Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) 2h 11min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 31 May 2019 (USA) Summary: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Countries: USA, JapanLanguages: English

Humanity is threatened by the emergence of titans in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Five years after the mythical beast Godzilla helped stop the threat of the MUTOs, the crypto-zoological organization Monarch is under government scrutiny for keeping the truth about titans secret from the world. However, when ecoterrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) kidnaps paleobiologist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), in order to gain control of an experimental communication device called the Orca, Emma’s estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) is recruited by high ranking Monarch scientist Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) to recover both Emma and the Orca, before it can be used to raise the titans, including Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a direct sequel to 2014’s reboot, while also being the third chapter of Legendary Entertainment’s so-called MonsterVerse, which also includes 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. Michael Dougherty (Trick r Treat, Krampus) takes over the directorial duties from Gareth Edwards, for a sequel that introduces the other monsters from the Godzilla universe, including the benevolent Mothra, the fiery pterodactyl Rodan, and gigantic hydra Ghidorah, with the latter being the main monster antagonist of the film. However, the film also features a human antagonist in the form of Alan Jonah, who would rather allow to titans to wipe out humanity, instead of letting us continue to destroy the planet.

In hindsight, 2014’s Godzilla reboot wasn’t the best film, but it was arguably still a better Americanized Godzilla than the 1998 film by Roland Emmerich. However, as I was watching this highly disappointing sequel, I began to start thinking that I would rather be watching a Roland Emmerich film. I personally don’t have anything against Michael Dougherty as a filmmaker, with me being a fan of both his previous directorial outings, however it really seems that Dougherty was a bit out of his league in the move from holiday-themed horror films to a big budget monster film.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is sold on the promise of a battle between Godzilla and his classic rivals. While the film does include that, it only takes up about half an hour of screen time in the film that clocks in at 2h 11m. The rest of the film is focused on human characters that you are often left not caring about. In fact, the only character I remotely care for in the film is the returning Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa, who is briefly also joined by his colleague Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). The rest of the cast is either uninspiring new protagonists played by Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga or groan-worthy comic relief played by Bradley Whitford and Thomas Middleditch. Even Millie Bobby Brown, the breakout star of the Netflix series Stranger Things, doesn’t really have too much to do in her feature film debut, other than play an angsty teen divided between her estranged parents.

While I wouldn’t call Godzilla: King of the Monsters an outright terrible film, it did end up killing any excitement that I had about Legendary’s MonsterVerse films. Next year sees the release of Godzilla vs Kong, ironically directed by another filmmaker known for horror in Adam Wingard, and that film will now have to look absolutely can’t miss if it is going to get back in the theatre for another round.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).