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Godzilla, King of the Monsters Review

First off, I have been watching Godzilla movies for 50 years. That gigantic mean, green, king of all monsters has never left my heart since we were first introduced so long ago via our family black-and-white rabbit-ears television. It was in the late ’60s one Saturday morning when I first saw “Godzilla” starring Raymond Burr. This began a life-long love affair with monster movies and magazines.

To get in the mood for the new Godzilla 2019 extravaganza, my adult son and I went to see the original 1954 Japanese release of “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” with English subtitles at the Tempe AZ Alamo Drafthouse (my favorite theater chain btw). This was my first time seeing that version on the big screen. It is still one of the best, if not the best in the series so far. Hearing that classic roar and the beautifully orchestrated Godzilla theme song brought a single tear to my eye and built my anticipation for the new movie even more.

So, here we are. My son and I went back to the Alamo Drafthouse, this time to see Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019). I loved it. As one friend asked me, “so, was it like the original or more like the Burr?” That was his way of asking was it intense or watered down? It was indeed intense with incredible over-the-top Kaiju monster fights. “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” is bigger and better than it’s 2014 predecessor “Godzilla.”

Millie Bobby Brown, from Netflix’s hit “Stranger Things,” is Madison Russell, the film’s young heroine. She can scream! With monsters destroying things all around you, you would scream too. Kyle Chandler plays her tough, guilt-ridden father Mark Russell and Vera Farmiga plays her troubled mother Dr. Emma Russell whose work can save or destroy the world.

Returning to the series is David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz, but one of my favorite characters and performances in the film is that of Ken Watanabe returning as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. Watanabe who was born in Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, Japan brought a level of legitimacy to the film and elevated it with a sophisticated performance.

Veteran English actor Charles Dance, who some will recognize from his role as Tywin Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” effortlessly steals scenes by simply exuding his strong presence.

The real stars of the film are the monsters. Godzilla looks majestically fantastic. While he is modernized in detail, he still embodies that soul we loved in the rubber suit. Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah are all here. The fight scenes are magnificently choreographed and the overall digital artistry is stunning. The destruction levels are catastrophic and unlike anything on screen before.

The plot and revelations throughout the film are so over-the-top that it’s perfect. We’re talking titan monsters here people so we have to have an epic storyline. If you can escape into full-fledge fantasy and allow imagination and wonder to take you away for 2 hours and 11 minutes you will have a great time with “Godzilla King of the Monsters.”

There are direct and subtle nods to the Godzilla classics sprinkled about. At one point, this viewer even had a tear in his eye that was quickly wiped before anyone noticed.

One more thing, do yourself a favor and stay for the end of the credits.