a spoiler-free review by the core Team.
The Crow: It’s no secret that Godzilla: King of the Monsters has long been one of our most anticipated movies of 2019, and at long last, the movie is only a few hours away from its UK launch. While our intended “Godzilla celebration” has not worked out as we would have liked due to various factors, we’ll be addressing it at a later date. For now, let’s jump straight into the movie we’ve “mathematically proved” is the biggest of 2019. As always, my co-author’s sections will be marked separate to mine.
(As a bonus, scroll down to the very end for some miscellaneous fun things.)
(These will be updated over time to avoid spoilers.)
The Azure-Winged Magpie: 🎤(ಠ ◡ ಠ✿)!
Got my mic. Got my popcorn. Got my G-Man plush. Got my super-fangirl-powers in check.
Got my tributes to His Holy Nuclear Scaliness God-King Gojira of August Majesty over the Monsters, the First of His Name, the King of the Monsters and the Kaijū (may his rule be a long and happy one).
It’s GODZILLA time!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW IN TWO VOICES
SPOILER LEVELS at MINIMAL
The Crow: There has always been a silliness inherent to the ‘Godzilla’ franchise following its very first outing. While Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla tried to reclaim a sense of seriousness (and misfired in that charge, somewhat), King of the Monsters embraces it.
This isn’t to say that King of the Monsters is a silly movie, however. The 2014 edition of Godzilla wanted to capture a spirit of “awe” in the face of the monsters — or Titans, as the monsters are called in this universe. And it achieved as much, only to fail at developing a character who could channel that awe outside of a single facial expression. Everything about the movie had a sense of sombre dread to it, and while it worked, it left us wanting more of a connection to the events happening on screen.
Enter: King of the Monsters. Right off the bat, the sequel adds a great deal of colour — and flavour — to the young franchise. Kong: Skull Island had already set a precedent to the look of the MonsterVerse heading forward. KotM marries the gloominess of 2014 with the Pacific adventure’s palette rather well, adding a rainswept overlay that leaves the sense of awe that the franchise has been going for since day one.
In further contrast, while KotM retains some of the ethos of showing us glimpses of the lead ‘characters’ to a great degree, it also takes great pleasure in showing off the kaijū at the centre of the action in all their glory. And here is where I must make a recommendation: if you’re the kind for visual spectacle on a large scale, or simply a fan of the franchise — watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters on the largest screen possible, as attentively as possible. This is a movie which nails the characters they’re dealing with. Every visual detail on the monsters bleeds a notion of love. The visual artists and designers who’ve worked on the titular monsters clearly cared about what they were working on, and everyone will be all the happier for it.
The kaijū are true beasts in this movie. From the sweet, caring Mothra to the utterly terrifying King Ghidorah — each of the monsters owns their place in this world (no matter how world-breaking they are). I don’t know if these monsters — due to the shot selection in the movie — will translate the same awe or terror on smaller screens, since they are so proudly displayed in full view. All things considered: this is the kind of movie that deserves the royal (pun intended) treatment from its subjects.
And I do not intend to take away from the other kaijū shown in the movie. There are a good number of them (this has been revealed in the trailers, and henceforth isn’t considered a spoiler), and their appearances are treated with a sense of grandeur that’s unexpected from a Hollywood production of a property that’s — on the surface — so silly when compared to the usual fare that Hollywood produces (the mess that is the Transformers franchise aside).
On the topic of spoilers, there has been a great deal of information available about the movie around since early 2018. I understand that some people have some very strong opinions on spoilers in regards to movies; and while that’s a fair enough position, I should point out that I’ve said the same thing since talk of spoilers first cropped up.
Do we really care when it comes to KotM?
Surely, aside from the final result (which was mired in some secrecy), we would turn up to watch the spectacle, not the finer details of the plot. And Godzilla: King of the Monsters surely delivers on that spectacle. The fights are — for lack of a better term — spectacular. These monsters move with the weight expected from them, and yet manage to possess a grace that could only be expected from smaller, more adept creatures. They capture a sense of not quite belonging to our world, but they do within the story of the movie. And that’s the point: they do belong; we’re just here to share the stage with them.
