Godzilla is the definitive big monster movie, with a long and interesting history that I can’t get into here without a review with a word-count the size of of a kaiju.
We have had some shit adaptations over the years when Hollywood tries to get involved that not even the combined powers of Puff daddy and a Led Zepplin song could save.
2014’s Godzilla brought some much needed grounding in reality to what could have been another forgettable monster flick. Although I still haven’t quite forgiven it for the Bryan Cranston bait and switch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson Forrest Gumping his way through the story.
However the bits with Godzilla in it made the hair on my neck want to attach itself to the roof. Sharing a universe with Kong: Skull Island it looks like this franchise is starting to mutate into its potential.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a big movie let’s see if it lives up to the legacy of the series.
Godzilla, a giant chubby goodboi lizard.
King Ghidorah, a mean 3 headed dragon. Seriously. Fuck that guy.
Mothra, Godzillas love interest who is a giant moth. Possibly thinks Godzilla is a lamp.
Rodan, a Pterodactyl looking dickhead. Seeks approval from Ghidorah.
Kyle Chandler (you’ll know from Peter Jackson’s King Kong lol) as Dr. Mark Russell: who is the central “dad on a mission” the story follows. He is totally in his element in this role, but no real surprises from his performance either.
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, The Conjouring) as Dr. Emma Russell: Mark’s ex-wife, Madison’s mother, a paleobiologist working for Monarch who holds the key to communicating with the Monsters. Vera is pretty good but does have some pretty ropey scripting to deal with, which she for the most part does.
Millie Bobby Brown (11 from Stranger Things) as Madison Russell: Emma and Mark’s 12-year-old daughter. Millie is okay but some of her performances are a little overwrought and she’s a bit less at home in this role than on Stranger Things. Again not sure if this is the script or direction that might have caused the lumpy performance.
Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton: A crypto-sonographer working for Monarch is very much the comic relief and stole a lot of the best lines. It’s not that much of a surprise Dr. Stanton is loosely modeled after Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) as Dr. Vivienne Graham: A paleozoologist working for Monarch. Hawkins reprises her role from Godzilla (2014) which I had forgotten she was in. Hawkins performance felt a bit out of tone with the rest of the movie. She was a bit too “real” when the suspension of disbelief of the other characters had already gone off the scale. *Spoilers she doesn’t get it on with any Kaiju… or does she?*
Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) as Colonel Alan Jonah: Dance is in full Tywin Lannister evil British guy mode which he does so very well. He is a little bit one note even though he is meant to have sympathetic reasons for doing what hes doing the movie only even pays this lip service without going further.
Ken Watanabe ( Last Samurai, Inception) as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa: A high-ranking scientist working for Monarch. Watanabe reprises his role from Godzilla (2014) “Let them fight” was such a memorable line its attained memedom. He was great in the last one hes great again in this but again some weird writing choices painted him into a corner.
Thomas Middleditch (Silicone Valley) as Dr. Sam Coleman: Monarch’s Director of Technology, leader for the Monarch Sciences network. Thomas like the rest of the cast is left not quite living up to the potential he has as a character actor. His awkwardness in Silicon Valley is comedy gold but again hes not given the moments that best suit his style.
Zhang Ziyi ( Crouching Tiger, Flying Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, Rush Hour) as Dr. Ilene Chen and Dr. Ling: At first I cynically was thinking her inclusion was to capture the Chinese Box office until I realized who she was and although its not explicitly spelled out there is a Mothra sized easter egg for her characters. I would have liked to see her kick some peoples ass though, shes so good at it!
In Godzilla; King of the Monsters mankind has been locating various Kaiju Monsters all over the world and trying to keep them contained. As you might have gathered this doesn’t work out.
It follows the members of the Russell family who are still working through the events that broke their family apart during the events of the previous Godzilla outing. This time they find themselves at the center of a potential world wide Monster-pocalypse with all of the monsters fighting for dominance.
The story doesn’t really get any points for originality and does tread some quite familiar ground.
Might as well get this out of the way right up front, the story of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is pretty weak. There are the basis of some good ideas but they are never really fleshed out over the course of the movie.
Some of the decisions the characters make seem to only be there to get the plot from A to B rather than due to the characters motivations themselves.
There are some very cliche moments and I get the feeling the actors were doing the best with what they had to work with.
At one point during a video call between 2 characters the video chat breaks into stock footage of the planet reclaiming the earth. I was left thinking did she prepare a power-point presentation in advance for this random call?
Suspension of disbelief should be for the giant fuckoff monsters not the characters trying to sell the fact they are real and exist in this world.
Some of the visuals are a little more muddied behind effects, snow, rain, storms, lava etc.
The visuals in the 2014 Godzilla seemed realistic but were a lot cleaner. The added visual noise seems to be a distraction rather than hiding and blending the monsters into the real world.
The Good Stuff
Oh man, the monster fights bro. It is worth the price of admission for seeing the Kaiju beat the shit out of each other for 2 hours. The fights are visceral and have real weight to them.
The visuals set it up but the sound design sells it. This is one of the best reasons for seeing Godzilla: King of the Monsters on a big screen with a huge sound system. You will feel each seismic step, roar and attack.
Godzilla’s Kaiju designs balance the iconic Monsters from the original movies with a consistent visual style. They look, move and feel like they are real titanic beasts.
In every scene the sense of scale is present you never lose just how mind mindbogglingly supersized they are.
The action set pieces are epic and really deliver. They manage to dazzle without having the Michael Beyham levels of fatigue set in.
The characters seem a bit more artificial than the CGI monsters they are dealing with but you can’t let them get in the way of the spectacle.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a reminder this is what going to the movies and seeing something big and loud is all about.
Watching this on the loo on your phone or half watching on Netflix while you browse trademe on is not going to do it justice.
I can’t wait for the Kong vs Godzilla movie!
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
Kaiju and giant monster movies
Apocalyptic mayhem disaster movies
Skip it if you:
Want deep performances and a plot to match.
Aren’t up for the audio visual assault of 300 meter tall beasts curb stomping each other.
In cinemas May 30