Movie Review: GODZILLA King Of The Monsters

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godzilla king of the monsters
Warner Bros. / Toho

“They’re everywhere. Battling for dominance. Arrival alpha to Godzilla.”

  • Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species–thought to be mere myths–rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Five years, and we finally got a sequel to the 2014 second attempt for America to make a good Godzilla movie. Mind you, this seems to be a part of a larger “Monster Universe” that included King Kong: Skull Island back in 2017. And now, after watching Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, I once again find myself hungry for more giant monster goodness.

Of course, like with any Godzilla movie, this one really works best when the monsters are throwing down, rampaging and causing the destruction we all paid to see. And here, we get plenty–Godzilla, along with Toho classics Mothra, King Gedorah and Rodan, along with brief cameo appearances by other giant beasties that I certainly hope to see go up against Godzilla in future installments. And King Kong is definitely one of the cameos here, and is slated to go up against Godzilla in the next movie in the Monster Universe. But, I digress, before I completely geek out all over everyone.

For the most part, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (not to be confused with the re-edited American title of the very first Godzilla from 1956) makes for a fun, mindless summer popcorn flick with plenty of ‘splosions and big monster fights and destruction. For the most part. See, like the other Godzilla movies (it’s not just the 1998 and 2014 American versions, either), all the fun stuff we came to see is interrupted periodically to focus on these boring human drama bits that, sure, I can understand why you would want to put something like that in these movies. They’re stand-ins for the, what do you call ’em, the people watching the movie…surrogate something-somethings. Of course, the underlining theme in this is that it’s the humans who are the real monsters, and it’s an eco-terrorist organization wanting to use the titans (as they refer to the giant beasties) to cleanse the world of humanity and begin anew as it always was meant to be. You know, that old gem of an intelligence insult.

Anyway, if you can get past the human focused part of the story, Gozilla: King Of The Monsters is some fantastic giant monster-whompin’ fun. Recommended for a rental.

Movie Review: GODZILLA (1998)

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godzilla 1998TriStar/Columbia/Sony

“That’s a lot of fish.”

Yeah, let’s just go ahead and get this long-standing regret of the past out of the way. It’s been ignored by your Uncle NecRo for long enough: it’s time to finally get the review of 1998’s Godzilla out of the way. It’s been festering for so very, very long, really.

Yes, nearly twenty years after the fact, we can look back at this as the poo emoji it is. But, I swear to all reading this, for the months leading up to the release, the prospect of a modern American take on one of the most iconic monsters in cinema history was just bloody exciting. Keep in mind, for those of you too young to remember, the mid-to-late 1990s, in terms of Summer Blockbusters, were kind of a dark time. But, this Godzilla had a couple of things going for it: Model CG effects, and Roland Emmerich–still hot off their success of Independence Day–handling things.

I remember sitting in the theater one evening, and the first teaser trailer came on. It just featured the foot, crushing a T-Rex display. But, that was all that was needed for me to get all sorts of fanboy giddy. Then, I saw the fisherman teaser trailer, and that pretty much got me starting a countdown to whenever that movie was going to hit theaters. And when it did, I went with a bunch of friends on opening night, Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” blaring from my car’s speakers for some cheesy build-up goodness, and settled in with expectations and excitement high.

I’ll spare you all the end results. Point is, it wasn’t pretty. To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. This was not Godzilla. A giant monster movie, yes. But Godzilla, it was not. And here is why:

While going through the standard “Dinosaurs are COOOOOL!” phase as a grade school-er, my all-time favorite dinosaur wasn’t the standard T-Rex, or Brontosaurus (which was still a thing back then, for any aspiring pedantic pseudo-paleontologist out there…and sorry about the arbitrary alliteration); my prehistoric boy was the Allosaurus. I don’t know why this smaller version of the T-Rex appealed to me more (forever cementing me as the “weird one” in grade school and beyond), but it just did. And the point of bringing up this seemingly unrelated childhood flashback is this: The 1998 Godzilla looked like an over-grown Allosaurus with a severe underbite, and not the classic Japanese icon that we know and love. This iteration of “Godzilla” was less Science Run Amok Metaphor and more Force Of Nature Spectacle; here, instead of being a monstrosity that we helped to inadvertently create biting us in the collective butts, this is a prehistoric iguana wanting to lay its eggs in Manhattan.

And that’s the major issue with this 1998 Godzilla: this isn’t so much a Godzilla movie, as it is a loose remake of a movie called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Seriously, the plot to Godzilla ’98 is the same as that 1953 movie (which had the great Ray Harryhausen doing the stop motion effects).

So, anyway, if you happen to be one of the blessed ones who have not watched this iteration of Godzilla, here’s the synopsis: A giant mutated lizard beast arrives in New York and stomps around and does some major property damage, and then manages to allude the US military by hiding really good, somehow. So then they bring in Ferris Bueller, who’s an expert in radiation effects on animals and stuff, to bumble around awkwardly and say things like “that’s a lot of fish”, while his television journalist ex-girlfriends bums along with him and the French Secret Service to get in the way a lot. They find out that Godzilla is pregnant, because he/she can reproduce asexually I guess, and then stumble upon a bunch of Godzilla eggs, finally killing Godzilla, but then the eggs hatch and next thing you know we’re ripping off the Raptor chase scenes from Jurassic Park, and…by this time you’ve been struggling to pay attention through the many fake endings they make you sit through, and it just goes on and on and on and then ends on sequel-bait. That was the true terror, here.