I know I’m being rather vague on the topic of the fights and the spectacle, but KotM gains the highest recommendation I can give a movie: that you have to experience it for yourself. There is little I can do with these words to translate the utter madness that is unleashed on screen.
Before I hand the conn. over to Number One, let me touch on the issue of the ‘subjects’ in the movie. All of the human characters are rather flat. The performances are fine, and their storylines are weaved in far more interesting ways than in the movie’s immediate predecessor, but there’s just not much to work with. The movie introduces a large cast of new characters, all of whom have a place in the world and some of whom can be expected to show up in future instalments of the franchise (at the very least: the next).
Charles Dance’s Col Alan Jonah is a very welcome surprise, and the oddball Russell family (Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown) is handled better than I’d expected. Dr Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) is much more of a character than he was in the previous movie. He’s given more than his familial connection to the core concept of Godzilla, and says more than “Let them fight” (so proud of him).
And that’s all I really have to say about the human characters. Sure, they lend the movie much of its humour and its emotional core — seeing how a few of the monsters are fighting to defend these tiny creatures, but there isn’t much space for them to do much of anything. If, perhaps, the amount of named characters and notable actors was stripped down a little, KotM would have been better for it, but I sense that the team behind the MonsterVerse is going for set ups with these characters rather than resolving character arcs.
Does this make the movie any poorer? Maybe, but not by much. Again: the inherent silliness of the Godzilla franchise bleeds through these characters, and they act as a sort-of self-aware aspect of the movie and the insanity it contains. In any other movie, I would have docked points for this, but in the case of KotM, I feel inclined to give the lack of solid human characters a bye. The titans take centre stage with such prominence that they balance the equation.
This, after all, is a movie about the Monsters and who will reign over them.
They are the ones in the spotlight.
And now: on to the Azure-Winged Magpie’s thoughts on King of the Monsters. As always, I must warn you: she’s been screaming about nothing but this movie for the last few days, so tread with caution. I’ll see you in the section following her take (click here to skip forward) on the movie.
The Azure-Winged Magpie: Oh… it’s finally time!
🎤(ಠ ◡ ಠ✿)!
We kinda dropped the ball with our Godzilla Celebration (and everything else on The Corvid Review) for reasons I’ll get into some other time. But right now… none of that’s important! What IS important is that this film’s finally here! And I’ve waited so long to see this happen. And why I’ve been waiting so long isn’t hard to figure…
- 🎬 Hollywood CGI 🎬 (not that my ancestor-land‘s far behind)!
- ☢ Godzilla ☢ in one corner!
- ⚡ The Big KG ⚡ in the other corner!
- 🦋 Mothra 🦋 and 🔥 Rodan 🔥 and all their other friends sneaking around!
- And Tywin Lannister tells people that they should “All Hail The King”?!
This film was MADE for me!
I knew this one was going to be good. This one’s a no-fail blockbuster. Sure, there might not be as many fans for this one as there were for Avengers: Endgame, BUT we’ve always been around. We’ve followed our King no matter where he went just like loyal subjects should do.
He’s gone flying through the sky. He’s dropkicked Megalon conveyor belt style. He’s fought a potted plant. And he’s eaten all the vegetables. But you know what? No matter what he did… we were always there with him. Us, the G-Man’s loyalists. And it wasn’t until the trailers for this film dropped that I saw everyone else getting excited to see my King grace the big (lol, as if) screens with his August presence.
We’ve been calling that it’s the Monsterverse’s time to shine, and here we are… in the first big step on the road to a world ruled by titans.
This film forgets what it’s up against and gives us exactly what we wanted. Over two hours of face to the desk, glow in the dark, kaijū vs. kaijū action. The monsters take up a good two thirds of the film, and they’re all so awesome! I was a little scared that people might have thought this film was just some “dumb rubber-men action film for kids” like G-films always end up being called. But I didn’t have to be. I had grown folk around me sobbing their eyes out and cheering for the big boys and girls in the film like they’d been following these characters all their lives.
