In Godzilla (2014), humanity was shocked to find out that massive monsters dubbed as Titans were living among us all along. Five years later, in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), the government wants to shut down Monarch, the secretive organization tasked to study the Titans and determine their purpose in the world. Are these Titans threats that need to be exterminated, or are they here for a reason?
The Beardict: 5 out of 10. I want to recommend Godzilla but I just can’t. It’s a perfect example of a blockbuster’s marketing/trailer doing an excellent job, only for the actual film to fall short of the hype. Although Godzilla himself is a sight to behold (slapping and blasting all those who dare challenge his dominance), the story that surrounds his return is too complicated for a monster movie. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of time was spent in developing the design and battle sequences involving the Titans, so it really sucks that irrational and underdeveloped characters take away the spotlight from them.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The criticism of Godzilla (2014) was that there was too little Godzilla (his adversaries, the MUTO’s, ridiculously had more screen time). This time around, they corrected this mistake, and Godzilla was present from start to end. Having Godzilla as the “good guy” in this revived franchise is a nice spin, as most versions in the past have almost always painted him as the enemy. It’s actually easy to root for Godzilla because he’s like your loyal giant dog who will defend you from your enemies. By the end of the film, they succeed in establishing him as King of the Titans, and that’s perfectly fine.
The problem lies with how they got there in the first place. There are so many things that are introduced one after the other that it’s hard to catch up–the (borderline useless) Russell family drama, the “twist” that Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) wants to release the Titans (billions to die in the process) so that the world can be saved from man’s destructive nature, the fact that King Ghidorah/Monster Zero (the three-headed hydra-like nemesis of Godzilla) is not a Titan but some sort of alien, the idea that Godzilla can be supercharged by dropping a nuclear bomb on him. In the final battle, Godzilla even pulls off a Jean Grey and even harnesses some sort of Phoenix Fire power. Don’t get me wrong–the visual effects are outstanding, and they are, without a doubt, a treat to look at, but in movies, there’s an important thing called “making sense,” and Godzilla: King of the Monsters sometimes forgot about that.
Additionally, there was so much talent among the cast of Godzilla: King of the Monsters that was wasted. We have Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and Zhang Ziyi (Memoirs of a Geisha), and yet, almost all of them are just there to bounce speculations off of each other and get caught up in some sort of blast but miraculously still survive. Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) as extremist Jonah Alan is not given enough material to work with, and his best contribution to the entire movie is the line “Long live the king” (which is honestly something Tywin Lannister would say).
Overall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an explosive blockbuster that could have been great, but ends up mediocre at best because it chooses to explain the fun out of things rather than concentrating on entertaining its audience. Luckily, we have Godzilla Vs. Kong next year, so maybe that one will be able to hit the mark.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures. Godzilla: King of the Monsters out now in cinemas near you!