‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Movie Review: Godzilla Deserves Better

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“You got a catchy name for this one?” asks Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler). “Rodan, the Fire Demon,” replies Dr. Chen (Ziyi Zang). “Oh, that’s comforting,” responds Russell in Godzilla: King of Monsters, the sequel to the 2014 monster epic, Godzilla.

The crypto-zoological agency Monarch is forced to bring Mark Russell back when his estranged wife, Emma (Vera Farmiga) and daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), are kidnapped by an eco-terrorism group. The group’s determined to release every titan Monarch’s discovered have been hiding on Earth. Russell is quickly brought up to date and joins the group which includes Dr. Ishiro (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford), an expert on tracking the monsters.

It’s not long before the giant beasts rise from slumber and begin causing major destruction and death. The titans released include Rodan, the fire-based flying creature; Mothra, the giant moth-like creature; and Godzilla’s nemesis King Ghidora, a winged, fire-breathing dragon with three hydra heads. Apparently King Ghidora wants to be the alpha among the monsters and it falls to Godzilla to step into the ring to keep his title as King of the Monsters and save our world from ultimate destruction.

Fortunately for our planet, this time around Monarch and the military are #TeamGodzilla, joining the giant fire-breathing lizard in the fight.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

A scene from ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ (Photo © 2019 Warner Bros Entertainment and Legendary Pictures Productions)

Loud, dark, and at times simply ludicrous, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a sequel that’s not an improvement on the 2014 reboot. The script has ridiculous dialogue, although unlike 2014’s Godzilla, this time around some humor and funny moments have been inserted amid the CGI destruction.

Kyle Chandler delivers the best performance of the cast as Mark Russell, a man still grieving from the major loss he suffered during the destruction of San Francisco and desperate to save his daughter and estranged wife from the eco-terrorists. He’s also the one character who actually has decent ideas on how to track the monsters, especially Godzilla, to stop the impending massive world destruction.

One of the best actresses in the film, Millie Bobby Brown (best known for playing Eleven in Stranger Things) is wasted. Her character’s held hostage for most of the movie and Brown’s only called upon to look scared and surprised. It’s a true loss considering the excellent performance she’s given in Stranger Things.

Ken Watanabe returns portraying Godzilla’s biggest fan Dr. Ishiro. This time out instead of constantly calling on everyone to let the monsters fight as he did in the first film, Ishiro repeatedly tells anyone who’ll listen they need to trust Godzilla. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Godzilla reboots is the silly and childish dialogue written for Watanabe.

The film also suffers from insufficient lighting. Most of the monsters, especially King Ghidora, are viewed in smoke-filled skies and shadows. The lighting choices never give the audience a chance to take in the terror of their presence. That said, Godzilla looks impressive and so does Rodan. In fact, the best fight is between those two and not Godzilla and King Ghidorah.

With goofy dialogue, vision-hampering smoke-filled staging, and talented actors playing second fiddle to CGI monsters who aren’t impressive or scary, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a disappointing sequel. If this is the best the studio’s got, this franchise is better off not continuing.

GRADE: C

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language

Running Time: 2 hours 12 minutes

Directed By: Michael Dougherty

Release Date: May 31, 2019




Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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