Godzilla: King of the Monsters Early Reviews Are Super Polarizing

Ahead of its Thursday night release, early reviews for Godzilla: King of the Monsters have arrived. The monster blockbuster has seen a considerable marketing push these past few months. Just a few days ago, Warner Bros. released the final look, promising giant-sized action.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the latest in the long-running film series. It's the third film in the MonsterVerse, a cinematic universe of giant monsters that began in 2014 with the release of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. In 2017, Legendary Pictures released Kong: Skull Island, a new take on the iconic ape. Its post-credits scene teased the next Godzilla film, showing cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. It's certainly been a wait since then, but Godzilla's latest film is almost here. Since its Comic-Con trailer last year, anticipation has been high, with the hope that these monsters would be adapted faithfully.

Related: Godzilla 2's Orca Explained: How Humanity Wakes The Titans

Last month, early reactions for Godzilla: King of the Monsters teased a film with fantastic action and thrills. Now, full reviews for the film have arrived. Below are spoiler-free excerpts from different reviews throughout the internet.

Owen Gleiberman - Variety

"As long as these creatures are up onscreen, I remain more happy than not, and Dougherty does his best to carry forth the style of towering beasties clashing by night that Gareth Edwards raised to such a pitch of grandeur. Yet this movie feels more prosaic and less magical. The monster battles set at night, lit by blue phosphorescence, get a little visually sludgy, and you may start to long for some daylight clarity — for those moments when you can sit back and gawk at Godzilla and just sort of behold him."

Kate Erbland - IndieWire

"Night sequences in the final season of “Game of Thrones” inspired a litany of complaints from fans and critics that they couldn’t see what the hell was going on. Now we have “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” — and with it, fresh inspiration for squinting. If you thought you couldn’t make out what was happening during The Battle of Winterfell, prepare thyself for an entire film built on the concept that, when giant monsters battle each other, they actually create tropical storms, gusting rain, and a baffling amount of cloud cover."

Alonso Duralde - TheWrap

"Whereas 2014’s “Godzilla” made us wait too long for the monster-movie money shots – vamping instead with uninteresting human characters – this one offers a family story made all the more heartfelt thanks to committed performances by Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler, not to mention a constant stream of the kind of rock-em-sock-em action that makes you want to see a film like this in the first place. And that action, unlike in “Pacific Rim,” isn’t constantly hidden by murk and rain and night and fog."

Matt Singer - ScreenCrush

"Godzilla: King of the Monsters was directed by Michael Dougherty, who has gained a solid reputation in recent years directing cult horror films like Krampus and Trick ’r Treat. I‘m not sure what happened here, but something went very wrong along the way to the multiplex. The characters — particularly poor Vera Farmiga’s monster scientist — behave so irrationally that Godzilla and his simple, clear motivations feel downright human in comparison. The last movie this big saddled with a story and characters this bad was Independence Day: Resurgence."

Scott Collura - IGN

"Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a fun exercise in giant monster madness that indulges in all the kaiju fights fans and even casual viewers could hope for. It looks amazing while also giving its human characters a chance to stay interesting amid all the battling beasties by providing them with some really cool tech -- and some great one-liners among the supporting players. Unfortunately, the film’s plot is needlessly confusing, and not all that smart at times, and the lead characters could’ve used a little more fleshing out. Still, King of the Monsters course corrects from the 2014 film by giving audiences an abundance of monster action, proving that Hollywood can do right by Godzilla and his fellow kaiju."

Chris Evangelista - Slash Film

"Mass extinction has never looked so gorgeous. Over a period of 132 mind-numbing minutes, Michael Dougherty‘s Godzilla: King of the Monsters lays waste to humanity with stunning tableaus colored in ghostly blues and faded golds, resulting in visual landscapes worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush. It’s a pity the world built around all that jaw-dropping monster mayhem is so damn dull. Cities are leveled, Lovecraftian monsters reign supreme, and the only thing I felt was a bad case of ennui. The ultimate kaiju smack-down shouldn’t be this boring."

