Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019) (movie review).

June 2, 2019 | By | 1 Reply More

In ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters’, the film’s plot picks up 5 years after the events of the last film, ‘Godzilla’ (2014), when eco-terrorist anarchists led by Alan Jonah begin freeing the Titans, in an attempt to restore the natural order. The central message the film peddles is the rather simplistic humanity=bad, nature=good.

We are shown a video of clips of humans blowing stuff up, but even the characters struggle to justify how a good solution to this is letting Titans blow stuff up instead. A character sprouts some film science about how the Titans give off friendly eco-radiation that can heal the Earth, but even after the initial mental acrobatics required to accept this, we don’t see the monsters bring anything but destruction.

Before the press screening began, some of the actors were interviewed. On being asked about his character, Charles Dance, who plays Alan, responded with something along the lines of ‘the less you know about him, the better’. This is very lucky, as throughout the film we learn practically nothing about him at all, aside from that he’s an eco-terrorist with a discount Thanos ‘destroy the world to save it’ mentality. The decision to cast the one British actor as the villain is also an unsatisfying trope. Dr. Ishirō Serizawa is another irritating cliché.

He sprouts vague fortune cookie sensei wisdom about harmony with the planet, as does Dr. Ilene Chen, who lectures the audience about how the West kills dragons whereas in the mystical East they’re elevated enough to appreciate their wisdom and majesty. If this has deeper meaning than just pandering to the massive Chinese audience it’s hard to see given the dragon in question is Ghidorah, a massive bloodthirsty hydra Titan responsible for countless casualties and the ultimate big bad of the movie.

Ghidorah conveniently travels around immersed in a storm cloud while Godzilla appears to have developed the ability to bring heavy rain wherever he goes. There are moments when through the rain, fire, blizzard and smoke you see a legitimately epic shot but, before you can appreciate its scale, the shaky camera cuts away to another explosion.

The scenes without Titans in them just feel like compulsory filler as we wait for the next battle. An overly large and mostly forgettable cast of characters stand around reading the lines required to progress the story to the next plot relevant point. There is a sub-plot following Dr. Emma Russel, Dr. Mark Russell and their daughter Madison (almost the only character in the movie, I think, not to have a doctorate) and their dysfunctional family, presumably in an attempt to ground the story in something more relatable, but it falls flat with more time spent on the camera lingering on old photographs of them happy together than in the family actually interacting in any meaningful way.

The plot armour surrounding the important characters quickly dissolves any actual tension. The plot becomes rather formulaic as some characters reach a location, every insignificant character dies while the non-redshirts all have miraculous escapes, then they progress to another location. When an important character does die, it is via heroic self-sacrifice. This becomes cliché even within the movie as it happens twice. The plot armour extends to Godzilla who as the franchise’s prize cash cow also brushes off everything thrown at him.

Another central issue with the film is that there was too much conflicting information to make it clear who to root for. While Serizawa is portrayed as morally righteous, Monarch is shown to be inefficient and on the brink of government shutdown. Meanwhile, the solution offered by the eco-terrorists is misguided at best and bafflingly illogical at worst. Mark is a borderline Gary Stu who always seems to disagree with the people around him but ultimately be proven right when his solutions work or warnings come true. However, his solution to the Titan problem is just to kill them all, which is completely out of beat with the coexistence the movie is selling us.

Without any Titans fighting, the film would just be people standing in rooms unconvincingly justifying how mass genocide is in any way a good solution, but the destruction the Titans create undermines the ‘nature=good’ message the film clings. The film keeps telling us how bad humans are and how the Titans are the Earth’s way of protecting itself, but it doesn’t do anything to actually show this aside from some ancient wall paintings showing humans worshipping Godzilla, which is apparently enough to convince the characters.

To reconcile this paradox, the film lazily offers up the explanation that Ghidorah is actually an alien, so not really part of nature and that’s why it’s ok to kill it, but then this discovery is never discussed again despite all its implications.

Overall, the film plays out like a $200 million version of a child bashing together their monster action figures. With the amount of money thrown at it, it easily pulls off the stunning visuals which just about hold it together, but don’t really distract from the fact that it’s lacking any sort of depth or heart.

Isabel Sanchez


Category: Films, Scifi

About the Author ()

Isabel is a student at university (UCL) and a long-time SFF fan.

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  1. Chuck says:

    every time I think they can’t make a worse Godzilla movie…BANG, here comes another Hollywood mashup

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