Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters ★★★★★

So, I'm not entirely surprised that this is getting mixed reviews. I think it's something that afflicts the Godzilla franchise as a whole, rather than just this latest film. In my opinion, there are two main reasons why people dislike certain Godzilla films.

First, we must consider the fact that Godzilla is just not for everyone. It's a very niche franchise that began as a series of sci-fi B-movies, featuring actors in rubber monster suits wrestling amongst, or demolishing, miniature buildings. And, for the most part, it has maintained that 50s B-movie vibe over the years. It's not exactly the kind of thing that appeals to everyone. Furthermore, the Toho films are often targeted at a young audience. There's a certain level of immaturity in many of the Godzilla films. They're like live action versions of a Saturday morning cartoon. Many Godzilla films are just goofy fun, and it means different things to different people. But, it's not something that has mass appeal, and that's ok. I suspect a lot of negative reviews for this come from people who just don't appreciate Godzilla. However, I did go see this with someone who isn't a fan, and they really enjoyed it.

Second, we must consider that tastes change over time. While some discover the franchise as adults, many Godzilla fans connected with these films at a young age, and their taste in Godzilla films has a lot to do with which films they were initially exposed to. I've seen many Godzilla fans that love the era of Godzilla film that they grew up with, but not any of the newer films. Is it that Godzilla films have changed, or even become worse over time? Or, is it more likely that some fans outgrow Godzilla, while still maintaining a nostalgia-fuelled appreciation for the specific films that kindled their love for Godzilla in the first place? Do you love the Shōwa era but can't stand anything that came after? Have you ever thought about why? Or maybe you watched the Heisei era first, but don't really like anything else. Maybe you have very rigid and narrow definitions for what makes a Godzilla movie, and anything that deviates from that is no good in your opinion. Whatever the case, I believe there are plenty of fans that do not love Godzilla universally. I see this every time I read through large numbers of reviews for these films. Almost every film in the franchise has fans that hate that specific film, as well as fans who think that film is the best. I believe that this accounts for many, if not all, of the negative reviews coming from actual fans.

Am I saying that this is a perfect Godzilla film? Probably not, but then I'm not even sure how to define such a film. I certainly don't think there is a definition that would be accepted by all fans. As I said before, Godzilla means different things to different people. However, I do believe that this film succeeds at exactly what it sets out to do. It takes many of the ingredients found in the majority of beloved Godzilla films, and it presents those ingredients in a big budget Hollywood film that replaces rubber monsters and miniatures with cutting edge visual effects. Like many Hollywood blockbusters these days, it's big, loud, and filled with spectacle. Such films can be an assault on the senses. They don't even give you a moment to breathe and absorb what you've just seen. This may be why many film lovers, myself included, prefer older films more often than not. However, I really enjoyed this particular Godzilla film. It is clearly made for the fans and it is filled with affectionate nods to the history of the franchise. It's just wall to wall fan service up in this thing. Furthermore, it addresses many of the criticisms levelled at the previous American films. You thought the MUTOs were generic and uninspired monster designs? This has many of the classic monsters. You wanted more Godzilla? You got it. You wanted more monster fights? You got it. You wanted more interesting human characters, that actually do stuff? There's plenty of those here too. You wanted the inclusion of the classic and iconic themes, originally composed by Akira Ifukube? Check. Hell, this has things you didn't even know you wanted, like a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult song, Godzilla, playing over the end credits.

It's not pefect, however. While the monster fights are not as difficult to see as they were in the 2014 Godzilla, they still take place at night, and often in the rain, or some other visibility reducing conditions. I would have liked to see some of the action take place during the day, with better visibilty. Furthermore, while the characters are much more interesting than the 2014 film, and have more to do, the writing could have been a little better. However, I've seen fans complain about the way the human drama is handled in almost every single one of these. Ultimately, I liked the human characters and their story arcs in this. And, for those who felt Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) didn't get much to do in the previous film, he is redeemed here in one of the most powerful scenes in the film.

I thorougly enjoyed my initial viewing of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Time will tell whether it becomes one of my favourite films, or crumbles upon repeat viewings. But there were times, while watching this, that I wanted to pump my fist in the air and shout "FUCK YEAH!" It made me feel like a kid again, and I never wanted it to end.

Tears_in_Rain liked these reviews