Released: 30th May
Since 1954 the world has had a repeated fascination with the Japanese movie monster Godzilla, a gigantic sea creature that was spawned by the nuclear radiation that would also regularly spit fire like it was nobody’s business. Godzilla is possibly one of the most iconic film characters of all time and for years he was a metaphor for nuclear war, natural disasters, basically anything that could best be embodied by a giant nuclear sea creature. Appearing in 35 films that span the gamut from iconically bad to some of the most fun you’ll have watching men in dinosaur suits slap each other, it’s a series that everyone has at least heard of and that Hollywood has tried to make on multiple occasions. The first time Hollywood got their slimy hands on Godzilla was in 1998 with Roland Emmerich decided he was going to make a Godzilla film even though, turns out, he didn’t even really make a Godzilla movie since he basically just made a movie with a weird dinosaur. It was a movie that was so bad that Toho, the company behind Godzilla, trademarked the new design as “Zilla” because there was nothing godly about that mess (except, perhaps, a godly amount of fish). Then in 2014, we got another Godzilla film and while that one was a step up from what came before, it also had maybe 10 minutes of Godzilla in it and spent a ton of time with the humans that no one cares about. So now, here we are, the third time that Hollywood would take on the king of the monsters and… god damn it, they finally got the damn point.
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters continues following the group known as Monarch, a gang of scientists who try to study the giant radioactive creatures that they have dubbed “titans”. The major figure in the group is Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) who has created a device known as Orca which emits a sound that will help to control the creatures. She is kidnapped, along with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) by a gang of eco-terrorists who are led by a defected colonel Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). These eco-terrorists want to awaken the sleeping titans all around the world so that they can hopefully cause a cataclysmic event that will reduce the population enough so we can start over. Basically, they’re a terrorist group that heard about Thanos’ plan and went “Actually, that makes sense”. Dr Emma’s ex-husband Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) isn’t exactly OK with his ex-wife and child being kidnapped, especially since he’s still dealing with the death of their other child, and so he joins the army in helping to locate them… all of this while four giant creatures blow things up and punch each other in their creature faces.
Now, a lot that has been said about the plot of this film by critics who feel that it might not be enough, that an entire film can’t just be a bunch of monsters punching each other. I wonder exactly what film they’re watching because the plot here is absolutely fine, it’s actually quite interesting to see the humans having debates about if they should let the creatures live or if they should try and blow them up until there is nothing left to blow up. On the other hand, this is a Godzilla movie. The plot in a Godzilla movie is a little bit like the plot in a porno, it’s nice when they try and have one and it can make them stand out, but it’s the literal last thing anyone is here for. We came here to see a bunch of monsters punch, blast and kick each other and no one is particular about what order that happens in. Yes, these creatures are metaphors for nuclear war and how we need to understand nuclear power because without that understanding it will just lead to total devastation, there’s an absolutely valid intellectual way to analyse this film… but then you miss the giant moth with the most beautiful wings you’ve ever seen blowing bright blue magic spray everywhere and blowing the fire god Rodan back about 20 feet. So maybe hold back the analysis just for a minute.
Visually this film is beautiful; its muted tones for the majority of the world allow the bright colours emanating from the characters to pop beautifully. There is truly something gorgeous about the sight of a cloudy sky that burns bright yellow and allows the shape of Ghidorah to be seen in a beautifully realised shadow. Are there shots where the creatures don’t look as good? Sure, but the originals were guys in suits that looked like they were on loan from the Power Rangers, the fact that they look as good as they do is a goddamn triumph. They’re filmed perfectly and there are so many shots I want to be framed and put on my wall. There’s a shot that’s just Mothra flapping her wings and it is so beautiful. These creatures stand out from the rest of the world, as they should because we’re here to see them. I mean, the actors look fine and are shot well and do good acting but, again, we are not here to follow the stories of the people. I can see stories about people any damn time in any damn movie, I want to see a giant bug head butt a firebird and this movie lets me have that experience.
This movie is proof that a big budget Godzilla movie can work if you embrace the insanity that comes with the franchise. A film can absolutely be carried on the backs of a bunch of creatures fighting each other, especially a film that embraces that concept as much as this one does. Sure there are some moments when the film drags, usually when they take us away from the giant monster fight to try and make us care about what the people are doing (I DO NOT CARE WHAT THE PEOPLE IN A GODZILLA FILM ARE DOING! ARE YOU CURRENTLY BEING EATEN BY RODAN? NO? THEN I DO NOT CARE!) but it’s a film that hits a lot more than it misses. If you want a good two hours of big dumb fun that doesn’t require you to think or do anything other than go “Ooh, big lizard punched the bird”, here’s that movie, enjoy the relaxation and time away from the problems of the real world