Godzilla 1998 is an amazingly bad movie. It’s such a mishandling of a pop culture icon that I’m surprised Japan hadn’t declared war on us for doing this to their star monster. There are some cool parts to this, mind you; the whole rampage through New York City in the first reel was awesome, as was the part when Godzilla whipped out some classic atomic breath. But, that was all spent up early on in the movie. After that part, Godzilla goes away for most of rest, while we’re treated to a bunch of very uninteresting characters interacting while trying to find the main reason we spent money to watch this movie to begin with. And I’m well aware that, with the other Godzilla movies in the stable, the title character doesn’t really show up until the later part of the movies…but that’s the thing. Here, the big destruction part that everyone waits to see is gotten out of the way early on, so there really no reason to sit through the rest. Even by the time you get to the actual end of the movie, you’re feeling more than just a bit ripped off by the experience.

The ironic thing is, the obligatory Saturday morning cartoon series that spun off from this atrocity was actually a bazillion times better. Mainly because it seemed to understand the spirit of the original Japanese movies better than Roland Emmerich ever did. I would urge you to never watch this Godzilla…instead, check out the short-lived but ultimately superior cartoon version that takes up where the movie left off.

There. It’s been reviewed. Now to take a long shower to wash the ick off of me for having to revisit this…

Movie Review: GODZILLA (2014)

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Godzilla 2014 Movie PosterWarner Bros.

“I think Godzilla was only listening. The MUTO was calling something else.”

From visionary new director Gareth Edwards comes a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless.

I don’t think I have to explain why Godzilla is such a cinematic icon. Since he climbed out of the Pacific ocean to lay waste to Tokyo in 1954, when anyone thinks of giant monsters, first and foremost to spring to mind is the radiated bipedal lizard, regardless of whether or not you’ve seen any of the movies. For me, I discovered this Japanese import by way of a book series on classic movie monsters that I checked out of the local library as a 7-year-old. And, of course, there was the Hanna Barbara cartoon featuring Godzilla, Godzookie and a bunch of kids for some odd reason. It really wasn’t until college when I watched my first Godzilla movie–the 195_ original, as a matter of fact. Of course, back then we still only had the “Americanized” cut that was shown here in the states: where they inter-cut extra shots featuring Raymond “Perry Mason” Burr reacting to the destruction, but not really part of the actual movie.

As far as a full-on American version of the Godzilla franchise, this 2014 movie is actually the second attempt to bring the big guy to the States. The first time in 1998 was…um, I’ll just hold on to my thoughts for that particular review. Let’s just say that this 2014 American Godzilla is not only heads and tails better (see what I did there?), but this time out we’ve finally done the franchise proud, I think.

In this Godzilla, we have the story of a man who tragically lost his wife to the destruction of the nuclear power plant they both worked at in Japan back in 1999 (in one of the more heart-breaking scenes I’ve ever had to sit through). Fifteen years later, and he’s still in Japan, convinced that there was more to the destruction of the plant than a simple core meltdown, and is constantly getting in trouble trying to prove his theory, while his son–who was only 10 years old when the tragedy happened–has moved on with his life, with a wife and a young son of his own, working as a bomb specialist in the Army. After his dad is once again arrested for trespassing in the forbidden radiation zone around the ruins of the plant, he travels to Japan to spring him, only to accompany him back into that zone, where they not only discover that there is no radiation whatsoever, but there seems to be a rather odd conflagration of scientists gathered at ground zero, where a strange giant irradiated cocoon is being monitored. Of course, said cocoon hatches, and a gigantic insectile winged creature (which is not Mothra, I’d like to point out) lays waste to the science expedition, and flies out over the ocean, heading east. Seems Tiny has a taste for radiation, and likes targeting things and places that uses said radiation for power. Like, say, nuclear subs. And power plants. You getting the idea? The military and the scientists who were studying the creature immediately give chase…as does a certain giant green lizard creatures with atomic breath. There’s a showdown in Hawaii, then it’s off to the mainland in San Francisco, where they’re joined up by the winged creature’s girlfriend, who’s looking to lay her eggs underneath the city that gave the world Rice-a-roni. Among other things, I’m sure. Big honkin’ monster battle ensues, it looks like we’re all doomed, but then [SPOILERS] Godzilla saves the day and then swims off to his trailer to await the sequel. The end.

I’m going to say this as a tried-and-true fanboy of the Godzilla franchise, the good the bad and the ugly: Godzilla 2014 was awesome. I’ve heard all the complaints and the nit-pickery, and while I concede that this movie has its flaws and shortcomings, comparatively, this is classic Godzilla kicking it old school in a modern telling. Maybe I’m not Trve Geek by admitting this, but for the most part seeing this play out on the big screen (watched it at the local Second Run theater, mind you, but still worth it) was very satisfying. The character stories were compelling, and the build-up to the final battles were deliciously tense and action packed. Yeah, I enjoyed every minute of this thing. It’s a fun Godzilla movie, period. Give it a shot.

Revisiting Godzilla 1998

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Godzilla-1998-618x400Tomorrow, after work, I shall be joining my fellow compatriots from the Coven of Exhalted Geeks in watching the Riff Trax presentation of 1998’s Godzilla, at the Oakview AMC theaters in Omaha. The irony being that, back in 1998, I originally watched Godilla at the same theater complex on opening night, along with my friends. I went in excited and stoked, and left…less than satisfied, let’s just say. Now, here we are, set to head back to the Oakview AMC to watch the 1998 Godzilla again. Only this time, I already know what I’m getting into, and it shall be enhanced with the running quips and commentary by the Riff Trax team. That’s what was missing from the first viewing. It should be a better experience.

And in case you’re wondering: No, I am not going to be playing Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” while driving to the theater, like I did back in 1998. I’ve learned my lesson from the last time, there.