Other Media Review

Movie Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is arguably one of the best bad movies I’ve ever seen. It’s terrible. It makes zero sense. It’s also completely aware of the fact that it’s terrible and makes zero sense, has fun with that awareness, and therefore transcends objectively awful into glorious F+ territory.

This movie is a messy, ridiculous delight.

This movie understands that we’re here for epic CGI battles between giant monsters and that we don’t need to understand how or why these monsters exist. We’re going in with the assumption that Godzilla is real and he’s going to need to fight somebody. This film is pure Kaiju pr0n, and it knows it.

So here’s where I normally add some plot summary. The thing is, this movie really has no plot. At least not a coherent one. The plot is this: Godzilla fights other giant monsters. This is a follow up of 2014’s Godzilla and also Kong: Skull Island but you don’t need to watch either of those movies to understand this one because there’s nothing to understand.

Okay, there was a little more plot than that, but it’s not amazing.

Basically there are giant monsters waking up all over the world, and they’re called Titans. There’s an agency called Monarch that studies them. Monarch wants to protect the Titans, some people want to kill them all (Godzilla destroyed San Francisco back in 2014), and eco-terrorist named Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) wants to wake up all the slumbering Titans and let them fight it out. He thinks we should worship them and that they’ll fix global warming.

But, Elyse, you say, how will a bunch of giant monsters fighting, and destroying cities in the process, fix global warming?

Fuck if I know. The movie doesn’t know either. The movie is very, very open about how little science means in this franchise.

I mean, the earth is hollow and Godzilla swims through it to get to places faster.

Yes, you read that correctly. The earth is hollow. Godzilla swims through it.

Godzilla and King Ghidorah fight during a storm. There's a cityscape behind them

Also all the monsters are radioactive I guess? They kept throwing out terms about radioactivity, and I’m reading Midnight in Chernobyl right now, and I’d be pretty fucking concerned if I was in Monarch.

Anyway so all the Titans wake up. We get Mothra! And Mothra and Godzilla might be a thing and I don’t have any idea how that works anatomically speaking. Mothra is also apparently the only female Titan…but how do you even sex a giant, glowing moth-creature? (I Googled “moth sex” when I was thinking about that and I’m super excited for whatever fucked up recommendations I will now get based on my browser history). We also get Rodan and King Ghidorah, and a few other Titans who don’t have names. One of them is a spider-crab thingy and is made of all my nightmares.

Somehow they managed to CGI a permanently sarcastic expression on Rodan’s face, like he’s got an internal monologue where he’s shit-talking the movie as it progresses.

King Ghidorah is the Big Bad Monster, although we don’t know why. He just is. Roll with it. All he did was wake up, freak out, and eat a couple of people, which honestly seems pretty reasonable to me.

King Ghidorah stares down a military jet. He looks like a hydra with dragon wings and he breathes lightning.

So now that all the monsters are awake they have to fight. Except Mothra and Godzilla because they’re a couple. Why do they need to fight? Fuck if I know. The movie doesn’t know either. It’s fine.

At one point Godzilla gets really sick and then becomes a Christ-figure (not making this up) and then

Click for epic batshit spoilers
Dr Serizawa has to travel down inside the hollow earth to a place where an ancient Atlantis-like city where they worshipped Godzilla had once been located, and he sets a nuclear device off right by Godzilla to make him better, sacrificing his life so Godzilla can save us all, apparently. He does it while he and Godzilla lovingly make eye contact, so it’s pretty good that he’s dead cuz Mothra would be pissed.

This movie relies heavily on special effects, most of them of giant monsters fighting each other. Yeah, there’s a human cast, but they know we’re here for the giant monsters. The people in this movie spend 98% of their time in airplanes and helicopters and submarines watching the Titans duke it out and providing color commentary. The only two people who actually do anything other spouting science jargon that doesn’t make sense or loudly declaring that the Titans are fighting each other (we know, guys) is Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown). Watanabe is reprising his role from 2014 except this time he’s allowed to have some fun with it. Brown plays the ubiquitous kid they somehow let into a top secret government facility where terrifying creatures are being hatched.