John DeFore - THR

"So even if he could still use an acting coach — and, like a certain superhero god we could name, really needs to go on a diet — the old monster has a grand time in Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Easily the most satisfying of his Hollywood-produced adventures and a respectable cousin to the long string of Japanese ones, the sequel to Gareth Edwards' admirably serious but dullish 2014 film is the first to suggest any promise for what Legendary is calling its "MonsterVerse" — a franchise in which the Japanese kaiju world meshes with that of Hollywood's favorite oversized ape, King Kong."

Rodan and Argo Jet in Godzilla King of the Monsters

Chris Nashawaty - EW

"As the title promises, this sequel to 2014’s aggressively mediocre reboot is more than just a one-lizard show. It’s a globe-demolishing battle royale, pitting Godzilla against an oversized menagerie of monsters familiar to anyone who grew up watching deliciously cheesy Toho smackdowns on rainy Saturday afternoons – namely, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Mothra (although that last one turns out to be more friend than foe). But you get the idea, this is one of those the-gang’s-all-here, bigger-is-better all-star jamborees that is, in fact, bigger but not better. The human characters (and I’m using the word “characters” loosely) are flavorless afterthoughts, spouting unintentionally laughable dialogue designed to do nothing more than move the risible plot from point A to point B."

Mike Ryan - UPROXX

"I’m having a hard time remembering a recent movie I disliked as much as Godzilla: King of the Monsters. And, look, I can appreciate a bad movie. Remember Venom? Now that’s a bad movie, but it’s also remarkably watchable and insanely entertaining on about eight levels. I wish Venom had been in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. (Alas, Venom is not in this movie.) Instead, it’s just filled with a lot of stupid characters who all do stupid things to the point that the “plot” is just some crazy afterthought of nonsense. What a mess."

Ben Travis - Empire

"If there was an overriding complaint with Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reboot, it was a surprising lack of screen time for its titular mutant lizard — the director’s admirable attempt at restraint instead resulting in a Godzilla film that barely featured any, well, Godzilla. Krampus director Michael Dougherty’s sequel, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, feels like a direct address to that issue, introducing more of Toho’s classic creatures — from Mothra and Rodan, to three-headed dragon King Ghidorah — for the big guy to brawl. But while it isn’t lacking for behemothic beasts, the latest entry in the MonsterVerse suffers in nearly every other conceivable way."

William Bibbiani - Bloody Disgusting 

"With that being said, let’s be clear (even if the movie isn’t): Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a big, kinda silly, but otherwise exciting blockbuster. It’s gorgeous, it’s epic in the extreme, and it features some of the most impressive monster fights you’ve ever seen. Maybe someday Americans will make a Godzilla movie that isn’t just “badass,” but which also works on another level and resonates in a meaningful way. Until then at least we have Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is, if nothing else, badass as hell."

Many reviews agree that the human element in Godzilla: King of the Monsters is weak. It's not all negative however, and there are a number of reviews that state the monsters don't disappoint. The film is currently sitting at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. This makes it the lowest-rated movie in the MonsterVerse to date, as both Godzilla 2014 and Kong: Skull Island have a 75%. The score may continue to rise, however. It started at 48%, and has already risen up.

It can be hard balancing human characters with giant monster action. Many of the original TOHO Godzilla films balanced build-up with payoff, and featured developed characters. Examples include Mothra vs. Godzilla and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed MonsterGodzilla 2014 put a large emphasis on build-up over thrills, which garnered a mixed response from viewers. Adding grander action throughout for Godzilla: King of the Monsters was a good decision, but only if it's surrounded by good human characters. Based on a number of reviews, it seems like the human characters are there to move the story, but not much else. However, response isn't universally negative. If one is interested in monsters and Godzilla, the new movie still sounds like it's worth checking out on the big screen.

More: What Is Burning Godzilla? Fire Transformation & New Powers Explained

Source: Various (see above links)

Key Release Dates
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
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