Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a worthy sequel that increases the monster mayhem in a large way, but still struggles to connect its characters to the overall story. Those invested in the Monarch Cinematic Universe will be pleased with its world-building and epic introduction of the mighty Titans.
Michael Dougherty‘s Godzilla: King of the Monsters takes what worked in Gareth Edwards‘ 2014 Godzilla and cranks it up to fifteen, increasing the scope and scale of this newly-formed Titan-verse to epic proportions. Unfortunately, not much is learned from a storytelling aspect, with King of the Monsters focusing primarily on the Titans and their larger-than-life battles and not so much on character and plot development.
In the end, you’ll be left in sheer awe of Godzilla and the Titans that he battles, while caring very little about the actual people effected by the catastrophic events that unfold.
King of the Monsters picks up not too far after the events of Godzilla. Monarch is tasked by the government to kill any known Titans, while secretly fueling their own agenda of preserving and trying to understand the Titans that have been mostly hibernating until the time is right.
Some believe that the Titans are here to restore balance to the planet, while others believe them to be threats that could completely wipe out all living things.
Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) has invented a device with her husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) that can essentially control the Titans, but with that power comes the responsibility of not letting it slip into the wrong hands.
Something happens early on in the film that misplaces the device, which creates a simple plot of trying to hunt it down before it’s used to destroy Earth as we know it.
King of the Monsters might come fully-loaded with monster mashing of the highest degree, but it’s hard not to sigh at the complete ridiculousness of the plot and its ties to common sense.
There are many “are you serious?” moments that are surely going to derail your believability levels, but most of that can be ignored in favor of absolutely massive destruction.
King of the Monsters is a globe-trotting disaster movie with living and breathing monsters that are gigantic and stunning. Director Michael Dougherty does a much better job than previous installment director Gareth Edwards at capturing the Titans in a way that makes you fully aware of their power and capabilities, while also giving you a chance to witness and make sense of the action as it’s happening.
Godzilla was incredibly dark, out of focus and lacking monster battles, while King of the Monsters is larger than life and sprawling in its accomplishments. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occasionally fumble with some of its bigger sequences, but there are noticeable improvements, visually, that gives it a hard edge over the previous film.
Likewise, the film moves at a much faster pace, sparing you the fine-tuned plot details in exchange for carnage and annihilation. Yes, that means that the script’s weaker points poke their heads out on more than one occasion, but that also means that you’ll spend more time munching on popcorn and less time trying to calculate the accuracy of each idiotic moment.
As it stands, I’d throw King of the Monsters behind Kong: Skull Island and before Godzilla as far as the Monarch Cinematic Universe is considered. I still think Skull Island has the advantage, given its larger star power and its Vietnam setting, which played out perfectly against the character of Kong. Also, Jordan Vogt-Roberts has proven himself to be an incredibly gifted filmmaker whose talents seem to make weaker moments that much better.
It’s not that Dougherty wasn’t up to the task, but that the script just wasn’t on par with the stimulating visuals and more than capable performers.
Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga give fine, if not sleeper performances that don’t really allow them the opportunity to elevate the film with their characters’ simple motivations. Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown is also okay in a role that acts more as connective tissue than her own force. I wasn’t blown away by anyone’s performances, but I don’t exactly fault the performers for giving second-rate performances that were always going to get overshadowed by Godzilla and his fellow Titans.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a well-made big-budget studio blockbuster that has its fair share of problems, but mostly overcomes them with its thirst for planet-smashing destruction and monster world-building. I’m excited for whatever comes next, because watching hundred foot monsters shoot fireballs out of their mouth is just never going to get old, especially when the budgets keep getting bigger and bigger.
Those turned off by the last Godzilla film should find enough here to enjoy and maybe even redeem the franchise for them, while those that loved Kong: Skull Island might need to adjust their expectations to that of mindless fun, with less to say and more to blow up.
Bring on Godzilla vs. Kong