I’ve been a Godzilla fan since I was a wee one, and the MonsterVerse so far has been a disappointment to me, mostly because the movies couldn’t decide if they were grimdark or absurd fun for 12-year-olds.
This one finally succeeds because it picks a lane and sticks with it. It never pretends to take itself seriously. That would be a waste of time. This movie is loud, dumb fun and it doesn’t try to be anything else. And that’s exactly what it needed to be.
The humans never feel like they’re getting in the way; they serve their purpose of furthering the plot and nothing else, though Tyree Henry has some genuinely funny lines. They also all seem to be enjoying themselves, while the other MonsterVerse casts heretofore have all felt awkward and stressed, like they weren’t quite sure how they were supposed to be treating the material. Now everyone from Skarsgard to Bichir all know they’re in a popcorn sci-fi movie with a giant ape beating the crap out of a giant lizard and they go with it.
The banner kaiju themselves are better developed here, too. I actually cared about them. Kong is the true protagonist of the film, and I was never a fan of his (To me Skull Island was the worst of all the MonsterVerse films) but by the middle of the movie I found myself rooting for him and emotionally invested. Never thought that could happen. Godzilla actually grins evilly at one point and it works.
The monster battles are satisfying, monsters smashing the fuck out of each other with none of the infernal human cutaways the other movies couldn’t stop using. It seems so simple yet it’s taken three movies to get to this point. Just show us Kong whacking Godzilla in the face with his giant ax, just show us MechaGodzilla face-dragging Godzilla through the slums of Hong Kong, just show us Godzilla blasting multiple skyscrapers while Kong leaps between them. Screw what the humans are doing until it’s over. It’s not hard. Kong has a brief battle with a giant snake-like being that is so well-executed I applauded it.
The way it was going, this could’ve been the end of the MonsterVerse. Now, it’s probably the beginning. There’s no denying it’s going to deserve the money it makes.
As a final brief note, this was the first movie I saw in a theater since Covid started — it’s been a little over a year — and it will probably be the same deal for many other people this weekend. What a great way to go back and remind yourself why the theater experience is worth preserving. I forgot how LOUD theaters are, how they smell, how it feels to shovel popcorn in your face and suck down a liter of coke as the action plays out in front of you, how time ceases to exist. I used to see a movie a week. While I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon for numerous reasons, I’m so glad to have spent my first time back with my old childhood hero.