The action and the CGI in this film are on fire (I mean… Rodan’s like… really on fire). The soundtrack is EPIC (and I can’t make that any bolder), and has bits of the original music from way back when showing up whenever they can. Each of the titans even gets their own personalities just like they always should have (and the Big KG gets three).
I had so much fun with this one that I don’t care what anyone says about the negative points about the film (and yeah… there are a few, I’ll get to them in a mo). This film isn’t for everyone. I get that. This film was made for the fans who grew up with the source material and all its adaptations and wanted to see this awesome world be given the big screen treatment by an industry that could reach more parts of the world than Japanese cinema could. It’s like an old friend showing up and giving us a big warm hug out of nowhere before telling us about the good old times.
And it’s also for anyone who likes that big dumb rubber-men escapism that the G-films bring around. It even has some of the social and politic criticism we’ve had before from this series, and this was one of the weaker points of the film. I didn’t care much about that, but for anyone who wants to pick the film apart, there’s your ammo pack no. 1. The second ammo pack is the human characters. But WHO CARES?! We’re not here to watch them!
We want to watch the fight of the millenium. We want to see who’s wearing the crown when the dust and guts has stopped moving about. And the film delivers 100% on both pointers. It gives us not just one hell of a fight, but a buncha hells of fights!
The Big KG is a scary one. Godzilla is a vigilant protector. I still want to squeeze Mothra’s fuzzy cheeks. And Rodan… well, he’s just bipartisan and has the funniest eyes ever (and also needs to put that fire out before the two bigger boys thing he’s just an oversized chicken wing or something). The rest of them are just kinda… there, but they’re not really important for most of the film. They look cool though.
I can’t really sell you the idea of how epic the fights are. They pull everything out of the Godzilla 101 handbook and throw it at the people in the audience, and then some. And you can really feel the punches and the zaps and the splatters this film has in it. When the film gets rolling, it just doesn’t let up. I haven’t had this much fun at a cinema since… well… I think I was last this entertained by Power Rangers, but now that I think about it, that didn’t even come close. I don’t know if I’ve actually ever had this much fun. I think I want to make this my film of the year nomination for next year’s Oscine Awards already, but we’ll see about that.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want everyone to just turn their brain off and enjoy the film just because. I want people to know what this film is before holding it up against Schindler’s List or something similar. It’s the first proper introduction outside of a Japanese studio to show the world the first proper shared universe (I don’t count the Dracula+Frankenstein one since that’s a hot mess) that’s still going until today, starring a character who’s appeared in so many things that he’s got to be near the top of the list (Sherlock Holmes wins that one though). And it’s also a film made for the fans, by fans, with all the things we always wanted wrapped up with a pretty little bow. I think some things could have been done better for sure, but I’m happy with the film as we got it.
When you watch it (and you should watch it), remember to sit back, relax for a mo, and let His Majesty, His Nuclear Scaliness take care of you.
And as far as my rating goes, remember that I’m rating with my heart, not with my head.
Azure-Winged Magpie up! Up! And Awayyy! *BONK!*
The Crow: To conclude our thoughts on Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I think I speak for both myself and the Azure-Winged Magpie when I say that it comes highly recommended by us at The Corvid Review. And I’m sure our colleagues will soon join us in our assessment of the movie in time, given our proselytising the name of the movie.
Whether or not a spoiler review of the movie will appear is still up for consideration, but we will be addressing the state of the blog in the following days, as well as publishing a follow up to our previous Avengers: Endgame post. With all that said, I wish you all a good evening.
Our final ratings for Godzilla: King of the Monsters follow.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 7.5/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 9/10
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Here are a few official posters:
And here are our “character cards”:
Here’s some assorted artwork/tidbits we considered for our Godzilla Celebration: