Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie review: Humans play spoilsport in this epic clash of titans
This Godzilla movie needed a treatment akin to the masterful Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, where the humans were called out for what they are – screechy dumbos.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is almost a great blockbuster film. It has got all the ingredients you need – spectacular Kaiju action, a frenetic pace, a few awesome hero moments for our protagonist, and even a bit of lore to explore his origins. But like in every Transformers movie, there are dumb human beings in the film who bring down the overall experience. If you could wear some cinematic blinders to ignore the human stuff, you will enjoy this film. But if you are expecting something unforgettable, prepare to be mildly disappointed.
The film picks up five years from the events of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot. We are introduced to Mark (Kyle Chandler) who is estranged from his wife Emma (Vera Farmiga) and daughter Madisson (Millie Bobbie Brown) because of a personal tragedy involving Godzilla. The world has woken up to the presence of the Titans, although Godzilla himself has been MIA for a while. But of course, some dumb humans decide to awaken other Titans frozen at various sites across the world, and Godzilla needs to come back and fix the dumb humans’ mess.
This instalment is directed by Michael Dougherty, who has earlier made the absolutely terrific Trick r Treat and Krampus. But he completely jettisons his small scale filmmaking chops for a series of blockbuster moments that work only intermittently. Every time a scene cuts to a wide shot of the Kaijus in action, your jaws will tend to drop, because there are 300-like hero moments and you wish the whole film was shot this way. Unfortunately, most of the monster brawls are shot in darkness, rain and close ups so it is quite difficult to make out what is happening. There is no doubt that the design of the monsters and the introduction of Godzilla’s ultimate nemesis is spectacular. Again, there are moments that deliver on the monster designs’ promise, but they inconsequential because of the actions of the humans surrounding them. This way, Kong: Skull Island was a better film because the dumb humans’ dumb decisions do not detract from the terrific Kaiju skirmishes.
Ken Watanabe gets the best dumb human bits – if you liked the ‘let them fight’ moment from the 2014 film, this movie is filled to the brim with far more cheesy lines from him, and he somehow succeeds in winning you over. An entire Godzilla film seen from his point of view would have been perfect instead of the over serious soap opera between the dumb suburban family that we ultimately get. In fact, this film needed a treatment akin to the masterful Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, where Godzilla, Mothra and Ghidorah have a soap opera of their own and the humans were called out for what they are – screechy dumbos.
There is a good movie hidden inside this movie, and YouTube fan edits could probably rework it into something far more interesting. Having watched the film in IMAX 2D and still struggling to decipher the action, I wonder how difficult it would be to enjoy it in 3D. The excitement for the upcoming Godzilla vs Kong movie remains undiminished of course, particularly because of the question of what threat level a large gorilla could bring to Godzilla after watching a three-headed dragon beat him to pulp here. Maybe Godzilla and Kong team up to thrash a common enemy: dumb human characters.
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