Tim's Review of Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Growing up, I’d spend New Years Eve at the babysitter’s while my parents would go out and celebrate. The local TV channel (pre-cable days) would show Godzilla movie marathons on New Years Eve so it became my tradition to celebrate NYE with Godzilla.
I was too young to understand the social commentary of the movies, I just enjoyed the giant monsters destroying towns and fighting. With little thought to the people who lived in the towns, how they’d recover, etc. I just enjoyed the rubber suited monsters stomping on toy tanks rigged to spark, balsa wood buildings being flattened, all during the battles that Godzilla always won. As I continued my path to and through adulthood, I still watched the Godzilla movies with that same childlike mindset. I blame Mystery Science Theater 3000 for viewing the movies with an eye towards the humor and mentality of pointing out ‘man in rubber suit’.
Fast forward to 2019 and we have Godzilla: King of the Monsters in theaters. It wasn’t NYE, but like a mothra to light, I must see Godzilla.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t watched the old Godzilla films probably since those NYE years ago. I watched the Matthew Broderick Godzilla on NYE the year it came out on video. I watched the 2014 Godzilla film once when it was in theaters and haven’t watched it since.
After watching the 2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I’ve developed some thoughts.
Primarily - I’m not sure why I watch them. The 2019 movie left me dreary and bored. I may have even napped during the movie. So did Greg, my movie co-watcher. Granted, we are both coming off some intense work schedules the last few months and both just got back from vacations where we recharged and stepped back from our intense schedules and maybe some nap time during a movie fit in with where we both were mentally and physically from our #lifing.
Greg and I went to lunch after the movie (we saw the 11:30 AM 3D screening of GKOTM on Friday, May 31) and discussed the movie.
Story and pacing, it was a binary roller-coaster. The action scenes were all dialed up to 11. The commentary / character development scenes were dialed in at 0. There wasn’t a whole lot of in between. It become monotonous to watch, which probably led to the nappings.
Being a long-time watcher but minimal student of the films, I thoroughly enjoyed the visual references to the movies of old - the close up framings during human dialog, the visual of Monster Zero / King Ghidorah standing atop an erupting volcano wings spread, monsters battling and destroying buildings, people moving around the battle scenes without having to battle debris or have their paths blocked by debris.
There is an environmental message in GKOTM. Apparently the message has been in the Godzilla movies since the beginning, but I guess I was in too young or in too much of a popcorn grinder mode to really pay attention. In GKOTM, I finally noticed the message, maybe because I just returned from a trip to Alaska. While in Alaska, I saw how much the glaciers are retreating and delicate environmental balance dependent on the permafrost and how that balance is in jeopardy. But that’s a different rant for a different time. Regardless, maybe I was more open to paying attention to the message in the Godzilla storytelling universe. I enjoyed the heavy-handed environmental messages, sometimes you really have to make your point plain and simple to make sure people get it. Greg found them too heavy-handed.
As a popcorn grinder, I found the movie lacking. The binary roller-coaster was too much on off on off on off for me. I enjoyed maintaining the visual look-and-feel of the camera work from Godzillas of the past, but that enjoyment wasn’t enough for me to mindlessly reach into the bag and grind my popcorn.
As a comfort movie, I’m now realizing that while Godzilla movies have always held a special place in my movie world nostalgia wise, they really aren’t comfort movies. When channel surfing and there’s a Godzilla movie marathon on, I feel the rush of excitement of an afternoon of rubber monsters trashing tanks but never actually stay on a movie for more than a few minutes.
As a cotton candy movie, they may fit in the definition. Maybe. But watching a cotton candy movie that’s not a comfort movie seems like a rarity.
I don’t categorize GKOTM or any of the Godzilla movies in the cookie dough ice cream category.
For a grade, I give Godzilla: King of the Monsters (spoiler alert - the title is a spoiler alert), a B. Which, if you listen to the podcast, is a high grade for me. I did enjoy the nostalgia feel of the historical Godzilla movies from my youth enough to have moments of childhood glee and I did enjoy the realization of the environmental story and how it all impacts the why and what of the monsters. I was disappointed over the binary rollercoaster and how the trailer promised us 17 monsters coming to life. We really we only spend significant time with two and a third one plays a role in the story. The other 14 are just caught in glimpses and montages.
Watching the movie did make me want to go back and watch the previous movies to maybe get a better appreciation of the social commentaries from nuclear fear to environmental distress that I missed.
Will I sit back on NYE and watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters? Maybe. Some year.