A direct sequel to Godzilla (2014), and follow-up to Kong: Skull Island (2017), Godzilla: King of the Monsters marked the continuation of Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse, and it’s a movie that takes its place in the franchise incredibly seriously.
Featuring not just one, but four classic movie monsters (plus a very brief shot of Kong and a few other unnamed Titans), King of the Monsters does its best to begin to raise the stakes somewhat from the previous two entries.
It might seem great on paper – more bang for your buck, so to speak – the result is a hideously cluttered mess with very little narrative punch.
Sure, there’s apparent stakes, but they feel forced, and the movie’s characters are constantly trying to beat us over the head with whatever the latest development is. In all honesty, it’s a little exhausting.
There’s a moment or two that are deliberately confusing, which is King of the Monsters‘ way of feigning intelligence, but let’s not pretend that the appeal here is anything but watching gargantuan monsters duke it out while laying waste to human cities.
On that, at least, King of the Monsters is able to deliver, although it feels like a somewhat hollow victory. Seeing Godzilla rise once again to come to humanity’s aid is triumphant, but the inconsistently rendered King Ghidorah is far less satisyfing as a character, and there’s more where that came from. KotM also features brief appearances from Mothra and Rodan, two of Toho’s other well-known movie monsters, although this is in such a minor supporting capacity that it feels like little more than a nod to kaiju fans.
The general concept of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is one that works, but the movie’s human characters add jarring narrative choices and ironically, feel less rounded-out than the monsters. This in turn leads to inconsistent pacing, a fairly nonsensical story, plenty of narrative convenience and whole mess of lazy clichés.
While it might ultimately be something of a let down compared to Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, its action sequences are its saving grace. There’s some truly brilliant moments thrown into the carnage that are able to both evoke monster movies of old and also display the genre’s potential in modern-day cinema.
Summary: A disappointing movie that fails to capitalise on the talent of its stars, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is at least able to build a little excitement for future Monsterverse instalments – just as long as they can avoid the same pitfalls.