Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review - Cebu X-Geeks


Friday, June 7, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review

Directed by Michael Dougherty
Produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers, Mary Parent, Alex Garcia
Screenplay by Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Story by Max Borenstein, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
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

Since 2014, when the first entry in Legendary’s Monsterverse came out in the form of a rebooted, chunkier Godzilla with little screen time, my main gripe with these movies has always been how forgettable the human characters tend to be. Anybody remember who else besides Ken Watanabe (he of “Let them fight” fame) starred in that first movie? Try citing something endearing about one other character from Kong: Skull Island (2017) besides John C. Reilly staying stuck on some South Pacific island for decades, unaware that the Second World War had already ended. Try naming any of these characters without referring to the movies’ Wikipedia pages. (I couldn’t.)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters makes a sincere effort to rectify this issue. The human heart of this film rests on a broken family, the Russells, who were apparently living in San Francisco during the events of the first film. Dad Mark (Kyle Chandler) has left wife Emma (Vera Farmiga) and daughter Elev—I mean, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) so he can live out the rest of his life recording North American animal sounds during the day and retreat into his lakeside cabin at night (a cabin that looks oddly similar to the one Tony Stark retired to in Endgame). Emma and Madison, meanwhile, reside in China, at one of Monarch’s facilities (Seriously, we’re three movies in and we still don’t know a satisfactory lot about this organization), monitoring another one of these titans until eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) waltzes into their lives and (seemingly) takes them hostage. Upon hearing this news, returning characters Dr. Serizawa (Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), together with newcomer Sam Coleman (Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch), abruptly end a dimly lit senate inquiry and fly over to Mark’s cabin to ask him about this little science project he and Emma had been developing back when they were married, and which could potentially reawaken these monsters who’ve been lying dormant for thousands of years.

For a movie that sold itself on giant kaiju fights over wrecked landscapes, the conflict on the human end is for the most part pretty convincing. Mark, severely traumatized by the loss of his other child during the destruction of San Francisco, loathes the Monarch guys for their wanting to keep the titans—Godzilla, especially—alive for ecological reasons, and Emma goes on to trade barbs with Madison for disagreements re a poignantly delivered statement the former made in the film’s first trailer. The other characters, on the other hand, are there to provide muscle, exposition, or a mix of both, so no point in forcing yourself to get too attached to anyone else. Because the plot involves a lot of globe-trotting and balancing scenes between the humans and the titans, the narrative is spread too thin. Character developments are anywhere between rushed or negligible, and certain plot points that could have otherwise been better rendered are reduced to quick-cutting character banter delivered in a stifling, color-saturated interior.

Then again, who cares about the humans when you were promised cool kaiju clashes, right? Yes, this film definitely delivers on that front—just a few notches better than your average robot fight in one of those ten Michael Bay Transformers movies. Creature designs are also the best this burgeoning Hollywood franchise has offered so far, and one can only imagine how they’re gonna amp this up in the sequel due next year. Fair warning: Things will get a little too loud, especially for those with sensitive hearing. Hopefully all those roars, crumbles, clangors, and flashy lightning will be more than enough to conceal other narrative shortcomings I may have failed to point out here.

Score: 6/10

About the Reviewer

Charles SanCheese is an avid reader, student of literature, and pop-culture vulture. He works as a copy editor in Mandaue City and has lived in Cebu his whole life. 

He has authored several essays, short stories, and lengthier works of fiction, all of which can be found in the grand annals of his personal hard drive. Follow him on Twitter at @charlesancheese.

No comments:

Post a Comment