GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS Review – It’s Exactly What You Wanted

Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Charles Dance

Written by Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields

Directed by Michael Dougherty

There’s a scene in Godzilla: King of the Monsters where the titular beast ramps up his laser breath and lets loose an explosion that spreads in every direction. A few moments later, he does it again. And yet again. Much like this moment, Dougherty’s follow-up to 2014’s Godzilla will build a scene quickly as a vehicle of getting to what many audience members are in theaters for: glorious devastation. The film certainly delivers on that front, although an overabundance of kaiju action does become exhausting during the film’s 131-minute runtime.

The film follows the Russell family (Chandler, Farmiga, Brown) who, after the devastation of San Francisco and the loss of one of their own, must deal with the kaiju threat to the planet in their own ways. Mother Emma (Farmiga) has taken daughter Madison (Brown) to a Monarch outpost to conduct research on a new technology that has the power to control the titanic beasts that threaten humanity while husband Mark (Chandler) is off photographing wolves after leaving the shadowy institute due to, well…let’s call them “creative differences”. All of this is to build a backstory for the Russell family that feels unnecessary, as if their fragmentation somehow injects emotion when, in reality, it is never explored enough to elicit any actual emotion. Furthermore, the ensemble cast feels unrealistic, cracking one quip after another while the world, quite literally, crumbles around them. Their flippancy feels hollow, sabotaging the melodramatic moments, of which there are a few too many.

Still, one must recognize that this is a Godzilla film and the human aspect as almost always been heavily laden with melodrama. It serves as a vehicle for the cataclysmic devastation of Godzilla and his fellow titans, which has become the real and expected star of the franchise. In that regard, the film is certainly not lacking but that doesn’t mean it’s not without issues on that front as well.

Two words that sum up my frustration with Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ action sequences: shaky cam. While a useful technique that can be utilized in clever ways, it’s become a crutch to try and make the viewer feel like the world is unsafe and that each hit has colossal weight behind it. In here, however, it feels like a distraction from the copious amounts of CGI necessary to make these fights. The problem here is that the illusion is already shattered. We viewers know that this is fantasy, so instead of trying to hide it, embrace it! Give me long shots that display these titans raging through Boston, knocking building after building over, demolishing streets en masse. I’m here for the spectacle of it all, not to feel like I’m in a food processor anytime there’s so much as a roar.

A not-so-subtle commentary on global warming, climate change, and humanity’s impact on our place in the world, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is undoubtedly exciting and badass with plenty of nods to the original films – hi Mothra twins and Akira Ifukube score – but the balance between monster and human is uneven, to put it mildly.

  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters


Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the definition of a summer blockbuster. With enough giant monsters and catastrophic damage to make even Michael Bay jealous, you’ll relish this popcorn feature. Just don’t expect to care much along the way and maybe have some Dramamine ready.

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