Now we come to the most recent entry in the monsterverse and the direct sequel of Godzilla (2014). While Kong was always a more human monster the memory of 2014 was with us, would this film continue the improvements of Skull Island or fall down on the failings of 2014?
Released earlier this year, King of the Monsters was promised with not just the return of Godzilla but also the 3 most famous non Godzilla Kaiju from his franchise, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah. This was big as those 3 had never been done by non Toho groups before so we were interested in seeing how Legendary handled these 3.
The film is quick to introduce us to our leads and show Godzilla, so clearly they have learned from the mistakes of the first one. During the destructive battle of the previous film Dr. Mark Russell, his wife Dr. Emma Russell and their daughter Madison Russell cry out for their son in the city full of devastation as they look up and Godzilla walks past. Skip 5 years later and we find that they have divorced and Madison is living with her mother at a Monarch containment site looking over Mothra. As Mothra awakes Emma uses a device the orca that she and Russell made to calm the giant caterpillar before its attack by Charles Dance playing Alan Jonah who captures the two. This already means that Russell played by Kyle Chandler has a far better reason to be around than the lead of 2014 plus Russell’s studying of pack animal behaviour actually plays into the events of the movie rather than turn out to be worthless.
Early reviews of the film lampooned it by accounts that clearly hadn’t actually watched the film, as their main complaint was there wasn’t another human (the exact opposite of complaint people who watch 2014 said) and claimed there weren’t any characters. These people must not have been paying attention as I can see 4 very large characters as well as a whole lot of human ones.
The kaiju or Titans as they are now called are characters that are brought to life very well. Each of the 4 main ones has their own musical accompaniment that helps to give a feel of what each is like. Godzilla has an almost tribal chant to him, Mothra has a version of her classic song and Ghidorah has a demonic feel. Those moments when Ghidora first rises up in the Arctic really feel like those words that were used to tease his appearance “the devil has 3 heads”.
I can’t stress this enough, this is the best version of Ghidorah in all Godzilla films. When he first showed up in Ghidorah the Three Headed Monsters he was said to be some alien destroyer of worlds, a cosmic horror almost unstoppable, but then by his next movie he just got mind controlled by random aliens to be their weapon of destruction, a trend that continued in most of his appearances. Here he is no one’s master than his own and he just comes off as so evil it’s like that promise of his first appearance truly visualised. Plus each of his three heads has its own personality, and his rivalry with Godzilla is a central element of the story, to the point they fight 3 times in the film and all are glorious to see.
Once Ghidorah appears, Charles Dance’s role as villain is over, he’s nothing compared to how dangerous they show Ghidorah is and rightfully so. This film knows that the monsters are the draw and they are both the true heroes and villains. They don’t tease you with the monsters fighting like the first film; each major fight is fought from start to finish.
The roles of Russell and Emma show two people who are dealing with the death of their son and how each went about doing it. Emma throwing herself into her work while Russell initially drank but now accepts what happen and deeply regrets his actions following his son’s death.
Ken Watanabe also returns as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa. The film also clearly understands that his saying “let them fight” has become a meme as the characters in the film even make reference to his saying it. He has probably the most emotional moment in the film.
Zhang Ziyi plays the major role of Dr. Ilene Chen a member of Monarch who studies the mythology of the Titans and has a lovely tie to classic Mothra lore that fans of the films will get. She’s the main source of information on the history of the Titans.
As you see the film has plenty of characters and only people who go into a film with their minds already closed could miss them. If you don’t like the film that’s fine it’s not for everyone just don’t make stuff up that isn’t true.
It is clear the people who made this film understood the franchise and one of the great ties to this is the music. As mentioned each of the titans has their own musical score but other tracks such as the one called Rebirth have an amazing tie into Godzilla lore. Some people may not like the issues of the two leads when those monsters get fighting. You just want to start smashing toys together it’s so amazing, the final battle in Boston is going to go down in history as one of the best monster fights in all cinema.
Well that’s the last of the monsterverse films, but at the start I said Godzilla films that didn’t treat the first one as having happened not monsterverse films. There is one film from Japan that is the first time they ever made a remake of the first Godzilla film.