"Godzilla: King of the Monsters" (2019) Review
Hello all and welcome back to the blog! Like I previously mentioned, I only have time to write blog posts when I feel I have something important I need to write about. And this week I do! A little background first. Justin and I both agreed when making the master list for the horror films that the original Godzilla film absolutely had to be included. It will also definitely be included in the first season of Kaiju when we finally get to it. We did disagree however about how to treat its many sequels and particularly the release of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” this year. The American Godzilla films have without a doubt betrayed their horror roots in favor of more action oriented films. However I still argue that as a part of the franchise they should still be reviewed, especially since we reviewed “The Last of Us” which again, sorry Justin, is not a horror game. Justin won out in the end, both for his logic (it wasn’t being marketed as horror) and there was just no way to fit it into the season. But I was going to be damned if I didn’t make it to the theater to see my boy King Gidorah in action! So over the weekend, Devan and I went out to the theater and saw it. So to start the review, here is the 100 word summary!
The world is still struggling to deal with the rise of the Titans and different factions are developing to deal with the ramifications of this new world. Lorraine Warren, Tywin Lannister and 11 decide the best thing to do is free every monster they can & they do not care who gets in the way because the Titans are the only way to heal the Earth. A rag tag group of scientists led by faux Ra’s Al Ghul and Eric from “Friday Night Lights” are against them, being the only ones who know that King Ghidorah is not a true Titan, but an alien entity as strong as Godzilla and there to reform Earth and become the new king of the monsters. Godzilla & Mothra fight Ghidorah and Rodan, with people dying and Godzilla coming out on top. Post credit scene shows Tywin buying a severed Ghidorah head, perhaps teasing Mecha-King Ghidorah or some Biolante-esque nemesis.
156 words… Man I am slipping. But that summary basically explains it all and still today I do not think that the plot justified the run time. And that is not knocking the amazing Kaiju action! Honestly, a lot of the human drama could be dropped in favor of more Kaiju. Some explanation was needed, about the origin of Ghidorah, Mothra’s purpose, and Godzilla’s nuclear bacta tank. But my biggest issue with the plot really comes from Vera Farmiga’s character. She is set up to be bad, thinking that the death of millions at the hands of Titans is acceptable in order to cure Earth of mankind’s evils. And honestly, I was on board for that twist and it's important parallels to today’s climate debate. But after she left hundreds of thousands to die at the birth of Rodan and let Tywin kill what appeared to be her best friend when Mothra was born, she cracks just because her daughter gets upset with her. No one who is that bought into the cause is going to fold like that. And it made her sacrifice kind of meh. Her husband played by Kyle Chandler was incredibly whiny and honestly I was hoping to see him get squished. I know some people were complaining about there not being enough human drama in this movie. But to me, the biggest problem is that the human drama we got was subpar and poorly written. That fact was made even worse by amazing monster interactions and fights that were more compelling.
6.5 out of 10
The first thing that I want to talk about here are the monsters and how they look on screen. Simply put, I was blown away. I am a big King Ghidorah fan and when the first trailer showed he would be appearing, I was hesitant excited. A three headed electric dragon is not the easiest thing to pull off and a large part of me was afraid of a CGI mess. I was wrong. Every single kaiju looked amazing, and in my opinion Ghidorah looked the best that we have ever seen. Mothra was super cool and Rodan had a really awesome introduction fighting jets and Ghidorah. I also really loved the Godzilla’s nest in what appeared to be Atlantis. It was hard to see in all the right ways and Ken Watanabe was, as always, amazing and emotional and really delivered a powerful scene with a nonexistent monsters. The final big fight between Ghidorah and Godzilla was very well done, with some great, epic moments. There were some choices that I didn’t agree with, such as shots of some random kaiju going on a rampage (couldn’t really tell who they were) and I also really did not care for how much Kong and Skull Island were named dropped. Like, we know that that is the next film in this series but can we please focus on Godzilla and Ghidorah?? Literally, go back and watch the film and look at all the maps and news articles showing Kong. It was a little over the top.
8 out of 10
A couple of great things. The monsters all sounded unique and great. Godzilla sounded amazing and I LOVED how Ghidorah sounded. The original Godzilla score was present and the film ended with a fantastic cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” by Serj Tankien (the lead singer for System of a Down). Atmospheric noises and all that were also fine to great. However, the film really struggles in its human acting. My biggest disappointment came from Vera Farmiga. I have been a huge fan of hers since I first saw her in “The Departed” and usually she is top tier. This film even gave her a chance to play against her normal characters by being bad (like in Bates Motel). But there was no nuance and her performance was flat. It really was a let down. Charles Dance, an amazing actor, was also not given a chance to shine which really sucked. Hopefully we will get more of him in Godzilla vs Kong. Only Ken Watanabe and Millie Bobby Brown gave top tier performances. My biggest wish, again, is that if they were going to put focus on human drama, give me performances and a plot where I care about them.
5 out of 10
Here I have to admit I was wrong. Just because this film is in the franchise that started as horror and still has some horror films in its lineage (looking at you “Shin Godzilla”) this really wasn’t a horror film. That’s not to say there weren’t some tense parts and there is one jump scare that did get me pretty well. But the film was action oriented and I honestly do not think that we will see American film that focuses on the horror of Godzilla in the near future. I had my hopes because the film was directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty who was the mind behind “Trick r Treat” and “Krampus”. That was actually part of my case when I pitched this film to Justin as one we needed to review on the show. So unfortunately, the film does get docked pretty hard here.
2 out of 10
Final Score & Takeaway:
The film was fun, but as the scores indicate you can tell I was certainly left wanting. Adding the scores together, I ended up giving the movie 54% F. Even with that, I would recommend seeing this film in theaters because of the grand presentation of these legendary monsters on the big screen. I know that we have a very big movie on the horizon for the franchise, with the big guy poised to take on Kong. I will definitely be going to see it, and I will be hoping that we see corrections to the errors of this film. But if they give me monster fights like we got in this, I will walk out of theater happy that I spent money on the film.