Bradley Whitford plays some science guy (Dr. Rick Stanton per IMDB) and he looks like he’s having the time of his life. He delivers the shit out of his ridiculous lines and all but winks at the camera while doing it.

The Titans inflict a lot of damage wherever they go, and two cities are destroyed in this movie. The violence is largely restricted to the monsters, though, and we only see a handful of people actually killed on screen. You do see a lot of people fleeing for their lives, and presumably not all of them would live, so if that kind of thing bugs you, you might want to opt out of this silliness. If you can suspend disbelief that no one was in the building Godzilla just stepped on, then this movie is totally worth seeing. It’s absolutely a spectacle worth spending theatre money on.

If you don’t need a plot other than “Godzilla fights other monsters,” are cool with science not being a thing, and want to watch a bunch of terrifying creatures battle it out while humans look on in terror, then this is the movie for you. It’s terrible, but it’s so terrible, it’s good.


Ed. note: Watch the trailer for the epic bit of poetry, “Our planet will perish, and so will we…unless we set Godzilla free.”

Add Your Comment →

  1. 1
    Tam B says:
    +7

    Is it just me or do they have a part of “Over the rainbow” as music in that trailer. Along with LOTR nod.

    Love the review.

  2. 2
    Ren Benton says:
    +13

    I have a negative amount of interest in watching this, but Charles Dance is a treasure, and I’m sure he’d convince me worshiping giant fighting monsters would solve any number of problems.

  3. 3
    JoS says:
    +4

    Thanks for the laughs!

    I’ll give this movie a pass. Got room in the head for only one Titan franchise at a time.

  4. 4
    Natasha R says:
    +2

    Thanks for the review. I was planning to skip this movie and now maybe I won’t 😀

  5. 5
    Elva says:
    +8

    I am pretty sure this review is a lot more fun than the actual film – thanks for taking one for the team Elyse!

  6. 6
    HeatherT says:
    +4

    I wish we could embed gifs in the comments because I would put all the “happy anticipation” gifs for what I felt like when I say the F+. This didn’t disappoint.

  7. 7
    HeatherT says:
    +1

    *saw*

  8. 8
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting) says:
    +6

    Oooh. I love a good trainwreck. This is what I expected Pacific Rim to be back when it came out, and it unexpectedly was too decent to be properly good-bad in my book. (My inner child still loved it.)

    Dunno if I’ll show my face at a movie theater, but I’ll catch it on streaming.

    My inner pedantic 6-year-old is also still salty because I remember the original Godzilla being female (unexpectedly laid eggs somewhere, gasp) but that may be a faulty memory.

  9. 9
    DarienDG says:
    +8

    The music by Bear McCreary had lots of musical homages, not the least of which is an awesome retake on the original Godzilla them with Japanese male chorus. I enjoyed this movie as a classic monster movie – like being back sitting in a blanket on the living room floor, with homemade popcorn and all the deliciously cheesy B monster movies in black and white.

  10. 10
    Lostshadows says:
    +4

    I agree with pretty much everything in this review and gave it four stars.

    Nostalgia is a heck of a drug.

  11. 11
    Castiron says:
    +7

    I took tween kid to see it, as he’s a massive Godzilla fan. He thoroughly enjoyed it; I caught him clapping his hands in glee when Rodan emerged.

    Since I went in knowing not to expect great cinema, I had a good time too. The visuals and the music are great. The plot falls apart if you breathe on it, and the characters are inconsistent; I spent half the movie hoping Kyle Chandler’s character was going to die and half of it trying to figure out what other actor he looked like (finally figured out he reminded me of Peter Falk). Watanabe’s death scene was moving, though, and overall I had fun with the movie.

    Pre-Successful Indie, if you’re thinking of Son of Godzilla, I don’t think it’s made clear in that movie whether Godzilla was a biological parent of Minilla or not, but I like the theory that Godzilla is female. It’s not like any humans have gotten close enough to get a look at zir genital organs, after all….

