Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi
Back in 2014, Gareth Edwards brought Godzilla back onto the big screen, and it was met with a mixed response. Some people felt there just wasn’t enough of the lizardy beast in the most, while others praised the film for its restraint, incredible cinematography and even better sound design.
I fell into the latter camp. I thought that Edwards’ Godzilla was every inch the film I wanted it to be. However, the same can’t be said about Michael Dougherty’s sequel, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.
This film is the culmination of what is often referred to now as a cinematic universe. Godzilla came first, it was then followed up with Kong: Skull Island, and now it’s time of the King of the monsters to return, and with it comes a whole load of other scary titans.
The film takes place five years after the events of the first Godzilla film, and it sees the strange agency Monarch in an attempt to prevent the world from being utterly destroyed as a whole host of big monsters are unleashed.
So, you’d want to make Godzilla our pet?
This time around, not only do they have Godzilla to think about, but the likes of King Ghidorah, a horrific three-headed monster spits lightning. Other beasts include Mothra and Rodan.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters has a ludicrously impressive cast. Just naming them can cause a headache. You have the likes of Kyle Chandler (playing a dad again. What a surprise), Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown (basically playing Eleven from Stranger Things), Bradley Whitford (who’s quipping like he’s a Marvel movie), Charles Dance (who has nothing to do in this film), and Thomas Middleditch being as awkward as ever.
The film even brings back the likes of Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe as doctors Vivienne Graham and Ishirō Serizawa. I did love these characters in the first film, yet Ishirō does spend most of the film spouting fortune cookie level morality, and they even make a joke about it, which irked me somewhat.
Our world is changing. The mass extinction we feared… Has already begun. And we are the cause. We are the infection.
The problem with this film isn’t that the acting is poor because it really isn’t. Everybody’s doing their utmost with what they’ve been given. The problem that there are too many characters and they’re all written so poorly that they just become cliches.
It’s sad really, to waste such talent in a film like this. However, I don’t think anyone is wasted as much as Charles Dance is in this film. I think I counted ten lines in total.
There’s also the fact that characters’ decisions in the film make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Take Kyle Chandler’s Dr. Mark Russell. So, he’s brought in to help find his estranged wife, Vera Farmiga’s Dr. Emma Russell, and their daughter Madison Russell (Millie Bobbie Brown).
Long live the king.
It’s made pretty clear that he wants all the monsters killed, which is a pretty understandable position to take given their destructiveness. However, he has a sudden change of heart halfway through the movie, and then he’s the one leading the charge to follow Godzilla so that he can save humanity.
Given the length of this movie, you’d expect them to take a bit more time with their character development, but again, the film’s overcrowded and it means that there’s no time to understand any of these people’s motives.
Moving away from acting and the poor script, the worst thing about Godzilla: King of the Monsters, is the camera work. I was under the impression that shaky cam died with Cloverfield, but it’s made a not-so-triumphant return in this movie.
How many of these things are there?
It’s literally headache inducing, and if this film is a reaction to the people who wanted more Godzilla, then despite the monster getting more screentime, it won’t matter because you’ll miss it all whilst vomiting into your bucket of popcorn.
I hate shaky cam. It hasn’t been done well since the Bourne films, and even then, I thought it was too much. I feel it tends to mask poor CGI rather than add tension, and it’s clearly the case here.
It’s a shame because there are some genuinely specular shots involving the monsters and Mothra in particular. But, the spectacle is ruined by the annoying camera work and the fact that the film is poorly lit.
I’m done with big action scenes taking place at night. Unless you get the lighting spot on, it just means the viewer can’t make anything out, and that’s precisely what happened here.
We opened Pandora’s box. And there’s no closing it now.
They wanted to show more of the monsters, and yes, they get much more screentime than in the previous Godzilla film, but Edwards’ film succeeded in showing more of Godzilla by actually showing less of him.
There was very little shaky cam, and the action scenes were shot using clever camera angles which helped give a sense of scale and added to the tension of the piece.
It’s a shame because this film promised so much, but in the end it’s a case of the promotional material being better than the actual product.
That said, there are some incredible moments of spectacle, but they’re far and few between, and they’re bookended by a lot of tedious and inexplicable plot. It’s never a good sign when a movie stops dead for characters to tell one another what’s going on.
Meanwhile, why not have a read of our articles on the 5 ways Game of Thrones season 8 dropped the ball, and the 5 movies you should watch if you still think Robert Pattinson won’t be a good Batman.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is in cinemas all across the UK now.
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