Tuesday, June 4, 2019


The real reason I went to see GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is that the film features classic Toho kaiju such as King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. All three monsters are expertly realized here--but the rest of the movie isn't.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is a follow-up to the 2014 GODZILLA and 2017's KONG: SKULL ISLAND. The three movies are part of a cinematic universe that I refer to as the "Monarch Series", after the organization that all the plots of the films are based around. Monarch is a powerful, vaguely threatening corporation that has been investigating and identifying giant monsters all over the Earth for years (though why the company is doing this is never really explained).

In this tale an employee of Monarch has developed a device that will wake up various monsters (referred to in this movie as "titans") from hibernation. The device is used by eco-terrorists to cause the titans to collectively rise up and lay waste to the planet. (It's the old "mankind is inherently evil and nature must be restored" plot.) Mankind's only hope lies in whether Godzilla can truly wind up being the king of the monsters.

I wasn't that big of a fan of either the 2014 GODZILLA or KONG: SKULL ISLAND, and this new entry isn't all that much better. I guess it all comes down to a question of style.

The Godzilla films made by Toho in the 1960s were colorful, fantastic adventures. I know many folks consider those type of films phony, but they fail to realize that the movies were not meant to be realistic, any more than, say, THE WIZARD OF OZ. They were meant to amaze and entertain.

In the new GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, nearly every scene takes place in a driving rain, or a snowstorm, or under dark clouds and smoke. I'm sure the main reason this was done was to help all the CGI look better, but the result is that sometimes it's hard to see what is going on. The monster battles would have been far more impressive if one could have properly appreciated them visually. It's hard to have fun watching a movie when everything is so dark and murky looking.

Just like the other two entries in the Monarch series, this movie has a number of notable actors who play characters that are not all that interesting. I understand you can't have a giant monster movie without some main human characters (although I'd love to see someone try and pull that off). It would have been nice, though, to make these people somewhat interesting--the human cast spends most of their time staring in wild-eyed amazement.

The movie does have a few inside references to the classic Toho kaiju films that geeks will notice (and it even gets Ghidorah's proper origin correct). Bear McCreary's music score uses Akira Ifukube's original themes for Godzilla and Mothra, and that's very welcome--unfortunately the sound effects are so loud that the score gets drowned out too many times.

I found it very hard to get into this film, and I'm sure that has mostly to do with me and my view of things. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is very much a 21st Century film--it's too murky looking, too loud, and too long (over two hours).

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