MOVIE: GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
STARRING: KYLE CHANDLER; VERA FARMIGA; MILLIE BOBBY BROWN; KEN WANTANABE
DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL DOUGHERTY
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
You wanted monsters? Boy, does Godzilla: King of the Monsters have that in store for you. The follow-up to 2014’s Godzilla– directed by Gareth Edwards, clearly heard any complaints from critics and audiences that didn’t get enough of the mammoth lizard monster. This time, director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat; Krampus) relishes in having various monsters arise from volcanoes, ice, rock, and cocoons, solely to square off against each other, wreaking havoc on big IMAX screens, delivered as pure entertainment for audiences to enjoy. But is this new Godzilla king? It has all the action you could want, yet I still felt disappointed that this movie didn’t surpass my expectations. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is massive in scale, small on brains and for some that will be enough.
The main character is Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a scientist working for the covert military corporation Monarch. Still hurting after the death of her son, which was a result from the destruction by Godzilla, she makes it her life mission to control these beasts. Her husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) has escaped to study wolf packs, in hopes to forget, while Emma has stayed with daughter Madison (Millie Bobbie Brown) to oversee the birth of the glowing moth-beast Mothra. Things go haywire, when “eco-terrorist” Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) attacks the facility, in pursuit to steal Emma’s ECHO technology and release the monsters located all across the globe. What seems like a simple plan, results in mass destruction, the rise of monsters looking to destroy one another, everything in their path, and become king kaiju.
On the surface, Godzilla: King of the Monsters has everything going on: a top notch ensemble cast (it includes the likes of Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and Bradley Whitford), CGI action that you’ll want to see on the biggest screen possible, and giant beasts that audiences get to see smash into each other like action figures. The problem, however, is that the expectations are too high for this movie to sustain. With every exciting moment, there are two or three problems to be found. The script from Dougherty and Zach Shields is lacking in substance and common sense- Farmiga’s character is certainly the worst mother ever. It turns out the human characters are as dumb as the monsters that are collapsing into buildings. The visuals are on a big canvas, yet Dougherty and his crew of artists are never confident enough to show us the action. Each fight scene is coated in snow, rain, fire, ash, dust and more. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes I didn’t know what I was looking at.
On the positive side, there are various highlights I enjoyed from King of the Monsters. Various action sequences are undeniably entertaining and the introduction of new behemoth competitors Rodan, Mothra, and the three-headed dragon Ghidorah are marvelous sights to see. If larger than life monsters fighting in various cities, creating explosions and rubble is what you came to see, you will not be disappointed. What left me cold, personally, was that I was entertained by King of the Monsters to a point, became bored for a bit and left feeling it was on the same level as recent campy action films Rampage and The Meg. Both of those works had diverse casts, exotic locations, and less budgets, yet the results are the same. For Godzilla, we expect more than that.
Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters worth seeing on the big screen? The answer is yes, because watching this movie on a laptop or on a flight should be made a crime. Giant Kaiju super brawls are what the Godzilla series is always about. That still does not mean we shouldn’t hold this movie to a higher standard. If you really want a recommendation on the best thing to watch that features radioactivity and monsters, watch Chernobyl on HBO. That is worth more of your time. Godzilla on the other hand, is a king without a crown.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady