Ever since its genesis in 1954, the Godzilla franchise has had varying degrees of quality. It has ranged from being powerful satirical metaphors to just being straight-up goofy, ridiculous and weird. Sometimes, Godzilla movies can just be plain terrible as was the case with the 1998 Roland Emmerich trash-heap (“That’s a lot of fish”), but the 2014 reboot by Gareth Edwards proved to be divisive for audiences with some being blown away by the sheer spectacle of it while some were disappointed by not seeing enough of the titular monster and the emphasis of the human characters. That film was also the springboard for a new franchise that continued with 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, and now we have the next installment with Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Taking over from Gareth Edwards is Michael Dougherty and he attempts to go even bigger than before by introducing a whole bunch of familiar and iconic monsters into the mix, including King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra to name a few.
All of this should amount to a great Godzilla movie, but unfortunately, the end result is kind of boring to watch since it takes some steps forward while also taking some big leaps backward at the same time. Whenever the monsters show up, they’re amazing to behold, brilliantly realised and feeling faithful to their original counterparts. The battle sequences involving the monsters are impressively well-handled, filled with wonder that makes everything feel grand and epic to watch. It’s all jaw-dropping and is easily the best aspect of the whole film, plus there are tons of fun little Easter eggs and call-backs to previous Godzilla films that the die-hard fans will no doubt revel in. However, while everything involving the monsters was highly satisfactory, we have to sit through boring subplots involving dull or idiotic human characters that completely bog down the runtime of this film. If audiences complained that the characters in the 2014 film were one-dimensional, then they really need to see this film since the characters here are basically cardboard cut-outs that exist only to deliver endless amounts of exposition.
Exposition tends to be a double-edged sword in movies; sometimes it works, sometimes it bores you to tears, and this film falls into the latter category. Instead of finding exciting, interesting or creative ways to deliver information, we have characters sitting or standing in dark, gloomy environments expositing endless amounts of techno-babble and backstory. This happens in-between every monster sequence, and not only is it dull to listen to, but it’s also visually-unappealing. Despite impressive CGI work that helps bring life to these monsters, everything else looks oversaturated with glaring blues, reds, oranges, and yellows. With the 2014 film, Gareth Edwards made a gorgeous looking movie that complemented the spectacular Godzilla, but here we have battle scenes all happening at night and in the rain; in fact, it rains in almost every single scene. Someone really needs to research how the weather works! While most of the actors do pretty well with what they are given (Millie Bobby Brown being the only one that comes out mostly unscathed), there are some who are clearly bored out of their brain, particularly Charles Dance who looks as though he’s sleepwalking his way through it all. Also, eco-terrorists getting involved? Give me a break!
In short, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is one of the biggest disappointments of the year, succeeding in some areas, but falling short in others. If you want to see huge monster grandeur, then you are in for some fun, but if you want that as well as an engaging, cohesive story with genuine human beings that have real dialogue and emotions, then you better look somewhere else. Wake me up when Godzilla vs. Kong comes around!
Dir: Michael Dougherty
Scr: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, Max Borenstein
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi
Prd: Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers
DOP: Lawrence Sher
Music: Bear McCreary
Run time: 132 mins
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is available on Digital, DVD and Blu-Ray now.