03rd Jun2019

‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters’ Review #2

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr, David Strathairn, CCH Pounder, Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah | Written by Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields | Directed by Michael Dougherty

godzilla-kom-poster

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the long-awaited sequel to Gareth Edwards 2014 Godzilla. This time around Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat) takes the directing reigns of a film that now stands as the third film in an announced universe of monsters after Jordan-Vogt Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island and Adam Wingard’s sequel to both films in Godzilla vs Kong (Yes this is all really happening) releasing in 2020.

The famous TOHO property has had somewhat of a strained relationship with fans on the western hemisphere. Roland Emmerich’s ill-fated attempt in the 1998 Godzilla failed to reinvigorate audiences love for such a character with an incredibly poorly designed monster, equally as unimpressive CGI, and mundane plotting led to a fourteen-year wait for any form of a resurgence. Edwards reinvigoration for the most part in 2014 was a success, even with slight backlash from fans regarding the handling of the titular monster and the poorly implemented character arcs. Food for thought as Warner Bros. have seemingly listened to all complaints and packed the monster roster to the maximum with an alleged seventeen monsters confirmed to appear in this gargantuan sequel.

Though Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is still a mixed bag. The screenplay for one, by the director himself and Zach Shields, does very little in creating not only a coherent experience but an immersive engaging one at that. The writing is all but slightly dire. Especially that of the intimate character moments that are interwoven throughout. Namely, the family dynamic between estranged husband and wife Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) together or with daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) of which is irrefutably fluffed. Obtuse unnatural expositional dialogue is thrown in to try and create a glimmer of a relatable organic relationship that you’re meant to find engaging, but what’s conveyed is a tragic artificial attempt at crafting depth in the most mundane and hollow manner. It all results in a shallow patronising creation to just get through on a whimper and not cross the line with their hands held high, and Instead of crafting a real and organic nuclear family we’re given a sloppy slosh equivalency.

The performances are equally as misguided. There is no real stand out performance here. Made the more surprising is that it has a competent and star-studded cast. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown is the intended centrepiece, but she’s given nothing more than angst teenage material that feels so derivative of any actor of her age performing a similar character. The resulting performance is ordinarily bland neither unique or intriguing but her talent gets her by, only just. Meanwhile Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) has the depth of the film riding on her shoulders and while she puts forth a decent enough performance, much like the majority of the cast, she has very little screen time or layers afforded to lay the groundwork in her characters specific choices and arc. Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins all show up for a nice pay check (I don’t blame them) with Dance and Hawkins having very little to do in the overall proceedings. Watanabe, however, has a rather nicely woven arc written here. Bringing his character to fulfilling and well-crafted full circle. Bradley Whitford is completely and utterly miscast in his role as Dr Rick Stanton. The comedic relief character is simply framed as a tension reliever and the resulting performance is flat joke after flat joke in all the wrong places. It verges on cringe-worthy material before long and the constant barrage of screen time he is given is ridiculous.

That being said, when Godzilla: King Of The Monsters wants to go mental it does so in a manic and extremely outlandish/entertaining fashion. The last thirty minutes are pure bliss for any fan of the franchise or action entertainment aficionados alike. It’s palpably atmospheric and brutally intense with an astonishing level of destruction on offer. The action itself is rather brilliantly choreographed and constructed with terrific cinematography by Lawrence Sher capturing eye-watering epic imagery of this world. If you do get the chance I’d strongly recommend seeing the scale and magnitude of the picture in 3D or 2D IMAX, preferably all combined, but just see it with the intention and mindset of that of being eleven years old again and you’ll walk away with a sizeable grin on your face.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is in cinemas now.

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