Godzilla: King of the Monsters— A Strange Force of Nature

(Originally written on June 15, 2019)

The ‘kaiju’ film genre, made popular by the King Kong and Godzilla movies, has been around for decades. It is an incredibly fascinating genre that delves into sci-fi tropes like humans tinkering with things they don’t fully understand, or facing impossible odds against colossal creatures. The Japanese Godzilla series of films in particular included social and political undertones early on, but then focused on different themes in subsequent titles (action, mythology, etc.). It was only a matter of time before American studios put their own spin on the titan, but 1998’s “Godzilla” was panned by both critics and audiences alike. Even veteran Japanese actors from past Godzilla films criticized the creature’s strange design, saying how this iteration of the titan “is not Godzilla and doesn’t have his spirit.”

Fast forward to 2014 with director Gareth Edwards given the task to reboot Godzilla for Western audiences. To his and the crew’s credit, the film was all right and paid homage to how Godzilla is more than the mindless beast many perceive him to be. This (and maybe Pacific Rim) gave new life to the genre, so much so that Legendary Pictures began creating a ‘Monsterverse’ which includes 2014’s Godzilla, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, this film (King of the Monsters) and a follow up with Godzilla vs. Kong coming in 2020. All that aside, does Godzilla: King of the Monsters deliver?

The short answer is yes. I appreciated how the film went to great lengths to portray how massive, colossal, gargantuan, (insert other synonyms here) these titans are. It made me gaze at them in both fear and in awe as they emerged one by one. Strangely, at times it felt like I was watching a nature documentary about titans, but with more danger involved. While it was a joy to watch the titans throw their weight around, other elements of the film were not as enjoyable.

The film’s pacing is a bit of an issue. I understand how the human element somewhat needs to be present for the movie (scientists, family, army, and others) and the overall throughline of the narrative is fine, but some scenes felt draggy. I think some aspects of the plot could have been removed or reworked to create a smoother pace. I also felt some scenes heavy on exposition could have been tweaked to seem more natural, though perhaps it doesn’t matter given what kind of film this is. And on that similar note, just know there is a lot of inevitable destruction due to the titans’ actions. Maybe almost too much.

As for things I enjoyed about the movie (aside from the titans), I thought the cast gave pretty good performances. Though some actors were given a minimal amount of screen time, each were great in their respective roles. The emotions and interactions were believable (for the most part) and it helps that there is a bit of humour in a film like this. It’s awesome seeing how the titans themselves had some personality too.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn’t perfect, but still pretty enjoyable for fans of kaiju films and general sci-fi. I would simply advise to keep an open mind and exercise patience when watching the movie. You really need to earn the great moments by sitting through the less stellar stuff. Good luck!

- A. Shin

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