Godzilla, King of the Monsters: American Kaiju Mayhem

This is a movie about giant monsters fighting each other, if you go in expecting anything else you’re an idiot. If you go in with that in mind, it will be fucking awesome. The 2019 film, directed by Michael Dougherty, is a pretty cut and dry kaiju movie. The plot is  thinly put together, the writing is stereotypical and tacky, and it doesn’t really make the best amount of sense. The thing is, that’s what Godzilla movies have always been about. For the past sixty years, every Godzilla movie has been filled with humans making weird decisions and audiences going to see Godzilla kick some fucking ass!

The kaiju/monster movie franchise has had a lot of ups and downs. However one king has always stood tall. The Godzilla franchise started out of Japan in the 1950’s. After one failed attempt at an American reboot (R.I.P. Matthew Broderick), we decided to go at it again in 2014. The movie was a success and left people wanting more. Mainly due to the fact that there was only about fifteen minutes of Godzilla in the actual movie, but still it was a good film. Warner Brothers released ‘Kong: Skull Island’ in 2017 and a cinematic universe was born. Instead of waiting ten years of building up a bunch of monsters origin stories, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ gives us all the fucking monsters in one go and this time they fight for a lot longer than fifteen minutes.

Like I said, you need to go into this movie with the mindset of “literally nothing else matters because we are getting to see multi-million dollar graphics of Godzilla and Ghidorah fight.” I loved the battles. Aside from the two big G’s, we also get to see Mothra and Rodan throw down. There are a bunch of other kaiju monsters thrown in the mix but honestly they were so brief that I don’t want to count them as anything more than cameos. The fight scenes were so epic that I found myself thinking multiple times how Universal needs to make a ride with you as a civilian during a giant Godzilla fight! I loved every second the monsters were on screen, and I guess some of the human parts were okay too.

Majority of complaints from the 2014 movie were about the story’s focus on the main characters, and the monster the movie was named after. Unfortunately in this sequel, that kind of happens again. The plot involves Monarch (the secret organization that is tracking and studying the monsters) versus a group of eco-terrorists who think unleashing monsters will save the planet. Honestly it’s not that bad of a story but it just comes off goofy. What made it tolerable though, is how the actors weren’t taking themselves too serious. A lot of the reactionary dialogue was funny and breaks the tension. I remember thinking when a scientist was doing something stupid, “dude, what are you doing?” And then immediately another character says “dude, what are you doing?” There were also some moments of seriousness when it counted and the actors did do a good job with those as well.

The main characters were a divorced couple, played by Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga. Throughout the film there are very real scenes of the hardship these two put on their child, played by Millie Bobby Brown. I didn’t care for the scientists and eco-terrorist angles, but I really appreciated these three actors adding a sense of realism to a movie about giant monsters. Ken Watanabe reprises his role from the first film and does a great job. The rest of the cast was good enough but replaceable. The movie was full of metaphors for climate change. The original movie from the 50’s was a metaphor for nuclear bomb testing, so it was expected. And there is a really heavy presence of religious tones throughout, which also is to be expected seeings how these are mythological sized creatures with destructive power of biblical proportions. But they throw such a heavy hand on these metaphors that you think the writers and director are fresh out of art school. All that said, I still liked it.

I love monster movies. I’m not the biggest Godzilla fan, I know there are way bigger kaiju nerds than me, but I know enough to appreciate the work put into the film. Something as trivial as a mention that Ghidorah is an alien really brought a smile to my face. Sure this wasn’t a phenomenal movie. But you shouldn’t compare with The Shawshank Redemption. Monster movies play by different rules. This current iteration of the American Godzilla franchise legitimately might be one of the only cinematic universes to be successful. And with that it survives The Snappening. They’re doing a lot better than DC was three movies deep. I cant wait to see what they have in store for the future, perhaps we can get Mechagodzilla, or at the very least the battle of a King versus a God.

 

Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith

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