HomeMovies'Godzilla: King of Monsters' Review: Terrible Acting, Great Monster Brawls

‘Godzilla: King of Monsters’ Review: Terrible Acting, Great Monster Brawls

Godzilla: King of Monsters Review Photo
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Written by George Heftler

When I watch a Friday the 13th movie, I have a certain set of expectations. I want to see a campground. I want to see the iconic mask. I want some fun kills. A Friday the 13th movie without these things would be unsatisfying at best, but by including these tropes, it becomes easier to overlook flaws. The same idea extends to when I watch a Godzilla movie. I know that as long as I get some fun monster designs, cool effects and a good amount of action, there’s a lot I’ve overlooked in the past for this particular series and I’m sure it will continue to happen. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is no exception.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. The acting is as terrible as you’ve heard. Truly, it’s dismal. It might not be the worst acting I’ve seen in a modern Godzilla movie, but it’s close. And it’s even more shocking because I know this cast can do great things. Bradley Whitford is wonderful in Cabin in the Woods. Thomas Middleditch is an improv wizard on Comedy Bang Bang. Charles Dance has been a prestige actor for decades, and Millie Bobby Brown nails the role of Eleven in Stranger Things. And these are just the side characters for Godzilla: King of the Monsters! I’m really not sure why everyone is sleepwalking here —possibly all involved thought the dialogue ranged from extremely clumsy to expository garbage like I did.

But every time I got close to being annoyed with the cast, the movie shifted gears and brought the monsters back on screen. And they’re fantastic.

The Godzilla franchise is typically known for its use of practical effects, miniatures, and guys in suits acting as the monsters. This is something I’ve long advocated — especially for the installments that lean into the cheesiness inherent in these monster fight movies. Godzilla: King of the Monsters continues the American tradition of flaunting this typical Godzilla set-up, choosing to animate the kaiju in CGI. And for the first time outside of Japan, it works.

While we get glimpses of a variety of monsters, we spend the most time with Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan — who all look incredible. Rodan specifically has gone through some rough-and-tumble times throughout the years and seeing him fly through the sky with a smoldering ember trail was breathtaking. Ghidorah’s regenerating head verges on body horror. Godzilla’s overcharged form is super cool, and Mothra’s emergence is stunning. More interestingly than just their great designs, however, is the natural animation. For perhaps the first time, these monsters actually feel like animals instead of two guys having a wrestling match in heavy rubber suits. It really helps to show that CGI doesn’t need to be a bad word.

This movie is a summer blockbuster in the truest sense of the word. While it has a lot of fun references and nods for ‘zilla-heads  (especially a lot of naming conventions like Monster Zero and the Oxygen Destroyer), it’s also extremely accessible to new fans. They may miss the homages to some of more minor installments like Seatopia (the Atlantis stand-in) from Godzilla vs Megalon and Burning Godzilla from Godzilla vs Destoroyah, but you can bet they won’t miss the big monsters slamming into each other for our viewing pleasure.

It’s a lot of fun, with a “message” that is extremely on-the-nose, but not so preachy that it becomes annoying. The music by Bear McCreary is fantastic and evokes a lot of music from past movies, like Mothra’s Theme and the Main Titles Theme. The colors pop off the screen with plenty of bright orange-y yellows and cool blues for contrast. All told, it’s an undeniable spectacle.

All weekend long, reviews poured in deriding Godzilla: King of the Monsters. And not without some level of merit. As I mentioned, the acting dreadful. But I feel like these critics are not evaluating the movie fairly. This movie does exactly what it sets out to do, and the human story line is just garnish. It moves us from point A (no monsters) to point B (yes, monsters and also they’re fighting) in an extremely successful fashion. So, while maybe these critics are ready for something more from the franchise at large, I think that Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a wonderful Godzilla movie that left me very much ready for more. All hail the king.

George can be found talking on Twitter @gerghef and on Letterboxd as Georgehef.

Godzilla: King of Monsters is now playing in theaters nationwide.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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