What’s The Movie? Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
What’s It All About, JG? Well, it’s a Godzilla movie in which Godzilla fights lots of other monsters that aren’t Godzilla but are roughly the same size and/or weight and/or power level as Godzilla so we get lots and lots of juicy monster action. Turns out there’s a whole bunch of kaiju/monsters (delete depending on pretentiousness level) buried under the Earth and the allegedly-mysterious Monarch organisation has been tracking them. An eco-terrorist group wants to free them so they can reclaim the Earth that humanity has destroyed, so that means lots of big slap-fights between various Toho properties as Charles Dance rushes about the place setting them all free (I mean, I’m sure his character has a name, but come on. It’s Charles Dance). Dr Emma Russell has built a device that can calm the beasts and has been working on it with her daughter Madison (Stranger Things‘s Millie Bobby Brown) while her estranged husband, Mark, firstly tries to kill ‘Zilla then eventually comes to realise that the world needs him to save them from the other kaiju. It all ends in a big punch-up that flattens Boston and ‘Zilla roaring his dominance over all monsters as they bend the knee.
Why Did You Give It A Go? Because I am contractually obligated to see Godzilla movies thanks to a ‘Zilla-loving husband. But also, because Godzilla is awesome! It’s really the best reason.
Is It Any Good? With the possible exception of Pacific Rim, itself basically just Godzilla-but-for-the-copyright, it’s hard to think of any kaiju movie that gives more satisfying monsters-punching-monsters action. Kong: Skull Island patterned itself after a Vietnam movie as much as a monster movie, and in the end paid more fealty to the war-movie side of things than the creature-feature side of things. That’s a criticism levelled at the 2014 Godzilla movie too – far too much time spent faffing about with Bryan Cranston and Bland Hunkjaw and not enough prehistoric lizard smashing things up. Well, you can’t claim that here. The first opening seconds of the movie are the famous roar, he’s on-screen in less than two minutes, and there’s more monster action here than the 2014 Zilla movie and Skull Island combined. Whatever else you can say about All Zilla No Filla it does not skimp on its monster action. Which, of course. That’s what it’s for. Do the humans fade into the background? Sure, but they’re mostly just there to provide a bit of ballast, something to string monster-punching-monster action off of. It’s necessary but it’s not really, you know, important. Charles Dance does That Thing Charles Dance Does, Millie Bobby Brown is great as the daughter, Kyle Chandler is sufficient as the Estranged Dad(tm) and so forth but nobody’s come here for the family drama. Complaining the family drama isn’t up to much in a Godzilla movie is like complaining there aren’t enough dinosaurs in The Passion Of The Christ. The question is – do the fight sequences make it worth putting up with a bit of eco-terrorism and separated-family plotting? And the answer is an unequivocal yes. The fights look amazing. Even Mothra – not quite the most credible monster of all time – looks spectacular, and Ghidorah and Rodan look phenomenal (and positively biblical at times, as Rodan is framed in one shot atop a volcano with a crucifix in the foreground, looking for all the world like a William Blake painting).
How Many Of These Movies Did You Watch? I can’t claim to have watched every Godzilla movie. But the original is a genuine, deserved classic, Shin Godzilla is worth a couple of hours of anyone’s time and the rest (at least of what I have seen) vary between mildly entertaining, hilariously ridiculous, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000-level Z-grade nonsense. Very rarely, however, are they boring.
Would You Recommend It? I would, yes. But that’s on the understanding that you’re gonna watch this movie for Godzilla biting the head off Ghidorha, Mothra nobly sacrificing herself to save Godzilla at a critical moment, or Rodan taking out a bunch of planes with a hilariously camp (and absolutely awesome) spin-in-flight move. If you come into this looking for a great monster movie that’s what you will get. If you go into it expecting some great family drama framed by the titans of old fighting you are going to be disappointed. All the monster action here is simply terrific, and the final confrontation in Boston ends up being beyond spectacular. Not all the action is vast punch-ups though – early on in the movie ‘Zilla does a “drive-by” of an underwater base, and its slow, tense and considered as the only light in the depths of the ocean comes from Godzilla’s pulsing fins. It’s genuinely tense and well directed, going for something slow and nervy rather than just a quick punch up, and its one of several moments in the film that understands that slowing things down can be just as effective as balls-to-the-wall fighting (weirdly, one of them is the silent detonation of a nuclear bomb, of all things). Is this a silly film? Well of course it is, and that’s exactly why it should be treasured. It’s there to completely revel in its own sense of the ridiculous, own it completely, and deliver two hours of thoroughly satisfying monster action. Really, what more do you want from a monster movie? All hail the king, indeed.
Scores On The Doors? 8/10 I’m deducting two marks because, fine, the family stuff could be a bit better and also because Mothra dies. It’s fine, her egg is discovered in the post-credits scenes, but still – Mothra dies! And Mothra is awesome!