It would have been difficult for the filmmakers behind Godzilla: King of Monsters to make a film less enjoyable than its 2014 predecessor. The reboot of the franchise, simply just titled Godzilla, contained very little of its titular creature, instead focusing on bland humans and the military. It was essentially a Transformers movie with even less action. From start to finish, it’s a total bore.
This new one starts off that same way, but at least contains several shots of the various monsters it features. It has three different factions all aiming to do different things with the giant creatures that have suddenly (or perhaps not so suddenly) begun appearing on our planet. Some of them think the monsters should all die, some of them think some of the monsters are good and some are bad, and some of them think the monsters are good for the planet and bad for us, and want to help them accomplish their goal of getting rid of the human virus (to the point of near-extinction for us).
After the first hour or so, which sets the stage for all of these characters and groups, we get to see the monsters fight. And boy, oh boy, is it such a sweet thing to see. It’s strange that it’s a novel approach to show lots of Godzilla in a movie with the creature’s name in the title, but that’s what’s been done here. And it’s a lot of fun. Maybe still too many darkly lit night scenes to hide the sometimes-mediocre CGI, but at least this film isn’t afraid to unleash its monsters and have them fight. It’s what we want. It’s what we all want.
Of course, the sacrifice that’s been made here is that the human characters are given less of a focus and therefore are less developed than the ones found in the last chapter. Or, that’s what people will say. I never found the people in the last movie as real characters to begin with, so there’s not much of a step down that could occur. In fact, I might argue some of the characters in this movie get more development and motivation than any in the previous installment. And even if not, when the two giant monsters are going at each other, it fails to matter.
As mentioned, the effects sometimes leave a lot to be desired, with nighttime being used to cover some of the dodgier CGI. But what essentially amounts to a big-budget computer effect version of the silly Japanese movies with stuntmen wrestling each other in monster suits doesn’t need to look perfect, and the spectacle is more than enough to hold our attention. This is a movie you go into for the spectacle and little more. And at delivering that, it’s quite successful.
If you’re going into a Godzilla movie hoping for more than monsters fighting each other, you’ll probably be disappointed by Godzilla: King of Monsters. If that’s what you want, the film delivers in spades. Its plot is slightly nonsensical, its characters aren’t that strong, it’s thematically weak, but its spectacle is spectacular. It might not be great, but it’s a lot of fun. It gets a recommendation not on its quality as a film, but on accomplishing what it wants to.
Conclusion: Godzilla: King of Monsters might not be especially good, but it is fun.
Recommendation: If you like giant monsters fighting other giant monsters, you need to see Godzilla: King of Monsters.