A kaiju masterstroke with Biblical awe, some of the most jaw-dropping battle sequences & cinematography ever put to film, a booming thunderous score, & surprisingly-human tale: An experience you have to see to believe. 8.7/10.
Plot Synopsis: Crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a plethora of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis: three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy – leaving humanity’s very existence in question.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Review: Ghidorah. Mothra. Scylla. Rodan. The MUTOs. Behemoth. Methuselah. Kong. Gojira. Monster-gods of legend battling it out on our home turf for some of the biggest-scale visuals & action sequences money can buy. That’s what Warner Bros. and company promised us last year when the marketing began for what was instantly billed as the fight of the century: the ultimate Kaiju experience. Fast-forward ~12 months and we’re finally able to see the product, and on its massive checks, Godzilla: KOTM delivers. My WORD, does it deliver – A kaiju masterstroke with Biblical awe, some of the most jaw-dropping cinematography and battle sequences EVER put to film, a booming thunderous score, and surprisingly human undertone in (although overdeliberated) broken family portrait narrative make for the definitive mega-monster fight club experience.
Legendary visuals. Godzilla: KOTM is one of the most visually-stunning films I’ve EVER seen in my life (and I’ve seen *a lot* of films). The monster CGI is absolutely masterful and a quantum leap for the genre I can’t remember since 1933’s stop-motion King Kong that made all this possible nearly a century ago. Every single monster is spectactularly rendered, from the Hydra-reminiscent Monster Zero/Ghidorah to luminescence-arresting Mothra to fire demon Rodan to the spider-like Scylla to the blue-flame breathing star of the show: Godzilla. The cinematography is absolutely INSANE, with breathtaking shots set in diversely-brilliant locational settings ranging from subterranean ice caves to yucatan mayan ruins to mexican sea-typhoons to DC/San Francisco post-apocalyptia landscapes rife with multi-interpretive symbolism in magnificently-compositioned shots like the cross and monuments bowing to the monsters (‘old gods’ as they’re referred to, and with how powerfully they’re rendered: it certainly feels that way). The action is absolutely sublime, starts from the very first shot, and is impossibly-epic plus thrilling in every way imaginable for an experience you simply have to see to believe. HOLY F*CK.
The orchestration and cast. The soundtrack to this visually jaw-dropping spectacle is equally as power-stricken: booming, thunderous, and packed with as much divine awe as the nuclear mega-monsters it accompanies. The power dynamism and sensory-overloading panache of the film can truly hardly be put into words: you have to feel the energy and lightning beams Ghidorah breathes, life-waves Mothra radiates, or white-hot blue flames our king aims at his Titanic brethren yourself to understand the spectacle. The performances are.. good overall with weathered leads in the forms of Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, and Millie Bobby Brown of recent Stranger Things fame (star of the show and anchors the film) in its surprisingly human undertoned-narrative that’s.. serviceably acted.
The human balance. Weaved amidst all this destruction and massive-scale monster fights is a surprisingly-human tale of sin and broken family portrait trying to piece itself back together. Cryptozoological agency Monarch is fighting to keep the Titans safe from everything from ecological terrorism to the horrors of our governments trying to simply kill such majestic creatures out of fear humans aren’t the dominant lifeforms anymore. The biological/life deliberation and even motivations by the villains are weighty in our time of overpopulation, pollution, climate change, and ecosystemic destruction and a breath of fresh air like Thanos’ were in Marvel’s Infinity films. The main characters’ sweet-sentimental motives are also fine in a family torn apart like the flesh of these creatures’ victims trying to find its way back home to restore some semblance of normal family life – while avenging their lost son. This juxtaposition comes as a complete surprise in what I and most likely assumed was going to be a totally monster-focused narrative (which KOTM had every right to do despite what foolish trolls might say apparently – seriously – expecting Oscar-level performances and humans > monsters in a blockbuster called ‘Godzilla: King of The MONSTERS‘..) but instead mires it with human emotion and universally-relatable themes of family. There is some nuanced humor and vivacity to be found under all the rubble as well, adding enough cinematic flair to make it feel like a bare-bones movie underneath all the breathtaking action any reasonable attendee came to see & was delivered.
Real flaws in Godzilla: KOTM include an overstretched length, pacing lull in the back-half, admittedly-undercooked storyline, & slightly-vexatious Mark Russell. 2hr12min seems like a great length for a film on paper, but the screenplay/plotting (admittedly not going to win any Oscars, but why should it? Again, it’s a monster blockbuster) was made for more of a 1hr50min film – a point you easily sense in the snail-ish back-half that seems like it’s biding time for questionable reason. Also, Chandler’s Mark Russell is somewhat abrasive at first, with an overblown monster-hatred in thin characterization that comes across as more of a whine/complaint grudge than honest, fair, fleshed-out opposition. Farmiga and Brown’s characters aren’t the most developed either, but again: this is a kaiju film and summer action blockbuster popcorn-fare. I want that same energy for all these other summer flicks, rom-coms, and superhero movies paling in comparison to KOTM visually and spectacle-wise.
Overall, Godzilla: KOTM is a kaiju masterstroke with Biblical awe, some of the most jaw-dropping cinematography and battle sequences ever put to film, a booming thunderous score, and surprisingly human undertone in broken family portrait narrative. Although it runs a bit overlong for its (undercooked) narrative, lulls in pace in the comparatively-worse second half, and vexes slightly in Mark Russell’s characterization, it *absolutely* delivers all the monster thrills anyone could’ve reasonably expected from its presence. It’s one of the biggest quantum leaps for the kaiju genre in decades and one of the most visually-striking blockbusters I’ve EVER witnessed in my filmic tenure – a sensory-overloading experience that simply has to be seen to be believed.
Official CLC Score: 8.7/10