Everybody’s got to have a potential cinematic universe. Some are more welcome than others. I grew up watching Godzilla movies on Saturday mornings. I am not about to complain about a Godzilla reboot in an age of CGI riches. We also seem to be going through a bit of a kaiju movie Renaissance: three MonsterVerse movies, Shin Godzilla, the two Pacific Rim movies, Rampage, and The Meg.
I’ve been behind the 8-ball, but I finally watched the 2014 Godzilla and told my wife all I wanted for Fathers’ Day was for her to watch the baby so I could go watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
We will get at least one more movie, King Kong v. Godzilla, but the fate of the MonsterVerse is in doubt after relatively lackluster and declining box office receipts.
Interestingly, each of the three MonsterVerse movies borrows the tropes and frames of a different genre of movie. The 2014 Godzilla is the disaster movie. And it is a good one (the tsunami scene is great). As a Godzilla movie though? My complaint about the old movies was always that you had to wait the entire movie for a bit of kaiju action at the end. The filmakers had the budget and technology to change that but chose not to. Godzilla is too often obscured, and we are shown too much action indirectly. And, while the writing is good, the acting is strictly meh (with the exception of Ken Watanabe).
3 of 5 Stars.
Buy it on blu-ray.
King Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Where the 2014 Godzilla is a disaster movie, King Kong: Skull Island is a war movie (specifically, it was heavily influenced by Apocalypse Now). Remember what I said about the kaiju movie I wanted as a kid? This is that movie. King Kong and all the other monsters show up early and often. The filmmakers set the entire movie (after the setup) on Skull Island, to the movie’s benefit. It’s just gorgeous and weird. The scene with the bamboo-leg spider is amazing. Although I am a little disappointed they didn’t keep the dinosaurs from the original. The giant ensemble cast shouldn’t work but does by allowing the filmmakers to kill off important characters early and by preventing the views of any one character from dominating and becoming off-putting.
5 of 5 Stars.
Buy it on blu-ray.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
King of the Monsters borrows from yet another genre: man-made apocalypse. I am all for the representation of Malthusians as archvillains, although the movie is muddled enough to undercut that aspect. The human story probably isn’t as well written as in the 2014 Godzilla, but the acting is much, much better. It is generally well constructed, with just one gaping plot hole that stuck in my craw. But we are here for the monster fights and, good Lord, do we get them. And where both the 2014 Godzilla and Skull Island suffer from generic, boring bad-guy kaiju (although the Skullcrawlers are much cooler than the giant stink bugs), King of the Monsters is nothing but headliners from wall-to-wall. Godzilla AND Mothra AND Rodan AND Ghidorah? Yes, please.
4.5 of 5 Stars.
Pre-order it on blu-ray.