Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now out in theaters and despite receiving some mixed reviews, I thought I would do my best and tell you my thoughts after walking out of the fan screening in London on Tuesday.
Now, King of the Monsters takes place five years after Godzilla and sees the world recovering after Godzilla’s encounter with the MUTO’s. The world has accepted that Titans are very real and that Godzilla was just the beginning. The organization Monarch that discovered Godzilla, Kong, and the MUTO’s have been searching the earth for other monsters and have begun ‘containing’ them- emphasis on containing because, spoiler alert! that doesn’t go too well for them. With the arrival of Godzilla’s ultimate nemesis, King Ghidorah, the world is thrown into chaos as Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and the three-headed calamity battle for dominance.
Lets start with the positives which I believe completely outweigh the negatives. As a monster spectacle, it is almost perfect. While the sequel didn’t learn from all of it’s predecessors mistakes, it was certainly an improvement. You don’t have to worry about Godzilla getting 10 minutes of screen time because the Kaiju have a massive and immediate impact on this film. Anything involving the monsters, whether it’s Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, or Ghidorah is beyond epic. Every shot containing these earth shattering monsters is an absolute spectacle. The overall designs for each monster is everything I hoped for, particularly Ghidorah since he is my favourite. What I admired the most was how each Monster was framed, while a few scenes were a bit messy, the film was able to show the size and destructive power of each monster in such an awesome way. As a massive Godzilla fan and a monster movie lover in general, whenever the monsters appeared on screen, I couldn’t help but smile. The sheer scale of the film was ultimately incredibly impressive: the visuals, the action, and the monsters make Godzilla: King of the Monsters an experience that can only be appreciated on the big screen.
As a big lover of film soundtracks, I can only applaud Bear McCreary for bringing some of the classic themes to life with a unique twist. The music really does bring all the action together. Hearing the original Godzilla soundtrack booming as Godzilla lunged towards King Ghidorah, felt so special. I’ve always felt that film soundtracks are usually under appreciated, but I genuinely believe that what Bear added to the film might highlight just how important a soundtrack can be, how it can change a scene, make us excited, or even make us sad. While this will be mostly aimed at the Godzilla fans, Bear’s soundtrack was made specifically for those die hard fans and it did not go unnoticed,
Since King of the Monsters helped set up a ‘monsterverse’ one thing it needed to do which Godzilla didn’t and Skull Island briefly touched upon was build a world. World building is essential for most film universes and the team behind King of the Monsters really knew their stuff. The Easter eggs, references, and details throughout the film are amazing and intricately placed, you may miss a few on your first viewing… which is why I am seeing it again. Not only is the world they’ve built interesting, but it also opens up a lot of doors, not just Kong vs Godzilla. As much as I love King Ghidorah, I was slightly worried about him being involved in the 2nd Godzilla movie since he is basically the big bad, but his presence has an incredibly significant impact on the film and what could come next. So while I wish they saved him, I am also excited for the future.
As much as I loved this spectacle, it’s not completely perfect. Whenever you incorporate a human cast into a monster movie it never works out very well. It’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy that pushes the monsters back to a secondary role. The first Godzilla movie is a prime example of this where Godzilla got 10 minutes of screen time and the film would constantly cut away to random family number 1. King of the Monsters is definitely an improvement on this and what helps is that the characters do play a role, they’re not just casualties but actual characters with something to add, mostly. While it was a definite improvement, it did fall into the same trap of cutting away or showing the action from the perspective of the characters like Millie Bobby Brown, for example. This aspect caused another issue. King of the Monsters does an amazing job of showcasing the Titans scale and immense power, but when they’re focusing on the human characters the action becomes a bit confusing since the monsters are so big. This works brilliantly for some scenes but for other scenes I really had to concentrate on what was going on. That’s not to say that the human characters ruined the film, in comparison to Godzilla who killed its most interesting character within the 20 minutes, and Kong Skull Island whose characters I can’t remember, the human cast in King of the Monsters is pretty decent. Like most movies involving monsters, there is a lot of family drama but there are actually some cool twists as well. What I also appreciated is that Millie Bobby Brown’s character, Madison Russell, isn’t your typical 12 year old character. I love the fact that her character got involved especially when you consider that most monster movies use children as victims, so it’s a refreshing take on that cliche.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a loud, fun, explosive, and exciting cinematic spectacle that I think everyone can enjoy. While its story and characters are by no means the strongest element in this movie, the sheer scale of it can only be admired. The film had the tendency to fall into the same habits as its predecessor, however, Michael Dougherty did a fantastic job and delivered a Godzilla movie that will please most fans and newcomers. It built an interesting mythology that recognized the previous two films and teased, what I hope to be, an awesome future. Find your biggest theater screen, buy a massive box of popcorn and relish as you watch these colossal Titans collide.
James Lister is a University student in the UK, currently undertaking his Masters degree in Media & Communication. He has a strong passion for everything Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Anime related.