Friday, May 31, 2019

Film Review - Godzilla: King of the Monsters (channeling the 8 year old spirit in us all)

This review can be mercifully short: Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a fun and brainless summer blockbuster. If you have kids this movie is going to be their favorite film, ever. Yes, they said the same thing about other recent movies, but they probably really meant it with this one.

My seven and a half year old paid close attention to this movie with an almost religious fervor, tapping my shoulder to whisper arcane facts he had divined about Godzilla (mostly from youtube, I think). And nope, it has never occurred to him that dad might have even more facts lingering in the brain from an era forty years ago when I, too, was 8 years old and stayed up until late night to watch grainy black and white Godzilla films on the local free TV station that actually broadcast where I lived in the desert.

Really, he's not wrong: this is the best movie ever if you're eight years old. It's a fun movie if you're the dad of one of those (or in that numeric ballpark) too, but it's maybe not as interesting a movie as, say, John Wick 3: Parabellum was for me the week prior. I took my son to a matinee of that one as well (yes it's R but the violence in John Wick is ridiculously's all about the endless fight choreography). As my son said in that movie with a certain glee at the end, "This is a film for action fans" and he was totally right.

Well, Godzilla is a film for a different kind of action fan....and like John Wick the Godzilla film's plot is mostly a plodding affair designed to string the action sequences together. But unlike John Wick, Godzilla KOTM doesn't quite deliver with its range of pulpy fifties-era characters in terms of the "I care about these people" component. Or, to be more accurate....this film delivers faithfully on its source material, which might be the main problem.

When you go back and watch all the old giant monster movies, it's painfully clear that the very definition of a B movie was formulated in no small part by these films. B movies have cheesy plots, crazy nonsense like guys in rubber monster suits, and a cast of characters in their story that you could give a "meh" about because they're just there to soak up precious film time for when the rubber monster suits arrive.

The new movie is an excellent adaptation of exactly that formula. There are few sympathetic characters in this film, and their plot arcs are ridiculously thin. The movie does convey a not so subtle warning about people who are absolutely convinced through unassailable convictions that they are right, and proceed to have the tools necessary to make sure that they are right...the true villain of the movie (I'm avoiding spoilers here) is not the giant monsters, after all, but the hubris of certain humans. I guess that counts as a certain amount of least, for a movie like this, it is the right depth.

Despite having so many monsters in this film, Godzilla KOTM spends most of its time on the ground watching the humans run around. This was a bit disappointing; the use of scale in the first Godzilla movie was much better. If I had a nickel for every time a person was running while a giant monster's tail flew by overhead I'd have made my return on the movie tickets for sure.

Okay, all musings aside this is a fun movie though maybe not "full box office price fun" by any stretch. I wouldn't advise catching it without a dedicated kid or two at your side, though....their enjoyment of the movie will be much more satisfying.

I feel like this movie should be rated "B" for its B-movie faithfulness, but in terms of overall quality I gotta go with a solid "C." Enjoy it! With the right crowd.

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