Godzilla vs. Kong vs. My Internal Composure: A Movie Review

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Godzilla vs. Kong (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Godzilla, King Kong, Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Mechagodzilla

Director: Adam Wingard

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: March 31, 2021

What if it were Godzilla vs. Kong vs. … jmunney? Does the latest no-holds cinematic brawl between these two iconic behemoths make me want to join the fight? Hey man, I’m a pacifist! But entering their domain in some capacity might be fun. They seem like good company.  Kong is certainly a clown. And sensitive, to boot! Godzilla’s harder to peg, but I’d be willing to put in the emotional groundwork to make the connection. What’s Mechagodzilla’s deal, though? He sure comes out of nowhere. Does he even have a soul?!

Grade: 5 Podcasts of 10 ASLs

Movie Review: ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Delivers What it Promises, But It’s a Huge Mess

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CREDIT: Warner Bros./YouTube

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Straitharn, Ziyi Zhang

Director: Michael Dougherty

Running Time: 132 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Monster-on-Monster Smashing and Even Some Human-on-Human Violence

Release Date: May 31, 2019

As promised, there are plenty of massive beasts in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but there are also a lot of human beings, and they’ve got plenty on their to-do list. They debate which monsters are friends and which are foe, and they retrieve some objects that may or may not be MacGuffins, and honestly I could not make heads or tails of what they’re trying to do. This is a murderer’s row of heavy hitters wading through incomprehensibility. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, though, because when you come to see a Godzilla movie, you’re there for the monsters.

But here’s the thing: the fight scenes are just as incoherent! They’re distressingly dark, and edited way too quickly to make sense of what is going on. Every once in a while, there’s a really satisfying chomp or smackdown, but for the most part the splendor of the kaiju is obscured by too much visual clutter. King of the Monsters put me most in mind of the third Transformers flick, Dark of the Moon, a good chunk of which was an interminable clash of metal on metal. King of the Monsters is marred by sound design that is just as off-putting. In theory, I can understand why people would enjoy Godzilla getting into a battle royale with Mothra, Rodan, and the like a lot more than I can understand the appeal of robots clanging against each other. But this numbing onslaught is far from the best that this genre can offer.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is Recommended If You Like: Non-stop giant monster battles

Grade: 2 out of 5 Roars

Movie Review: Shin Godzilla

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This review was originally published on News Cult in October 2016.

Starring: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara

Directors: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi

Running Time: 120 Minutes

Release Date: October 11, 2016

If you are in the mood for some giant reptile action but are a little wary of subtitles, it may be time to conquer your fears. Because if you waiting for the good ol’ U.S. of A. to get Godzilla right, it might be a while. The latest attempt barely even featured the title lizard and killed off its only interesting human character in the first ten minutes. Meanwhile, the franchise keeps stomping along in its native Japan, and the 31st entry, Shin Godzilla, is set for a limited Stateside release October 11-18.

Shin Godzilla wastes no time in setting the danger loose on Tokyo. A frenetically edited opening sequence of roadside carnage, government officials deliberating, and blood pouring into a tunnel paves the way for the big guy’s first appearance about 15 minutes in, and … it’s kind of disappointing. However, it eventually becomes clear that that is kind of the point, as Godzilla’s monstrousness starts out (relatively) silly but gradually grows more imposing. There is no such luck keeping up that go-for-broke pace indefinitely, but there is fun to be had beyond the destruction.

There are three main draws to Shin Godzilla: the aforementioned fast pace of Godzilla’s initial attack, the dark humor, and the (perhaps meta?) examination of political relations between Japan and the United States. The second and third points are tied up with each other: there is a defeatist tinge to much of the jokes in which the officials and scientists despair that so much is beyond their control. That also applies to their ally across the Pacific, which is a frequent source of frustration for forcing policy decisions upon them. These moments are too unmoored from any real situation to work as specific satire, but that lack of a clear analogue allows for a mythic quality that keeps these monster stories afloat as they are told over and over again.

Shin Godzilla is Recommended If You Like: Godzilla movies that actually feature Godzilla, a random joke about soggy noodles, and Japan-U.S. relations

Grade: 3 out of 5 Nuclear Fission Reactions