PG-13 for just mass death. That's a thing. We tend to ignore it because it happens off screen, but there is just a genocidal amount of death happening constantly in this movie. Like, there's no coming back from this. There's some language and a sex joke, but we should be absolutely mortified by what is happening in this film. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty
I really didn't want to write today. I guess I still don't. I know that I gripe about this a lot, but it also builds a bit of momentum for writing. After all, I should just be writing about what's on my mind and then somehow transition into Godzilla: King of the Monsters. But just enough annoying things happened today and that's something that makes me want to say, "Man, I'm going to kill an hour or so of my life writing about a movie that had borderline no affect on me." And that, my friends, is how you find your segue into Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
The only kaiju / titan / giant monster movie that ever really nailed it for me was Pacific Rim. Knowing my personality and my likes / dislikes, this might surprise quite a few people. I'm deeply into fantasy and sci-fi, especially stuff that is pretty accessible. On paper, giant monsters fighting each other should be my bread and butter. But I keep trying to come back to this well and it never produces water. Heck, I still have plans to watch the Godzilla anime films on Netflix. Beyond that, the reason that I decided to watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters was because I was jazzed that I got to watch Godzilla v. Kong on HBO Max. I had watched the OG Godzilla / Gojira and really wanted to like it. It's just that there's something that is either remarkably underwhelming or overwhelming about two hours of people getting killed. Maybe it is the sheer carnage of it all that makes it not my cup of tea (speaking of which, the kettle just finished boiling). But there's a real tipping point where human life becomes absolutely worthless. King of the Monsters doesn't really get that. It places such a high respect on life when it comes to the main characters, but completely lacks empathy when cities are wiped away.
Now, I'm really not trying to take a moral high ground here. I'm a fan of a lot of genres, including horror movies. I can't say that I haven't cheered or guffawed at a particularly clever death scene. But the complexity of people being wiped off the map doesn't really have degrees of anything. The cities that collapse in the last Godzilla movie are very similar to the ones that collapse in this Godzilla movie. I had a few moments of intellectual awareness to how much destruction was happening and I was mortified that it didn't really affect any of the characters. The movie kept telling me that this was the worst tragedy that had ever happened, but that never really struck a chord with anyone. I know. Monarch was trained for this particular eventuality, but it doesn't mean that we have to strip away the humanity of the sequence. There are some amazing actors in this movie. Why can't the movie ever revel in the vulnerability of the events? It's odd, because the protagonist and the antagonist feel more about something that happened in the past than what is happening in the present.
But the real problem with Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the fact that it desperately wants to mythologize a shared universe. Everyone who wants to be Marvel needs to take a chill pill right now. Marvel's shared universe is very special. It is slow and calculated. It has earned its payoffs and complex movies because it slowly built up a lot of movies without the guarantee that they'd ever hit an Avengers: Endgame level. But all of these studios are pushing these properties out the door with the hopes that they'll get to that appropriately named Endgame. So what happens in movies like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the story needs to try to have a degree of complexity to it that completely ruins the purity of what should be going on. See, as much as I didn't like the 1954 Godzilla as a movie, it has an absolutely perfect and haunting allegory behind the movie. Japan, finally starting to put itself together post nuclear attack, is witness to mankind's horrible relationship with nuclear energy. As a commentary on that, nuclear energy creates this unstoppable beast that ruins lives and will never truly go away.
But fast-forwarding to today's Godzilla, we have completely forgotten the point of having a Godzilla movie. In this one, nuclear weaponry is the only thing that saves us. The bad guys in the movie are the environmentalists, who like with Endgame want to clear the planet of humanity to allow the return of natural resources. The message has always been about criticizing humanity for the evils it has wrought on itself and the planet and now we have a movie that espouse the opposite message? I know that King of the Monsters isn't the first movie in the Godzilla legacy to tweak the original allegory, but I haven't seen those movies. Having Godzilla as this mythical beast meant to protect humanity feels like we lost the point. When the ignorant military and government want to kill Godzilla and the rest of the titans under Monarch's watch, it kind of makes a ton of sense. Godzilla, even when he's fighting other bad guys, brings unimaginable destruction in his wake. It's that whole Man of Steel argument I keep coming back to. (By the way, apparently I'm a masochist who is considering rewatching that movie just so I can write about it before Zack Snyder's Justice League. Again, HBO Max has its hooks into me.) The Hulk goes out of his way to keep people alive, despite the massive wreckage behind him. But even Bruce Banner would advocate for a way to get rid of the Hulk. It just doesn't make sense.
Then the movie gets phenomenally stupid. The more complex that the plot tries to get, we have to start questioning the motivations of people like Jonah. Also, casting Charles Dance as the over-the-top villain is just straight up lazy. We know he's bad because he's played by Charles Dance. Emma, for a scientist who has studied these titans so closely, has to be aware that the death following titan attacks is horrifying. I mean, she lost her kid to Godzilla. Why is she thinking that the world needs to be purged? Making her an eco-terrorist doesn't really match her origin story. But there is one thing related to this choice that the movie really wants to make me forget: Madison. Madison, as much as the movie insists that she's a good guy who didn't really know what was going on, has more than her fair share of culpability. She accuses her mother of losing control of the situation and saying that things weren't going to plan. That means...she knew what the plan was. How am I supposed to view her as a heroic character when she was part of the bad guys' secret plan the entire time?
There's just so much dumb in this movie. I don't know why I get so excited for these movies. I remember when I saw the trailer for the first of the reboot films, I thought that my mind was going to be blown. It looked so artsy and heavy that I had to believe that it was going to be good. Then I hated it. But then I saw the trailer for the second one. It had a blue color palate instead of a red one, but it just looked so intriguing. Sure enough, it made a lot of the mistakes that the first movie did. I don't know why they can't just show me two giant monsters punching each other, but these films love to obscure what you are watching with bad weather. Maybe Michael Doughtery believes that, to be scary, the clouds have to be on fire. But what actually ends up happening is a digital mess, which is the reason that I can't stand the Transformers films. It just all feels like visual overload and adrenaline when I want to see choreography and smartness. None of that happens.
I really was bummed by how this movie turned out. It's cliché and hack. People make decisions that don't make a lick of sense. I feel like Bradley Whitford, Kyle Chandler, Ken Watanabe, and Thomas Middleditch were all just on a soundstage and were given directions to do what they do in every movie. Again, I want to like monster movies. But they keep on doing stupid things like King of the Monsters. I might to have to admit that these movies just aren't for me. I mean, I'm still going to watch Godzilla versus Kong, but that's just because it's free.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.