an actual character with intelligence and personality. You can tell he respects humans and wants to protect them and the world, but it’s in his own self-interest too. He doesn’t speak at all, but it feels like you know so much about him. Even Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah all have their own distinct personalities, even down to each of Ghidorah’s three heads being different. I was actually invested in these monsters like they were real characters, because they were. They’re not just effects. With all of these monsters, you can already see there’s ton of fan service, but the entire franchise is kind of built on that. Godzilla films always follow a formula, so it feels like fan service that’s earned. Also, I’m of course a little biased, but how can you not flip out when the original Gojira theme plays as the big guy rises from the ocean?! 
 
It really felt like Doherty and Shields truly understand and respect the Godzilla franchise and character, because Godzilla: King of the Monsters felt just like an original Toho film brought to life in the modern age. They know exactly what makes a Godzilla film and I felt it through and through. You have scientists and military personnel debating in control rooms through monitors, cheesy dialogue, serviceable enough characterization, and most important of all, epic monster battles that truly feels like you’re there witnessing these titans fight. Where Godzilla (2014) took itself too seriously and Kong: Skull Island going way too far into the silly direction, Godzilla: King of the Monsters got it all right with the perfect balance of seriousness and self-awareness, just like the originals. Even better, we have more awesome fights on the horizon with Godzilla vs. Kong next year and Godzilla better win, because hail to the King, baby. 
 
9.5/10 

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