The third film in Legendary Pictures’ Monarch Cinematic Universe (after Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla and Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island), Godzilla: King of the Monsters course-corrects the lack of the titular beast in the first movie but also expands on the elements that weren’t so popular. There’s a glut of unnecessary, dull, dumb, human characters and while the monster fights are frequent, they often look murky and lack visual dynamism.
Unfortunately, this movie misses the gorgeous cinematography of Guillermo Navarro, who conjured the awesome aesthetic of Pacific Rim or Larry Fong’s striking visual palette in Kong: Skull Island. Watching both Godzilla’s I’m left wondering if we’ll ever see the king titan clash under clear skies. The excitement of seeing this beastly royalty on screen is dampened by the restrictive storm of dusty, smoky, greys and browns. It’s a visual dirge that made me ache for the breath-taking HALO jump from the 2014 movie or practically any monster shot from Skull Island (honestly… check my earlier review. I took a lot of flak for unashamedly loving that movie).
Seeing the sheer number of iconic beasts and the loving fan-service, liberally slathered on screen should have been a joyous thing but sadly, they’re competing for screen-time with a phalanx of hollow, grating human characters. It’s bad enough director Michael Dougherty squanders the scenery-chewing Charles Dance, we also have to endure the human slice of dry white, crustless bread that is Kyle Chandler.
Vera Farmiga’s character motivations are astoundingly stupid and cliched, Bradley Whitford delivers naff quips, Zhang Ziyi espouses vaguely Asian mysticism and Ken Watanabe returns to intone super-seriously. Millie Bobby Brown gets a little more to do than most but the family dynamic between her character, Chandler and Farmiga’s is ill-defined and has no satisfactory resolution. Oh… and there’s an utterly wasted Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, avid Stathairn, Joe Morton, Anthony Ramos and O’Shea Jackson Jr. to name a few.
There’s simply too many human characters that whenever we lose sight of the titans the movie becomes a trudge. In that regard, Godzilla: King of the Monsters suffers from the same issue the Transformers movies had, where the spend way too much time with an inordinate number of unlikeable characters, delivering terrible dialogue and doing idiotic things. What could have been a lean, mean clash of creatures ends up a monotonous meander between muddy-looking, incomprehensible battles.
That aside, the Bear McCreary score is aces and there’s a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments that helped me through this overstuffed, undercooked pretender to the crown. If you’re a fan of the 2014 movie you may enjoy King of the Monsters at face-value. There are plenty of call-backs to the rich history of Godzilla and the promise of more gargantuan tussles in future but as a casual fan I was bored. Here’s hoping Adam Wingard can right the ship with next year’s beastly battle royale!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is unleashed in cinemas this week.
Godzilla Vs King Kong hits cinemas March 2020.
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