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Godzilla: King of the Monsters First Reviews: A Gorgeous, Messy Kaiju Battle Royale

The characters are thin and the writing a bit stale, but if all you want is a giant-sized brawl, Godzilla delivers.

by | May 28, 2019 | Comments

Depending on what you want out of a Godzilla movie, you may either love Godzilla: King of the Monsters or hate it. The sequel to 2014’s reboot is sharply dividing critics, some of whom are calling this at least the best of the franchise made this side of the Pacific. Others can’t get over the almost-unanimously panned script among other cited problems with this latest MonsterVerse installment, which also follows up 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. To quote Ken Watanabe’s character from the last Godzilla movie, “Let them fight.” Or just balance each other out on the Tomatometer.

Here’s what critics are saying about Godzilla: King of the Monsters:


How does it compare to the 2014 Godzilla?

It delivers far more satisfying thrills and terrific spectacle when it comes to what fans expect from these kinds of films.
– Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

King of the Monsters course corrects from the 2014 film by giving audiences an abundance of monster action, proving that Hollywood can do right by Godzilla.
– Scott Collura, IGN

2014’s Godzilla made us wait too long for the monster-movie money shots… [this one has] a constant stream of the kind of rock-em-sock-em action that makes you want to see a film like this in the first place.
– Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

It’s like Warner Bros. heard our collective complaints about Godzilla (2014) and unloaded three sequels worth of monster fights into one follow-up.
– William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

This movie feels more prosaic and less magical.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

So most hardcore kaiju fans should appreciate it?

Hollywood finally gets kaiju big battles right in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Easily the most satisfying of his Hollywood-produced adventures and a respectable cousin to the long string of Japanese ones.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

This is a Godzilla movie, and what we’re really here for is to see him kick some serious monster butt. And King of the Monsters pays off in that regard time and again.
Scott Collura, IGN

If you go to these things to see cities flambéed and flattened, you won’t leave disappointed.
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

If not for 1998’s atrocious Matthew Broderick-starring Godzilla, this would be the dumbest English language version to date.
– Benjamin Lee, Guardian

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now the worst American Godzilla movie.
Fred Topel, We Live Entertainment


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

So it’s not for everyone?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is not a good movie. In fact, it’s a pretty terrible one.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

The summer’s first inarguably bad blockbuster.
Benjamin Lee, Guardian

I’m having a hard time remembering a recent movie I disliked as much as Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
– Mike Ryan, Uproxx

The last movie this big saddled with a story and characters this bad was Independence Day: Resurgence.
– Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


So the script is the issue?

It’s just filled with a lot of stupid characters who all do stupid things to the point that the ‘plot’ is just some crazy afterthought of nonsense. What a mess.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

What complicates matters are the characters themselves…their interpersonal family dynamics are not particularly interesting or engaging.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

The script, by Dougherty and Zach Shields, has no idea what to do with any of these people.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

These characters feel about as detachable as Raymond Burr did in the Americanized Gojira.
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

It sometimes seems as if, in their attempt to focus on monster action, the filmmakers have cut out material that might have enriched the human side of the tale.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

The dialogue ends up being unintentionally funny more often than intentionally so.
Katie Rife, AV Club


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

What about the cast?

The material is there, and the actors are good enough to handle it, however shallow the characters may seem.
– Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

[The] family story [is] made all the more heartfelt thanks to committed performances by Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Vera Farmiga, per usual, is fantastic and Millie Bobby Brown kills it in her feature film debut…the cast as a whole does a tremendous job.
Shannon McGrew, Nightmarish Conjurings

Vera Farmiga is too level-headed an actress to deliver this stuff as if she believes it, so it just sounds like nutcake raving.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

The main cast struggles…at least Millie Bobby Brown emerges unscathed.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

Whitford is the only cast member able to make any of the film’s stale, clunky jokes work, and Watanabe brings a remarkable amount of gravitas to his role.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm


Would it be better without the humans?

The monsters are the stars of the show, and they don’t disappoint…King Ghidorah, with his regenerating heads and electricity-based powers, is often downright terrifying.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

I was particularly impressed with the work done with Ghidorah. What was once a wacky three-headed puppet is now a real menace.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

[They’re] all realized with designs that call back to their Toho origins while also looking fresh and, basically, fantastic…each monster feels like they have their own, distinct personality.
Scott Collura, IGN

Godzilla barely appears onscreen until the final act, and doesn’t appear at all for the first 45 minutes.
– Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How are the monster battles?

The monster action in this movie is top-notch across the board, whether it’s creatures being born, creatures battling humans, or creatures battling other creatures.
Scott Collura, IGN

Unlike other CG-fests, this Godzilla gives us a good look at these iconic monsters and shows us what they’re capable of in battle.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

A cornucopia of eye candy that’ll shake your seat and make you cheer…it features some of the most impressive monster fights you’ve ever seen.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

The ultimate kaiju smack-down shouldn’t be this boring.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

When a movie is just nonstop monster action, guess what happens? It all becomes the new ‘normal’ and it becomes boring.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx


How does the movie look?

The action is pretty legible, all things considered, and the compositions are often beautiful, with a strong element of chiaroscuro.
Katie Rife, AV Club

Dougherty and cinematographer Lawrence Sher capture all of this destruction with a painter’s eye…the awe and majesty of these massive, god-like beings is rendered perfectly.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Awe-inspiring widescreen visuals…the fire-and-brimstone aesthetic assigns a gritty gravitas to the gorgeous imagery, as it augments the narrative’s ecological overtones.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Most impressive was by far the visuals and the CGI. The special effects used in the creation of Godzilla and the Titans looked positively seamless and beautiful.
Shannon McGrew, Nightmarish Conjurings

The monsters are too darkly shot and edited too frenetically as if he’s trying to hide something.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Prepare thyself for an entire film built on the concept that, when giant monsters battle each other, they actually create tropical storms, gusting rain, and a baffling amount of cloud cover.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

You may start to long for some daylight clarity — for those moments when you can sit back and gawk at Godzilla and just sort of behold him.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety


Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Does it ever feel dated?

Like [2018’s] Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it also feels like it could have been released in the mid-to-late-90s.
Benjamin Lee, Guardian

The human cast seems like they’re trapped in a 1990s disaster movie.
William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting

The film blends bombastic excess and deadpan silliness in a way that recalls late ’90s action films of the Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich school.
Katie Rife, AV Club

Godzilla: King of the Monsters never met a sci-fi film it didn’t want to rip off — brace yourself for a dramatic sequence that pulls so liberally from Armageddon that we can only assume Michael Bay is readying a lawsuit.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire


Does it leave us looking forward to the next one?

We’re now all set up for Godzilla vs. Kong, coming in 2020, but if you told me that the next film in the franchise was Party with Megalon, it would make about as much sense.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

We shouldn’t wake him up again until there’s a better movie.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx


Godzilla: King of the Monsters opens in theaters May 31, 2019. 

#1
Adjusted Score: 56.725%
Critics Consensus: Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers spectacular kaiju action -- and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story.
Synopsis: The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

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