Starrring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler
Director: Michael Dougherty
Running Time: 132 mins
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is an American film and the sequel to Godzilla. As titans awaken from their thousand-year slumber all over the planet, a team of scientists and researchers attempt to find a way to save the world, working with Godzilla to defeat a seemingly invincible adversary.
I vividly remember just how disappointed I was with the last Godzilla, with all its promise of thrilling, moving blockbuster excitemenet brought falling down by a bland, empty and painfully slow reality. As a result, I had the lowest of expectations going into King Of The Monsters, so I’m glad to say that, for the most part, this sequel is far better than the original.
While by no means perfect, and still a fairly run-of-the-mill blockbuster, King Of The Monsters at least introduces three-dimensional characters and writing that prove really engrossing at times. Couple that with yet more spectacular visual effects, bold directing and a wonderful musical score, and you have a film that’s thoroughly entertaining at times, and a great improvement on one of the most disappointing blockbusters of recent years.
So, the best place to start with this movie is the story, and although I can’t say that it’s a particularly thrilling or unpredictable one, I am happy to say that I had good fun with King Of The Monsters throughout. This time not relying entirely on a false sense of tension surrounding the illusive Godzilla, King Of The Monsters gives the titular titan a bigger role in the story, all the while crafting a narrative that makes the action flow a whole lot better.
Last time, with the exception of that excellent opening act, the movie was pretty much a waiting game for Godzilla to turn up on screen and fight the big baddie in San Francisco. And that was about it. In the sequel, however, you have a number of different stories and characters that play into the eventual clash of Godzilla and the other titans, and while there’s still that big, destructive action setpiece at the end as you’d expect, it comes about far more organically and as a result of mroe interesting storytelling that has developed throughout the film previously.
The other big plus in the story department is the fact that there are a number of moderately interesting human characters as well. In the first film, Bryan Cranston was a brilliant lead, but he was killed off early and replaced with painfully bland characters played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen.
In the sequel, we get a little more character intrigue and ambiguity – mostly surrounding Vera Farmiga’s character – as well as more insight into the motivations of some of the scientists who have studied Godzilla for years, with Ken Watanabe’s character being promoted from quippy side character to a genuinely interesting and important player.
Having said that, I still can’t say that the characterisation here is of the highest order, and while there is character intrigue and multi-dimensional development throughout, it comes in small pockets where one character or another has there most memorable moment, rather than working as a consistent stream of development and deepening intrigue through the whole film.
What’s more, the film once again really fails to nail down Godzilla’s character in the way it wants to. Different from the unmatchable Japanese original, as well as Hollywood’s terrible 90s reboot, this film tries to use Godzilla in a more interesting capacity than just a big, destructive monster. However, its idea of that is seeing him work in tandem with the human characters to defeat the evil monsters simply by turning up at random times just before a major character is about to die.
It’s nice to see Godzilla being used in this way through the whole movie (the last one did so towards the finale), but it’s a repetitive and fairly lazy characterisation that grows tiring very quickly, and once again, this just doesn’t feel like a great movie about Godzilla in the way that the Japanese original really is.
And this where the comparisons with Warner Bros.’s related Kong: Skull Island come in. In Skull Island, King Kong was used in a fairly similar capacity, yet given a surprisingly riveting and engrossing personality that made him a major player in the story, rather than a random hulking monster who happens to turn up now and then to save the day.
That’s one of the areas where Godzilla: King Of The Monsters really pales in comparison to Kong: Skull Island, the other being that, while this is an entertaining movie, it still feels like a rather run-of-the-mill blockbuster.
Director Michael Dougherty impresses a striking style onto King Of The Monsters, bringing dazzling cinematography together with a beautifully elegant score, but unlike Skull Island, this film just lacks the charisma and energy of a really great action movie.
Skull Island had humour, intelligence and a brilliantly original premise – linking King Kong up with the Vietnam War – whereas King Of The Monsters is, for the most part, just a movie about saving the world from destruction again, with little more depth or secondary themes at play. It’s a fun watch, don’t get me wrong, but it won’t ever stand up to films like Skull Island that bring more ideas into play, ultimately making this film still feel a little underwhelming.
Overall, with improved dramatic depth and character intrigue, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is eons better than its bland and painfully disappointing predecessor, all the while furthered by entertaining action, great visual effects and bold directing and music throughout. Unfortunately, though, it’s still a bit of a generic action movie, paling in comparison to Kong: Skull Island, and often proving repetitive and predictable in a way that hurts the sheer blockbuster entertainment of it all, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3 in the end.