Talking to Collider recently, Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty discussed the fact that the 132 minute version in movie theatres now was trimmed down from an initial cut that was around 160 minutes or even 165 minutes.
“There weren’t a lot of whole scenes that got lifted out. There are a few, and they’ll end up on the Blu-ray and home video version. But a lot of it was trimming moments within each scene. You’d be shocked at how much you can streamline a film just by dropping a line here, a word there. We have a large ensemble cast, so … in any Godzilla movie there’s always the moments between the fights where everyone’s going, ‘What just happened? What are we going to do now?’ So there was a tendency to give each character a moment to express their opinion, chime in, ask a question. And that adds up with a cast this big. So we quickly realized, ‘Okay, not everybody has to have a voice at the roundtable in every scene.’ So it was a lot of trimming lines of dialogue or moments, exchanges between characters within a scene, and they’re so subtle and minuscule that it’s not even worth putting it in the bonus features.”
Deleting lots of moments reduced the bloated running time, however what about whole scenes that were deleted?
“I want to say there’s roughly six to eight scenes, actual legit full scenes. And they’re a fun watch. If we were doing Godzilla: The TV Series, they would be perfectly great scenes. But when you’re trying to make a two hour plus movie, pacing is a very important consideration. … What I found on this particular film was, it was too front-loaded. There was too much set-up. The first act was dragging. Because when you’re going through the writing process, especially when you’re working with a studio, especially on a genre film where there’s so many things you do need to set up, it’s such a strange world that you’re entering, there’s a tendency to over explain in the first act because Exec A doesn’t understand the rules of, ‘What are kaiju, and where do they come from?’ So you find that you’re padding all these scenes to flesh that out more and then, lo and behold, when you get the cut in you realize, ‘Okay, we’re over explaining. The audience gets it. We can take this scene and truncate it down from three pages to half a page.'”
‘Long live the King’
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a 2019 science fiction monster movie directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus; Trick ‘r Treat) from a screenplay co-written with Max Borenstein and Zach Shields, based on characters created by Toho.
Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance…
” …it comes across like a big muddle of contradictory ideas. With that being said, let’s be clear (even if the movie isn’t): Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a big, kinda silly, but otherwise exciting blockbuster. It’s gorgeous, it’s epic in the extreme, and it features some of the most impressive monster fights you’ve ever seen.” William Bibbiani, Bloody Disgusting
“The underlying logic of that plot, however, is as murky as much of the action, which is invariably shot through pounding rain, as Ghidorah has the unfortunate habit of bringing bad weather along with him […] Yet the net effect is more numbing than stirring, with only a few monster-on-monster tussles that come close to being worth the price of admission.” Brian Lowry, CNN
“Dougherty’s vision […] is heavily influenced by the Japanese movies, and even feels like one at times. With human drama taking a backseat, Dougherty gives the audience plenty of razzle-dazzle in a literal eruption of monster mayhem via predominantly convincing CGI.” Cool Ass Cinema
“On a visual level, nearly every single frame of Godzilla: King of the Monsters feels like a work of art, with many moments evoking the spirit of Frank Frazetta’s artistic creations (especially during the scenes with King Ghidorah). The way that cinematographer Lawrence Sher captured a sense of scale while shooting imaginary creatures is pretty damn incredible…” Heather Wixson, Daily Dead
” …an overload of repetitive, joyless destruction that mistakes volume and demolition for actual excitement. The scale of the monster fights is so un-engagingly huge that an attempt at a human-level story amid the carnage in the final reel feels almost laughably inconsequential — it’s a gulf that the film cannot reconcile.” Ben Travis, Empire
“Simply put: It’s fun. It’s fun to sit around and root for Godzilla to come save us, even if he’s completely obliterating whole cities in the process. King of the Monsters knows this in its bones, and that’s what it wants to deliver. It’s a kaiju movie where the kaiju themselves are the stars and that’s what makes it such a great ride.” Meg Downey, Gamespot