  12. 12
    Morgan M says:
    +6

    I swear to God, I kept imagining King Ghidorah and Godzilla just yelling “bitch!” at each other through all their fights. I loved it.

  13. 13
    JJB says:
    +1

    @DarienDG I have no interest in this film, but I love Bear’s stuff so maybe I’ll have to listen to the soundtrack–it sounds pretty cool!

  14. 14
    Maureen says:
    +2

    “If you don’t need a plot other than “Godzilla fights other monsters,”

    Then you add the love of my pretend life, Kyle Chandler, and Charles Dance is also on the list-I will be showing up to the theater to watch the hell out of this!!

    @castiron-I would love to hear your thoughts about Peter Falk and Kyle Chandler. I don’t think they look similar, but they have such a natural way of playing a part. If you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights-Kyle Chandler is amazing in that role. Even if you don’t like football, it is a great series.

  15. 15
    gremlin says:
    +2

    i thoroughly enjoyed this movie. ridiculous, but all kinds of fun.

    in theory, you’ll notice a few more things if you’ve also watched Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, but i haven’t seen them since they were in the theater so i’m not sure it mattered.

    definitely looking forward to Godzilla vs. Kong in March 2020!

    [and ah, commercials for Friday Night Lights must be why Kyle Chandler looks familiar.]

  16. 16
    Pre-Successful Indie says:
    +2

    >>Pre-Successful Indie, if you’re thinking of Son of Godzilla, I don’t think it’s made clear in that movie whether Godzilla was a biological parent of Minilla or not>>

    I think that may be it. Revising my original faulty memory, it was something about a bigger kaiju avenging / defending a “little” kaiju, and that’s how I remembered it. (It wasn’t the American version; I am waaaaay too old. I saw the 50s-60s movies in the 80s thanks to my boomer dad.)

  17. 17
    Jill Q. says:
    +4

    My seven year old son is very excited for this movie. I think we will wait for streaming because he reacts unpredictably to scares and “mean people.”
    Also, I told him that Godzilla was female because, why not? I also vaguely remembered an egg story and must have assumed female and we can never have too many strong female role models 🙂

  18. 18
    Felicitas Ivey says:
    +5

    There are also some good things in this train wreck!

    A lot of strong ladies (most who make it to the end of the movie!) in charge.
    The message that love can transcend species! MotraxGodzilla 4evah!

    Also people process personal crises in different ways.

    my friends and I had fun watching things close to Fenway Park being destroyed and arguing what the damage would truly be, because that area, like most of Boston, is landfill.

    Good movie with a great sound track.

    Devilkitty

  19. 19
    Sarahjane Cottrell says:
    +3

    I mean, you’re not wrong. But I loved the sh*t out of this movie anyway! The visuals and soundtrack were fantastic, and I really appreciated that we have a cast (of humans) that features women and non-white people. I love that the teenage girl actually gets something to do other than be a plot moppet.

    (For the violence warning I would add, however, that there are a couple of scenes of humans shooting other humans. The deaths mostly happen just off screen, but we hear it and see the dead bodies. Just FYI.)

  20. 20
    chacha1 says:
    0

    I saw the preview for this and it definitely had ‘over the rainbow’ mixed into the music (quite effectively I might add even though at the time I thought WTF can that possibly have to do with this monster movie).

    Also, IMO Ken Watanabe has blistering chemistry with everything on earth up to and including My Mother The Car, so it’s not at all surprising that he can deliver loving eye contact with a CGI monster.

  21. 21
    Lynn says:
    0

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It’s just fun. Lots of monster battles. Easter eggs for kaiju fans. Post-credit scene setup for another movie. I came away happy with my time and a slightly deafened husband who endured all my cheering.

  22. 22
    S.M. says:
    0

    Let’s not forget the epic destruction of Boston, and most notably,Fenway Park

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