Godzilla: King of the Monsters Movie Review
Sometimes, often, bigger isn’t better. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a bloated, stupid sequel to the 2014 Gareth Edwards blockbuster Godzilla, and while that one got panned for not having enough monster mayhem, it at least largely made sense.
The 2014 film was divisive, some praising it for its breathtaking visuals and patient storytelling (myself included), others complaining that it was too patient and needed more Godzilla battles. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, now directed by Michael Doughtery (whose background includes a collection of low-budget horror movies), will likely prove equally divisive: it does have a lot more monsters, but one could argue, and I’m sure someone with way too much time on their hands will do a second-by-second comparison, that Godzilla isn’t on screen much more than before, nor are the battles significantly multiplied.
While no giant monster movie should be judged based on the merits of its screenplay, the hackneyed storytelling by Doughtery and Zack Shields lays waste to what could have been a consistently fun experience.
The first half of the movie is solid, with an immediate intro to (and attack by) Mothra and a chase around the world to stop eco-terrorists from unleashing the numerous Titans that humanity has discovered since the emergence of Godzilla five years prior. The story involves a pretty good twist that could have been done better but that still adds some intrigue, but then the Doughtery/Shields duo progressively make their human characters dumber and more annoying, all the while eating up precious screen time that could have been given to the monsters the audience paid money to see.
The acting is a mixed bag, with Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) doing a terrific job while Vera Farmiga delivers a fine performance as a conflicted scientist, even if the screenplay could have done her character more justice. Kyle Chandler is OK, but spends the two hours we’re stuck with him demonstrating various levels of anguish via facial expressions. The rest of the cast seems to be in a completely different movie, with Bradley Whitford dropping bad one-liners the entire time, Ken Watanabe playing the dumbest smart guy ever who just reiterates to exhaustion what he did in the first movie, and other characters saying and doing stupid-funny things for seemingly unintentional purposes.
Again, bad acting/bad dialogue is not what a giant movie monster should be judged on, but Doughtery forces us to spend so much time with them throughout the course of the movie that it’s impossible not to get irritated.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is two hours and ten minutes long, but Doughtery could have cut half an hour of humans doing and saying stupid things and the movie would only be better for it, advancing to the big battle between Godzilla and Ghidorah faster and more effectively.
By the time the overly long climax rolls around, the tedious human interactions had dulled my senses, and more importantly, my interest. The climax goes on forever.
For all the criticisms, there are things to like. The first hour, as previously mentioned, is pretty entertaining; there is intentional purpose and forward momentum. The visual effects, while not as strong as in Edwards’ original, are generally pretty. And if giant monsters battling over the ruins of human civilization is your thing, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers a few solid action scenes.
The shame is, it just feels like a dumber, less awe-inspiring form of the previous movie, a by-the-numbers monster flick in which the numbers don’t even line up right.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.