Jungle
Godzilla: King of the Monsters

“Let them fight.” It’s been five years since the release of the rebooted Godzilla, and I still find myself coming back to those three words said by Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishirō Serizawa. That’s all I want out of a Godzilla movie, and 2014’s reboot spent the majority of the film teasing the massive kaiju rather than letting him fight. The final act was fantastic, but it barely made up for the tedious lead up. Watching the trailers for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I couldn’t help but get excited about the film with its introduction to new titans and what appears to be the confrontation I had hoped for all along. More kaiju equals more action, right? Well not exactly as the film finds itself in nearly the same position as its predecessor.

 

Following the appearance of Godzilla in San Francisco, other giant monsters dubbed Titans have been discovered all over the world thanks to the efforts of a mysterious organization named Monarch that’s trying study what exactly these creatures are and why they’re here. Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) believes that humans and Titans can peacefully coexist, and has developed a tool called the Orca that will be able to communicate with them. Unfortunately, a terrorist organization led by Colonel Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) kidnaps Dr. Russell and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) and uses the Orca to awaken the Titans all at once, causing a global catastrophe that threatens to wipe out the entire human race. Humanity must now place their faith in Godzilla in the hope that he can take on the other Titans and bring a balance to the world order.

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters actually gets off to a decent enough start by opening with the birth of Mothra in larvae form. It’s not afraid of showing the various kaiju and actually does a phenomenal job at doing so. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and by far the best element of the film. All of the Titans, from Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, and of course Godzilla, look amazing and terrifyingly destructive. You truly do feel small and insignificant when they’re on screen as King of the Monsters definitely lives up to its namesake. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring to watch them clash.

 

But things quickly start to fall apart in regards to everything other than the Titans. The story is convoluted as it tries to find a balance between focusing on the humans or the monsters. It hammers home the whole, “titans are here to retake the world that society has polluted” theme that’s been ever present in the Godzilla franchise, but this time around it’s overly preachy with its heavy-handed approach. The human characters aren’t any more interesting, either.

 

The human story revolves around Dr. Russell and her family. Her ex-husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) and father of Madison believes Godzilla and the rest of the Titans need to be destroyed after Godzilla killed their son in the attacks in the first film. Their differing opinions coupled with the loss of their child naturally drove a spike through their relationship. Their story is meant to ground the film and give a little human perspective to these creatures who are larger than life, but in the grand scheme of things it frankly doesn’t add anything to the film. By having these eyes on the ground looking up at all the destruction going on around them, it actually takes away from the destruction going on around them. I want to see Godzilla fight Ghidorah and the rest of the Titans; I don’t need to see everyone react to it.

 

Thankfully there is a lot more action this time around, but Godzilla: King of the Monsters still feels like a chore to get all the way through. When it’s good, it’s extremely good, but all of the mediocre moments quickly add up. You will be absolutely blow away by how gorgeous King of the Monsters looks, and the massive set pieces will leave you giddy with excitement. It’s only when the film attempts to go small with its human elements that it begins to fall apart.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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