So, maybe reviewing a Godzilla film as a horror film might be a bit of a stretch for some. Popular culture has simultaneously adored the monster, but also defanged him, turning him into a family-friendly icon of Japan. Let us not forget, at his heart, Godzilla is a monster birthed of the horrors of World War II. Even if Godzilla became a father figure and starred in progressively family-friendly films, at the core of the series lies a post-apocalyptic, nuclear heart. Besides, even Freddy Krueger had an album and kid-sized Halloween costumes. No monster lives as a terror forever.

It is true that a Godzilla film is not going to skew too heavily toward horror in the modern day. But, the core concept of a tremendous atomic monster casually destroying civilization by merely walking is indeed horrific. This fearful awe of destruction is exactly the vibe of the latest American Godzilla film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

The Story

King of the Monsters is the first sequel to Legendary Pictures’ 2014 reboot of the monster. It is also the third film of the shared MonsterVerse concept. The film immediately establishes itself as a sequel by directly following up the cataclysmic final battle of the first film and showing the impact of a kaiju battle on a family. Five years later, we find that family shattered and the world itself in a form of terrified stasis because of gods that slumber below the Earth. The remaining members of the family will find their lives dominated by these kaiju more than most survivors would.

Circumstances lead to a MacGuffin called the Orca that awakens a slumbering population of Titans, including the central four: Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. Then the real action begins, as does the terror of humanity as Godzilla and Ghidorah tussle for control of the Earth.

Three heads, one bad attitude.

What Works About Godzilla: King of the Monsters

King of the Monsters is a visually stunning movie. The Toho monsters have never looked better. Every scale, spike, wing, and atomic blast is picturesque. There are moments where the camera pulls back on the landscape as an incredible display of titanic power occurs. These moments are an absolute joy to behold.

The score to King of the Monsters is a fitting accompaniment to the action of the screen. Bear McCreary respectfully revisits classical themes and melodies of the Japanese films while incorporating his own signature flourishes. Each of the monsters has their iconic song in place and it gives each Titan a real presence in the film.

If one comes to the film wanting to see giant monsters locked into duels for survival and dominance they should not be disappointed with the film. The scale of destruction and the power on display is, frankly, horrifying.

And this gesture was just for show.

What Didn’t Work About Godzilla: King of the Monsters

As expected of a Godzilla film, the story can be weak. The nature of including humans and their problems generally does not prove thematically compatible with literal gods dueling on the screen. While the human cast of the film does what they can to be relevant, they are merely secondary to the true stars of the film.

Pacing also proves problematic as the human cast must zip around from location to location relevant to the kaiju fights resulting in a number of contrived moments. There is also a rather long sequence comprised of a plot-dump video conference. Here the film’s problems are their most explicit, with character motivations being told, not shown.

Final Impressions

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, directed by Michael Dougherty was produced by Legendary Pictures. The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, and features the return of Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa.

Haunted MTL gives Godzilla: King of the Monsters four and a half stars out of five. If you want to see truly powerful monsters point ou the folly of man, you are in for a treat between the human-centric bits.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Please enjoy some of our other film reviews here on Haunted MTL, and please let us know… would you like some in-depth analysis of the latest Godzilla film? What did you think of King of the Monsters?

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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