As human beings, we literally almost ruin everything. Even movies. Well, more specifically, large destruction and/or monster movies. Filmmakers should know that no matter how many times they try, the human element in these types of films is moot. Yes, I realize that we have to use us for set up to get these giant titans fighting, but once the set up is complete, we should get out of the fucking way and be just bystanders to the spectacle that is about to unfold in front of our eyes. All these recent American made monsters movies (this is the third movie in this American Monster Verse), Godzilla 2014, Kong Skull Island, and I’m even going to stretch my reach and even put Godzilla ’98 in there, all have one big major problem. We just don’t give a shit about the human characters. And you say, “well we just need better writers or hire additional ones to make changes, tighten their story, or do something different.” Eh, I don’t think so. With all these destruction movies, they have literally tried everything human wise. Family drama, long lost loves reunited, bad guys searching for power, military trying to stop the end of the world, these scenarios have been done dozens and dozens of times and haven’t worked. I could go on and on, but needless to say GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS suffers from the human element, and almost drags the movie down into mediocrity.
The keyword in that last sentence is almost. I still was entertained and some of the monster battles and shots are incredible, but I was a bit disappointed by this one. In fact, I’m almost willing to say that Godzilla 2014 and Kong Skull Island were better. And I’m going to get chastised for this, but in some ways, even Godzilla ’98 was more entertaining. But I digress, I need to warn you that I am going to spoil minor things in the movie, mainly about the human element, that almost completely killed this movie. I don’t reveal any deaths or what happens monster battles wise, but I have to throw in some concrete examples in order to get my disappointment across to you. Let’s start off with the actual set up/plot of the movie that instigated just so we could see all these titans wake up and start beating the shit out of each other. Basically Godzilla has been dormant for 5 years….since the last movie, but now that company Monarch, that is studying Godzilla and all these other creatures, have found about 17 more titan/monsters and counting and they are dealing with the government possibly shutting them down and just trying to kill all these creatures while they are hibernating.
Well, Norma Bates, after a tragedy shown at the beginning of the film where her and Coach Taylor lost their oldest son in the 2014 battle in San Francisco, develops this ‘ORCA’ machine that can somehow, whatever few throwaway lines of dialogue can explain it away, mimic the call of other monsters/titans which makes the humans can gain the upper hand on the creatures. She betrays her ex-husband and her only surviving daughter, Eleven, and teams up with Tywin Lannister to release all these monsters, because they both feel the world is overpopulated, and after releasing them the titans will fight, battle to the death, in their wake destroy half of the world, so that way the human race can be cleansed and we would have to start over from scratch. Also, they theorize that in the wake of their destruction, ecosystems will regrow and the Earth will eventually heal itself environment wise. UHHHHHHHHH, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR PLOT ANYONE? So already you have a problem with the plot being another, overpopulation/trying to cleanse the Earth bullshit type narrative we’ve seen a thousand times before. That’s already strike one in making me not care literally about any human being in the film.
Strike two is the dialogue and character choices. All the dialogue is just bland, stupid cliched stuff we’ve heard of before. The family drama is just cloned and replicated garbage that one could argue was just of a clone of boredom left over from the 2014 Godzilla AND Kong Skull Island. Eleven from Stranger Things is taken hostage for most of the movie by Tywin Lannister and his rogue army, but near the end of the film, for script convenience sake, she is able to steal the ‘Orca’ device everyone is circle jerking themselves over and just walk out the front door. I literally laughed out loud when that happened, combined with the fact that she travels pretty far and uses the damn device before anyone realizes she is gone. The film wastes one of my favorite actors right now O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube Jr.) in a military role that all he does is shoot a couple of things and say a couple of stupid one liners. Eleven, Norma Bates, Coach Taylor, and Tywin Lannister are all fine, not terrible actors at all in this, it is just the material that makes everything they do dumb and laughable. The only human saving grace in this is Ken Watanabe, a left over from the first film, that has that one scene I wish was in all the Homo Sapien scenes in this movie. You’ll know it when you see it, it is literally the only two minutes in the film where I actually cared about a human being.
Strike three would be having these gorgeous, wonderful shots of Godzilla, Mothra (who is the best damn monster in the whole thing and is VASTLY underused) and other fighting, but then right in the middle, cutting back to the human drama, cutting back to Eleven running with the device and trying not to be hit by debris, cutting back to the human element that I just don’t give a shit about. And like I said before, I get that you need set up, but once the device and freeing the Titans came into play, END THE HUMAN STORY, and just have them sitting on the sidelines, out of danger, watching all these monsters just beat the epic living shit out of each other. It would’ve worked well, I guarantee you that. Combined in my analysis of the movies third strike is the weird way they incapacitated Godzilla for a third of the movie. They basically rip a plot point out of the ’98 Godzilla, and the movie suffered for it. When your movie is called Godzilla King of the Monsters, don’t write something in the script to take him out of it for a third of the movie, that son of a bitch should be in the entire thing.
Now that my three strikes and complaints are out of the way, here are reasons why I still liked and enjoyed what I saw up on the giant action screen. The sound and soundtrack is fucking amazing. They even use the original Godzilla theme for several moments and all the musical cues and sound editing and mixing from the destruction gave me goosebumps the entire time. The cinematography and camera shots are absolutely gorgeous to look at and the CGI seemed pretty tight (although I’d like to see the monsters actually fight during the day, without being hidden by rain, storms, and darkness to see if the CGI still holds up, I have a feeling it wouldn’t). And the monster action and destruction was pretty impressive. Maybe only one or two holy shit moments, but those are one or two holy shit moments more than the 2014 Godzilla and say what you want about the ’98 Godzilla, but the holy shit schlock cheesy moments were through the roof in that movie. Not so much here.
So in the end, am I recommending Godzilla King of the Monsters? Yes. If you can ignore the bullshit human element and love Godzilla movies and want to just see carnage and destruction on a giant, loud, screen…this is definitely the typical summer blockbuster for you. If you are wanting something deep and meaningful, where you actually care about the human characters, I suggest looking far elsewhere. This is writer/director Michael Doughtery’s third film (direction wise), and while I consider it better than Trick Or Treat, it is in no way shape or form gets to the wonderful pedestal that Krampus was put on. He has an eye for destruction, weird little horror demon thing and monster/titan fighting to be sure, but his screenplay talent on human characters leaves much to be desired. And while he isn’t directing Kong Vs. Godzilla (that is already in the can and set to release March 2020) he did still co-write it, and seeing that some of the human cast in this was revealed to be in next year’s movie, doesn’t give me much hope. I have a feeling we will just end up seeing the same thing: Kong and Godzilla going at it in some epic fight sequences, but tied with another boring, cliched human/family/military/rogue story that I still couldn’t give two shits about. Is there no way to just make a Godzilla movie from his point of you and just completely wiping away Earth with no plot and absolutely no point of view from the human beings because we ruin a lot of good shit? That could be fun.