Tag Archives: Rodan

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review by a Godzilla Fan

Spoiler Free Summary: Godzilla: King of the Monsters offers satisfying monster fights,  neat world building, and, surprisingly, lovely personalities from the monsters.  Unfortunately, the film falters from an insufferable character lead, unnecessary (and likable) character deaths, and being a glorified ad for the US Army.  Nonetheless, the film hits all the right marks for a Godzilla fan, let them fight!

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Spoiler Review: It has been a long time since I left a theatre feeling so conflicted.  I knew going into this that Godzilla: King of the Monsters had already struggled with a low rating on Rotten Tomatoes but that still couldn’t prepare me for what I saw.

Godzilla: KOM picks up five years after Legendary’s first Godzilla film in 2014.  A very long gap, all things considered, with only one film, Kong: Skull Island, giving us relief in-between those films (with the unrelated Shin Godzilla to boot).  The Monsterverse (Warner Brothers answer to Disney’s MCU) is still picking up steam and trying desperately to build its Titan-filled world.  Despite this, I think it does a great job with this world such as introducing hollow-Earth theories in Kong and continuing that with the underwater Atlantis scene in this movie.  Strangely enough, the film’s end credits sequence did SO MUCH for world building and I really like that.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that Legendary is doing a successful job simultaneously referencing the original Toho films while introducing new villains and monsters for Godzilla (and Kong to fight).  The best example is King Ghidorah, who sees probably the best version of himself (or himselves???) in the entire Godzilla franchise!!  A big claim, yes, but hear me out.  “Evil” monsters in Godzilla films are somewhat uncommon and are usually controlled by world-dominating aliens or from future white people.  Ghidorah is the pawn for these aliens and when the (usually) humans break the mind control plot device, Ghidorah becomes a rampaging monster, easily beaten by Godzilla and his allies.

This film establishes Ghidorah as an invasive alien from outer space which is most excellent!  It ties back to world building with Godzilla and the Titans bringing balance to Earth’s climate and nature.  Naturally, Ghidorah, the invasive alien, wants to destroy that world and recreate it in its image.  Making Ghidorah not only control other Titans was smart but having him regenerate introduces a heighten level of threat that makes it extra scary.  Ghidorah also having three separate personalities is such a treat and something I never realized I needed until now.

Speaking of personality, Legendary boosted Godzilla’s character trait in spades (thanks in part to a far longer screen time which was a big miss in the first Legendary film).  Godzilla is friendly, crotchety, and smart.  From eye movements to subtle facial expressions, this is a return of Godzilla that is all good.  A trait that I pined for a long time.  The majority of the most recent Godzilla films have seen him in the anti-hero or straight up the antagonist/villain role.  A “good” Godzilla hasn’t been with us since arguably Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004 if not Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975.  Godzilla allying with Mothra, the Earth’s Guardian, only further seals his alignment.

Speaking of which, I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of Mothra or Rodan but I’m satisfied nonetheless.  Rodan popping out of its volcano was a nice callback to its first film but having it being a flying lava-monster makes it so delicious.  As a side note, Mary and I also couldn’t help but compare Rodan to Transformers’ Starscream and Terrorsaur due to Rodan’s quick reallignment towards Godzilla at the end of the film.  Mothra standing up against Ghidorah and Rodan was nice but seeing it sacrifice itself for Godzilla, giving him the energy to fight, was classic Mothra.  Glad to see another Mothra egg at the end credits!

Oh and the fights were so wonderful.  That first standoff with Godzilla vs Ghidorah was great with Ghidorah’s wings outstretched against the blizzard.  It’s great to see the monsters fight three times!  Godzilla biting off the head of Ghidorah was also very satisfying and surprised me.  The end fight was well done with Godzilla getting that nuclear boost and kicking Ghidorah’s ass but then Ghidorah got the powerplant boost and I was like AHHHHHHHHHH!!!  I was on the edge of my seat!  Besides the animated Godzilla Planet movies, this is the first CGI fight of Godzilla vs Ghidorah and they didn’t pull any punches!  Ghidorah lifting Godzilla up in the sky, Godzilla blasting off Ghidorah’s heads (nice!!!), Ghidorah shooting lightning from its freaking wing tips, Godzilla’s charge up sound effect, and so forth and so forth.  Nicely done!

One more thing before the bad stuff, the soundtrack for this film was top notch.  That was another big complaint I had in the first film, the original Godzilla theme was missing.  It’s not a true Godzilla movie if it doesn’t have those iconic themes.  But we got them!  IN SPADES.  The themes were repurposed with choir, they got Mothra’s theme, they even got a cover of the Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla theme which was so rad to hear.  The music really sold me here but I just wish they did a better job with sound editing cause goddamn I had to struggle to hear the music sometimes along with the characters.

