GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (5/31/2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown
My Rating: 6/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 40%
PLOT: Five years after the events of “Godzilla” (2014), humanity finds itself once again at risk as multiple titanic creatures awake from slumber and wreak devastation on the planet. Who can stop them? Indeed, WHO?
In many ways, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” reminded of Guillermo del Toro’s kaiju epic “Pacific Rim”, although, to be fair, the monster battles were superior in “Pacific Rim.” But that’s the framework in which this movie should be measured: the monster battles. With a title like “King of the Monsters”, one shouldn’t walk into a screening of this film expecting a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. You won’t find self-reflexive, multi-layered dialogue here. You want that, wait for Oscar season later in the year.
No, this is a popcorn movie, pure and simple, and on that level, I believe it succeeds. We got two monster “species” total in 2014’s “Godzilla”, and in this sequel, we get an additional six at LEAST. We got two major monster sequences in the first film…this time we get, jeez, four, I think? I lost count. In the summer blockbuster vein of “bigger is better”, “G:KOTM” pulled out all the stops.
At least, in terms of the monster battles. The screenplay is one giant cliché after another. Think of the screenplay for “Independence Day”, and square the cheesiness factor. Then think of all the monster movies you remember from your youth, and imagine someone funneled every cliché from those terrible scripts into this one. Yeah, it’s like that.
• One character talks about humanity being a scourge to the planet, and how it ought to be eradicated by the titans in order for the planet to survive. As my friend Marc Sanders pointed out, they should have just called Thanos; he could have fixed the problem in a SNAP, thank you, I’m here all night.
• At one point, a kidnapped little girl is taken to a military-style bunker and, in a feat that rivals Houdini, manages to steal an EXTREMELY important piece of hardware, climb into an air shaft, and literally stroll out the UNGUARDED front gate, presumably while all the grownups are too busy watching the world end on their computer monitors.
• At another point, it’s determined that the best way to revive Godzilla is to fire a nuclear weapon into his radioactive underwater lair. Alas, the launching mechanism has failed, and it’s impossible to detonate it remotely, meaning someone must volunteer to hand-carry a nuclear warhead, place it literally RIGHT NEXT to Godzilla, and blow themselves up. Because, why not? Instead of feeling like a heroic moment, it felt really, REALLY contrived.
But, I mean…it’s not like any of that really MATTERS here, does it? To re-state an important factoid, the title of the movie is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” KING OF THE MONSTERS. “Aliens” this is not. This is simply a mindless, monstrous summer diversion that oddly appealed to me, but only when we saw the monsters fighting. It kinda took me back to my childhood, watching one of any number of Godzilla films in syndication.
I’m not saying it’s better than the 2014 film, let me be clear. I thought that film, helmed by Gareth Edwards (who also directed “Rogue One”), was a more “awesome” movie in the most literal sense of the word. There was a sense of grandeur, almost, to Godzilla that bordered on reverence.
“King of the Monsters” is all about the fight. The rumble. The battle for dominance. Only one can be king, and Godzilla will not give up his throne without a fight. Or three.
So, bottom line: this will never go down in history as a great movie. It’s too derivative and clichéd for that. But, as an homage to my childhood of eating Frosted Flakes while watching Godzilla kick the crap out of pretenders to the throne…it works.