Since the Godzilla franchise first appeared in Japanese movie theaters 65 years ago, fans across the globe have been obsessed with the colossal lizard-like creature. With this latest release, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the filmmakers have created the ultimate tribute to science fiction’s favorite monster series.
Picking up five years after the events of the 2014 reboot, Godzilla, G:KOTM builds upon the shared universe that was introduced in the first film and expanded upon in the prequel, Kong: Skull Island. Immediately, fans are shown the aftermath of Godzilla’s destruction in San Francisco, which also serves as an introduction to the main human characters. However, the human characters served no other purpose than to provide history and backstory on the monsters. In fact, there were several times in the film where the humans felt more like a necessary distraction for the story to progress and guide the audience towards the next big battle scene.
Despite this, the star’s performances were excellent. Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobbie Brown shoulder most of the emotional scenes, bringing forth the same energy and talent that established that can be found in their other franchises, The Conjuring and Stranger Things. However, Ken Watanabe steals every scene that he’s in as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, the Japanese doctor who has dedicated his life to studying Godzilla. Watanabe’s performance conveys fear, astonishment, and respectful admiration for each of the monsters. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast couldn’t match the stellar work of Farmiga, Brown, and Watanabe, which resulted in the one-dimensional performances I previously mentioned.
Obviously, the best parts of the film are the ones that feature Godzilla the newest additions to the kaiju roster; Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah. Each of these monsters dominate the screen every second they are featured, and their combat scenes are some of the most destructive, epic action sequences of any Godzilla film. The visual effects were top notch, and I was glad to see that the filmmakers focused on showing damage that the monsters inflict upon each other and the surrounding environments. In fact, the fight scenes here were the best kaiju battle scenes since Pacific Rim.
One thing that Godzilla: King of the Monsters succeeds in doing is connecting this film to the larger connected universe that the producers and filmmakers have established. While other film franchises have tried to emulate Marvel Studio’s blueprint for connected film universes, Legendary Pictures is the only studio to successfully accomplish this by giving the fans exactly what they want from a Godzilla film; huge fighting monsters that destroy cities and wreak havoc on the human population. And with several references hinting at that next film in the series, Godzilla vs King Kong, fans are entering a new renaissance of kaiju and monster films that no doubt is spearheaded by Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Verdict – B+