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"Monster Zero!"
--obligatory kid, upon seeing the frozen Ghidorah.

"Skreeonk!"
--Godzilla, whenever.


The kaiju genre passed its international heyday in the 1970s. The Japanese kept making them, churning out multiple franchises. More recently the genre has found renewed international success: Japan's Shin Godzilla (2016) and Hollywood's Godzilla (2014), for example.

The American film's first sequel appeared in 2019, and brings out a bevy of battling beasts, including fan favorites Rodan, Ghidorah, and Mothra-- minus her Shobijin sidekicks.

Godzilla's flaws are those endemic to the genre: hilarious "science," dubious dialogue, underdeveloped characters. As the genre developed, the kid characters often became important. Accordingly, Millie Bobby Brown, who has worked with stranger things before, gives the movie's strongest human performance.

The audience, however, comes to see big monsters stomp things. The CGI looks good, though we lose the fun of rubber-clad actors destroying meticulous model cities. Every ten-year-old knows those guys have the best job in the world, and watching them work was half the fun. I would have liked more of this film's enhanced effects shown in daylight, or at least on a world where people, when entering a room, turn on the lights. Darkness works in the original Gojira, because that was a horror movie, shot in black and white, with limited effects. Nighttime served it well. This film should have lit up its visuals.

In past daikaiju films, the presence of gigantic monsters had varying explanations and limited consequences. The big beasts came and went like hurricanes, and Japan apparently rebuilt Tokyo every year. This film gives us one explanation for the presence of multiple monsters, and acknowledges that their reawakening would be history-changing. We're in a new world of gods and monsters at the end of the film, which the franchise clearly intends to explore in future sequels.

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