Movie Review: Godzilla King of the Monsters
In preparation for seeing King Kong vs Godzilla I watched Godzilla King of the Monsters. And hated it all over again.
Godzilla King of the Monsters is a miserable moviegoing experience. The movie is loud and bleak and chaotic and it’s populated by characters who are impossible to invest in, aside from Millie Bobby Brown; and that’s more about her as an actress than her character. Even if you think you are going just for the big monster fights between Godzilla and a coterie of big bads, you will find yourself miserably making your way through the muck of waste of space human characters only to find loud, unimpressive fights on par with the robot fights of Transformers.
(That Transformers comparison is not a good thing, if you enjoy Transformers fight scenes, this is not the review for you.)
Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown make up the Russell family, Dr’s Mark and Emma Russell and their precocious daughter, Madison. The Russell family suffered a tragedy the last time that Godzilla was seen in 2014. Mark and Emma's son was killed amidst the battle against Godzilla in San Francisco. Since then, Mark has dropped out of society, and only recently gave up drinking, while Emma has secretly continued working for Monarch.
Monarch is a private firm operated by Dr Serizowa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and its mission is to study what they refer to as ‘The Titans.’ The Titans are the many monsters living below the surface of the Earth, some of which are in some form of stasis, others of whom have been captured and held sedate. Dr Serizawa believes the Titans are necessary to the world to maintain balance between good Titans and bad Titans. He’s convinced that humans won’t be able to control or fight some of the Titans and thus having an ‘alpha Titan’ on the side of humanity is the only way to survive.
Opposing Dr Serizawa, though their philosophies are similar, is Col Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), a former military man turned Eco-Terrorist. Some kind of personal trauma has convinced the Colonel that unleashing the Titans on an unsuspecting humanity is the only way forward. Jonah wants everyone dead for whatever reason, the movie is intentionally vague on this point because the movie isn’t very good.
Jonah takes Emma and Madison hostage with the intent of using a device Emma created to control the Titans to set them free. Dr Serizawa recruits Mark to help locate Emma and try to recreate her device to stop the monsters and Godzilla is apparently on the side of the humans against the new alpha Titan, King Ghidora, a three headed Dragon that may also be an alien(?) and is controlling a dozen other Titans, I believe.
Convoluted barely describes the nonsense plot of Godzilla King of Monsters and that is surprising considering that the film was directed by upstart director Michael Dougherty. Dougherty is the director of cult horror anthology Trick R Treat and the equally culty Krampus. Dougherty is beloved among a small crew of hardcore horror fans who will find themselves desperately disappointed by his beyond mediocre monsters here.
Godzilla King of the Monsters has none of the anarchic spirit or invention that Dougherty’s low budget horror movies thrived on. Rather, it plays like a movie where the director was noted to death by studio executives who didn’t get the memo that monster movies are supposed to fun and not weighed down by too much explanation or pushed aside by human actors and needless melodrama. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra are the stars, the movie needed to get out their way.
I honestly cannot tell if the little monster on monster action we get in Godzilla King of the Monsters was intended to look low rent, like a modern take on the classic man in a rubber suit style of the classic Godzilla movies, or if the effects were simply botched. The effects are all too dark and poorly rendered, they’re especially poorly edited, and almost unbearably loud. I was reminded of the clattering cacophony of chaos of Transformers and its sequels which repeatedly assaulted our eyes with quick cuts and so little verisimilitude that you could hardly understand what monster is fighting what other monsters.
Godzilla King of the Monsters isn’t as miserable as Transformers, Millie Bobby Brown elevates the movie with the kind of likability that no one in a Transformers movie ever came close to. Unfortunately, she can’t fix the whole movie which is more than 2 hours of complete and utter nonsense.
The new Monsterverse Sequel, Godzilla vs Kong is now in theaters and on HBO Max.