As far as big blockbusters go, Godzilla: King of Monsters couldn’t be much bigger. It lands in the cinema after an impressive marketing campaign. The posters and trailer have been building towards something truly special, but this being a sequel to an underwhelming film doesn’t mean this was going to a sure-fire hit. The 2014 Godzilla which was directed by Gareth Edwards wasn’t a massive success. It was received with lukewarm reviews by critics and fans alike, which makes it even more surprising that a sequel with such a massive budget was given the green light in the first place.
After the events of the first film where a battle between Godzilla and a couple of Mutos laid waste to San Francisco exposing the Titans, leaving the world with an uncertain future. The story follows the crypto-zoological agency Monarch and its efforts to control and understand the growing number of god-sized monsters that are popping up around the globe. With more of these ancient beasts rising it appears humanity’s very existence hangs in the balance.
With Michael Dougherty (Krumpus) taking up the helm this time around means that this film feels very different from its predecessor and not in a good way. Whereas there were complaints in the first one that there wasn’t enough Godzilla, they at least tried to develop some sort of character arc. However, this film is a complete let down from start to finish. Never once does it have time to breathe. The camera never stays still enough to really capture and appreciate what is happening. It feels like a very confused movie. It is overstocked with pointless characters doing and saying incredibly stupid things. I know that not everyone going into this film is here for the characters, they just want to see giant monsters smash the living shit out of each other, but a little substance would have been helpful. The problem is that Dougherty hasn’t actually bought anything new to the table. He does delve deeper into the mythology of the Titans but sadly he doesn’t handle it in an interesting and informative way. If he had the nailed the huge fights then The King of Monsters would have at least of been fun, but somehow even they are sucked of any real joy. In the end, it becomes repetitive. If you see one giant monster fight another, then you have seen them all.
The main problem lays with the wooden script which lacks surprises, and worst of all it is very predictable. The dialogue is so poor at points it reminds me of the last couple Transformers movies. The cast try their best but even they can’t save it, and this is a good cast full of talent; Kyle Chandler (the everyday action man), Vera Farmiga, (clever but damaged Scientist) Millie Bobby Brown (in peril daughter), Bradley Whitford (here for the jokes), Sally Hawkins (must be in her contract to be in the sequel), Charles Dance (token British bad guy), Thomas Middleditch (the geek), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (forgettable Army Soldier), David Strathairn (back as the incredibly serious ship Captain), Ken Watanabe (the explainer) and Ziyi Zhang (her tiny dual role is very odd). In the end, you will just find yourself shouting at the screen “WHY ARE YOU ALL SO DUMB!”.
The positives are that the monster designs are epic and genuinely scary. When given the time to study them you will see how much effort and thought has gone into them. The visual effects are decent. There is a huge fan base for all these legendary monsters and they will go home happy. The strongest scenes in the movie are each monster reveal. Ghidorah’s initial attack, Mothra spreading her wings and Rodan bursting from a dormant volcano are all well thought out set pieces. Bear McCreary’s score also needs to be mentioned it helps enhance the film and drag it through some of the most tedious scenes.
It also glaringly obvious that this is setting up for future instalments. First up is the face-off between Godzilla and Kong in 2020. Skull Island is bought up multiple times (the characters might as well wink at the camera) and there is also an end of credits sting that points towards Godzilla 3. So the studio must believe this franchise has legs for the future.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn’t the film that we were all waiting for. It isn’t even in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. For what should have been a fun summer blockbuster full of excitement, it lacks the energy and spirit for a truly great Godzilla film and that is the biggest disappointment of all. Long live the King.
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Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds