Review by J.T. Johnson
In 2014, Legendary Pictures started their MonsterVerse with the release of “Godzilla”, the second attempt by Americans to adapt the famous monster from Japan, except this time they had the blessing of original Godzilla studio Toho. It was not an entirely bad film, but I didn’t recommend it because we barely got to see any significant action from our main character until the end. It also didn’t help that Godzilla was facing a newly created menace rather than an established foe from one of the original Japanese films.
In “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, we follow the Russell family, which consists of animal specialist Mark (Kyle Chandler), paleobiologist Emma (Vera Farmiga) and their resourceful 12-year-old daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). During Godzilla’s original appearance in 2014, Mark and Emma lost their son. Emma goes on to try and figure out why these “Titans” are returning and develops a way to communicate with them while Mark simply left to drink the pain away and study animals.
Meanwhile, the government agency known as Monarch has discovered and contained 17 new Titans since Godzilla. Their biggest baddie, Monster Zero, is frozen in the Antarctic. I don’t want to spoil too much more here, but this monster is the three headed dragon called Ghidorah and after being freed, you can start placing your bets as to who will be the King of the Monsters by the time the credits roll.
To be honest, I only have one real criticism against the movie. There are too many human characters that the movie asks us to care about. Therefore, when some of them die, they feel more like fodder for the monsters rather than people I should care about. Still, when the human cast is whittled down to the core group, you do find yourself caring for them and, unlike the characters found in “Kong: Skull Island”, you actually understand why they make certain choices.
Beyond that, though, the film does exactly what I wanted it to do. There are massive monster fights and the special-effects were pretty damn stellar. Unlike the 2014 film, we get to see Godzilla in all of his glory and it’s a sight to behold. Simply put, this is the Godzilla film that I wanted them to make five years ago.
They also did a good job on Ghidorah, one of Godzilla’s more recognizable foes. This monster is truly a menace and you can immediately tell that Godzilla will have his hands full. Other monsters are teased here and there, but the only other significant monsters that appear is Mothra and Rodan. They play more of a supporting role to our two main baddies and they also look pretty amazing in their own right.
The movie also manages to update the social commentary. Sure, nuclear power being a threat in a post-WWII Japan and in the world at large thanks to the Cold War was good for the past. However, climate change is our current crisis and the film addresses this as one of the biggest reasons that the Titans are returning to Earth.
Beyond the social commentary, though, the big reason we come to a big monster film is to watch the monsters. Thankfully, this film learned from the past mistakes and gave us what we wanted in the first place. This is a good looking big event film and if you’re a fan of big monster films, then this one has definitely got you covered for the Summer.