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Godzilla King of the Monsters: A Visual Titan

There can be little denying that 2019 is has been a great year for cinematic blockbusters.

Not only with the release of Avengers: Endgame, effectively wrapping up 11 years of universal buildup, with its usual top tier visual effects work. We also have Pokemon Detective Pikachu wowing audiences with how it brought the world of Pokemon to life, and the bombastic monster bash of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

However, of those three movies, Godzilla has been receiving the heaviest critical backlash for it's proclaimed"weak plot, bland characters, and contrived events" just to get the monsters to fight. The general audience reception however, has been very positive. Fans of the movie and the Godzilla franchise in general have been pushing back against the negative criticism, claiming that since the earlier Godzilla films were far from cinema master pieces, King of the Monsters doesn't have to be one for people to enjoy it.

Being a casual Godzilla fan myself, I went to the theaters to see this film with the opinions of both camps in mind and when I left the theater I found myself equally split. During the course of the film's run time, my inner child was front and center. Squealing with joy at every monster reveal and subsequent battle. Even laughing at some of the humor and getting invested in the characters.

Even months after seeing the film, I find myself thinking back on the experience quite a bit with how well it was able to bring the classic Toho cinema monsters to life. Going so far to turn on the film's incredible soundtrack (composed by Bear McCreary) just to experience the same chilling excitement when I first sat down in the theater.

So I had to wonder. Is this truly the fumbling blockbuster that certain critics have made it out to be?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I'll admit the film is far from flawless. But in my humble opinion any film, regardless of its label, that manages to stay in people's collective consciousness or spark such a controversy deserves a second look.

The overall theme of King of the Monsters is a good one, learning to coexist with living creatures that we don't fully understand. Coming to respect forces of nature and discovering humanities new role in that ecosystem. I appreciate the fact the film didn't try to answer these questions. Allowing for a receptive audience to take these broad questions with them to discuss with others. Even the criticized human characters were played very straight forward. The stand outs being of course the amazing Ken Watanabe and Millie Bobby Brown.

What truly holds the film up however and makes it a film worth seeing once is the film's visual effects. The animation really sells the scale and enormity of the Toho creatures and characterizes them a great deal. My favorite example comes from the character animation on King Ghidora. As all three heads of the alien Kaiju have their characteristic and quirks. The middle head being the dominant leader of the two, the left being the most aggressive while the right is always curious and aggravating the other two. It is a nice nonverbal way to express the character without having to dumb things down (having this trait explained to us by the human actors). In a small way, the film is encouraging audiences to clue in on the physical acting to discern the monster's personalities.

You don't have to have a history with the Toho films in order to appreciate the film either (though the film is littered with Easter Eggs for the Godzilla fan base). Outside of their non verbal sounds and body language, King of the Monsters soundtrack pulls just as much weight in communicating the personalities of these titanic characters. Godzilla's theme is big and bombastic (a recorchestrated version of his theme in his first film debut in 1954), Mothra's theme returns as a powerful but gentle orchestral ballad (hinting at her more benevolent nature). The other named titans, King Ghidorah and Rodan, while not retaining their original music get themes that gives listeners a lot of information about each titan's character.

This is definitely not a film for everyone and considering the Godzilla franchise is such a niche genre of monster flicks, the likely hood that this movie would sway general audiences was not all that great. Still, I want to give credit where it is due to the director, and the many, many people who put a lot of care and passion into this film. Research was done, by people who cared about what makes these classic movie monsters so much fun to watch.

If you're a fan of computer generated animation or just a curious blockbuster fan, than I encourage you to give this movie a watch.