Bigger isn’t always better.
This is the cold, hard truth that Godzilla: King of the Monsters can never fully reconcile with. Regardless of how many gargantuan-sized monsters it throws on the screen at once, it continually proves that even the most hefty of VFX budgets can’t compensate for shallow spectacle, dumb characters, or just simply being a bad movie.
There are so many issues with this movie that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the action, because why not? Isn’t that why we go to see these movies? We don’t expect Shakespeare; we expect to see Godzilla rampage his way through cities, destroying monsters in the process. Well, if your goal is nothing other than to see Godzilla and his fellow Kaiju cause an obscene amount of collateral damage, you’re in luck! But if you want these action scenes to not be snooze-worthy or headache-inducing? Better luck next time.
I’m in awe at just how disappointing these action scenes turned out. I appreciate that the filmmakers listened to fans’ demands for more Kaiju action after the 2014 Godzilla, but simply having more action doesn’t innately make the action worthwhile. The fights in this movie elicit little sense of wonder or fear. They’re just….things that happen. Yes, there is amazing CGI and some breathtaking shots, but outside of that it feels like you’re just watching a random string of images with nothing connecting them. You can barely even see what’s going on, as most of the action takes place during night while it’s either snowing or raining. Whether this is a stylistic choice or one based on financial needs is irrelevant: it’s painful to watch. Even if we could see what was going on, there are so many creatures shoved together that the novelty of seeing them in action is diminished, and it also ensures that none of them get the opportunity to make a true impact or be memorable. This action would otherwise be excruciatingly boring, but the movie’s self-serious tone makes it feel like even more of a chore to watch. Godzilla asserting his dominance should be cheer-worthy, but instead it’s downright miserable, as we see entire cities brutally get turned into a indecipherable mess of rubble and fire in a realistic manner. This damage doesn’t hold any weight, either, as the action is so relentless and viewed so nonchalantly by the film’s protagonists that it never truly feels like anything is at stake.
These protagonists are so inept and paper-thin that it derives the film of any emotional stake as well. Even if the action scenes were amazing, they ultimately account for a small fraction of the film’s runtime, so the rest is filled with this nonsensical and half-baked character drama. There are countless great actors in the movie that all have proven their talent in previous work, but they are given little material to work with, mostly due to the fact that there is a seemingly endless number of characters. Much like its roster of titans, the movie’s protagonists struggle to make a name for themselves amidst a slew of other people. (Side note: I’m pretty sure over 80% of the dialogue spoken in this movie is exposition. I’m not kidding.)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is by no means the first action movie to ever suffer from any of these problems, and it sure won’t be the last. This is just a particularly frustrating instance because this had chance to be a truly rousing piece of popcorn entertainment. Unfortunately, it tries to be way more epic than it is (think any Zack Snyder movie) and it can’t even be considered mindless entertainment because…well, it simply isn’t entertaining.