Godzilla: King of the Monsters (or Godzilla 2, if you will) was released almost a month ago, on May 30th. It opened to fairly disappointing box office as well as poor reviews, which made me avoid the film. Until now. Because fuck it, if I want to see a Godzilla movie, I’m gonna see a Godzilla movie.
Before we look at one of the best sci-fi action movies of the year, there is a need to mention the Legendary Monster-verse. Only three movies in, but standing strong as the second best cinematic universe. To be honest, I don’t love Godzilla (2014) like other people seem to. Yes it’s good, but I just wanted a bit more monters and a bit less people. Still, it has some amazing sequences. Then comes Kong: Skull Island, the best of the Monster-verse so far. It has the perfect ratio of monsters to people, amazing script and it is stunning to look at. Everything about the movie works and makes for a very entertaining ride without seeming cheesy at all. Now, the director behind Krampus and Trick ‘r’ Treat, Michael Dougherty, brings a third instalment to this universe, which has much more in common with Kong rather than Godzilla (2014).
From now on, expect some spoilers for Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Let’s be honest though, it’s not like you’re gonna see it for the story.
Five years after the attack in San Francisco (the events of 2014’s Godzilla), people discovered that there are multiple titans similar to Godzilla, hiding underneath the surface of our planet. Once these monsters get awaken by a man-made machine that’s also a driving point of the story, the fight for dominance between Gidorah (a three-headed dragon) and Godzilla ensues. There are many more monsters in this film, but we spend the majority with these two, Mothra (a giant butterfly (which is way cooler than it sounds) and Rodan (a huge fiery pterodactyl). Humans are unfortunately mixed in this fight for dominance too. Representing the human race is Dr. Serizawa and a family consisting of Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler. None of these people are memorable nor interesting, which I didn’t mind as they serve their purpose to direct us to the nearest monster perfectly. Exception being aforementioned Dr. Serizawa, who’s the only character with an arc in this film.
Whether you’ve been rocking with Godzilla and his/ hers movies for the past half a century or you’re a short-time Godzilla fan, it is instantly noticeable that this film is for the fans, chopped full of fan service. Hell, it opens with a Godzilla roar and it is one of my favourite movie intros of the year. The more you know about Godzilla, the more fun you are going to have with the movie. Speaking of fan service: the final shot.
The visual effects are great, on a level expected from a movie like this, Godzilla: King of the Monsters heavily leans on visual effects at all times, from small things like computer screens to the titans themselves. Godzilla himself/ herself is stunning. I loved how he/ she looked in Gareth Evan’s reboot and that they kept it the same way, with minimal changes to the design. It is a gigantic creature, but I feel like the 2014’s version handled the sense of scale better than the sequel. Although he/ she is still big, even compared to other monsters, he/ she doesn’t seems so threateningly enormous from the human perspective. In fact, none of the titans do. Despite how “realistically” realised they are, the sense of scale that made Godzilla (2014) stand out among other Godzilla films is just not here. It doesn’t really matter when the monsters are alone, only surrounded by people, because then you get a slight understanding of their size. When it gets to the fights, however, anything close to a sense of scale, weight or durability stops existing. That’s not to say that the titans fights are bad, quite the contrary. Just don’t think too hard about how can a creature like Godzilla run. The final showdown of Godzilla: King of the Monsters yet again takes place in a city, only this time completely devoid of people. Probably the whole city falls when the titans fight, even if it doesn’t seems nearly as destructive as in Godzilla (2014). On the other hand, I’d say it’s much more fun to watch.
King of the Monsters is a beautiful film to look at. The cinematography was handled by Lawrence Sher, responsible for films such as The Hangover trilogy. Fun fact: he’s also the cinematographer for the upcoming Joker. The film is dominated by blue, often times clashing with bright reds and yellows. It is a fairly common combination of contrasting colours for a film and it works neatly for this one. It also makes the monster fights easier to follow, as Godzilla, his/ hers atomic breath and his territory are pictured in rich blues, while Gidorah with his lightning powers are pictured in various hues of yellow.
The whole film is set to a fittingly epic score by Bear McCreary. All of the monster themes are perfect for the said monster, my favourite being Godzilla’s theme. Much of the film has music playing underneath it; the official score is listed and 1 hour and 37 minutes long and it can definitely be felt in the final product. Despite the fact that I like the score, I found it sometimes unnecessary for a given scene.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters takes the best from both its predecessors in the Monster-verse to make something fun, even if flawed. The pacing could be better at times and none of us have to pretend that we are going to remember the names of any of these characters the next day. So yes, if you walk into this movie expecting a drama with a monster in the background like the 2014 Godzilla, you will be disappointed. However, if you came to see giant monsters fight, you are in for a treat. Bearing more similarities to Kong, it can come off as a bit cheesy or over-the-top at times. But then again, that’s the titan-sized fun of it all.