Okay, enough with the gushing now for the ranting.  Damn these characters were annoying.  At least the first film had Brian Cranston even though he died a third of the way in.  Kyle Chandler’s character Dr Mark Russell was the most annoying, blatant use of a white protagonist ever.  He was telling other, WAY MORE QUALIFIED, characters what to do even though HE HADN’T BEEN STUDYING GODZILLA.  Seriously, bugged the crap out of me.  In all honesty, they could cut his character entirely from the film and it wouldn’t change much.  We could focus on the mother-daughter relationship and the experienced Monarch group can keep doing what they do best.Image result for godzilla king of the monsters lead

My distaste for the lead wouldn’t be as nasty if it wasn’t for the fact they killed both Sally Hawkins AND Ken Watanabe’s characters who were both waaaaaay more likable than the lead even though they still didn’t have a lot of personality (but at least they were tolerable which goes a long way).  I don’t need interesting humans in a Godzilla film.

I don’t know.  I know I didn’t come to see a Godzilla film for the people but to make them this insufferable or boring is an achievement in a Godzilla film.  Millie Brown’s character was okay and she did all she could for the material given to her.  I give her character points for being tenacious that’s for sure.  I will also give points for the ORCA plot device, at least it gave a good tie in from the humans to the titans.

Finally, the US military irked me in this film.  Military in the Godzilla films are supposed to be ineffectual and only a super, sci-fi, weapon can take down Godzilla.  Sometimes, a non-destructive solution comes up to handle kaiju problems that are very cool like the coagulant juice in Shin Godzilla (or in this case, the ORCA device).  In this film, the US military, though mostly ineffectual, was still glorified to the umpteenth degree in this film and we didn’t have any antagonistic military characters with the exception of Charles Dance’s character (and even then he’s British so it doesn’t count!).  All this glorification is pretty funny when you compare it to Shin Godzilla and how the US military birthed Godzilla, tried to cover it up, failed, made the problem worse, and then wanted to nuclear bomb Japan.  Really says a lot especially when one film is produced by a Japanese studio as compared to an American one.  But that comparison is for another article…

Final Godzilla Movie Rating: 3.5/5  Overall, I have issues with this film but you know what?  At least they got the monsters right.  They hit the right notes again and again and I felt very satisfied by it, they introduced new concepts and ideas to the monsters and I appreciated them.  Hopefully, the human characters will be less annoying in Godzilla vs Kong but we’ll see…I personally wouldn’t count on it.  Thank God(zilla) though that it’s coming out less than a year from now!

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I also want to learn more about THIS guy!

Random Godzilla References That I Was Able To Catch

-The Mothra Twins made a cameo through Zhang Ziyi’s characters.  The fact that she is a third generation Monarch scientist makes it extra sweet.  Thank goodness she’s coming back in the next film.

-Godzilla, Rodan, Ghidorah, and Mothra, first appeared together in a major crossover movie, Ghidorah the Three-Head Monster.  This united the films Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra together creating an expanded series of Toho Monster films that span from the 1950s to the 70s.  In the film, Godzilla and Rodan fought each other before Mothra convinced them to set aside their differences and fight Ghidorah.

-Ghidorah’s codename, Monster Zero, references his English title for the second film he appeared in, Monster Zero in 1965, who was from outer space.

-Kong was referenced several times in this film along with Skull Island, not sure how it ties in yet to the next film but I’m looking forward to it

-The Oxygen Destroyer, the thing that killed the very first Godzilla in his debut film, was introduced and, in my opinion, poorly handled in KOM.  It was shoved in at the last second and it was never mentioned again.  It didn’t even kill Godzilla or Ghidorah. Tsk Tsk

-Godzilla becoming a nuclear meltdown seems to be a reference to Godzilla vs Destroyah where he was on fire and couldn’t contain his nuclear energy.  The humans had to build an giant ice ray in order to cool down the king of monsters.

 

Godzilla in Hell: Review and Analysis

There are few things in life that equal the ridiculous concept of Godzilla in Hell. Yet, this concept is the foundation of a wonderful comic miniseries that tells the story of Godzilla as he traverses through the different circles of Hell. When I first heard about this series I immediately was intrigued and wanted to learn everything I could about this comic book series.   When Christmas came, I finally got the chance to get the complete volume as published by IDW. And the result? I love it. It wasn’t what I expected and that’s what makes it good. Godzilla in Hell’s risky departure from the normal, Monster-of-the-Week formula, makes this series a must read for fans of the Big G.

Image from issue 1. Art done by James Stokoe.

Unfortunately, those looking for a straight-forward narration similar to Godzilla and the Fifty Year War (done by James Stokoe who also penned the first issue in Godzilla in Hell) will be disappointed as narration is kept to a minimum, if at all, and some issues have many pages completely devoid of dialogue. As such, the reader shoulders a great deal of interpretation that would otherwise be spoon fed to him. This lack of exposition makes the series strong as I feel a word-by-word explanation of Hell would only detract from the experience and not enhance the other worldly feel of this abysmal world.

Each issue is also done by a different artist and as such we see radical shifts in styles throughout the series.   The aforementioned lack of dialogue means the artists are given almost free reign over the pages without worrying too much about spacing problems. Whole pages are dedicated to scenery and battles and it’s amazing. Stokoe’s Godzilla still looks good as usual but I have to give a hand to Eggleton’s Godzilla as his issue is entirely painted and he makes a damn fine looking Godzilla.

Image from Issue 2. Art done by Bob Eggleton.

