Godzilla: King of the Monsters (MOVIE REVIEW)
(DISCLAIMER: Though this is going to be a very big and honest review on Godzilla 2, I felt it was necessary to say that I haven’t personally seen the first Godzilla since it’s 2014 release and in all honesty, I barely remember anything about it. Just know that I will be reviewing this from my perspective even if I have little memories regarding the original so it’s just going to be my take based on the story given to me and nothing else. If anything it should be blamed on the folks at Legendary who made such a boring movie back in the day, and considering the hype built around this with such a passionate fanbase behind it, it seems like they want to rectify the issues of that film this time around. With that said, I hope you enjoy this review.)
Runtime: 132 Minutes
Director: Michael Dougherty
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown
Despite possibly being one of the most iconic movie monsters ever created, is it weird to say that I have had never really had much nostalgic or memorable connection to Godzilla. I could say the same for basically any of the iconic movie monsters, but I think most of it might just simply boil down to some basic tastes rather then exposure. I have nothing against him, the sorts of Japanese B-Movies he was in were just never my cup of tea. But there’s no denying that he was POPULAR and Legendary quickly picked up on that, and much like Pokemon Detective Pikachu, basically took a hugely loved Japanese property and re-adapted it to be more accustomed to western and ESPECIALLY Chinese audiences, because that’s where the Box Office makes some true BANK! They released Godzilla in 2014 to what I feel was mixed results. It wasn’t reviewed horribly and I think most people generally found it okay, but most can definitely agree that Godzilla was barely in it. People didn’t really get what they payed for, focusing on a more human-centric story which was fine, but definitely quite dull and unremarkable. But it still ended up quite successful, and Legendary pushed on with what seems to be a new Monster-Themed Universe similar to Disney’s Own MCU. Since then we had Kong: Skull Island, and entertaining, if pretty shallow movie that had its fun moments but lacked in any unique or good story and characters. Not a waste of time, just a bit disappointing, which is why Legendary seems dedicated to wanting to give fans everything they want with King of the Monsters. Not only does it seem to want to give Godzilla a much more prominent role this time around, but it’s also introducing a bigger cast of Monsters like Mothra and King Ghidorah as new additions to the cast to make for one of the biggest monster movies likely put to film. And while in the end, I feel most fans will be getting what they love in spades, for me……….well, I just wasn’t a fan.
Godzilla 2 is set 5 years after the monster himself seemed to have a temper tantrum, setting San Francisco into a blaze in the process. Following this time, the company, Monarch, has since tracked down and contained many monsters, including Godzilla, which seem to have been discovered following his appearance. These monsters, in fact, were once all Titans that dominated the Earth, having been on this planet long before the rise of Humans. A divorced couple, who have lost one of their children to Godzilla’s 2014 attack are involved with the tracking on these monsters when hell basically breaks loose, and one of the monster’s Mothra manages to escape from containment when a gang of Eco-Terrorists get the jump on them, basically creating a chain of events leading to Godzilla’s rise once again along with a plethora of other monsters coming out of hiding to take back dominance from the humans who have been plaguing the planet with their Global Warming, Climate Changing, environmental crap so that the planet can basically rebuild itself.
HO-LY HELL, is this plot an absolute mess! I know this won’t mean much for the main audiences who will only be wanting to see this movie just for the hellfire, but where I remember the 2014 Godzilla having somewhat of a coherent narrative to bring Godzilla to life, this movie basically throws away any sense of consistency or coherency out of the window for what feels like an action movie with a heavy case of sensory overload. For some people, I bet this will sound perfect since much of the focus is more around Godzilla basically kicking the arses of many of these monsters whilst other monsters set cities ablaze like Daenerys Targaryen lighting King’s Landing in flames. But in King of the Monsters, so much of the movie’s plot involving these monsters origins make so little sense to the point where for me at least, I can’t buy into these monsters and where they have came to be. It also doesn’t really help too much that the film doesn’t really give its audience much of an idea of how Monarch even managed to capture these creatures in the 5 year timespan there was since Godzilla’s attack so it all feels packaged just to give the story some excuse to have these creatures inevitably escape and cause all hell to break loose.
