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Godzilla is back to fight yet another monster. The film is flashy, predictable and full of ex-machina - the perfect ingredients for a blockbuster. And yet, it performed poorly at the box office. It is unlikely that this is a case of audiences showing better aesthetic judgment for this summer’s movie releases. One can only hope it is a reminder to studio heads that they can only take the franchise orgy too far.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the third film in what Warner Brothers is calling the MonsterVerse after Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island. It is a cinematic universe in the tradition of Marvel and DC cinematic universes. Instead of superheroes, this would feature the monsters, Godzilla and King Kong, living and eventually interacting in the same fictional universe. This will all lead to next year’s Godzilla Vs Kong, which by the critical and commercial reception of the previous three movies would be lucky to pull off a fifth of the success of The Avengers.

King of the Monsters kicks off its plot with an eco-terrorist plot – strange for a movie as mindless as this is. The terrorists plan to release every single giant monster that has been left undiscovered for centuries for some unexplained reason.

If archaeologists are precise enough to uncover remains of human ancestors millions of years old, how did these buried extremely giant monsters go undiscovered for so long?

The movie does not say. But all of a sudden such discoveries are being made all around the world, and the biggest of them all, which acts like an alpha male, is called Monster Zero, an ancient adversary to Godzilla that is three-headed, can fly, regenerate and generate bio-electric currents. After the monster awakens, the world’s only hope becomes Godzilla. The rest is too oblivious to even be considered a spoiler or warrant mention.

Godzilla is perhaps the most famous fictional monster there is. It was the imaginary child of the only country that experienced nuclear bombings. After being awakened after nuclear tests - according to its original concept ideas - Godzilla proceeds to either wreak havoc upon cities or to save them. It is a symbol of nuclear technology - it can potentially be used for good but cannot be entirely trusted.

As this character became global, it lost much of its symbolism. It became a mere giant monster that can breathe “atomic heat beam”.  In either the Roland Emmerich film of 1998 or the last two recent remakes, Godzilla takes on no symbolic significance and could have as well been replaced by another monster without distracting from the plots or themes, if they had one.

At least the recent Godzilla remakes get the monster designs right. Godzilla is exquisite in this movie. It looks rugged and moves threateningly. The monster’s signature roar is as terrifying as it has ever been made to sound. If there was anyone that showed up to work for the production of this movie, it was the special effects and sound designers. Unfortunately, photography choices render most of this movie unwatchable. Everything is too dark to watch, which distracts from all efforts to make the monsters look believable.

This movie’s worst offense is introducing human characters audiences could not care less about. Like the Transformers franchise, people buy thickets to mindless drivel such as these to see giant monsters or robots violently settle their differences. King of the Monsters not only fails to give us fight scenes that are not too dark but dares to assume we care about the contrived family dynamics of one-dimensional characters it just introduced. This is unforgivable.

The lack of critical and commercial success must be a death blow to the MonsterVerse franchise, hopefully. It is limping towards a 2020 sequel that is as desirable as yet another Fast and Furious sequel.

It is not even clear how Godzilla Vs Kong - which itself would be a remake of a 1962 movie - could be a fair fight given that one is a monster that can go radioactive and the other is a giant ape. This movie is enough - Godzilla is indeed the king of the monsters.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 08,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 997]


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