Godzilla - King of the Monsters Review: Hollywood messes up Gojira once again
The film is a mishmash of underwritten characters, decent CGI, loud background score and mind-numbing action
After the fiasco that was the 1998 Godzilla, the reboot in 2014 did a decent job in once again bringing the alpha predator from its deep slumber. And before he gets to take on the mighty Kong in next year's Godzilla vs. Kong, in this last film of the Monsterverse, the world famous kaiju goes head-on with his archenemy, Ghidorah, and other Titans.
The crypto-zoological agency, Monarch, about which we learned a little from the first film, has armed its database with details of 17 massive unidentified terrestrial organisms (MUTOs). While they try to save the planet from these monsters, their efforts are disturbed by an anarchist eco-terrorist group headed by Colonel Alan Jonah (Charles Dance of Game of Thrones fame), who, like Thanos, believes in provoking the hibernating monsters to wipe out a huge fraction of life in order to restore balance. However, the film puts this story on the back seat and relies more on the carnage that ensues from these monsters taking on each other.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe
First things first, one of the few good things of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, is that the makers seem to have learned from the flak the predecessor got, and this time, we at least see more of Godzilla. With a device named Orca that can be used to communicate and even pacify the giants using bioacoustics, the pandora's box gets opened, and what comes out of it, apart from a host of creatures, is the best part of this film. Apart from Ghidorah, we also get to see Mothra and Rodan in action and these well-known characters from the original Japanese franchise finally make their way to Hollywood. Director Michael Dougherty doesn't hold back and lets these monsters take on each another and destroy cities in such a scale that would make the climactic fight between Superman and General Zod look like a street brawl.
The design aspects of these monsters are brilliant. Godzilla never looked this menacing on screen before and seeing it use atomic breath adds colour to the creature which is otherwise shown just as a dull greyish black blot on a big screen. While the three-headed Ghidorah and fiery Rodan look their part, it's Mothra, the queen herself, who looks particularly phenomenal with her ginormous wingspan. She also gets an equally beautiful character arc, the like of which the humans in this film lack.
Much like any other monster film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters also tries to make it relatable to us, by having a track follow the trials and tribulations of a bunch of humans. This is used as an excuse to stretch the storyline. The fractured family consisting of Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga of Conjuring fame), and their daughter Madison (Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown's big screen debut) are clueless people with priorities that change directions faster than Godzilla swimming through the oceans. The rest of the characters, too, resort predominantly to quirky one-liners. Some pivotal ones disappear midway, and even the death of one, for the greater good, does not really hit you. And what's with destroying the White House in all these disaster films?
On paper, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the story of coexistence between the kaiju and humans and how an alien, who tries to be the alpha monster in order to reign supreme over other creatures, faces off with Godzilla to become the 'king'. But the end product is simply a mishmash of underwritten characters, decent CGI, loud background score and mind-numbing action. Considering how strong they have shown Godzilla to be in this film, it will be interesting to watch how the makers will pit him against Kong, which is just an overgrown ape. We must be grateful, I suppose, that at least in that film, it will be just two monsters facing off.