The king of summer has arrived, and Godzilla: King of the Monster’s reign is pure Toho fan service. In what seems like a great divide of some film critics who barely an inkling of what this movie is, and casting it off for previous films like it was a Marvel or Jurassic franchise film (or the sins of Godzilla film past) those who have been waiting for Hollywood to bring a movie of this scale for years when they fancied in making a Godzilla film. The time has come. Director Michael Dougherty and the team behind this film did what no prior film maker who tackled the subject has ever done. They have delivered the first pure Godzilla film from Hollywood.
If there’s anything I can say about the film bad are two points, one the movie starts off slow. But once the movie goes to Antarctica the movie just keeps building until reaching a level where if you’ve been watching a film of this series then you’ll be smiling as much as Millie Bobby Brown‘s character does at one point in the film. There are just various points of the film any fans of the genre will just smile at how much this film gets right.
Therein lies the divide, as a film series critics have only given two, maybe three films of this series any sort of credit. The original 1954 film, Gojira, and the last live-action film we got in 2016’s Shin Gojira. Anything else usually has gotten below 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. So in a way, perhaps it shows why the system is flawed in this regard. This isn’t a film made for them. This is a film for every person who was shown a Godzilla movie when they were younger via someone (friend, parental figure, or late-night horror host), or seen one in a theater. You will adore this film like I did.
The other bit is that a part of me is still a tiny bit pissed a character is killed off from the prior movie with very little afterward, BUT it wasn’t cliched like Pacific Rim: Uprising. Nor, was it as grating to watch as that film’s moment was. Still it did happen, and the weight of their loss is felt a little.
BUT– for a film that shows so much love to a genre with homages all around and for getting everything right about Godzilla? From the visuals, appearance, sound effects, and most importantly using Akira Ifukube and Yūji Koseki‘s iconic themes of Godzilla and Mothra. Using those themes and some iconic roars into the movie. Yeah, it just hits those notes that make the film incredible to watch. I love that Bear McCreary knew he couldn’t reinvent the wheel, and went with the fan service here as well. I have to admit where he did reinvent the wheel with Ghidorah and Rodan’s theme were great new modern themes for these kaiju. Now Legendary and Warner Bros. better damn as hell keep him for the next film because of this fact.
As for the common flaw with these sorts of American films, the human characters don’t bog the movie down at all or take away from the main draw (aka the star of the film). Quite the contrary again to what critics say the characters in this film have good motivations for what they’re trying to accomplish. In particular I quite enjoyed the why on Kyle Chander, Vera Farmiga, and Charles Dance‘s characters (though I could watch Charles Dance read a phone book and he would make it the most entertaining thing in the world as he does here) . Likewise, Zhang Ziyi, who’s role I understand now why was so secretive before, and makes me giddy as hell that the makers of this film were able to do again tip their cap to Toho film series again here.
I can see some complains can arise with Bradley Whitford‘s character being so darn exposition heavy or delivering some humor during the dark moments of the film. But hell, the actor looked he was having the time of his life with this movie (and you just know the man is a fan of this genre too). I didn’t mind his performance at all. But really the best lines go to O’Shea Jackson Jr. who’s basically the positive military head compared to the returning negative aspect of David Strathairn’s 2014 character (gosh he plays assholes perfectly to type).
As for the monsters themselves, Godzilla is the star here and you don’t get any cutaways here. You see him in action and see the destruction that’s caused by him trying to save everyone’s ass. Mothra as always is the scene stealer of the film, owning every scene she’s in. King Ghidorah has actual persona (or should be plural given the three heads?) in this one. This is probably the most brutal, villainous, and nastiest version of the creature put to film yet. Like literally there was points I was wided eyed at how much persona they gave this version and honestly– I dug how villainous the bastard was. and made the perfect foil to Godzilla/Mothra. Rodan had a few good moments, but of the classic Toho kaiju was given the lesser role. But even then the callbacks and his little moments to shine were fun. Just that, compared to the other three? Yeah…
Still this movie hides no illusions on WHO you want to see and perhaps unlike the other attempts knows who you’re here for– these monsters and not the humans. Perhaps that’s a great flaw, but given how much common complaint went into 2014’s entry moving at a snail’s pace. This is what you get and I’m perfectly fine with that fact. Because well, you criticized and obviously this criticism was heard.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a labor of love from people who have loved this genre for years. Again, this is the closest ever an American film ever has gotten the spirit of the Toho kaiju movies from Toho so on-point. If anything the film does TOO good a job continuing this modern Monsterverse (just like the Toho has done with the Showa and Heisei eras before them which the film leans into). I honestly have never felt this hunger to see a movie again the very next day again, like I have for this film. The entertainment value and the spirit of those Toho films are perfectly captured in this one. If you’re a lover of this genre like I am, go see this film. You won’t be disappointed at all. you might say– it’s good to be the king!
5 out of 5