Thrash of the Titans
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is overblown, overlong, overwritten, and melodramatic in the extreme. It also happens to be a lot of fun, and a far better (and bigger) monster mash than its 2014 predecessor, and thus far is the only American Godzilla movie to enjoy a measure of success in replicating the original Toho Films formula.
For one thing, unlike the earlier film, this doesn’t wait an hour before introducing its title character. For another, despite its lengthy running time (135 minutes), it’s on the move throughout.
What’s more, the new film, directed by story and screenplay writer Michael Dougherty, offers a bevy of giant monsters, including Rodan, Mothra, and the three-headed King Ghidorah (or “Monster Zero,” if you prefer). Watching these titans thrash about on the big screen is an unvarnished pleasure for those of us who retain fond childhood memories of watching Godzilla movies on television.
The star-studded human contingent includes Godzilla holdovers Ken Watanabe (as Dr. Serizawa), Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn, while the fresh faces include Vera Farmiga (taking a temporary break from Apparition movies), Kyle Chandler, Ziyi Zhang, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., C.C.H. Pounder, Joe Morton, Aisha Hinds, and Thomas Middleditch. They play their roles with appropriately earnest conviction and bring some gravitas to the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, but – let’s face it – the faces you want to see are those of the monsters.
These sequences most certainly deliver, and there are even moral and philosophical implications of the monsters at large – something that the later Toho films also suggested. Even the resident (human) baddie, a British mercenary/eco-terrorist played with customary aplomb by the always-welcome Charles Dance, isn’t necessarily motivated by greed or a thirst for world domination. The notion that Earth’s real enemy is humankind and the monsters are Mother Nature’s way of lashing back is not without interest.
Admittedly, there are a few scenes that don’t make any sense, but pondering plot inconsistencies is a futile endeavor in a film such as this. Besides, the sheer spectacle of the endeavor is more than enough to sweep away such criticism. In many ways, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a perfect summer movie. Just sit back and enjoy the mayhem.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.