It seems as though the MonsterVerse may be sticking around for a little while longer. Honestly, I was incredibly nervous about Godzilla vs Kong. You misunderstand. I wasn’t nervous about the film’s quality, I knew I was going to love it. What worried me was that Godzilla vs Kong could have been the last installment in the franchise. Godzilla is such a rich character and there is still so much more they can do. If you want to read more about the potential future, you can click here.
But today, we’re going to be looking at the four movies that make up Legendary’s MonsterVerse. What I wanted to do was order them in terms of my favourite and get a dialogue started. Which is the best MonsterVerse movie, and which is my least favourite. I almost used the words “which is the worst” but that wouldn’t be right. I love all four movies for very different reasons. Unfortunately, one of them has to take 4th place. Luckily for me, it was an easy choice. However, we’re going to start at number one.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Yes, I think Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best MonsterVerse movie. The box office and overall critical response may say I’m wrong but I will stand by my decision until King of the Monsters is dethroned. Personally, I don’t think that will happen. So why have I placed arguably the weakest MonsterVerse movie in 1st place?
Well, King of the Monsters is simply awesome. It brought in some iconic characters like Ghidorah and Mothra and was able to effectively display the sheer power of each Titan. On top of that, Michael Dougherty was able to make the Titans actual characters, rather than just monsters. We can see that Mothra has a relationship with Godzilla, just like we can see the rivalry between Godzilla and King Ghidorah. These monsters have personalities and I think it was the first MonsterVerse movie to introduce that concept effectively.
I absolutely love the action in King of the Monsters but I can appreciate that there were problems with prioritization. Unfortunately, King of the Monsters suffers slightly from the human side of the story which continuously takes us out of the action. Regardless, we got some spectacular sequences and moments that made me want to cheer. Rodan’s entrance, Godzilla vs Ghidorah match 1, The Finale, and Ghidorah’s presence, just to name a few. The reason I’ve included Ghidorah is because whenever he is on screen he owns it. He has this looming presence that is essential to any decent villain. When Bear McCreary’s theme plays, you knew trouble was coming.
I may also be part of a minority here, but I found the human story in King of the Monsters fantastic. In one movie, they were able to establish a very vast mythology that was cleverly conveyed through relevant characters that actually added to the narrative. Rather than using characters to show the chaos the monsters were causing, we got characters who could direct us and characters with motives. A very rich and wonderful mythology was opened up to us because of the characters. When compared to the human characters in Godzilla vs Kong, I think any criticism regarding the human characters can be erased.
King of the Monsters is an epic and fun monster movie. It’s full of spectacular visuals that will have Kaiju fans gleaming with joy. While the human characters definitely got in the way, I never felt as though their presence was unwanted. The Monarch team always had something to add which helped enrich the film and build the world. We also got an amazing soundtrack from Bear McCreary who updated classic themes and ensured that each Titan stood out.
Kong: Skull Island
This was actually a very difficult one to place. It was either going to be second or third in this list. I ended up going with second for one simple reason. Kong: Skull Island completely reinvented Kong for a new generation of monster fans. Fans received a brand new version of Kong that existed outside of his traditional Hollywood appearance. He wasn’t turned into a freak show and he wasn’t defeated on top of the Empire State Building. However, there were elements that carried over such as Skull Island and Kong’s affection towards the female lead. The point is that we were able to experience Kong in an entirely new way. That alone separates it from other installments in the MonsterVerse.
With that, Skull Island was able to play around with some really cool elements such as the timing of the film (1970s) and the wildlife. Kong’s solo film introduced us to an entire ecosystem that actually allowed the MonsterVerse to fully flourish. As a result, we got to see some really cool animals and monsters. One of my only gripes with Kong: Skull Island is that I wish they were a bit more imaginative with the final Skullcrawler. It was built up to be ‘the’ big bad, which it was, but it was just a bigger Skullcrawler.
What’s great as well is that Kong was never hidden from us. 2014’s Godzilla made it their goal to make Godzilla incredibly difficult to see. But with Kong we were able to witness his strength, speed, and skill in its entirety. No one can complain about the fight scenes in Skull Island because they were inventive, epic and incredibly fast paced- something that Godzilla has struggled with.
