Godzilla – King of the Monsters was both a fun time at the theater and a slog to get through. It was everything I wanted it to be but at the same time contained a lot of things that I didn’t care about. Let me elaborate.
I’m going to start with the negatives here: The human characters and the writing. All of the human characters were generally uninteresting and unbelievable in my, and S’, opinion because they were either cheap versions of popular movie stereotypes or were unbelievably insightful. You want a character that seeks to save the world through destruction and genocide? This movie has your back. Interested in watching some random retired scientist constantly correct top military officials, researchers, and civilians on topics that he either didn’t study or shouldn’t know? Oh that’s here. Part of that is based on the other negative: The writing. I can remember a handful of jokes from this movie not because they made me laugh but because they were so poorly written or delivered or both that not one person uttered a sound in the theater. I can also remember thinking about how randomly placed some lines were, how poorly explained certain character relations or even characters were, and how jumpy the movie felt at times. That’s not to say that there aren’t any good moments: Ken Watanabe has probably the best human-centered scene in the entire movie. There just isn’t enough of that.
The positives, though, almost outweigh the negatives: Sound design was great, monster designs were cool, monster fights were breathtaking, and some deep cuts into Godzilla lore were welcome. Myself, S, and a friend saw this movie in a Dolby theater and my goodness the sound design was insane. From ritualistic chanting to a surprisingly solid remix of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” song and even to just the sounds of the beasts, the sound design elevated the film. Coupled with great reimaginings of classic monster designs in Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah, each monster had a unique feel and sound. When those feels and sounds clashed, too, it was quite a spectacle. Lightning and atomic breath flew with reckless abandon, huge bodies slammed into each other, and there was surprising balance in the ways humans interacted during these sequences. Make no mistake, this is a monster movie that you will want to watch just for the monster fights. On the topic of deep cuts that I mentioned before, they were there for seasoned Godzilla fans to spot but weren’t important enough to really do anything beyond that. I included this in the positives because I geeked out a bit but for most they will be a moot point.
This movie was one that underwhelmed and overwhelmed S and I at the same time. Human scenes were almost great napping opportunities, but monster scenes got us beyond hyped up. Legendary pictures could have just released a movie full of fights like this and I would have been fine. I guess it gives me both pause and hope for the Godzilla vs. King Kong movie coming out next year. If you’re looking to see this movie, the lesson here is simple: Don’t expect much to enjoy beyond mindless fights but sometimes that is actually OK.