WARNING: Mild Spoiler Sauce in this review, and in the trailer below.
It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla roared into theaters. While the deviations from the classic lore were apparent, the heart of the film was still in the right place. It was also a different take that placed Godzilla squarely in the protector role. Something the classic Toho movies rarely did.
Perhaps the biggest issue a die-hard kaiju fan might have with these recent takes on Big G is the removal of the nuclear metaphor that was integral to the monster’s character. Godzilla was created out of the Atomic Bomb tests during World War II. When mankind decided to play god, Nature created Godzilla as a result.
However, the new lore still works in a different way. Rather than Man creating the Monster, the Monster actually predates Man. It’s not unlike the original Mothra, a creature who exists to protect Earth from other atrocities. And, in a way, puts the “god” in Godzilla.
Fast forward five years. Gareth Edwards bowed out of the sequel to make Rogue One, and screenwriter Michael Dougherty took his place. Thus, an almost entirely new cast was put on display. That, and the highly anticipated addition of other famous Toho monsters, made the film less of a sequel and more like another story in a franchise.
Which brings us to 2019, and the latest entry in Warner Bros. “Monsterverse”, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.
Only one major character returns from the 2014 film. Ken Watanabe reprises his role as Dr. Serizawa, the scientist who has been studying Godzilla all his life. Sally Hawkins also returns as his assistant. The rest of the cast are all new characters.
The setting is five years after the first film, and Godzilla has remained virtually unseen since. Monarch has tracked and located other “Titans”, who of course are the kaiju we’ve seen in the trailers. When you add in the military who want to destroy these creatures, plus other groups who want to free and/or use them, and it’s easy to see where the story goes from there.
If you’re a fan of classic Godzilla, and other kaiju movies, you will see where a lot of material is inspired from. There are story elements from the original 1954 Gojira, 1964’s Ghidorah, 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, and 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah. If you’ve seen those films, you’ll get an idea of what you’re in store for.
To say this is the best American made Godzilla film may seem like a punchline at first, given there have only been three made. In the end, G:KoTM is a movie about Giant Monsters. If that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get. It was awesome finally seeing justice done to such classic kaiju as King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan. There are still plenty more monsters in Toho’s toybox to pull from, so the best may yet to come.
And in case you’re asking, yes, stay after the credits.