I have lurked on this thread for awhile, but never bothered to actually make an account, and give my take, but I suppose now is as good of a time as any.
First I should say that I do actually enjoy KotM, and it is about middle of the pack tier for me in terms of Godzilla movies, but for it to be following 2014, which I personally find to be either my second, or first favorite Godzilla movie, it comes off as a huge letdown. I don’t like the excuse made for fans, but that just about sums up my thoughts on the new movie, all of its strongest positives come from either using G-fan’s nostalgia, or just recycling plot elements from previous Godzilla films. I absolutely adore 2014, but I will concede that it struggled to connect with general audiences, or G-fans, it was a bit divisive. Godzilla isn’t a big deal in the west, and honestly, not really that much of a big deal in Asia anymore, so for this franchise to work it needs to create new fans. 2014 wasn’t populist enough, it was too “artsy” (which is why I loved it), KotM needed to be Iron Man, take a not well established character and make them gel with audiences, not just try to appease the very small amount of G-fans there are. So speaking in terms of franchise building, and continuing the monsterverse that’s my biggest complaint, but as a movie in general, oh boy. I really think the critics had a point.
Again I don’t hate this movie, but it absolutely struggles at nearly every point narratively. First and foremost I think the idea of connecting to 2014 via the opening was a great idea (I also am in that scene! I’m the guy who is running right behind Emma’s head before it cuts to the close-up of Mark), but it was sloppily executed. I don’t want to praise Batman vs Superman, or start some DC flamewar here, but the way it connected itself to Man of Steel was pretty great. I wish the movie gave more time to establish who Andrew was, what was happening, and have more of that chaos, only then to kill Andrew. His death scene was very sloppy, and I still don’t know exactly what happened to him. However in the end, I have kind of realized that the movie really didn’t need Mark, Emma, or Madison. Mark undercut every scene he was in by being able to do anything, and constantly stealing the spotlight, and Emma might just be the most poorly written villain I have ever scene. A movie like this doesn’t need humans to let the monsters free, let alone people as poorly motivated as Emma. And while Madison didn’t bug me, her character was pretty much pointless and I hated how the final battle was intercut with her family trying to find her.
Going back to Emma though, serosuly her whole plot was uneeded and stupid. Have Ghidorah wake up because the ice-caps are melting or something like that, it works better with the messages the movie is trying to give off, and it feels much more realistic. 2014 felt like this all was happening in our world, it didn’t need human villains, just a never ending sequence of human errors. Even Skull Island which has Col. Packard as a villain still felt grounded enough because it was just a Moby Dick situation, and Packard’s motivations were understandable. KotM tonally felt like it was in the off brand MCU. Same goes for it’s weird borderline American Propaganda attitude. I don’t want to get political, and in the end I don’t really mind some good old Team America whatever, but I found the use of Godzilla and his relation to nuclear weapons in this movie to be deeply disturbing. I mean, just the whole idea that he is brought back to life by a nuke (by Serizawa nonetheless), and then immediately storms Boston in tandem with the US Navy, and saves the day with an “Atomic Pulse”, just really makes me uncomfortable. I am fine with Godzilla being a hero, I am fine with him fighting alongside the US, but I am not fine with how this movie portrays nukes. One of the many things I love about 2014, that I often feel like is highly overlooked, is that the choice to use Nukes is what sets up the entire conflict in the third act. If we didn’t intervene with nature’s order none of the film’s problems would have happened, from the mine awaking the MUTOs, to the Powerplant luring them, to the nuke, it was all our fault. Sure we wake up Ghidorah in KotM, but it’s the bad guys doing it, not our incompetence, and in the end the day is saved with nukes. Also the whole “good radiation” and life fallowing it and all that was so skreeonking off base, seriously.
And again, say what you want about 2014, but this film is its sequel, it is in the same universe, and it has to respect it’s legacy. I didn’t mind that they took Monarch, which was ratty and underfunded, and turned it into Shield lite, though I do wish the tech was toned down a bit, and I do think that there were moments where the film felt connected tonely and stylistically, but on the flipside, this movie sometimes really seemed like it was ashamed of being a sequel. And in no place more than its handling of the returning cast.
This is me being petty, and my bias, but nothing in the movie pissed me off more than what they did to Vivianne Graham. One of my issues with 2014 is how they underused Sally Hawkins, it was clear she was written in last minute, however she was very vocal that she wanted a bigger part in the universe, and since she is an Oscar nominated actress, and just an all around fantastic, it should have been a no brainer to make her one of the faces of the franchise. Nope. She gets killed after 40 minutes, in one of the most blinks or you’ll miss it death scenes I have ever seen. Say what you want about Cranston dying, but his death made sense to the film’s message; it isn’t humanities place to mess with nature, he was trying to understand the MUTOs, which wasn’t his place so he paid the price. Very lovecraftian. However not only did his death make narrative sense, it also happened over two scenes, and he brought up several times later in the movie. Hawkins was there, and then she wasn’t, and it really killed the movie for me. It should have been her who Serizawa gave the notes to, not Mark, and it should have been her saying “this time we join the fight”. Just talk about awful writing, directing, and choices (also Dougherty laughed about her death on the commentary, and made fun of it, but that’s a whole other can of worms).
To a much lesser extent I feel similar about the treatment of Stenz and Serizawa. I really liked Stenz in the first movie, his character wasn’t a trigger happy commando, and had to make some tough choices, and when he made the wrong ones he put his faith in Serizawa and Godzilla. I was really happy to see him return, but not only is he barely in KotM, but he basically does the opposite of what he did in the first movie. He nearly kills Godzilla, and then gives a speech where he is then mocked by Chen. It would have been really nice to have him be the person in the military defending Monarch and finishing the development he had in the first film. As for Serizawa, he was okay in this, I just wish he was the focus, not Mark.
That all said I will take a moment to stop trashing this movie and give it some praise. I actually did like all of the secondary characters, especially Dr. Stanton. I feel like I should have hated him as I don’t like forced comic relief, and I don’t particularly like Rick from Rick and Morty (who he was based on), but I often found his character saying what I was thinking. These kinds of movies need characters, and since it isn’t going the way 2014 did, by having the lead be a surrogate for the audience, it is nice for some of the cast to be relatable and entertaining. The movie really should have been focused on Monarch, and their efforts to stop a newly awakened Ghidorah, and maybe find and revive Godzilla who has been dormant since 2014. Cut out the ORCA, cut out the Russels and the terrorists, make a story about a man working with nature to stop an invasive species.
I have a billion more complaints about the way the film was shot, the lack of proper action, and other stuff, but I’ll save that for later if people are interested. In the end, being a fan of this franchise I did find this movie entertaining, but it isn’t (and didn’t) win that many non fans over, when it really could and should have.