I feel as though this trait may be exclusive to Kong, but it seems that human characters are just easier to integrate into the story. It was very simplistic in its approach. A military operation gets stranded on Skull Island. That allowed the human character to have a more involved role in the film so it never felt like they were getting in the way because we were in a new setting that was full of danger. There was always something happening on the screen and it kept us engaged and invested. However, there were some complexities. This was the birth of Monarch as an established faction and there were debates regarding Kong’s existence. This was really the film that launched the MonsterVerse forward.
Godzilla vs Kong
Godzilla vs Kong gave the audience exactly what they wanted. I cannot even begin to describe my excitement and overall happiness when I received the action that I so desperately desired. The action is the biggest and best thing to take away from Godzilla vs Kong. We got three insane battles- On the aircraft carriers, Hong Kong, and then the final fight against Mechagodzilla. All three battles went on for a fairly decent amount of time and allowed each Titan to show off. We got to see Godzilla like we’ve never seen before and we got to see Kong wield a huge axe. That ticks every single box for me.
Much like Skull Island, Godzilla vs Kong was very inventive when it came to the fights. They pulled off some really awesome things like Kong’s dislocated shoulder, Kong’s ability to traverse buildings, and Godzilla’s new-found speed and aggression. The last 40 minutes of the film are utterly insane and I loved it. Part of me was actually glad that it was a shorter film.
However, the reason I have placed it 3rd is because I felt there was a total disregard for some of the established characters. As a huge fan of King of the Monsters I was saddened by the storyline that followed Godzilla. I know, I know… the monsters are the most important thing and they absolutely nailed it. But we’re never going to get rid of the human element, but that doesn’t mean you can waste it. In comparison to the new characters following Kong, Madison and her father were utterly reduced and useless in the grand scheme of things. What’s more is that Godzilla vs Kong introduced Ishirō Serizawa’s son and did absolutely nothing with it.
I absolutely love what they did with Godzilla and Kong. In fact, I couldn’t be happier. But I wasn’t just invested in those two. I was invested in Monarch and I was interested to see how mankind adapted to this super species. Unfortunately, Monarch’s role was reduced to hunting bleach and that’s it. While they improved on the action and made it absolutely flawless, they did sacrifice the integrity of some of the characters which ultimately hindered the film for me.
I have such a love/hate relationship with this movie. In recent years, I have grown to appreciate it a lot more. However, it still stays 4th. Sorry Godzilla. I think Godzilla is an excellent monster movie. It was very typical in its approach regarding Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s role but it worked. It was a simple couple separation story. What I loved most about it thought was Bryan Cranston’s storyline. It was absolutely fantastic and I loved the more scientific approach to understanding the MUTOs and Godzilla. Unfortunately his role was cut very short and then I remembered it was a Godzilla movie which then made me remember that the King of the Monsters gets 10 minutes of screen time.
That makes it a bad Godzilla movie. Hollywood hasn’t touched Godzilla since 1998 and that film doesn’t exactly have the biggest fanbase in the world. What you can’t do is then attempt to revitalize our atomic friend by giving him 10 minutes of screen time, which is mostly walking, in a 2 hour movie. On top of that, the entire film is plunged into darkness and whenever we get a decent look at Godzilla, we’re suddenly dragged away to check in on the human characters. As a Godzills movie, it is utterly infuriating.
However, apart from the incredibly dark scenes, I cannot fault the film on some of its visuals and cinematography. The first time Godzilla uses his atomic breath is still one of my favourite scenes in the entire MonsterVerse. It is such a short yet stunning moment that almost made the 2 hour wait worth it. But like I said, I’ve grown to love Godzilla and the 4K version certainly helps when it comes to the nighttime scenes.
I just don’t think it was the most effective way to bring Godzilla back into the spotlight. What makes it worse is that the design for Godzilla is outstanding and the film does a great job at revealing him. His first appearance at the airport is iconic and insanely memorable. But then the film works really hard to hide him from the audience. It sounds really petty, but I’ll never be able to let that go.
What did you think? Which is your favourite MonsterVerse movie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. You can enjoy the biggest monster fight to bless our screens now. Don’t forget to check out my review of Godzilla vs Kong which you can read right here.
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