A Godzilla Newbie Watches King of the Monsters

godzilla rodan king of the monsters
Rodan erupts in Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Having not seen any of the previous Godzilla movies, I’m not sure what I was expecting going in to see this 4th film. I had no notion what was coming, other than ‘large monsters destroying cities’. The beginning of the movie does a fair job filling the viewer in to what’s going on, but there could have been more, I thought. Once it got going, however, it was a nonstop thrill ride.

The sheer plethora of monsters was very satisfying. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidora were joined by other unnamed monsters. These Titans, as they’re called, could be the Earth’s destruction or salvation.

It all depends on which scientist you ask. A corporation of scientists by the name of Monarch nominated itself the keeper of the monsters. However, the government wants the military to control this group.

Then a threat comes from an outside and unexpected source.

The special effects were fantastic. The Titans came alive on the screen. It reminded me of the first time I saw Jurassic Park. Those dinosaurs were believable, as are these monsters. The fight scenes are very satisfying. Add in the military’s weaponry and you have yourself a recipe for a spectacular bout.

The script is a bit rushed. It seems as though the producer really just wanted those Titan scenes, and everything else was a means to get there. Revelations are made, but the viewer is given no chance to digest the information before we are thrown into another battle. It’s all just treated as filler almost.

Which is sad, because the film has a great cast that are mostly overrun. The only two who leave a lasting impression are Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai) as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as Madison Russel. Even the “bad guys” are just blah.

Overall, the film is a fun ride if what you’re looking for is a good action movie with great monsters. Just don’t expect to come away with something intellectually thrilling.

Grade: B

Our Modern Godzilla – Grading Legendary’s Monsterverse (plus Godzilla 1998)

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Modern Godzilla Movies – Ranking The Monsterverse

I’m not a die-hard Godzilla fan, but I’ve gone on a bit of a giant lizard binge-watch lately. I’m happy to admit Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best one yet.

Not only did the big beasties get plenty of screentime, but the people plots didn’t entirely suck.

People and entire cities can be megafauna fodder in disaster films, but there also has to be a thoughtful human element where you care — even by a small margin.  Modern audiences demand this, and rightfully, because otherwise you’re essentially watching a long, expensive video game. The previous Godzilla films in 1998 and 2014 plunged into that category — but worse — because boring human drama was shoehorned in to pretend those movies had plots. (Except for through-actor Ken Watanabe — more on him later).

Skipping right to said monstrous animals…

The Big Four Beasties of Godzilla: King of the Monsters

  1. Godzilla — With some new glowy skills and a few adjustments to his appearance, he looks great and is a pleasure to watch in action. Unlike in his 2014 Monsterverse premier, he’s onscreen early and often. Two paws up!
  2. Mothra — She’s my favorite critter.  And….she’s beautiful (think Lunar Moth). Mothra has some very unusual abilities, and isn’t as fragile as expected. I’d love to see her as a mount in some multiverse for Spider-Man. (“There’s a Ant Man, a Spider-Man, AND a Moth!?”)
  3. (King) Ghidorah — Very cool dragon/hydra rival to Godzilla, and even amusing (those heads scrap at each other!), but I’m not happy with his origin-story. That came out of freaking nowhere and felt like the writers couldn’t find a better hinge to hang their new ecosystem from. IDK. Maybe King Ghidorah actually is from [redactated for spoilers] in the legends.
  4. Rodan — The least interesting fellow. I felt bad for Ghidorah stealing his thunder. Rodan came off as a second-string player to give Mothra someone to fight. Someone give this guy something better to do some time.

2014 godzilla breathing fire

And the rest: There was an assortment of junior-grade creatures to fight (17 all together, including Kong on Skull Island), but we only catch them in random moments. One was like a spider; another was a sort-of mastodon. I’d like to see Part Four elevate these guys at the eventual “monster-off” on Skull Island.

The Big Four were great fun. Fab effects, with nice twists and turns in their near-sentient reactions to each other. If the carnage felt too far away and too meager in films before, we got lots and lots of satisfying spectacle this time around.

The People (AKA Happy Meals on Feet)

Lots of goofy one-liners and paper-thin human characterizations populate this over-run Titan world. The father/mother push and pull dynamics have been done and done and done in almost every disaster film. The soldiers do soldiering. Bad guys do ‘badding’. There’s a gratuitous cameo from the previous film. Next, please? 

