Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

The Japanese monster version of “The Avengers.”

If you had asked me a week ago if I wanted to go see Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), I probably would have answered with a resounding “meh, not really.” I have absolutely nothing against the franchise or the cast, it just didn’t spark my interest. Especially after the snoozefest that was Godzilla (2014). Still, I decided to review the movie this week and as the day came closer, I actually found myself getting excited. I was really looking forward to shoveling popcorn into my mouth while watching a bunch of monsters beat the snot out of each other. As a reviewer sometimes you get so nit-picky and hung up on the little details of what makes a movie good or bad, that you forget the most important question you should be asking yourself: Was it entertaining? Well, I definitely was entertained.

Screen Shot 2019-05-30 at 1.15.55 AM
Credit: imdb.com / Warner Bros. Pictures / Toho

The latest installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, Godzilla: King of the Monsters follows the members of Monarch, an agency dedicated to the study of ancient monsters they’ve dubbed “Titans.” When a number of the Titans begin to wake from their centuries of rest and wreak havoc on the world, Monarch is left with only one plan of attack: Recruit Godzilla to defend them.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is everything you want a Godzilla movie to be. I mean, the movie literally starts with a mighty roar from the eponymous monster followed by a scene of San Francisco being destroyed. The filmmakers knew exactly what audiences walking into this movie wanted. Which is great because as I mentioned, the last Godzilla movie was severely underwhelming. It’s ironic that the biggest complaint with that movie was that there wasn’t enough Godzilla and too much focus on the human characters, and this time around the complaint is that there’s too much Godzilla and not enough focus on the human characters. Sometimes there’s just no pleasing people. Normally I’m a big advocate for well-crafted and engaging human stories in movies. In a monster movie however, that kind of thinking goes right out the window. Sure, the humans are one-dimensional archetypal characters, but in a movie like this they’re the supporting characters. They serve their purpose and play their parts well in this monster epic. They may have been a tad basic but I genuinely enjoyed going on this adventure with them.

Also, yes, they were underdeveloped, but I actually really liked the characters we were given. None of them will be getting a spin-off anytime soon, but veteran actors like Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown are all expectedly great. However it’s actually the side characters who were the most fun. O’Shea Jackson Jr., Anthony Ramos, and Aisha Hands, the actors who make up Monarch’s military force,  were interesting and dynamic characters who I wouldn’t mind popping up in future MonsterVerse movies. Ultimately though, the humans are there just to further the plot along, a task which they more than accomplish. I was impressed by the sharp pacing and how director Michael Dougherty used the characters to forward the story. Funnily enough though about halfway through I was like, “who’s supposed to be the hero of this franchise? Kyle Chandler? Sally Hawkins?” Then I realized, duh, it’s Godzilla!

Godzilla: King of the Monsters rightfully gives the Titans starring roles, a clear sign that Dougherty understood what type of movie he had on his hands. I was certain that having Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra together on the big screen would be a clusterfuck. Thankfully, each monster is given their chance to shine and in some surprising moments, you actually grow to care for and feel empathy towards these titanic beasts. Legendary and Warner Bros. have clearly taken their time with this movie and it pays off. I think they’re handling this universe well. I appreciate that the movie doesn’t worry about taking itself too seriously, or achieving an overly dark or lighthearted tone. That often happens with these cinematic universes. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is straightforward excitement and terror, which feels like a loving callback to the old Japanese monster movies it’s based on.

This is a movie that demands to be seen on the big screen. Seeing it anywhere else would be a disservice to the movie. Simply put, it’s a technical marvel. All of the action sequences are executed perfectly and each monster is so intricately designed that you’ll be convinced they’re about to step out of the screen and roar directly in your face. Each scene featuring the monsters is filled with heart-pounding action that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it’s Godzilla and King Ghidorah’s first meeting that is most impressive. It’s truly a remarkable piece of filmmaking that stunned me and left my jaw hanging wide open. The spectacular visual effects only bolster a movie that is already exciting, engaging and cool.

Honestly, besides the underwritten human characters, I can’t think of anything bad about this movie. A really fun and well-made summer blockbuster, I’d recommend seeing this movie. Only if it’s your cup of tea though. If you aren’t into seeing destruction, mayhem, and monster fights and explosions, you won’t enjoy this movie. If you do like all of that, you’ll have a great time!

Will you see Godzilla: King of the Monsters?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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