The multitude of artists leads to the most interesting thing about Godzilla in Hell and that’s the self-contained stories in each issue. Rather than one continuous arc, the miniseries is comprised of many tales that you could easily interpret as stand alone rather than interlocking. It strikes me as the old epics in literature like the Odyssey; here is another tale of Godzilla and his never-ending journey through Hell. This further lends fuel to the reader’s interpretation fire and allows us to enjoy Godzilla in Hell in a variety of ways.

With only five issues, I can’t help but analyze each of them and try to understand what the artist was trying to convey to the reader and what it means overall. In issue one, we are given a snapshot of Godzilla’s initial fall to Hell. The silence of the fall and the impact lends to the eeriness of the setting. Philip Glass’ opus Koyanassqui plays in the background in my head as I watch the King of Monsters recover and set forth. After Godzilla blows up Hell’s famous entrance sign, he encounters an avalanche of naked people who swarm him like an immense tidal wave. Are these the souls of the damned? Or souls whom Godzilla has killed in the living world? I think it’s the latter as they form a splitting image of Godzilla himself before transforming into a demonic-being that is a cross between Godzilla and Biollante. In a way, this weird monster reminds me of Shin Godzilla and how the collective power of Humanity was able to stop him and not some giant monster. Unfortunately, for this monster, Godzilla destroyed it with one mighty blast and moved forward on his journey.

The return of Rodan, Ghidorah, Anguirus, and Varan highlights the painted issue two. Demons now posses Rodan and Anguirus who now reside in Hell for eternity. Eggleton cleverly references their origin stories as Rodan first appearance was from a volcano while Anguirus’ was trapped in ice. Since Godzilla did not kill either of them (or Varan) I would wager he recognized them and did not want to kills their incarnations

image provided by snappow.com

image provided by snappow.com.  From Issue 3, art done by Buster Moody.

Issue three reveals how Godzilla fell to Hell in the first place and it’s probably the most fascinating chapter of the five although the other chapters give it a run for its money. I had to read the chapter twice before I realized that Godzilla actually went to Heaven first before he rejected it and was sent to Hell in response. In fact, it took me awhile to realize that the angel’s wings were similar to Mothra’s! In Godzilla lore, this makes a lot of sense considering Mothra is basically the Earth’s Guardian.

There’s a quote from the epic poem “Paradise Lost” that I’m sure issue three parodies which goes “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” Unlike virtually all mortal beings, Godzilla has the power to reject Heaven and in response, Heaven sends Godzilla down to Hell. Yet after he defeats Space Godzilla, he rejects ruling Hell as well. As such, Godzilla takes a third, unscripted option that stuns the denizens of both worlds. Better to live on Earth.

I just love these issues as they are all so different in style and tone. Wonderful as they are, issue four stands above the rest as Godzilla finally meets his match through his arch nemeses King Ghidorah and Destroyah in a Hellish version of Tokyo. As much as I love the previous issue, Godzilla never faced a total sense of doom, depression, hopelessness and torment. Sure, he may have had problems with the Lust monster or Space Godzilla, but he prevailed nonetheless in relatively short battles. Issue four changes that and gives us scenes of constant battle. Scenes of Godzilla fighting and killing Ghidorah and Destroyah again and again. Scenes of Godzilla killed again and again. And scenes of Godzilla trying to break through the wall in vain again and again. We have seen Godzilla in Hell but never Godzilla in his own Hell.

Godzilla is truly a force to be reckon with but to finally find something that stops him is unbelievable. I would argue that this issue, and not issue five, truly tests Godzilla’s spirit. With no narration, we are unsure how long Godzilla has suffered. Months? Years? Godzilla’s eternal damnation may be similar to Dante’s version of Hell where the passing of time is inconsequential; it’s happening for now and forever. As such, I can’t help but applaud Godzilla’s escape; he broke through eternity. And as Godzilla leaves his Hell, Destroyah and Ghidorah, mere tools of his damnation, slowly disappear along with the faux-city of Tokyo.

Image from Issue 5.  Art by Dave Wachter

Image from Issue 5. Art by Dave Wachter

In the final issue, Godzilla has to climb an incomprehensibly steep and tall mountain where he can finally escape Hell. Out of all the issues, this one is the hardest to interpret. Why does Godzilla’s atomic breath fail? What is the giant monster on top of the gate? Why do the winged demons reform into Godzilla after eating him (and why do they all now have eyeballs) and why can they now release a full atomic blast? Although I can’t answer all of these questions, what I can suggest is that Godzilla’s indomitable spirit and will to succeed has brought him back from the dead and made him stronger.

Questions aside, this is a gorgeous looking issue. I love the lighting effects and the predominance of black and red. I feel like issue five’s Hell is like an abyss, devoid of light but not devoid of action. The lightning in the clouds was done rather well and the formidable mountain looked foreboding. This contrasts amazingly well with the last panel of Godzilla escaping Hell and he’s released onto the surface of the Earth, breaking through the ocean and taking his first breath of freedom. Godzilla never looked so content.

Overall, Godzilla in Hell is a great comic and I recommend all Godzilla fans to read it. It’s a different take for the King of All Monsters and it works well. Check it out.