Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Godzilla II: King of the Monsters) (2019)

TL;DR – The action in the third act is some of the best monster action I have ever seen, however, the story is so incredibly dull that it is a slog to get to it.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is some mid-credit important information and a post-credit scene

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Review

It is odd to see a film that has two such disparate parts that are almost in conflict with each other. Where one part of a film is so amazing that you feel it could be a game changer for the industry. However, there is another part of the film that works so poorly that you wonder how it made it off the drawing board. This is something that actually makes reviewing this film quite difficult because you have to ask how much you should let the story side just because the visuals were so good. Well, today we will try an unpack this all, as we explore Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

So to set the scene, we open the film on the attack in San Francisco in the first Godzilla as we see Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) desperately look for their son amount the rubble of their house. In the years that passed since it is clear that the tragedy irreparably damaged their relationship as Mark is now charting wolves in Colorado and Emma is working for Monarch in China with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). Emma is working on ORCA an interface that uses biodata to communicate with the Titans. The first trial of the device works as they can control a newly born Mothra caterpillar. However, just when they think it is all going well eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) attacks the lab killing everyone and taking Emma, Madison, and the ORCA. Which is a problem because if the ORCA can control the Titans, what damage can it unleash?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.
I really liked the chunky boy blue flame mouth lizard version of the big guy. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Before we get into what didn’t work I want to take a moment to champion the parts of the film that truly excels. On many levels, this film is a technical marvel. We first see it or well hear it before a single frame of film has come alive as Godzilla’s roar explodes from the darkness. If you are going to go see this film make sure it is on the biggest screen and best sound that is available to you. Because you are going to want to hear that sound reverberate through you. To add to this Bear McCreary’s score is masterfully created with these big low brass moments and incorporating the themes from the original films, to create a film that I do want to hear over and over again.

To add to this, the visuals are some of the best in the business, from creature creation all the way to the fights themselves. This is something this franchise first really excelled within Kong: Skull Island, but here they have taken the character creation to a whole new level. A lot of attention to detail has gone into the creation of Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra & Rodan, and they come across on screen as visual masterworks. I am not a Godzilla expert, so I can’t say if this version is as good as what came before, but I really liked chunky boy flame mouth lizard version of the big guy. As well as this, the film knows just when to frame something to make these ‘wow’ moments that you could feel resonating across the audience. All of this culminates in the big third act action sequence, which is one of the biggest spectacles I have seen on screen and this is in the same year that Avengers: Endgame is out. Though as an Australian, one small gripe here is that it is Uluru, not Ayres Rock.  


Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.
The action scenes are all staged really well. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

But, and there is a big but here, all of that spectacle and technical achievement falls flat because the story and by extension the characters are at best cookie cutter and at worst just plain dull. It becomes really apparent from the moment they reach Antarctica how the plot of this film will work itself out and sure enough, that’s what we get. At no point did I feel any real connection or care to any of the characters when it becomes apparent really quickly who does and who does not have plot armour, and in this case plot armour is strategically placed monster stomping that misses, and in fact in many cases saves, all the key actors, bar one exception. All of this leads to a third act that while brilliant on a technical level, it was almost meaningless because I had long stopped caring about who lives or dies. [SPOILER] This especially evident when the film clearly wants to make you feel emotions about what is one of the largest mass-murders in human history just because she is a mother, nope [END OF SPOILERS].

In some respects this almost reminds me of a film I saw earlier this year The Wandering Earth though at least Godzilla had one or two characters that managed to stand out. Aisha Hinds is captivating in every scene she is in, and I hope after this film that she is getting offers left and right because she has earned it. Millie Bobby Brown is not given a lot to do in this movie, but what is there she is more than ready to step up for it. There are also those stalwarts of the acting profession like Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford, and Ken Watanabe that are good no matter what script you put in front of them. Though when researching the film I discovered that Bradley Whitford’s character was meant to be a homage to Rick Sanchez form Rick and Morty and well that must have got lost in translation because that is not what I got.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.
There has been a lot of work to get the staging and lighting of every scene as perfect as one can be. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In the end, do we recommend Godzilla: King of the Monsters? That is a difficult question to answer. Look it might be worth it just for the visual spectacle alone, as long as you go in with no reservations that the story will hold up or even be about anything coherent. But for me, I need to care about the characters, the story, and if that is important to you then I would steer clear.                

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Directed by
– Michael Dougherty
Written by
Story by – Max Borenstein, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Screenplay by – Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Based onGodzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra & Rodan by Toho
Music by – Bear McCreary
Cinematography by – Lawrence Sher
Edited by – Roger Barton, Richard Pearson & Bob Ducsay
Production/Distribution Companies – Legendary Pictures, Toho & Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring
– 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, Joe Morton, CCH Pounder, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Ludlow & Jonathan Howard with T.J. Storm, Jason Liles, Alan Maxson, and Richard Dorton               
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13

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