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The City Journals

Dan's Review: "Godzilla: King of Monsters" Doesn't Size up to Expectations

May 30, 2019 11:38PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - © 2019 Warner Bros.

Godzilla: King of Monsters (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language.

Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Zhang Ziyi, Joe Morton, CCH Pounder, Lily Rabe, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Ludlow, Jonathan Howard, Randy Havens, Tyler Crumley, Jason Liles, Alan Maxson, Richard Dorto.

Written by Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields and Max Borenstein, based on the "Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan" films by Toho.

Directed by Michael Dougherty.

GRADE: B

REVIEW:

So many “cinematic universes,” so little time. Ever since the Marvel folks tapped into this ever-yielding gold mine of movie cash cows, so many other folks are trying it that it’s hard to keep up. You’ve got DC with their Batman-Superman-Justice League team doing their darndest to catch up with Marvel, along with a few other folks trying to set down roots, including the team behind the “Conjuring Universe,” (The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, La Llorona, etc.). Heck, even M. Night Shyamalan is giving it a go, trying to create a universe based on characters from Unbreakable, Split and Glass. A few years ago, Warner Bros. decided to resurrect a “Monster-Verse” based on the Japanese B-movies of the 1950s and 60s (also featuring 1930s monster icon King Kong). 2014’s Godzilla was a mild success, followed by 2017’s Kong Skull Island. The next film in the series is Godzilla: King of Monsters, released this weekend.

The story picks up where the 2014 film ended, with Godzilla dispatching of a few MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) and asserting his alpha monster status. The collateral damage of the battle in San Francisco leaves thousands dead, including the young son of Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga), two scientists working for Monarch, the clandestine corporation behind the study of Godzilla and the other monsters. Moving forward a few years, Mark is estranged from Emma and their surviving daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) as mother and daughter live in a Chinese Monarch research facility monitoring the larva of Mothra, soon to grow into a gigantic moth. When a team of cyber-terrorists led by Col. Allen Jonah (Charles Dance) attack the facility, Emma and Madison are taken hostage along with Emma’s new electronic device that allows for communication with monsters. Jonah uses the device to summon more monsters from hibernation, including the three-headed titan Ghidorah. When the Monarch team discovers Jonah’s evil plot, they reach out to Mark to try and find his wife and daughter, while also drawing on his titan expertise. The team is led by Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), who is joined by Irene and Ling Chen (twins played by Zhang Ziyi), Sam Coleman (Thomas Middleditch), Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and Rick Stanton (Bradley Whitford). When Serizawa’s team catches up with Jonah and Emma near Ghidorah’s awakening, Godzilla shows up fights and the titan, setting off a series of skirmishes around the globe with other monsters heeding the call of Ghidorah’s call, which is to destroy all life. Ghidorah’s mission runs counter to Godzilla’s, as the Monarch team works hard to assist Godzilla in saving the Earth from total destruction. Meanwhile, Madison and her mother have a difference in opinion, leading the girl to part ways, steal the communications device, and lure Godzilla into battle with Ghidorah, Rodan and other titans in Boston. Mark and the Monarch team also head to Boston in hopes of helping Godzilla to regain control.

Godzilla: King of Monsters is full of epic battle sequences involving gigantic CG monsters that should keep action addicts satisfied. While the special effects and action are spectacular, the human element tends to drag the film down a little, even with excellent performances from Brown, Chandler, Farmiga and the rest of the supporting cast. With so many epic battles sprouting up during the 2+hour running time, Godzilla: King of Monsters have a difficult task of managing expectations. In other words, once you’ve seen Godzilla in action, there isn’t anything new or fresh to inspire kind of awe or new sensations.

It should be noted that Godzilla: King of Monsters is the setup film for the upcoming Kong versus Godzilla epic, planned for a 2020 release. I’m not sure how producers hope to pay the series off, because all the important monsters drawn from the Japanese B-movies have already been revealed. I hope they can wrap things up with Kong Vs. Godzilla, but the trend seems to lean in the direction of overkill.

"Godzilla: King of Monsters" Trailer