This review was originally published at VENTS MAGAZINE. Link HERE.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a film reminiscent of 90’s summer blockbusters like Armageddon and Twister. It’s a big, dumb, loud, chaotic mess with a lot of big name actors and a number of thrilling, visually stunning set pieces you can’t help but love.
The title Godzilla: King of the Monsters implies that this is a Godzilla movie, which it only kind of is. This is as much a Godzilla movie as Captain America: Civil War was a Captain America movie. Sure, Captain America is in Civil War, but that movie is more of an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie. Godzilla is certainly in King of the Monsters, with more screen time than he had in Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film, but this movie should have just been called King of the Monsters, as the film focuses on the rise of these new titan creatures that are coming to the Earth’s surface like Godzilla. We get a slew of new monsters, such as Mothra, a giant, majestic moth, Rodan, who feels like Satan’s version of a pterodactyl, and the three-headed nightmare, Ghidora, all of whom are awoken and reign chaos on Earth, whether they do it for good or for evil.
The monsters are simply glorious and watching them battle is something to behold. These battle sequences are the reason why big screens exist (seeing this movie in IMAX is essential). The scale of how big these monsters are and watching them shoot fire, lightning, or whatever other magical powers they have at each other while grappling and throwing each other around will have you wanting to stand up and cheer. The film runs at 130 minutes long and I genuinely wish that all 130 minutes were just these monsters beating the hell out of each other.
Unfortunately, there is another aspect that stops King of the Monsters from true glory: the humans. These characters are terrible in every sense of the word. First of all, there are so many characters in this movie that I genuinely don’t know any of their names. None of them are developed and they all have terrible dialog and character motivations. These are characters that if they died, and a number of them do, you do not care less. Some characters died and I didn’t realize it until a few scenes later. These are also some of the dumbest characters in recent film history, ranking right up there with everyone in the Jurassic World films. These are characters who would rather run towards the fighting than away from it. Characters who have no issue putting their face right up to a monster’s face. Are we supposed to be surprised if they die or the monster goes off? No! You touched a prehistoric monster without knowing what it is going to do! That’s what you get!
But, in classic blockbuster fashion, our main characters are the kind of characters who dodge danger by the inch, which happens too often that it gets to the point of annoying come the end of the film. As Godzilla and Ghidora reek havoc all over Boston, an odd choice to hold the film’s final set piece, our main characters run amok through all the chaos and mayhem and not get stepped on by either monster or not get crushed by a demolished building or a flaming car. Hell, these characters don’t even get debris in their eyes when a gigantic gust of wind blows in their face. I got some debris in my eye watching this movie in a theater, Lord help me if I was in a ravaged city with metal, glass, dust, and monster non-sense.
In a movie where all I want, and I assume most people want, is to see the biggest monsters beat the crap out of each other, the characters shouldn’t matter and they really don’t. The problem with these stupid, undeveloped characters is that they are all played by great actors who are wasting their talent and time, which was the same issue in Kong: Skull Island, the second film in this Monster Universe. With Oscar nominees Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, and Vera Farmiga (who deserves a special prize in this movie for “Worst Cinematic Mom of 2019”), Emmy nominees and winners Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch, and Charles Dance (who might be the best character here and far and away gives the best performance), and up-and-comers like O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Anthony Ramos, this is as stacked of a cast as there is, yet they’re all wasting their time reading terrible dialog. This is the kind of movie that would have been better with a lesser cast, where the main actors are more B-character actors because then we wouldn’t have to see such talent being wasted.
Even with the human characters being horrible and take away from the overall monster rumble that is taking place before us, Godzilla: King of the Monsters pays off thanks to the insane, breathtaking, mindless battles amongst our monsters. Watching Godzilla, Ghidora, Rodan, Mothra, and other monsters go at it is exactly what you want in a summer blockbuster.
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