“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. Released on May 31, 2019, the film has the scientists of Monarch getting caught in a showdown between Godzilla and the other god-sized monsters.
The film is directed by Michael Dougherty, who also directed “Trick ‘r Treat” and “Krampus”, and it is a sequel to the 2014 “Godzilla” reboot. It is also the 35th film in the “Godzilla” franchise and the third film in the “MonsterVerse”. When it comes to giant fictional beings destroying everything in sight, nothing impresses us more than the monster king himself, Godzilla. For those who have been living under a rock, Godzilla is a huge creature who wrecks stuff and battles other giant monsters who stand in his way. This monster has been doing it for 65 years, and we couldn’t get enough of it. While Hollywood’s first attempt at bringing Godzilla to American audiences in 1998 was pretty iffy, that didn’t stop it from making another one in 2014. Unlike the infamous 1998 adaptation, the 2014 reboot was able to impress critics and long-time fans alike and earn a buttload of money, thus giving birth to a new cinematic universe known as the “MonsterVerse”. This so-called “MonsterVerse” continued three years later with the King Kong reboot, “Kong: Skull Island”, which teased the upcoming showdown between Godzilla and his monstrous enemies during the post-credit scene. Two years later, the giant lizard monster returns to the big screen to wreck some more stuff and battle some more monsters. Isn’t being a Godzilla fan great? My experience with Godzilla can be best described as “complicated” because the only adaptations that I remember him from are the American adaptations, the 1998 film with Matthew Broderick and the 2014 reboot, with the latter reigniting my interest in the character. I haven’t gotten the chance to watch the older films that were made in Japan, especially the 1954 original that started it all, but I’ll get to them someday. Until then, let’s explore this latest installment in the monster-sized franchise and see if it can meet my expectations.
Like the last two films in the “MonsterVerse”, “King of the Monsters” focuses on the members of Monarch, an organization known for investigating monstrous beings, aka “Titans”, that are secretly living among the human race. This time, they enlist the help of animal behavior and communication specialist Dr. Mark Russell (Chandler) as well as Godzilla himself to prevent a former British colonel (Dance) and his gang of eco-terrorists from unleashing the Titans onto the world. Even though the 2014 reboot served as a proper reintroduction of Godzilla to a new generation of fans, it wasn’t able to impress just about everyone, mostly because of Godzilla’s minimum amount of screen time. For “King of the Monsters”, the filmmakers attempted to fix that mistake by balancing Godzilla’s screen time with the human characters’ screen time. In short, the sequel has more of the Godzilla moments compared to its predecessor, but the main focus is still on the humans. Another thing you should know about the film is that it moved away from the suspense/disaster genre trope that was in the 2014 reboot in favor of a regular monster-sized action blockbuster, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re expecting out of it. If you go into this film expecting a huge visual spectacle filled with CGI brawls, you’ll walk out feeling satisfied. However, if you’re expecting it to have a good story and a lot of character-driven moments in the midst of its bleak and glorious style, you’re better off watching “Avengers: Endgame” or “John Wick”. The film is obviously made for long-time Godzilla fans and people who just want to have fun at the movies, and I respect that because I too like to have a good time watching a movie. As a film for people who haven’t seen a single Godzilla film in their entire lives, it’s flawed, but enjoyable. Like its predecessor, the biggest aspects of the film were the visuals, the creature designs, and the monster-vs-monster battles. Everything about these aspects were absolutely gorgeous to look at despite the film’s murky settings, especially the designs for the Titans. The film has some of the best visual effects I have ever seen because of how realistic they look and how they blend well with the humans and the environments. I loved the way they designed Godzilla, I loved the design for Mothra, and I especially loved how they made King Ghidorah, Godzilla's three-headed nemesis. I also thought the action sequences, mostly the battles between Godzilla and King Ghidorah, were fun and nicely executed. They’re not as hard-hitting or memorable as I thought they would be, but they’re entertaining regardless. The only elements that kept the film from meeting all of my expectations were the story and the characters. I appreciated the fact that it explored how people reacted to the incident that happened five years ago and the different viewpoints on how to deal with this type of situation. However, the film wasn’t able to capitalize on those themes in terms of its execution. I didn’t think the film's substance was that bad, it’s just that it was struggling to make me care about its somewhat silly plot and the characters as much as Godzilla beating the snot out of King Ghidorah. The main actors did a decent job portraying their respective characters, such as Chandler and Brown as Mark Russell and Madison Russell, respectively, but that was hardly the case when the characters we’re supposed to root for were far from well-developed. I think if the film spent more of its time exploring some of these characters (without spoilers) and save their big moments until the final few installments in the “MonsterVerse”, it would’ve increase its chances to make these people more relatable to its audience. But that’s just me.
Overall, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is as stunning as Godzilla’s atomic breath, but its average story may prevent modern moviegoers from gazing upon his massive appearance. Fans of the long-running franchise should have no problem fighting alongside Godzilla once again due to its fantastic visuals and its fun action sequences. For those who just want some entertainment during the summer, it’s worth watching for the technical achievements. As for me, personally, I had a good time watching it. Sure, it’s not a perfect action blockbuster, but I went in expecting a big monster brawl, and that’s exactly what I got. Long live the king.
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