What critics are saying about ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

Here are reviews (good and bad) about the creature feature partially filmed in Boston.

King Ghidorah and Godzilla battle in Boston in "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." –Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if two gigantic prehistoric creatures absolutely destroyed Boston? Then “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which opens nationwide on Friday, is the movie for you.

Each subsequent trailer for the Warner Bros. creature feature — starting with the first back in July 2018 and finishing with the final one released in April — showed more footage of Boston being wrecked by a thunderous battle between the titular super-lizard and his nemesis, the three-headed “alpha titan” King Ghidorah. But beyond the obvious thrill of watching Fenway Park and other notable Boston landmarks that we won’t spoil in this article get demolished by members of Warner Bros.’ MonsterVerse, is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” actually a good movie?

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Critics have been largely divided, with the film earning a 48 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this article’s publication. That said, a single number can’t adequately capture the range of critical response, and many of the reviews coded as “fresh” or “rotten” by the critic aggregation site have a bit more nuance. To help you judge whether to rush to theaters this weekend, here’s what some of the top film critics are saying, both good and bad, about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

The Good

The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore called “King of the Monsters” the “most satisfying” Godzilla movie to come out of Tinseltown. 

“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.”


Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called the film “enjoyably chaotic,” and credited the MonsterVerse as one movie universe that hasn’t been over-featured.

“But this is one franchise that doesn’t feel fished out or exhausted or exhausting. The monsters, Toho studio classics redesigned but faithfully so, are pretty swell and monumentally destructive. The real stars here? Sound designers Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van Der Ryn, whose aural creature designs actually sound like something new — part machine, part prehistoric whatzit.”


The So-So

Glen Kenny of the New York Times wrote that while the film occasionally suffers a ridiculous storyline, a coherent one isn’t the top priority for a monster flick like “Godzilla.” 

“It’s rather beside the point to note plot goofiness in a Godzilla picture, but this one does push its luck now and then. At one point it seems the film could go full ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ with Godzilla and Monster Zero (a.k.a. Ghidorah) as attorneys for the parental plaintiffs.”


The A.V. Club’s Katie Rife praised the beautiful design of Godzilla and the other monsters at the center of the film, but conceded that the movie needs more than just awesome monster battles, something she said director Michael Dougherty fails to provide.

“The monsters are alternately painterly and lifelike, and their movements are expressive enough to convey personality even through the sheets of computer-generated rain that pour down throughout the film’s climax. When they fight each other, or scream in triumph over the smoking ruins of various world capitals, it’s difficult not to fist-pump a little. However, to Dougherty’s presumed disappointment—and to this movie’s ultimate detriment—you can’t just have two hours of kaiju slapping each other around like a gargantuan WWE highlights reel.”


The Ugly

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Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty wrote that “King of the Monsters” was “bigger but not better,” and called the human characters in the film “flavorless afterthoughts, spouting unintentionally laughable dialogue.”

“I was tempted to start this review with some long, thoughtful wind-up about how every generation gets the Godzilla movie it deserves. But why bother tip-toeing around what needs to be said and said clearly right off the bat — Godzilla: King of the Monsters is not a good movie. In fact, it’s a pretty terrible one.”

 

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote that the film rips off many of its action movie predecessors.

“‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ never met a sci-fi film it didn’t want to rip off — brace yourself for a dramatic sequence that pulls so liberally from ‘Armageddon’ that we can only assume Michael Bay is readying a lawsuit — and the result is a sloppy, stitched-together offering with no sense of self.”

 

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June 18, 2019 | 8:55 AM