As a Godzilla fan there are a few movies I haven’t caught. The recent animated trilogy is on Netflix and I don’t have Netflix. Shin Godzilla (and I still say Funimation should have use Toho’s international title, Godzilla: Resurrection, instead of the Japanese title to not confuse casual fans of the movies) hasn’t aired anyplace I can catch it and I didn’t see it in the theater for the same reason I don’t have a Netflix account. The last shot of income I got came from the virus stimulus, which is the only reason I have a working computer right now. Then there’s other G-Media like the remaining IDW comics, more than a few clips of Zone Fighter, and that series of shorts done with a set of Godzilla and friends toys that were being promoted. I hear that’s one’s a bit strange.
I have, however, been able to keep up with the Legendary Pictures “Monsterverse” (why not “Kaijuverse” to tell them apart from other monsters?). I’ve seen and reviewed their first Godzilla when I bought the DVD, and Kong: Skull Island, which I saw through one of HBO’s sneak previews. In one of the other previews I recorded Godzilla: King Of Monsters but didn’t get to watch it until today. So now that I’ve finally seen it, what do I think of it?
RELEASE DATE: 2019
RELEASED BY: Warner Brothers & Legendary Pictures
RUNTIME: 2 hours. 12 minutes
DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty
GROSS REVENUE: $386,600,138 from an estimated budget of $170,000,000
The Plot: Five years after the events of Godzilla Monarch is now known to the public, as naturally are the monsters, now referred to as “titans”. While there’s debate on whether to leave them alone or destroy them, one member of the group who lost her son in the San Francisco battle decides on a third option. Emma Russel (Farmiga) has created a device that supposedly can control the titans and an eco-terrorist named Alan Jonah (Dance) wants it to awaken the titans not to co-exist but to wipe humanity off the board. However, things are not as they seem as Emma’s ex-husband Mark (Chandler) wants to rescue their surviving daughter Madison (Brown) and save the world. While he’s on the “destroy” list given his son’s death he may have to deal with the devil you know when the terrorists awaken King Ghidorah and things don’t go quite as planned. As more titans rise, and only Mothra seems to be on the right side, it may take Godzilla to quell yet another rampage.
Why Did I Want To See it?: I’m a Godzilla fan from childhood. I grew up with the “showa” era movies and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. While I didn’t completely enjoy the execution of the first movie I did see some potential, and unlike Michael Bay’s Transformers Kong: Skull Island proved that this continuity had potential. I was hoping that they got it right this time.
What Did I Think?: While seeing spoiler-free reviews I heard that the humans were the worst part of the movie, but that Dougerty did a better job than Garth Edwards. I do agree with the last part but honestly the humans didn’t bother me as much this time. They felt like they were part of the story rather than a distraction from it. They actually had agency in the story and were a part of events instead of simply reacting to them. The personal drama was important to the character interactions though admittedly not much else. It just meant the protagonist and heel-turn antagonist (yeah, sorry for the spoiler but I saw Emma’s being one of the bad guys before the reveal but at least she gets a bit of redemption in her comeuppance) had a connection through a lost son and surviving daughter. At least Mark was less annoying than the “hero” of the previous film and Madison isn’t the annoying teen I think some people were expecting. I do agree that I’d like to see more of the monsters but it’s still an improvement from the first film.
What I was disappointed with on that side was that Serizawa (Watanabe) doesn’t make it through the end of the movie. Granted, it was a great way to send a character off but he was kind of the heart of the human interactions with the titans/kaiju and his absence will surely be felt in later movies, like the Kong/Godzilla movie that’s been halted thanks to the killer bug of ultimate death or whatever. He was arguably the best human part of the first film but like I said he does get to go out in a blaze of glory and saving everyone so at least there’s that.
Then of course you get to the kaiju (why they changed it to “titans” I can only hazard a guess and blame Pacific Rim despite the term predating that movie–plus actually being a Japanese word before that) and while there’s some improvement here there isn’t enough. Yes, we finally get to see the fights, something Emmerich’s movie was often and rightly criticized for, but it’s still only at night or in the rain. I’ve heard that the dark is used to hide bad CG or the flaws in even somewhat good CG (if it was great CG they wouldn’t bother) but it does take some of the excitement out of seeing the fights. It still makes the claim that the classic “man in a suit” is still better in some ways, with computer animation used to clean things up. But let’s talk about the individual monsters:
Godzilla: Pretty much the same as before. At one point he goes nuclear (not sure how he fixed that exactly) and that’s a cool effect but if you saw him in the first movie you just get to see more of him now.
Ghidorah: The highlight of the movie and a good case in favor of CG. It allowed each of the heads to have their own personality and act independently in a way the puppeteering really couldn’t. He is more menacing than ever and when he’s on-screen you know things aren’t going to go well for anyone. At least he’s still an alien monster, and awakening what one calls an “invasive species” actually works against the eco-terrorists’ plans as well as Emma’s co-habitation plan. Best Ghidorah ever, and I have seen all the Ghidorahs to this point except for that thing with the toys.
Rodan: Why is he one of the baddies? In the old days he was one of the “guardian monsters”, making the switch along with Godzilla the first time Ghidorah appeared in Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster. Now he’s on Ghidorah’s side and fighting Mothra. I didn’t care for that one. He looked cool though. Having the fire coming off his wings made him look spectacular.
Mothra: Barely in the movie. In the aforementioned classic Godzilla movie she was the reason Godzilla and Rodan went to fight Ghidorah. Here she’s basically a 1-Up for Godzilla and while she does pull off a spectacular fight it would have been nice to see her do more, especially since the environmental theme is kicked up and especially in later years that was her whole thing. (It’s about as heavy-handed as it’s ever been in the Toho Godzilla films, so I’m not as annoyed by it but it’s still heavy-handed.) I like her design but I would have liked to have seen more of it.
Was It Worth The Wait: I actually think it was. While the movie still suffers from fights in the dark we do get to see them otherwise. The humans feel more tied to the events of the monsters and actually take more importance in the final battle by actually joining in and doing at least a little damage before being smart enough to get out of the way. If this franchise could just give us monster battles at a distance we can enjoy them and light to see them better it would be much better served and hopefully the next one will finally get it right. This is a DVD I hope to add to my collection in the future.