Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
PG-13 | 2h 12min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 31 May 2019 (USA)
Synopsis: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Review: Once again I find myself walking out of a Godzilla film shaking my head and pondering why I can’t connect to these films. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS has everything you want in a summer box office extravaganza; except enjoyment. It has been 5 years since Godzilla wrecked havoc on San Francisco in the last film and this one attempts to pick up the pieces and move on. But the question remains as to why american movie goers aren’t enamored with this heroic titan.
There were hints early on that each character – Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah – would get their one origin film and then it all culminate in one epic battle here. But the lack of response and excitement over Godzilla may have squashed that idea. The only creature in the Monarch realm to get their own film was King Kong in KONG: SKULL ISLAND. Many may not have even known of the connection. It was subtle but made clear in this new one. The two are scheduled to battle it out in 2020 when GODZILLA vs. KONG hits theaters. I for one will be in Kong’s corner.
But back to this film. Scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) has developed a technology that can help communicate with the large titans that monarch has secluded in separate remote facilities. Her hope is to be able to control these creatures and keep another disaster like the one in San Fran from happening agin. Her estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) has other desires; mainly to see them destroyed. When Emma and their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped and forced to use the technology for other purposes – I am trying to give as few spoilers as possible – Mark joins forces with returning scientist Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) to get them back safely and bring order to the system.
As a viewer I want to look at Godzilla the same way that Dr. Serizawa does. This guy reveres the creature the same way many do a true deity. I don’t hate the monster as Mark does but instead I am blasé about the whole thing. As Godzilla battles the other titans I feel like a sports fan watching a game in which he has no loyalty. It is a little interesting but I could not care less about the outcome.
Much of the issue lies in the fact that the filmmakers try very hard to make the move look great without giving us any emotional connection with the characters. There are lots of loud noises and more green screen than you could ever want. But not much depth. Other than Watanabe most seem like they are not buying into the story either. I take that back. Thank the zilla gods for Millie Bobby Brown. That girl can act and even in this one delivers an emotional performance that is solid and believable.
Much of my confusion lies in the fact that Kong: Skull Island was such a fantastic film. It was one of my faves the year it came out and I have watched it numerous times. It is basically the same thing yet this one has nothing that Kong has. Is it that we are more conditioned to recognize and empathize with Kong? Not sure. But I do know that Kong had humor, action, and characters that you immediately gravitated to. Godzilla did not. Their only attempt at humor was having actor Bradley Whitford utter lines that were supposed to be sharp witted but full duly flat.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is rated PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language and suitable for those 10 and up. If you have to see it then see it on the big screen. I am not sure it will hold up at all once it hits 4k and Blu-ray.