Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Lots and lots of people saw 2014’s Godzilla and this third entry in the Warner Bros. MonsterVerse has a lot of people ready to see where the story goes next.
If you like your movies LOUD and full of all kinds of mayhem (and don’t care at all about plot or storyline), Godzilla: King of the Monsters tickets are on sale now!
The visual effects on the monsters are largely effective.
What a joyless, boring slog this thing is.
All the action is (again) mostly in the dark. The movie calls on a massive volume of tropes and cliches to try and keep you engaged, and we are promised 17 monsters. We definitely do not get 17 monsters.
If this is what you want in a movie, then cool. There is absolutely no soul, emotion, heart, or feeling associated with one second of this $200m production. I dunno. Maybe it’s just easier that way.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the 35th Godzilla film overall to be made and released, the third to be released by an American studio, and the second Godzilla film to come out this year, following the Japanese anime/Netflix release Godzilla: The Planet Eater in January.
There is great affinity for the sea monster with moviegoers, and following the box office success of 2014’s Godzilla, Warner Bros. opted to create their “MonsterVerse,” delivering 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, this new film, and 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
Apparently, since everything has to now be a “(Uni)verse” of some kind, Godzilla: King of the Monsters concocts a story of giant monsters, or titans, awakening around the globe, and wreaking havoc and destruction on anything and everything.
We are five years removed from the ending battle between a heavy, tired Godzilla and a fleet of MUTOs in San Francisco. For this sequel, we learn of the unfortunate death of Andrew, the young son of the now divorced Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga). His passing proved too much for the couple, so Mark is working as a scientist studying animal behavior, while Emma and the couple’s oldest daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), live and work with Monarch, the government organization who track all things “monster.”
Upon the birth of a creature we will come to know as Mothra, Emma and Madison make a connection to the newborn giant moth, and are interrupted when a group of renegades blast into the control tower, execute every scientist in the room, and kidnap mother and daughter.
As we learn, Emma (and Mark) created an audio device recorder known as “The Orca,” which uses titan noises, mixed together, to communicate with the fleet of beasts. Emma, as it turns out, has cut a deal with eco-criminal Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). Jonah wants the device, resulting in Emma delivering some cockamamie speech to a motley crew of scientists, government officials and Mark, that she wants to free all the sleeping titans, so they can first destroy the world and essentially reset everything. Then, she theorizes, they will protect us and somehow, later, after all she’s done, she becomes someone we are asked to root for to save the world.
Nevermind that she committed treason and several innocent people were slaughtered because of her actions. Best we just move on.
The Orca is largely meaningless, even if it plays a role in the last act of the film. Mostly, this Godzilla films exists to watch a gaggle of beasts beat the ever-loving hell out of each other, in darkly lit landscapes, in constant pouring down rain, for two straight hours.
I know instantly a number of people will be jonesing to see this thing after that last statement. Just be aware that director Michael Dougherty could not deliver a more boring final product if he tried.
Because the storyline that brings all of these creatures together is barely a story at all, we just downshift to CGI monster fights. The movie, as loud as anything I have ever seen (and yes, I have watched all the Michael Bay Transformers films), literally has nowhere to go thematically very quickly. Odd stabs at humor come randomly and the stilted dialogue readings of numerous cast members induce one’s own palm to slap one’s own face.
So…um…monster fights and LOUD NOISES!
We are told there are 17 monsters freed by Emma’s act of eco-terrorism, but we don’t see all of them. We see some: Rodan busts out of a volcano in Mexico, three-headed Ghidorah proves to be a most dastardly and deadly foe. And, in addition to Mothra, we get a handful of looks at two spider-like looking things (sorry, I can’t identify them…not a Godzilla enthusiast).
Dougherty, directing a “script” he co-wrote with Zach Shields (Krampus), finds no consistent tone between live action and CGI “Big Battle.” The settings are meaningless, largely because every place the monsters fight is either in the water or in a CGI-destroyed city. One set piece, which takes place in Boston’s iconic Fenway Park could have taken place really anywhere. Other than get some cool shots of the stadium, Boston serves no actual purpose whatsoever.
And this is the problem: Nothing means anything.
If Warner Bros. is trying to create a “MonsterVerse” for Godzilla and King Kong to play around in, then make it matter to us. Shockingly, many of the most important details of King of the Monsters arrive in a barrage of news clippings and headlines held for the end credits.
By this point…we are likely not even paying attention. We are exhausted, our heads are pounding, and everyone around us is ready to simply go home.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Ludlow, Jonathan Howard, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields (screenplay); Max Borenstein, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields (story)
Release Date: May 31, 2019