Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Spoiler-Free

As a long-time fan of Godzilla and his many iterations I can honestly say that Godzilla: King of the Monsters is everything I have been waiting for in the modern franchise. It is an epic love letter to the original films that depicts these titanic Kaiju with all the terror and reverence they deserve.

Visuals

King of the Monsters is a masterpiece of cinematography, creating an aesthetic that is insanely vivid and grand in scale. Director Michael Dougherty (X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns) shows you how awe-inspiring it would be to look up at these creatures, who would be like gods among men, while not shying away from the brutal reality of their catastrophic effect on our world. In 1993, I sat in the theater watching Jurassic Park and experienced how majestic and frightening it would be to live in a world of giants; King of the Monsters put me right back in that spot.

King of the Monsters is also a masterclass in color-theory, making every single frame a painting worthy of a museum. Every Kaiju gets their own color palette to represents their presence and we are bathed in those colors as a wonderful thematic shorthand. Whether it be Ghidorah’s swaths of corrosive yellows, Godzilla’s powerful neon blues, or Mothra’s radiant spectrum of all colors, King of the Monsters’ visual storytelling is spectacular.

Story

King of the Monsters shines when it comes to the mindful worldbuilding that managed to build on the platform created by Godzilla (2014), while building a rich mythology around the ancient origins of the Kaiju. King of the Monsters also integrated the human characters much more effectively than the first movie, giving them a role that not only drove the plot, but also provided very personal stakes. However, I think the human storylines will be the biggest sticking points for most audiences. Only about 2-3 characters have a full arc, and the rest are there for flavor. If you are watching the movie for a rich character study, this might not be the movie for you. But if you want to see monsters kick ass with a bit of personality provided by the POV characters around them, then you’ll really like this film.

Score

King of the Monsters has an amazing score that builds on the visuals in a way that is both moving and exciting. Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, Walking Dead) provides a score that draws you in and really makes you lean forward; it can best be described as “epic”. There is an airyness about the quiet moments of anticipation while the big percussive fight themes will have your fist thrusting into the air. I’m not typically a person that pays much attention to film scores, so you can take it as a true testament to this score’s greatness.

Additional note about the music, Anthony Ramos (Hamilton) and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) are part of the main cast, so I was hoping they would provide a Will Smith/LL Cool J-style custom end credits song. Fortunately we got something better! Serj Tankian (System of a Down) provided the vocals for a bangin’ Godzilla theme that is equal amounts classic 90’s and modern J-Rock. Highly recommended!

Final Thoughts

  • Ken Watanabe and Bradley Whitford are delightful and provide just the right amount of grounded drama and comedy, respectively.
  • Stay after the credits. It’s worth it!
  • Not enough Godzuki…

Godzilla: King of the Monsters hits theaters tomorrow, Friday, May 31st.  

— Tauri Jay Miller

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