“King of the Monsters is a mostly anonymous film, processed and boxed up like a forgettable schedule-filling studio product. Rather like 2017’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it also feels like it could have been released in the mid-to-late-90s, with a tone and aesthetic that feel strangely dated along with some head-scratchingly retro casting…” Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
“It looks amazing while also giving its human characters a chance to stay interesting amid all the battling beasties by providing them with some really cool tech — and some great one-liners among the supporting players. Unfortunately, the film’s plot is needlessly confusing, and not all that smart at times, and the lead characters could’ve used a little more fleshing out.” Scott Collura, IGN
“The entire film has the feel of Hanna-Barbera animation. It is dismaying to see actors of the calibre of Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins giving such cartoonish, one-dimensional performances. There is, though, something very satisfying about the sheer random destructiveness of the storytelling.” Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
“If you’re fine with some incredibly stupid people playing second fiddle to glorious kaiju moments, King of the Monsters will provide one of the best popcorn blockbusters of the summer. But if you wanted a Godzilla movie that had something, anything to say about its destruction? Then you’ll be definitely looking for something meatier than Ghidorah flank to chew on.” James Whitbrook, io9
“Somewhere in the ugly morass that is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the most overqualified supporting cast in recent memory are trapped expectantly on sound stages, hoping they might be the next to go. Incineration or giant lizard foot? Mothra’s latest snack? Who cares?” Tim Robey, The Telegraph
” …the metaphor has shifted: It’s all about government conspiracy and ecological balance (the titans are part of the earth’s natural defense system!), which can make your brain glaze over. Most of the actors spend the movie yammering on in an overly standardized disaster-movie mode of much-intensity-about-nothing…” Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters getting a full five stars would require more from Charles Dance being the villain, more screen time and more nefarious planning. He was Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones, after all. And a less chubby-faced Godzilla would have been more menacing. But regardless, there was lots to like about this movie.” Alison Slowski, Voices from the Balcony
“Yes, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is ultimately a Saturday matinee writ large, but that’s nothing to sneeze fire at; countless big, expensive action movies fail at making their way into a viewer’s pleasure center, but this one knows exactly how to be, in the truest sense of the word, sensational..” Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Cast and characters:
- Millie Bobby Brown … Madison Russell
- Vera Farmiga … Dr. Emma Russell
- Sally Hawkins … Dr. Vivienne Graham
- Mark Russell … TBC
- Charles Dance … TBC
- Bradley Whitford … Dr. Stanton
- Ziyi Zhang … TBC
- Ken Watanabe … Dr. Ishiro Serizawa
- Aisha Hinds … TBC
- Thomas Middleditch … Sam Coleman
- O’Shea Jackson Jr. … Chief Warrant Officer Barnes
- Anthony Ramos … Corporal Martinez
- Lyle Brocato … XO Bowman
- Elizabeth Ludlow … TBL
- CCH Pounder … Senator
The soundtrack score for Godzilla: King of the Monsters – composed by Bear McCreary (Child’s Play 2019; The Walking Dead) – is now available on vinyl via Waxwork Records. The score features the classic Godzilla and Mothra themes, plus a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s 1977 song ‘Godzilla’ with Serj Tankian (from System of a Down) on vocals.
The triple-LP album is pressed on two 180-gram colour variants: “Godzilla” (electric blue, black, and gray swirl) vinyl and “Kaiju” (Disc 1: gold and yellow swirl, Disc 2: oxblood and fire orange swirl, Disc 3: cyan and baby blue swirl) vinyl.
Each disc comes in triple-fold packaging featuring artwork by Christopher Shy and liner notes by Bear McCreary and film director Michael Dougherty. Each variant costs $50.
If you’re not a vinyl aficionado, you can stream the Godzilla: King of the Monsters soundtrack in its entirety below via WaterTower music.
As of June 18, Godzilla: King of the Monsters had taken $341,972,017 worldwide which must be a major disappointment for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. With a reported budget of $170 million, plus all the massive promotional costs, this means the movie only recently moved into profit.
All images are © 2019 Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures and used here purely for the purpose of information and education. No copyright infringement is implied or intended. Ghidorah image courtesy of USA Today
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