Another aspect that I feel also kills much of the film’s momentum is the characters. I know it seems like a possibly silly thing to comment on since most audiences wouldn’t care less for something like this in a monster movie, but I feel it’s pretty crucial to talk about. In this movie, aside from some cast members returning such as Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins who reprise their roles as members of the Monarch, we have more or less a new cast in store here. The main focus is on this divorced family who have been directly affected by Godzilla’s 2014 attack having lost a son and the couple’s marriage having fallen apart following the events. Though the actors don’t do a terrible job (Stranger Thing’s Millie Bobby Brown is actually pretty good in this movie), as characters, they are about as thin as a caramel wafer without chocolate coating. Their lack of character makes their performances feel slightly stilted, and some of the decisions made by these characters could be only seen as either idiotic or downright catastrophic. For example, the woman played by Vera Farmiga makes a very harsh decision fairly early into the film to unleash the monsters upon the world to kill millions because she realises that worldwide extinction can help a dying planet regrow basically due to dumb environmental reasons. While the movie tries to rectify her outright stupid actions out of emotional turmoil due to her losing her son 5 years ago, it really should stop her decisions from being downright stupid. It’s hard to really like any of the characters in this movie because they are either too underdeveloped to get that emotional over or too stupid to find that likeable. It also hurts a lot of potential the film has in terms of Action. In a story like this where we really should be rooting for the human characters to get out of such a catastrophic situation, it makes any battles with these rather generic monsters feel very tensionless. Nothing feels like it has major stakes since we don’t spend enough time with these characters to have much of a connection with them, and they are so bland anyway that it all feels like just violent fodder. Very visually pleasing fodder, but still very much fodder. Godzilla 2 clearly wants to try and tell this bold environmental message, but because the film already has you needing to suspend your disbelief so much with its monsters, it’s a message that neither feels earned, and doesn’t feel as though it makes much sense considering the film we’re talking about. I doubt any environmental messages are going to be on the moviegoer’s minds when what they really payed to see was a lot of loud noises and punching.
However, to talk more about positives this time, if there is a huge aspect to this movie I feel needs to be commended, it all comes down the film’s production values and genuinely high class and effort made to make this film as big and as epic as possible. Despite the very shoddy script, I really feel the need to congratulate all of the animators, VFX artists, and general production crew for everything they have done to bring this whole picture to life. Godzilla 2 is a GORGEOUS looking movie which can at times look downright breathtaking. Most people aren’t lying when they see it needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible, preferably on either IMAX or Dolby Cinema. The film’s scale is off the charts and the effort that has clearly been put in to make Godzilla and these monsters feel as big and as loud as possible is clearly shown in the finished product. The designs are amazing, they clearly feel as though they have a sense of size and weight to their movements, and the sound design is on point with Godzilla’s roars feeling ear-rupturing and in a good, creatively intentional way. The film also looks lovely, visual effects aside. The film has a unique blue colour palette going on more or less for the grand majority of the runtime, and though I could see how some people might feel as though the strong blue hue can make some of the action seem a bit difficult to watch to the point where I wouldn’t recommend some Epilepsy sensitive viewers take the trip down due to some seizure-inducing sequences, for me it looked great. If anything the dark look made the monsters presence look all the more epic. If it weren’t for how amazing the action looked and was presented on screen, this likely would have been one of the most boring blockbusters I have ever sat through so I really do need to give credit where it is due. As for everything else, the Music Score by Bear McCreary does sound a little too generic to truly stand out, but it does have its great moments especially towards the end where it really boasts a big and generally epic feel. That, and the overall editing by Roger Barton, Bob Ducsay and Richard Pearson is also very good, allowing time for the action to be displayed with grace without anything feeling shortly cut so nothing can be distinguished that much in each shot. It’s all paced generally quite well.
But in the end, whilst I can’t help but bring a lot of my attention for wanting to commend Godzilla 2’s production team for the clear amount of hard work and effort they put in to make this as truly enjoyable of an experience as possible with the materials they were given, it all just sadly feels wasted on such a terrible script and boring characters. This might not seem like an issue for most audiences who just want to see an epic Godzilla movie, but for me, a great human centric story feels necessary for me to feel emotionally gripped by anything that happens on screen because without it, all I see is generally pointless fluff, and that was what Godzilla 2 felt like to me. I do still recommend seeing if, because if Godzilla fighting monsters if all you want, this might as well be the greatest moviegoing experience you’ll ever get, and I perfectly understand why. Just take my opinions with a grain of salt, and enjoy your movie. It’s clearly made for the fans, and clearly with passion and love towards them. I’m just not in that group.
RATING: 4/10 (POOR)