I have gotten in the habit of trying to see newer movies more often. I started this in part when I had all you can eat movies through Movie Pass. Now, I go see movies every other Tuesday or so at my local AMC. I thought I might write up this post to reflect a bit on Godzilla: King of the Monsters as I wrote a post when the previous film came out.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Before I get into the film itself, there were some absolutely astounding trailers made for this movie. Unfortunately when I started seeing tons of ads play in the weeks preceeding the film, I was worried it might be a bit of a stinker. I spoke with my brother before seeing KotM and he encouraged me to lower my expectations. I think he alluded to Pacific Rim: Uprising in suggesting that I keep my expectations somewhere around “Hey, the monsters punch each other a bunch and that’s cool!” It was probably good I had my expectations at rock bottom. I’ll be talking about some of the major plot points of the film below so be warned.
One of the things I liked the most about Godzilla was that the thesis of the film is in part that we should try, as humans, but we don’t matter, that we have to relent and rely on God,…zilla to try and save us from external threats. This didn’t really jive with a lot of people and it certainly doesn’t fit in with some of the environmental messaging that is an aspect to the new film. In the new film, the human drama is front and center with the monsters distinctly in the background of a story of a family torn apart by differing viewpoints and brought back together by forgiveness and love. The human story is done much more competently in this film than the first which is frustrating because, again, I don’t think that’s a great direction for these types of pictures to go but maybe that’s just me.
Whereas the first picture was about human’s inability to make a difference, this film sets itself up as the antithesis in that one of the characters creates a magic box that allows them to control pretty much all of the monsters. Now humans can make a difference, and it turns out terribly.
In the last 10 minutes of seeing this film, I was struggling to figure out what the point was. I knew we were headed toward a climax but the goals of the filmmaker where very much in shadow. But, somehow, in the final seconds of the feature, some clever editing and acting did a nice job of bringing the goals mostly into focus. Interestingly, a woman sitting beside me turned to the audience of 5-6 and asked if “any of you figured out what was going on there.” I told her what I thought: grief, finding a community/home, revenge, etc. and I think she and I both thought it seemed to make sense. I wasn’t totally satisfied with my thoughts but whatever. Sometimes film is intended to be obtuse meaning it can be many things (i.e. mother!) and sometimes filmmakers give you a few things to say to make yourself feel smart but that aren’t entirely satisfying. For example, the main character is grieving for much of the film. We are encouraged to believe that she now finds something positive/admirable in the community in the film. After the character, however, thinks for a few minutes about who these people are and what they have put her through, it isn’t clear to me if she would continue to feel a connection.