Godzilla: King of the Monsters Review (Spoilers)

Godzilla: KOTM (opened last night in most U.S. theaters) is not nearly as bad as most critics would suggest. I do agree that it is not a very good film, but it has some special moments. In the Big G pantheon I’d put it somewhere above the weak early 1970’s Toho films and below what I see as a vastly superior film in Toho’s Shin Gojira (2016) (which made me think). This new film by Michael Dougherty (Krampus; Trick ‘r Treat) is an improvement over Gareth Edward’s insipid predecessor. My main gripe with this new film is the choice of depicting the Titans (Kaiju or proper Daikaiju) at night. Slow up the battle scenes in a well lit environment so we can see the monsters! I had the same beef with Pacific Rim (2013).

The monster designs are fine. Godzilla has been tweaked with larger dorsal “sail” fins and now has splayed feet with claws (remember 2014 had pachyderm feet —ugh?). Mothra has the most inspired design and a few surprises. Rodan is now a fire-demon, but Dougherty pays homage to his Toho heritage by having a volcanic origin. Ghidorah (also called Monster Zero, in a tip of the hat to Toho) is impressive and arguably the most destructive depiction of that monster in any film. Early on it serves as the alpha controlling 17 other monsters.


These were disappointing, including a mammoth-inspired quadruped, a spider-like arthropod, another MUTO, and a Gamera-like beast that looks like a lumbering mountain. Toho wisely licensed only a few Kaiju. Sorry no Angurus! No Jet Jaguar! I’m certain there are plenty of easter eggs references in the Latin names depicted occasionally in the film.

Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, another Toho homage) is always good and he is fine in this film, and he has an important part. David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins are entirely wasted and amount to cameos. Bradley Whitford, as one of the Monarch team, says a lot of really meaningless dialogue and stupid comic insertions. The cliché broken family unit of Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown (who I usually like, but not in this film) failed to engage my interest. If each of Monster Zero’s heads chewed the three up I would have cheered.

The score (Bear McCreary) is a highlight. Yes, we hear Akira Ifukube’s famous Godzilla theme. I also thought the sound effects and creature sounds were inspired. Overall the monster scenes deliver (especially the opening Antartica encounter) and will please fans of the genre.


Of course the Big G lights up and Monster Zero sorta dies, but in a post credit scene some DNA harvesters, led by GOT heavy Dance, find one of Ghidorah’s heads. This all leads up to 2020 and KK vs. G (or is it the other way around?). I see this as a tag team with the gorilla and atomic lizard taking on a cybernetic Ghidorah (aka Mecha-Ghidorah). I’ll be there I am sure.

2 1/2 to 3 out of 5. Grab some popcorn and have fun.

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