Movie Review Tuesday: Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The last big blockbuster for May hit theaters over the weekend in the form of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Directed by Michael Dougherty and written by Dougherty and Zach Shields, the film showcases Godzilla fighting for dominance after King Ghidorah and other titans are awakened. The film stars Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell and Vera Farmiga as his ex-wife, Dr. Emma Russell. Its cast also includes Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, and Thomas Middleditch.
The film begins by providing a glimpse of the destruction of San Francisco in 2014 and the presence of Dr. Mark Russell and Dr. Emma Russell on that day. The Russells lose a son during the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs, which leads to their separation. The film picks up five years later as Emma tries to perfect the “ORCA,” which is capable of emitting frequencies that only Titans can recognize. She is able to control the newly emerged Mothra with the device, but the victorious moment is soon overridden by the attack of Alan Jonah and a group of eco-terrorists. Jonah kidnaps Russell and her daughter, Madison, and the Monarch team recruit Mark to track the “ORCA” in order to find the terrorists and his family. However, when Jonah begins waking up other titans with the device, Mark and the rest of Monarch find themselves in a precarious position.
So, for a film that had such a striking marketing campaign, I found Godzilla: King of the Monsters to be slightly lackluster. The visuals are everything you would expect from a blockbuster monster film, and the visual effects and cinematography are some of the most redemptive aspects of the film. Sometimes the enormous fights were hard to see with the sections becoming incredibly bright. Behind the striking visuals, though, is a story lean on plot and lacking cohesion. There were a few sections that were genuinely boring, and part of that boredom arose from a lack of connection to the newer characters. Truthfully, I found the new titans such as Mothra much more interesting than many of the human storylines. The whole movie relies heavily on the action associated with the battles between Godzilla and the other titans, and it does not leave room for much more substance than that.
As much as I seem to be dogging the film, there are some good performances that exist here. Vera Farmiga’s character is not as fleshed out as I would have liked, but she still offers a great performance. I felt the same way about Millie Bobby Brown’s performance as Madison, who has a good heart and is often found struggling between her parents. Charles Dance’s character is not utilized as much as he should, and I found the backstory for his character lacking. Bradley Whitford is a great comedic relief in several moments, and I was pleased to see Watanabe’s character receive a nice arc and some moments to shine.
In my opinion, Godzilla: King of the Monsters has the bones in place to be a good film but does not quite deliver. The script is a bit of a mess with conflict seeming forced at times, and while there are some good performances, the characters unfortunately don’t tend to make enough of an impact. The film does play around with the timely theme of humans and the effects we have on the environment, and it does still play around with the idea of whether Godzilla is truly a monster or a help to humanity. Godzilla does appear in it more than the first movie in the franchise, but the film seems to still be more preoccupied with setting up next year’s sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong. The movie is much too long, but if you are a huge Godzilla fan, then you should at least enjoy the huge fights Godzilla: King of the Monsters has to offer on the biggest screen possible.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.