Finally, we see a couple of grace notes: Ken Watanabe lends his wise gravitas for the sake of actual world-building, and teenage Madison (Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things) provides enough cleverness to make us want to see her live. (This girl can act with her eyes — her career might be worth following). Smart people living/dying tends to get us in the feels, and they carry the human story better than the other modern-era Godzilla people.

Ultimately Watanabe gets a long-awaited beautiful moment with ‘his God’ to show (not tell) that co-existence means salvation.

But it’s all rather small and can’t compete with the big battles above. I appreciated Watanabe’s arc and was just grateful the franchise went somewhere lovely with it.

Godzilla vs The Technobabble

The Orca is a MacGuffin: everyone wants it. The writers did a decent job making said Orca quasi-logical, but the tech is the weakest point of the story. Except for the cool larval Mothra intro, the Orca could have been canned  entirely for something better…for something only hinted at here and there, in terms of ecology, spirituality, and legends.

There were also the expected bombs, subs, planes, and faceless soldiers. Fortunately Gz 2 learned from Gz 1 to keep most of this in the background.

And the least said about the [redacted] Earth Theory, the better. I can buy that in a fantasy film. It felt out of place here.

Let’s try something new with Godzilla. Or old. Just do it well

I still can’t shake the feeling the entire Legendary Monsterverse is riding on the reptilian coat-tails of the Jurassic saga. I kind of wish they would make up their minds to go ALL IN with the coexistence theme (instead of referred to by newspaper clip credits, a storytelling device best used in WALL-E ), or go ahead — take that massive risk about Earth-cleansing and the starting anew theme and sprint with it. Planet of the Apes went there, so this isn’t unprecedented for sci-fi premises.

So, Is Kong in the next Godzilla movie?

Speaking of Apes, yes, Kong is name dropped many times, with a few quick visuals, a blink-and-you-miss it cave painting, and many Easter egg allusions to lead into 2020’s Monsterverse finale: Godzilla vs Kong. I don’t want them to fight though. Aren’t they both “good guys’? Fingers crossed this works out satisfactorily. (And stay through the end credits of King of the Monsters for a possible hint.)

I genuinely liked this Godzilla movie. I wanted more Mothra, but overall, can’t complain.

Grading the modern Godzilla and Monsterverse Flicks

Looking at RunPee’s scores for ‘modern-era’ Godzilla movies, and including Kong: Skull Island as part of this Monsterverse, movie grades have been heading up a steady incline (please click the links to read our reviews on RunPee.com):

1998 Godzilla : D

2014 Godzilla: C

Kong: Skull Island: B-

2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters: B

This bodes well. Maybe the finale to the Godzilla/Kong quadrilogy will hit the A range. For a disaster film, that would be quite a feat. We’ll find out next year. Keep replaying Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla remix to stay excited.

Related, on RunPee:

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Godzilla End Credits Song Remix By Serj Tankian

Blue Oyster Cult is probably most famous for their song Godzilla.  It’s a must if you want to set the mood for seeing Godzilla: King of the MonstersBut, better yet, give a listen to the remix by Serj Tankian that plays in the movie as the credits roll.

 

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla MovieMeme

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty darn proud of the #MovieMeme feature I added to the RunPee app in the previous update. It’s a work in progress that I would consider in beta for now, but you can still do an awful lot with it and have great fun sharing your work.

MovieMeme -- Godzilla

To access this feature in the RunPee app, just select any movie, which will take you to the Movie Info Screen. At the top of the screen you’ll see the movie poster. Just tap on that, and you can draw on the poster and/or add a text or meme to it.

The usability is still a little rough around the edges, but that will get ironed out in time. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear your feedback. Just email me: support@runpee.com.

John Wick: Prince of Puppies

It’s also fun to just use your finger, or a stylus, to draw on the poster.

MovieMeme -- Aladdin

Or a combination of meme and drawing.

MovieMeme - Hellboy

MovieMeme

What’s New in the RunPee App Version 5.0 – Movie posters can can draw on, MCU Peetimes at a glance, and much more!

RunPee’s MovieMeme Designs – So easy, a “meme moron” like me can make one

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review - Godzilla: King of the MonstersLet’s face it, no one watches porn for the plot. Two barely dressed women order pizza and minutes later a buff young man knocks on the door. You know what happens next.

Likewise, no one watches mega monster movies expecting Inception level plot twists. We watch to see monsters eff each other up and lay waste to a cities the way politicians lay waste to the truth. Based on that criteria, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is completely satisfying and ends with a “money shot” worth the price of admission.

