Director: Michael Dougherty
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Everyone’s favorite giant lizard is back to defend mankind from an equally threatening beast in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. With the success of the “first one” in 2014 and Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown making her feature film debut, King of the Monsters has some hype surrounding it. Sadly that’s all it is: hype.
King of the Monsters is a poorly written mess that is nothing more than a studio using proven IP as a quick cash grab.
The human element of a Godzilla film doesn’t need to be particularly good to make it work. No one is shooting for an Oscar when they sign on to work on a CGI-filled blockbuster, but the screenplay needs to at least make some sense. We never care about the characters or feel like they’re in any real danger, even though they’re constantly in the middle of chaos. The performances are a non-factor here. O’shea Jackson Jr. plays Chief Warrant Officer Barnes, who is in charge of all things involving the military. He does his best to add some comedic relief but his character is ultimately meaningless. A real misuse of one of the better up and coming actors in 2019.
Our human antagonist is Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), who works for an agency called Monarch, which specializes in the study of monsters. She’s on a mission to wake all 17 known Titans from deep hibernation. That would then “restore balance” to earth, killing off millions of people. If this sounds similar to what Thanos tried to do, then yeah, I thought the same thing. Dr. Russell and her team wake up a three-headed dragon they named King Ghidorah from a frozen block in Antarctica. Turns out they didn’t run their plan of “resorting balance” by the dragon, and his plan is to just end mankind. Of all monsters, the only one capable of challenging King Ghidorah is GODZILLA.
The CGI is undoubtedly the most impressive aspect of this film. It’s why anyone goes to see a ridiculous film about building-sized monsters having showdowns in the middle of cities that make an Avengers battle look like a fender-bender. I’ve never seen a giant lizard fight a three-headed dragon in the middle of a hurricane but I’m convinced this is what it would look like. Although the epic CGI battles are the strongest part of the film we are regularly taken away from the monster fights to the human story. We want to see Godzilla having a Monday Night Smackdown in the middle of Boston, not a touching family reunion.
To no one’s surprise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was also king at the box office opening weekend. It took the top spot, grossing over $50 million domestically and more than $180 million worldwide. It appears to be a safer move for studios to go with proven IP that audiences are familiar with than to take a risk by introducing original stories. King of the Monsters is poorly written and painfully unoriginal. Special effects are cool but maybe you should just go see John Wick 3 again to get your action fix.