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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

USA / Japan / China / Canada 2019
produced by
Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull, Yoshimitsu Banno (executive), Roy Lee (executive), Dan Lin (executive), Hiro Matsuoka (executive), Kenji Okuhira (executive), Zach Shields (executive), Barry H. Waldman (executive), Keiji Ota (executive) for Legendary, Wanda Qingdao Studios, Huahua Media, Toho/Warner Brothers
directed by Michael Dougherty
starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson jr, David Strathairn, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, Jonathan Howard, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, Randy Havens, Lyle Brocato, Jimmy Gonzales, T.C. Matherne, Kenneth Israel, Justice Leak, Al Vicente, Rose Bianco, Gabriel L. Silva, Skylar Denney, Kelli Garner, Tyler Crumley, Lexi Rabe, Zac Zedalis, Tracie Garrison, Natalie Shaheen, Jesse O'Neill, Joshua Leary, Vince Foster, Shauna Rappold, Fiona Hardingham, Orelon Sidney, Paul Ryden, Laurie Dhue, Kevin Shinick
story by Max Borenstein, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, screenplay by Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, music by Bear McCreary, conceptual creature design by Amalgamated Dynamics, Legacy Effects, concept design by Weta Workshop, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), visual effects by Moving Picture Company (MPC), Rodeo FX, Double Negative (DNEG), Method Studios, Ollin VFX, Raynault VFX

Godzilla, American Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, MonsterVerse

review by
Mike Haberfelner




Ok, the whole story of the movie's pretty much laid out in the first five minutes, there's a family that has suffered a tragic loss due to a giant monster attack, and while mother Emma (Vera Farmiga) is working on something to do with monsters, dad Mark (Kyle Chandler), formerly her partner in her work, has somehow fallen off the grid and is now photographing wolves, and their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) is torn between them. So naturally something big will happen that will get dad active again, somehow the girl will get into danger, and the parents will finally work together to save her, hero's or heroine's death of one of them optional. And wouldn't you know it, this is exactly what happens:

A new monster is discovered, Mothra, and mother has developed a device to communicate with it - but while she tries to calm Mothra, the secret underground lab where Mothra's studied is attacked by eco-terrorists led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and everybody but Emma and Madison are shot dead, with the two apparently being taken hostage. This gets dad Mark back into action as he wants to save his wife and daughter, so he gets back into employ with the worldwide monster control agency Monarch as he's the only one but Emma to understand the monster communication device. It soon turns out that Emma's actually one of the eco-terrorists and wants to save the world by awakening all the monsters, as for some reason she figures only with giant monsters around, humankind will stop destroying the ecology. Thing is though, while her logic is slightly off, at least her motives are noble, Alan Jonah actually just wants to awaken all the giant monsters to destroy everything because reasons - something Emma only realizes late in the movie.

Anyways, eventually the eco-terrorists awaken King Ghidorah, a three-headed flying monster that seems to be stronger than all the other monsters and is destined to become their leader - well, enter Godzilla, who spars with King Ghidorah and does rather good, too. But Monarch figures the safest way to end this is to send in the oxygen destroyer, a super weapon that will desintegrate both monsters. It doesn't work though, as it's revealed that King Ghidorah is actually an alien from outer space so earth's laws of nature don't apply for him. And Godzilla - well actually he hasn't disintegrated either, his body has returned to his underwater temple, and all it needs is to detonate an atom bomb to revive him.

In the meantime, a whole plethora of monsters has been awakened by Monarch - most of them are never really shown, but the most prominent is flying monster Rodan - and they are destroying all the cities. But Madison learns what she has to do to stop them, so she steals her mum's monster communication device, flees the eco-terrorists' layer to a nearby stadium with a pretty complex but totally unattended computer system, and sends out a message to all the monsters all over the world through the stadium's speakers. Then of course, Godzilla and King Ghidorah meet up exactly where she is to duke it out, and now mum Emma ditches her eco-terrorist buddies to save her daughter, while dad Mark uses all of Monarch's resources to do the same, and of course, they realize only by working together they can succeed. And of course, time's running thin, as Godzilla is supposed to explode any minute now, which of course will give him an advantage over King Ghidorah, as alien or not, a good explosion knocks you out. But somehow mum has to do something heroic here that costs her life to redeem herself, and then Godzilla does explode, and King Ghidorah with him, only Godzilla somehow survives his explosion unscathed - because one can't really kill one's golden goose, now can one?

Zhang Ziyi and Ken Watanabe are rather wasted as Monarch crewmembers.

 

Now the good news, this movie is better than its predecessor, 2014's Godzilla, though that's a low bar. And it really wasn't much better, as - as mentioned above - by concentrating on the cookie cutter story of a nuclear family the course of which is even laid out in the first five minutes, there aren't really that much stakes, even in a movie about giant monsters trying to take over the world. Also, the motives of the eco-terrorists' motives become more and more muddled the longer this goes, to the point where they seem to just have been thrown into the mix as a plot device, no more. It really makes one yearn for the naive charm of films like Destroy all Monsters (on which much of this one is based on), where it's at least aliens (or sometimes beings from within the earth) who want to take over the world, using monsters as a means of invasion - it at least made some sense you see. And speaking of monsters - they do look ok in this film, but not spectacular, in fact no better than your contemporary video game, and many of them aren't even clearly shown. And as for fighting and destroying cities, they do rather little of that, though with the CGI feel to all their scenes, the sense of wonder is somehow taken out of it all, everything seems just functional rather than fun - as is the case with the whole movie, it tries too hard to be dead serious to deliver good entertainment. Not a trainwreck perhaps as Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga live up to their roles' demands and elevate them above how they're written, and they lead a competent ensemble cast, but not really worth one's while either.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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