My primary gripe of Godzilla 2014 was that there weren’t nearly enough Godzilla fight scenes. This sequel rectifies that in the first 30 minutes of the movie.

Leaving the theater last night, I was hovering in the B+/A- range grade for this movie. However, after a little thought, I’m backing off to a solid B, only because — while I just said we watch these movies for the monster fights — it should would be nice if the scenes between could prop the movie up, instead of drag it down.

I didn’t care if any of the characters lived or died, other than perhaps Madison, the daughter. Everyone else was as disposable as pizza toppings. In fact, I was sort of hoping Dr. Stanton, played by Bradley Whitford — the sarcastic smart ass from West Wing — would get killed, so he would stop delivering nothing but cheesy lines. Not that Bradley is to fault. He did his job wonderfully, but I suspect he was on-set begging with the writers to give him just one line that wasn’t purely for exposition or a smart ass comment.

I know I said at the beginning of this review that plot in a movie like this is completely irrelevant, but that’s not completely true. It is of vital importance to the rewatchability of a movie. Right now I have no interest in watching this movie again, unless it’s just to fast forward from one monster fight to another.

I realize that “rewatchability” is highly subjective. That being said, this movie lacked the playfulness of a movie like Pacific Rim

Movie Grade: B

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

2014 godzilla breathing fire
A pot-bellied ring of fire…

Did this movie do Godzilla right? Yes,  better than the previous Godzilla. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? (It isn’t.)

The 2014 Godzilla HAD to be an improvment over the  1998s  Matthew Broderick mess, just to even things out. But I’ll save that for its own review.

In case you find the concept of reboots confusing, consider Godzilla’s long past as a remake, a reboot and a reimagining, all at once. The overgrown lizard suffered many iterations since his first appearance in 1954: including a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, stop-motion photography figures, men in heavy suits, comic book images, rock star subjects, and was even the subject of video games. Sometimes he’s a hero, and sometimes a menace…although with anyone that massive, collateral damage just happens.

godzilla ruined city
Collateral damage is a bitch.

At this point the makers of Godzilla are knee-deep in what they call a Monsterverse. 2014’s Godzilla was the first in this shared universe, and the story blows past Kong: Skull Island, and on to a multi-mega-monster-lineup in 2020.

But what about the 2014 Godzilla in the Monsterverse series?

I enjoyed this in a nice-to-have-on-in-the-background sort of way. Having just seen Avengers Endgame after many viewings, I was super-sensitive to each time a character said, “Whatever it takes,” (which I think was 4 times in Godzilla). And it didn’t take long to notice poor Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) once again didn’t have anything important to do.  Instead of looking mad while running, here she looked scared while running. What happened to those scarlet Infinity Stone blasts, girl? Would have been ‘handy’ – no pun intended.

Unfortunately, her role here, like every human but Ken Watanabe’s, was filler. Even the main soldier, who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, was only there to show off some giant blue trembling Elijah Wood Hobbit eyes. Why are there even people in this Godzilla? Oh, right, to add human stakes (steaks?) to the story. This isn’t a Pokemon Smackdown after all.

Bryan Cranston lent some welcome personality at first, but after spouting off meta-jokes like, “That was NOT a Transformer…” (heh),  the torch was inexplicably passed to the aforementioned cute young actor. Once the egg cracked, no one did anything you haven’t seen at the cineplex dozens of times over. For international world-spanning human tension you can slice your hands on, re-watch Arrival again. Then come back here to see really big bugs eat subway trains like churros. Make your own movie!

I’m sorry I’m not treating this review with more dignity. It really does have worthwhile bits in between shots of pesky humans staring like deer in the headlights (or running full tilt too late to make a difference).

Godzilla images over the years
Every Godzilla ever. Enjoy.

The Monsters looked pretty good, though.

But the monsters were creatively designed, which are presumably the reason you bought your ticket. Like all good monster flicks — Jaws, Jurassic Park, Aliens et al. — the producers withhold the glamour shots until a good part of the film is underway. Part of the fun lies in imagining the huge beasties.

What’s nice here are the pay-offs, when they arrive.  Godzilla and his nasty parasites are on full display. It’s not like in 1998, where blinding rain purposefully obscures 3 hours of film.

I liked the heroic Godzilla as a creature a whole lot, tubby profile and all. I feel like he had to be a rolly polly oil barrel to stoke that kind of fire.  He also felt right with his triple spined back, beady (yet caring) little eyes, and a tail made for whipping. He seems almost intelligent.

