Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Written by: Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance
America’s interpretations of Godzilla will never fully work because the creation of this monster came from the nuclear attacks this very country inflicted on Japan. The monster represented the fear the Japanese people felt because of this act of terror. Considering this nation likes to forget the irreparable harm done to the country from this bombing, it makes sense that each iteration of this monster made by the Hollywood system fails.
After the events of Godzilla, which introduced the world to monsters, or as they are referred to, “Titans,” the group, Monarch, tries to navigate how to survive with the imminent threat of others waiting to be awakened on Earth. Through different betrayals and some large monster battles, this film shows the promise of something entertaining but instead becomes a slog of uninteresting characters and a narrative that falls short of telling a coherent story.
These monsters represent something that humanity cannot bear to handle, which is not being the strongest force on the planet. On our own, humanity would not survive in the wild. In the animal kingdom, we do not possess the most strength or quickness but our intelligence and use of technology results in us using the world to our pleasure and putting every other animal in cages for our entertainment. These titans pose a larger threat because despite our acumen technologically, we still do not stand a chance against their powers. Humanity no longer reigns at the top of the food chain and not much can be done about it.
This story was destined to fail because it has to juggle adding actual story elements with the human characters when fans of the franchise yearn Godzilla punching Ghidorah in the face. Too much of each would not make a good film, but the balance struck here doesn’t work because the characters are so underwritten. I must admit, this marks only my second Godzilla film I have watched and I didn’t care for the first one either. Godzilla remains a beloved monster and I’m sure other films, specifically form Japan, create compelling human characters during the breaks of monster fighting. The only two I have seen have not justified any of the emotional weight they try to add to particular deaths that occur.
The main draw Godzilla: King of the Monsters is without a doubt, the monster-fighting that left audiences disappointed in the first installment of this film series. They surely compensated for it with much more of that in this film and I found it all to be rather boring. It might just further show that this franchise might not align with my taste because most of the positive feelings people had about this film relied on the fight sequences. I found myself waiting for the fight sequences to end just to get back to shallow characters who I didn’t care for at all. What I enjoyed about the monster fight sequences were the visuals and how they bring each of these monsters to the big screen. They certainly looked amazing so I do want my appreciation for the visual effects team stated in this review.
Despite being woefully underwritten, the ensemble cast for the film contains top-notch talent. It includes Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, and many others who have all made their makes in other genre fare like The Conjuring, Stranger Things, The Shape of Water, and Game of Thrones respectively. They try their best but their characters don’t do much beyond following a plot that encompasses all these different locations and awakening some other monster that will eventually fight Godzilla.
It’s safe to conclude through this review that this film is not for me and I am certainly not its intended audience. I hope those who are fans of the monster and these fights find their enjoyment of it but I wanted more from this story, which it did not provide. The next step in this franchise is to pit Godzilla vs. King Kong, which follows the blueprint both this film and Kong: Skull Island have been building towards. Despite my caution of entering the film, we’ll see what another crack at this type of story brings but I will adjust my expectations after my experience with this particular film.