I am not a massive Godzilla fan, I must admit. As exciting as watching ancient monsters can be, it’s not incredibly deep – storytelling-wise – it’s appeal lies in its simplicity, Monsters fighting each other will always appeal to the juvenile side of our minds.
2014’s Godzilla was okay, took too long for Godzilla to arrive, but it was okay for what it was. The addition of Kong to its mythology through 2017’s Kong: Skull Island is an interesting one, as I say, there is something that appeals to our most juvenile instincts about seeing unspeakably large creatures might each other. Universal knew this in the 1950’s through there Monster films and now Warner Bros are cashing in on this deal.
In the weeks and months leading up to release there have been many amazing looking screenshots from the film that show its eye-catching visual style, and all that is fine, but doesn’t sell a whole movie, does it have more to offer?
Governments are attempting to control the world’s ‘Titan’ population, arguing whether they should be exterminated, meanwhile, more of these world-threatening monsters awake from hibernation, prompting Godzilla to rise again.
There is rarely opportunity for deep storytelling with a concept like this. Most people are just here, as I said, to see these monsters collide, and this film duly delivers tussles between several different ‘Titans’ or (Kaiju, if we want to use their old names).
So, the human characters are very much background fodder to set the scene for many opportunities to see CGI monsters bump into each other, and that’s fine. After all, one of my main gripes with the Transformers films is the emphasis of human characters (who no-one likes) when most people are just there to see the monsters crash into each other. Although comparing Godzilla to the Transformers franchise is doing it a massive injustice.
The story, such as it is, sees the usual questions brought up in films when humans discover new creatures, do we befriend it, or kill it? Classic human ploy, meanwhile there’s a small cast of main humans who have first-hand experience with the monsters, once again par for the course, and while I’d struggle to name a particular stand-out performance, although if I had to it would probably be the daughter, played by Millie Bobby Brown, who deftly avoids many cliches of the teenage character, but elsewhere the acting is adequate at best. There’s a lot of talent here, but not a lot of effort gone into characters, everyone knows we’re not here for them anyway.
The main draw for the film pre-release was its stunning visuals, and they are very evident in the final film, there are many stand-out scenes and shots, incredibly well directed an animated, my personal favourite being the first shot of Mothra unfurling it’s wings, as well as the final shot.
As much as I am one to say that good visuals usually mean nothing in the final film, when they are done to enhance the action as opposed to e siting just for the sake if it, that’s when I’ll applaud visual design, and King of the Monsters is a true visual feast, not only in its individual images, but in how the fight scenes are animated and laid out. If I was to think of a criticism for it, it would be that some of the action is a bit dark, so it can be hard to make out, and I remind you that an artistic choice that makes your film harder to watch is a bad artistic choice.
So, for what it sets out to do, it does its job as well as can be expected. It’s monster fights feel epic and satisfying, and the visuals are stunning. While the plot and characters are tissue thin and shallow, Godzilla: King of the Monsters ticks all the necessary boxes of a monster flick, delivering top class visual design with well-realised action. The franchise may still leave me out in the cold somewhat, but I found enough enjoyment out of this film for what it was, and maybe you will too.