Thursday, June 13, 2019

Movie Review: "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" (2019)

Director: Michael Dougherty
Year: 2019
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes

When an eco-terrorist group hatches a plan to release giant "Titans" that are being held in containment by Monarch, Godzilla rises from the ocean to battle them and once again establish himself as King of the Monsters.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 2019 movie still Charles Dance Millie Bobby Brown Vera Farmiga
"It's not a surprise that Monster Zero thing is on its way here. It's reacting to Big Bird's cries!" (Image provided by Warner Bros.)
The world of the Kaiju continues to grow, and we are certainly ready for it. "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is directed by Michael Dougherty, who is best known for directing horror films like "Trick 'r Treat" and "Krampus." He also helped write the story along with Zach Shields and Max Borenstein. About five years have passed since the research company called Monarch discovered giant monsters they refer to as Titans and unintentionally released the MUTO on the world, causing massive destruction before Godzilla rose from the ocean to defeat them. Since then, Monarch has found new Titans all over the world and has been keeping them in containment for research purposes. An eco-terrorist group led by a man named Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) attacks a Monarch facility, kidnapping one of its lead researchers Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Milly Bobby Brown). Dr. Russell has created a machine known as the ORCA that can manipulate the Titans in a small way, and Jonah hopes to use this device to release some of them on the world. When he released the three-headed creature named Ghidorah and the pterodactyl-like monster Rodan, Godzilla once again rises from the ocean to prove his dominance as King of the Monsters, all while Monarch and Dr. Russell's estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) try to rescue her and their daughter and help Godzilla any way they can.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters 2019 movie still of Godzilla fighting Ghidorah
"How many of these things are there?" (Image provided by Warner Bros.)
We wish that filmmakers understood who the real star of these monster movies is supposed to be. After all, these films are called "Godzilla," not "insert random human's name running around under Godzilla's feet." We enjoyed 2014's "Godzilla," but we (and most other moviegoers) felt as if it was too focused on what the very uninteresting human personalities were doing while most the monster rampage raged in the background. The franchise took a slight turn in the right direction with 2017's "Kong: Skull Island" as mister-gigantic-ape took the central focus of the movie. We had hoped that "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" would follow that example, and in some ways, it does. There is a bit more monster carnage in this flick than there was in the first entry of this franchise. Every time Godzilla squares up with a fellow Titan, our excitement level peaked, and we found ourselves being as giddy as school children watching them battle and gnash and rawr. These moments are a blast and are full of pure joy and excitement. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, a slightly bigger budget means more celebrities, and a marginally longer runtime means more human characters with more boring drama we just don't give two shits about. We don't care about any of the people in this movie, we don't care about what they're doing, and the film spends far too much time focusing on them, not the Titans and/or Godzilla. The writers want us to get invested in the Russell family and the scientists at Monarch, who are mostly there to add joking quips and exposition, but we found ourselves fatigued with these annoying people being shoved down our throats. When you hope that all the human characters die in the movie you're watching, that's probably a bad sign. The story is eye-rolling at best. In fact, one of the main plot points is pretty damn similar to last year's "Infinity War," not in a good way, but in a "holy crap, that was dumb as hell" kind of way. Luckily, we do get invested in Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah, and their various showdowns. We were far more interested in what these beasts had to offer, as it should be!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters 2019 movie still Kyle Chandler Ziyi Zhang O'Shea Jackson Jr.
"Why would they want one when they've got the keys to the magic kingdom of hidden horrors back here?" (Image provided by Warner Bros.)
The big question is, is it worth dragging your butt into a theater to see "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" if it means drudging through the human aspects of the film to see the Titans battle it out? For us, the answer is yes. Watching King Ghidorah and Rodan and Mothra and Godzilla stomp around Boston is absolutely worth the price of admission, but the barely tolerable human aspects mean you should probably only pay matinee pricing to see it.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.7/10
RT Rating: ~40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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