Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch
Written by: (also story) Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields and (story) Max Borenstein
Running Time: 131 mins
Release date: 29th May 2019
I have been consistently disappointed with Godzilla movies. From the awful 90s film which was the one and only film I have ever walked out of, to the 2016 version, in which we had to wait forever and day to see the creature, Godzilla hasn’t delivered for me. Now we get Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Will this finally put my faith in the giant lizard movies? Frankly, no.
It’s been five years since the events of San Francisco when Godzilla ran amok. The crypto-zoological agency Monarch has been accused of causing the destruction. Dr Emma Russel, now separated from husband, Mark, has been developing a new sonar system which can control the Titans, creatures buried for thousands of years. In the wrong hands, the machine brings to life Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah. The rise of the Titans brings back to being the dormant Godzilla.
Refusing to make the same mistake twice, Godzilla appears almost as soon as the film begins, so do all the other monsters. Instead of that anticipation, we get right to it, which then leads to an opposite problem. The film literally has nothing to surprise or shock us with. Where Gareth Edwards film slowly builds, giving us hints of the star creature, director Michael Dougherty decides that what the audience wants are big, loud fight sequences between the various Titans, while at the same time, cramming the screen with human characters all battling for a large enough slice of the running time to be noticed.
How do you get over stroking the egos of the actors? Get them to explain everything that has happened, is happening or will happen. When they are not dishing out complex technobabble or letting us know the perils we could be in, then let them react to the enormous size of the creatures as they go stomping around, causing mass destruction.
Dougherty then makes the decision to film everything in such a way that its almost impossible to see. Shaky camera work followed by rushed editing and then bathed in a sea of darkness. Fans of the original Japanese monster movies could watch, with gleeful joy, the man in the Godzilla suit, slowly marching around knocking down models of tall buildings. Here, the CGI creatures aren’t given enough light to see the spectacular creations and the fights that most people would have come to the movie to see in the first place.
The cast does their best with the very ropey and sometimes laugh-out-loud dialogue. All of whom are very talented performers but are totally wasted in roles that are no more than one-dimensional. Kyle Chandler is the hero who can take on anything and seems to be superhuman considering the number of times he survived explosions and being thrown around the place. Vera Farmiga has the look of a woman who longs for a more meatier, serious role to come along, while Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things must have jaw ache from the times she stares upward with her mouth open. Even the usually scene chewing Charles Dance looks bored and longing for the cheque to arrive. It reminded me of the old 70s disaster movies but not the good ones (Posideon Adventure, Towering Inferno). This is more like The Swarm.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters could have been a fun rollercoaster of a movie. Instead, it is dull, incredibly confusing and ultimately flat. I was longing for a real blast where I didn’t have to think. What I got was 2 hours of noise and mess, and I longed to return home and watch the Japanese films. At least they were made with tongues rammed into the cheek.