Looking at nothing but the facts, it’s hard to argue against Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters being labeled as the weakest installment in the MonsterVerse. Which is a real shame, because all of the trailers for the movie were stunning, promising giant monster action against an unique visual backdrop, but it was ultimately an exercise in disappointment.
Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong all scored at least 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas King of the Monsters topped out at 42%. At the box office, the first two installments both hauled in over half a billion dollars, but the third chapter in Warner Bros. and Legendary’s kaiju canon stalled at $386 million. For comparison, Adam Wingard’s recent monster mash has brought in almost $100 million more, and that’s after releasing in the midst of a pandemic.
Boasting a cast that featured Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance and more, on top of iconic monsters including Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, the project was set up to be a slam dunk that delivered fan service on an epic scale for longtime Toho enthusiasts while still satiating the modern blockbuster audience’s desire for massive scale action and sprawling set pieces.
The humans and the story that they’re part of has never been selling point of the MonsterVerse, but even by the flimsy standards of the franchise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters relied on a narrative that could be described as one-note at best. However, the success of Godzilla vs. Kong looks to have reignited interest in the critical and commercial under-performer, because it’s now one of the fifteen most-watched titles on Netflix.