Film reviews

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Review

After the success of 2014’s Godzilla, America’s reimagining of the Toho Studios Kaiju monster movie, it was clear that a sequel would be made. What wasn’t clear, however, was how long it would take to be made and released. After the 2014 film’s release, Toho Studios also decided to reboot Godzilla (leading to Shin Godzilla), and this caused a delay in production. Years went by without much news, and doubts were cast as to whether America’s version of the creature would ever resurface. But five years later, Godzilla resurfaced along with some other franchise favourites.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the sequel to the 2014 American film, this time directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r’ Treat, Krampus). Starring Kyle Chandler (Super 8), Millie Bobbie Brown (Stranger Things) and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the ultimate Kaiju showdown, featuring Mothra, Rodan, Godzilla, and the almighty King Ghidorah! For Kaiju fans, this was personally a highly anticipated film. However, expectation and reality can sometimes be two different things entirely.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is visually impressive, and serves as amazing eye candy for fans of the Godzilla franchise. To see how far the franchise has come since its introduction in 1954 is astonishing, and the other Kaiju monsters (Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah) have never looked this good. While each Kaiju did not get an equal amount of time on screen, the amount of time they did each receive was necessary to the plot. Ghidorah and Godzilla are the stand outs here, and it was definitely worth the wait to see them clash. The battle scenes are fantastically choreographed; they immediately demonstrate that this is something epic. The fighting looks brutal, but also animalistic; while they are monsters, they are also animals. Some of the shots in the final battle scene are a little difficult to follow, but this is a minor criticism in the grand scheme of things. An improvement in this sequel is the lighting: the shots are lit a lot better, and everything is visible now, compared to 2014’s Godzilla, where most of the film was too dark to see anything. This may sound like a minor criticism, but it was an aspect that really let the whole film down, and the crew have clearly listened to criticism concerning the last film and acted on it.

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In addition to the Kaijus, there are a cast of human characters. Kyle Chandler plays Mark Russell, a father who lost his son during the events of the 2014 film. He’s a fantastic actor, and his character is implied to be an important part of the plot. Unfortunately he does get pushed into the background very quickly once his purpose is fulfilled, and is ultimately forgotten about. He does a great job with the small amount of screen time given to him. Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobbie Brown play mother and daughter Emma and Madison Russell, and their onscreen chemistry immediately made this relationship believable. It was great to see Millie Bobbie Brown in this, and she fit in perfectly with the role she was given. Vera Farmiga is another stand out. Her acting experience in horror films translates well here, and it is clear that she is comfortable with this genre. It’s a shame that the film falls apart a little once her confusing motivation is revealed, but the second half definitely redeems itself, so overall this is something that can be pushed aside.

While Godzilla: King of the Monsters is enjoyable, it is flawed. The pacing is extremely uneven in the first half. Some sequences are unnecessarily short, while others need more time on screen. However once the destruction starts to play out, the film seems to relax, almost as if it is within an ‘action genre’ comfort zone of sorts. On top of this, the overall running time is too long for the premise. Some scenes appear to be there just to extend the length of the film, and could have been left on the cutting room floor.

Despite the impressive visuals and effects, the running time is Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ biggest issue. However, there is enjoyment to be had here. Moviegoers should see it on the biggest screen possible and just enjoy it for what it is: an epic monster movie!

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