And he looked great underwater.  I loved the scenes where he swam between the two aircraft carriers. Humans and man-made radioactive lizard — working together on one goal. This Godzilla is a lover, not a fighter.

So, how to grade 2014s Godzilla?

Looking good isn’t a reason for a high grade, unless you’re watching Avatar. Non-stop action is just exhausting — and for today’s more discerning audiences, boring. Running and screaming as buses fly around & tension high-wires go down went the way of the dinosaur (ha, sorry) in the disaster-porn film era of the 70s.

Want an example of how to do big-stakes disaster-flicks the right way? One word: Titanic. Or look to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which we at RunPee always grade on a curve.

This could have been a better film, and I’m sad we can’t find a proper starring vehicle for Godzilla yet. We have the tech now (even the esteemed Andy Serkis consulted with WETA on the motion-capture work). So we can make it look good. Why can’t we find the right director — and a proper cast ensemble — to make us CARE?

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Grade: C

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

The Animated 1978 Godzilla Cartoon – Lyrics & Video

Godzilla Lyrics & Video from Blue Oyster Cult

stop motion vintage godzilla shot
Yeah, I’m bad, I’m bad, you know it…

Blue Oyster cult recognized cool weird shit. They have a song about the Dead Reaper — with lots of cowbell, — and another honoring the King of Lizards, Godzilla. With a new Godzilla film out centering the Monsterverse franchise, it’s a good time to remind everyone of the coolness that Blue Oyster Cult produced in 1977, titled — naturally — Godzilla. And as one commenter on You Tube prophetically wrote, “You know you’re a full-blown monster badass when Blue Oyster Cult writes and does your theme song.” I think we can all agree.

Here is a fun Blue Oyster Cult Godzilla video, followed by the lyrics so you can sing along (the whole thing, more than just the chorus of GO GO GO GODZILLA!).

Godzilla Lyrics

[By Blue Öyster Cult]

With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high-tension wires down

Helpless people on subway trains
Scream, bug-eyed, as he looks in on them

He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town

Oh, no, they say he’s got to go
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)
Oh, no, there goes Tokyo
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)

Oh, no, they say he’s got to go
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)
Oh, no, there goes Tokyo
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)
Godzilla!

臨時ニュースを申し上げます
臨時ニュースを申し上げます
ゴジラが銀座方面に向かっています
大至急避難してください
大至急避難してください

Oh, no, they say he’s got to go
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)
Oh, no, there goes Tokyo
Go, go, Godzilla (yeah)

History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of man
Godzilla!

History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of man
Godzilla!

History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of man
Godzilla!

History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of man
Godzilla!

[Songwriters: Donald Roeser, 1977.
Godzilla lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

BONUS: Everyone needs more cowbell (SNL on Don’t Fear The Reaper):

PS: There’s even a Godzilla song remix based on the Blue Oyster Cult classic:

Godzilla End Credits Song Remix By Serj Tankian

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

The trailers for the new Godzilla movie have been amazing, but the marketing campaign isn’t the clearest.  What’s there to know besides the fact that awesome-looking monsters are going to destroy things for our entertainment?  

For the true movie lover? Plenty. Here are the connections they aren’t advertising.

There’s a Monster Universe.

Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers created what they are calling the Monsterverse.  Godzilla, King Kong, and some recognizable others are part of this universe.

Godzilla – King of the Monsters is a sequel to Kong – Skull Island.  Sort of.

For unknown reasons, Warner Brothers is not advertising the new movie as a sequel to Godzilla (2014), the first movie in the Monsterverse.  Kong – Skull Island is the second movie in the Monsterverse. It features a cut-scene at the end of the credits where the main characters are told Kong is not the only monster, and then shown archival footage of ancient cave drawings of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and a battle between King Ghidorah and Godzilla. 

The ultimate Godzilla movie is coming next year.

A fourth Monsterverse movie, Godzilla vs. Kong, has been announced for 2020.  I know. I can’t wait either.

Be sure to use the RunPee app for all your monster movie Peetimes, including the upcoming Child’s Play and Annabelle Comes Home. You can also follow us on Twitter @RunPee or on Facebook for the latest movie news.  

Read for more about Godzilla by Golden Man, on his blog Etched in Gold:

All My Questions Answered About the New Godzilla Movie

RunPee’s posts on Godzilla and King Kong:

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong