I wouldn’t describe myself as a Godzilla fan. I’ve seen a handful of Godzilla movies, and liked most of them, but I’m not a devout follower. Even so, the phenomenal trailer for ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ that premiered last summer at San Diego Comic-Con got me very excited for the atomic lizard’s latest cinematic outing.
In this follow-up to 2014’s ‘Godzilla’, writer-director Michael Dougherty–whom you might remember from his 2015 Christmas horror/comedy ‘Krampus’–serves up a dense, worldbuilding homage to classic kaiju films. Though, there seems to be some debate regarding the quality of this homage, and where its priorities lie.
Unlike its 2014 predecessor, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ spares no expense in the gigantic monster department. Enormous ancient beasts known as “titans” have been discovered in dormant states all over the world. When Ghidorah, the biggest and baddest of them all, is woken up, Godzilla must contend with his ancient rival for dominance over all the other titans.
Sounds crazy, right? It gets even crazier.
‘King of the Monsters’ is one of the most unimaginably dense blockbusters in recent years. Every ten minutes, a new piece of information is revealed, or something absolutely insane happens with no setup whatsoever. It all comes completely out of nowhere, and chances are most of it won’t make a lick of since. Don’t bother waiting around for an explanation, though. Godzilla has more important things to do.
Caught up in this enormous battle for supremacy is an overstuffed and thinly-written cast of human characters. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, and Charles Dance are just some of the unbelievably deep cast that ‘King of the Monsters’ brings to bear. Every single one of them pales in comparison to the great Ken Watanabe, who manages to bring an incredible amount of gravitas and pathos to the sloppiest screenplay I’ve seen in a blockbuster since ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’.
All that being said, I genuinely loved this movie.
Yes, anything that involves human characters is either inexplicable or absurd. Hell, most of the time it’s both. But every ridiculous line of dialogue is delivered in such a self-serious and matter-of-fact way that it’s nearly impossible not to crack a smile. The human half of this movie is such delightful, entertaining nonsense..
The other half? Glorious, magnificent, gargantuan melee.
While the human storylines fit squarely in the “so bad it’s good” category, any scene involving one or more of the titans is grade-A summer blockbuster action. The monster designs are impressive, stretching the limits of what CGI can bring to a movie like this. The monsters themselves have fun and distinct characterizations. Godzilla defends humanity with all the ferocity of the dad who heard the other kids were picking on his son in school; Ghidora, the conniving, mustache twirling evil-doer; Mothra, the protective big sister; Rodan, the fickle, boot-licking lackey.
‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is a film very much concerned with its super-sized protagonist. Most creative effort appears to have gone into making anything involving Godzilla and his fellow titans into an epic action melodrama. If you’re able to sit back and laugh at the tiny, ridiculous humans, you’ll be suitably entertained until the next titanic monster-brawl.
Godzilla’s latest big-screen Western outing is messy, absurd, and a hell of a good time. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily a good movie, but I can guarantee you that ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is probably the most insane movie you’ll see this year.