GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS - A Troubled Reign
Too little of Godzilla and all the other monsters dooms the rein of this film
I really did not want to write this review. I did not want to sit down and put out what you are about to read, but my hand has been forced. It has been forced to write a negative review of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, even though I tried my hardest to like this movie. I am a sucker for monster vs. monster fights on an epic scale so my excitement for this film has been pretty high. Suffice to say, that excitement got kicked in the balls because there is very little monster vs. monster action in this film’s ridiculous 132-minute run-time. This film is a classic case of, “Show all the cool stuff in the trailers”. It seems Michael Doughtery, the director of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, heard the criticisms of 2014’s “Godzilla”, and went, “I’m going to double down on all of this”.
Let’s get the plot out of the way because it’s a jumbled mess. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” continues the shared MonsterVerse created by 2014’s “Godzilla” and continued by 2017’s highly entertaining “Kong: Skull Island”. The world is still reeling from the attacks in the 2014 attacks, and Monarch, the agency tasked with studying the monsters, is facing government pressure. The film immediately tries to get us to care about the loss felt by characters Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga). Their son died in the 2014 attacks, and it has caused them to be estranged. Emma, who lives on a Monarch outpost with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), has created a device that will allow for communication with the Titans (The monsters), and this attracts the attention of a group of eco-terrorists led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance).
It turns out Jonah wants to unleash the Titans on Earth and create a cleansing of sorts. It also turns out that Emma is pretty cool with this and basically wants to Thanos the Earth with giant monsters instead of Infinity Stones. She, of course, has some grandiose reason for doing this, but it gets lost in a sea of audience indifference. I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah… if it means all these dumb-dumbs on screen get eradicated, I’m totally down for the monsters to run wild on Earth”.
On the flip side, a Monarch team, which eventually features Mark, tries to stop the plan. It, of course, goes hilariously wrong. Rodan is released from its Mexican volcano home, and King Ghidorah is thawed out of an ice block in Antarctica. A recently hatched Mothra is also in play. I guess this would be a good time to inform you all the travel that takes place in this film is absolutely bonkers. People are going all over the world as if it’s nothing, and time has no meaning. Hell… a huge chunk of the movie is spent in the air as characters engage in tiring duels of exposition.
Oh yeah… I haven’t really mentioned Godzilla yet. Like the 2014 film, Godzilla’s screen-time is limited in his OWN DAMN MOVIE. I kind of get what the 2014 film was going for, but there is no excuse in this film. There is no excuse to sacrifice the TITLE CHARACTER for some ridiculous family drama that has no real bearing on the plot or elicits any semblance of emotion from the audience. I’m sure the decision was intentional, both from a creative and CGI budgetary standpoint (Speaking of which - there is SO MUCH CGI masking through rain and storms), but it doesn’t make it any less idiotic. When people pay money to see a Godzilla movie, they are paying to see GODZILLA. This is not rocket science. It is Monster Movie 101.
Since I don’t want this review or site in general to focus on the negative because, man, I could go one for a while about this one, I do want to talk about the one thing that I did enjoy in the film. The final battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah is pretty great. Rodan and Mothra show up to make it a Fatal 4 Way Monster Match set against the city of Boston, a hilariously wonderful choice for the sacrificial city. No punches are pulled as the monsters absolutely devastate the city. This type of action is what I came to the movie to see, but, again, it’s just a small portion of the film. There’s maybe one other fight that takes place in the entire movie. I understand it can’t be wall-to-wall monster action, but the film could have easily presented more of it at multiple points. Instead, we are left watching a bunch of characters do a bunch of things we don’t care about one bit.
Because this movie name-drops King Kong, mentions Skull Island, features an older version of Dr. Houston Brooks (Joe Morton), MENTIONS HOLLOW EARTH (Which would have been such a cooler concept to explore), and the next film is “Godzilla vs. Kong”, let me talk a little about what made “Kong: Skull Island” in relation to this film. “Kong: Skull Island” understood exactly what it was - a Saturday morning monster movie. It placed the characters in a confined location, Skull Island, and had them run around for their lives as multiple things tried to kill them. King Kong would swoop in at key points to save the day. The film didn’t try to make any part of the movie super serious, unlike this movie, where everything is presented in either a somber or reverent manner. In other words, “Kong: Skull Island” was fun. It was a lot of fun. It didn’t take itself seriously, and, as a result, it was an enjoyable experience. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” does a complete 180. That’s not a good thing for a monster movie.
Frankly, I’m worried about “Godzilla vs. Kong” because I fear they are going to mess up that concept as well. It should be so simple. Godzilla and the rest of the monsters find their way to Skull Island, Kong gets pissed, and we have a massive throwdown on the island. I mean, when you think about it, that is what THIS movie should have been. They could have axed so much of the plot in exchange for the awakening monsters making their way to Skull Island. Instead of that, we get a bad family drama with completely unlikable characters.
Good decisions, y’all. All hail the king and all that jazz.