- Release Date: 30/05/2019
- Cast: Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe.
- Director: Michael Dougherty
I am a fan of the Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla. Even today when I watch it, it invariably crawls under my skin. However, in 2014 it was hard for me to take Godzilla to be a savior of mankind as I never watched any TOHO Godzillas but was introduced to the character by the 1998 Roland Emmerich version. The 2014 film has certainly aged well for me over the years. Every subsequent viewing of the film has made it more and more relatable and affecting. There was a huge uproar against the 2014 film primarily because of the lack of monster action. I never had any issues with that aspect of it as I found the human drama potent and tense. The makers of Godzilla: King Of The monsters have definitely taken those complaints seriously and made a film that is so relentless and unabashed in its monster violence that it somehow forgets some of the other key aspects of filmmaking. The story, character arc, believability. More on that later.
Dr. Emma Russel (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are working together for the crypto- zoological agency Monarch. They discover one of the titans known as Mothra and get a chance to use a device that Emma co-built with her husband which helps control the titan’s impulses. Halfway through all this, they are attacked by a shady organization led by Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) who kidnap the mother-daughter duo, bag the device and set out to release a battery of other god sized apex predators. Monarch now brings in the services of Emma’s ex-husband, Mark Russel (Kyle Chandler) to track down his wife and kid as well as the device which is the key to stopping Alan from unleashing hell.
I was enthralled by the amount of creature violence and visual wizardry that this film had to offer. The creature violence starts from the very beginning when Mothra is introduced and we get a taste of her strength. Godzilla who was battered but survived the events of the last film made his way to the bottom of the ocean and here we see him in his natural habitat where he is being studied. However, the crown jewel of all the monsters on display is by far King Ghidorah. Not only is he a worthy adversary for the king of the monsters, but he also maintains an upper hand almost all the way through the film. There were moments when I felt that maybe Ghidorah will have the better of Godzilla. In terms of creature design, power, and sheer size, he outwits Godzilla with clinical ease. The rest of the monsters have miniscule screen time but still, do their bits. Rodan was the most noticeable. I liked the fact that he had the power to wreak havoc just by flying over a city without so much as touching it. The film has prolonged and well-choreographed action sequences involving these creatures and these sequences are when the film is at its strongest.
The film’s problems start the moment you take your attention away from its visual splendor. The previous Godzilla film had some extremely well-executed drama. The father-son dynamics between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s characters. The sheer frustration of Cranston at not being able to get an exact answer for what led to the death of his wife, the struggle of Aaron Taylor Johnson to get back to his estranged family, the heart-stopping wait of Elizabeth Olsen for her husband to return coupled with the larger than life odds all added up to make one hell of an exasperating experience. The film maintained a somber mood all throughout which got to the viewers real quick. The latest offering, though, fails on all those counts. I didn’t care for any of the characters and didn’t even bother whether they lived or died. The most noticeable of the lot is the trio of Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler who are just about passable.
Kyle is the stereotypical hero in a film like this and you know from start to finish that he will finally make it. Vera Farmiga is given a character that is extremely confused. She cannot make out the difference between saving the world and destroying it. An important plot point of the film hinges on her decision and her decision is guided by the death of her son during Godzilla’s climactic battle with the two MUTOs in the first film. This was such a lame call on part of the director that I couldn’t find any sense whatsoever in what she does and this decision hurts the believability of the film pretty badly. Millie Bobby Brown is the proverbial daughter in distress. She runs from one problematic spot to another and that’s all she does all throughout the film. The bad news is that we don’t care for her characters and would not have minded had she perished. Charles Dance is a captivating actor and in many ways, he is the primary baddie here but his villain is reduced to a side character whose motivations are as vague as Vera Farmiga’s and that what destroys the credibility of his character.
If one looks at this film from an action standpoint, Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be mighty enjoyable. It is a big, bloated and loud action extravaganza which has very little in terms of any other cinematic qualities. I know it’s pointless to nitpick a film of this nature but its predecessor had done a pretty good job with a lot of the other cinematic qualities that this one lacks. A little more thought into the script and development of the human characters would have made a great deal of difference to the film. I was still enthralled by the visuals of the film and that I believe will be reason enough for this film to merit a view atleast.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)