Godzilla vs Godzilla: 1954 compared to 2019

I have great memories watching Godzilla movies with old North Carolina buddies who I love but don’t get to see anymore. Maybe that’s why I was mildly curious about Godzilla: King of Monsters. Even though I missed 2014’s Godzilla, I watched the original ‘54 version for the first time to prepare. In short, I loved the original. Hated King of Monsters.

The original movie is a thoughtful cautionary tale, showing the consequences of weaponizing scientific progress, set less than 10 years after the US dropped A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s even inspired by the true story of a Japanese fishing boat that got exposed to radiation from U.S. H-Bomb tests. While watching, I got the sense that all the H-Bomb talk was very personal for the filmmakers. And how could it not be? It was made less than 10 years after the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This level of commentary in the film is effective, if not a little heavy-handed at times.

The newest Godzilla movie is about big monsters going boom-boom and bang-bang while the humans do many science things to stop them. As simple as that sounds, the plot is overstuffed and convoluted, featuring extremely unlikable and unfunny characters played by a talented, likable cast. I know a movie is bad if it makes me dislike Bradley Whitford and Thomas Middleditch.

Don’t get me wrong. I like a big, dumb, fun movie. Some of the older Godzilla movies are just that. But King of Monsters isn’t fun. It’s a two-hour slog, existing only to serve “The MonsterVerse” and set up the next inane sequel.

I’ll take heavy-handed over empty-headed any day.

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