REVIEW: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Spoiler Free)

For Godzilla, from his slab, began to rise and suddenly to my surprise, he did the mash. Godzilla did the monster mash.

Five years on from the sudden rise of the monster, Godzilla, the discovery of ancient, preserved Titans forces humanity to place their faith into the hands of the king of the monsters, himself, to assure their planet’s survival.

Surprise cinematic universe, everyone! They didn’t think we would notice but BOOM, they got us there. Following on from not only 2014’s Godzilla but also 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, we have 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. A big dumb monster movie with a lot of brawn, but a little brain, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivered on, well, a certain platform at the very least. I would not go so far to say this movie was terrible or a disappoint, but rather, on the contrary, a well-paced entertaining enough blockbuster. I have to say, for the “strict” and “opinionated” critic I guess I am, I honestly didn’t mind this stupid cinematic monster mash. That’s not to say Godzilla: King of the Monsters was one of the better films I have seen this year, but more a surprisingly consumable piece of Hollywood cinema.

So yeah… big surprise… they have merged the Godzilla movies with the King Kong movies and it looks like we have been baited straight into another Hollywood attempt at a cinematic universe. However, to the credit of this newly labelled “MonsterVerse”, between King of the Monsters and Skull Island there has at the very least been a consistency in tone and overall quality (looking at you, DC). Although the initial 2014 Godzilla retrospectively felt and acted like an entirely different movie to its successors, these latter two flicks have not necessarily impressed me but at least have given me consistent joy and grief for the same exact reasons.

Overall, I had a positive experience with King of the Monsters, as I did two years ago with Skull Island, much to most people’s surprise. Both films received a critical backlash for their weak stories and characters but they have also received praise for their visuals, CGI and, most importantly, monster battles. And before I officially start, yes, I agree wholeheartedly with all those various points I just brought up… but, to be honest, I don’t care. When I go into a monster movie, all I want to see are monsters punching other monsters… and like Skull Island, King of the Monsters delivered on that.

I would not say King of the Monsters was awesome, because I am not that big of a Godzilla fan in the first place. I quite liked the initial Japanese creation of him as this kind of metaphor for nuclear weapon destruction but ever since the character was Americanised and therefore built to become a Hollywood icon for disaster movies, the meaning of the character was changed. Now, there really is no meaning to Godzilla other than him being a big, scary monster who occasionally tears through cities, leaving the military stumped. So, the point I am trying to make here is, you either accept Godzilla for what he is now or just don’t bother. I liked King of the Monsters because it so unapologetically leant into what makes Godzilla work in his current mould. This movie exists purely for monster battles and, on that front alone, the film worked.

King of the Monsters was an absurdly vast and visceral film, knowing exactly how to shoot these monstrous creatures in all their beauty. A sense of unimaginable scope and magnitude was easily felt in the thunder clashing action sequences between Titans. Seriously, if you were willing to see this movie for the monster battles alone, it would be worth it. King of the Monsters had some highly entertaining breaths of action between Godzilla and fellow monsters, throughout the film’s runtime. The visual effects department should also get a massive applause for their incredible work on the creatures, their designs and the sheer spectacle of their various showdowns. The colours were also gorgeous as the cinematography, in general, was surprisingly brilliant. I genuinely really liked the way King of the Monsters looked.

Also alongside an authentic score, the pacing shun as another plus in the vault for King of the Monsters. Something I did not like about the first Godzilla was how long and stretched out it felt to the point it was kind of boring. Although not everything on the screen worked for King of the Monsters, at the very least it moved at such a brisk pace that not everything had to really work. King of the Monsters was at least entertaining enough to move through its plot at a good speed.

So I guess since I said the word “plot” its probably a good time to start bringing up the bad parts about King of the Monsters.

Déjà vu. All those points I listed above were the exact same reasons I liked Skull Island… which means… oh boy…

What King of the Monsters succeeded in with spectacle, it failed badly in with writing. The crux of any film should be its plot and characters, but, like Skull IslandKing of the Monsters just didn’t seem to understand that “crux” part. The plot was very by the numbers and a bit too convenient for my liking. The characters though took the bigger brunt of the writing problems.

Despite, all the performances being absolutely fine, the way characters were written in the movie were just kind of ridiculous. I don’t remember any of their names, so I’ll just go by what actor plays them, but lets start with Millie Bobby Brown. Nothing but a plot contrivance, Brown’s character literally existed to… you know what, I don’t know – she just existed. Kyle Chandler’s character gave the impression that he was meant to be an 80s/90s action hero dad-type, but the only problem was that he wasn’t played by Kurt Russell or Bruce Willis… he was played by Kyle Chandler. Ken Watanabe and Charles Dance were very cheesy, as were their characters predominately in their dialogue, but, all in all, the two esteemed actors basically just played caricatures of themselves. Vera Farmiga though… now here we have something to talk about.

What the hell? Talk about cliché, talk about stupid, talk about horrible. I like Farmiga as an actress and, in fact, she evidently did the best she could with the flat role she was given, but this character of hers was horrible. I didn’t think it was conceivable to make a character like this past the first draft of a screenplay, let alone into the final product… but here we are.

Yet, again similar to Skull Island, I cannot help but think the flatness of the lead characters and the dullness of the story were partly purposeful. Nobody goes into a film with the intention of making it bad, but I assume the filmmakers behind King of the Monsters went into production with the pure intentions to make a movie where Godzilla fights other monsters and that’s it. The human characters felt like they were only needed in the production to sell tickets as bankable stars… you know, like Kyle Chandler. Although even then, why did the humans get so much screen time?

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(Daniel McFadden/Warner Bros. 2019)

However, I couldn’t be assed complaining about the balancing between monster to human ratio or the writing behind the humans in general. For the most half I got city levelling monsters and THAT was entertaining.

Yeah, I don’t usually like disaster blockbusters like Roland Emmerich movies or the Transformer franchise, but the difference between those movies and King of the Monsters is the singular word: style. King of the Monsters was a very stylish film that visualised the monster destruction as weirdly alluring. Never was I grossed out by buildings falling (like in other movies…) but instead felt more satisfied watching Godzilla and his mates tear down civilisations like it was nothing. And hey, even though the dialogue was terrible, I kind of liked it. The movie made me laugh enough times to not really care, and still, to this very point, I cannot tell if those laughs came from an intentional place or not. King of the Monsters was kind of ridiculous and cheesy, and maybe on any other day I would tear it to shreds, but right now, I had enough fun with this flick not to care too much about its effortless faults. King of the Monsters was like a corny 80s action film, but made poorly in the 90s. Good recipe, right?

So yeah, this wasn’t too bad. Caught me in a good mood you, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, you. Truthfully, I will probably never watch this movie again, but whatever, I got what I wanted.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a bloody… CRUSADE!!

 

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