Godzilla: King of the Monsters may feature more of the titular anti-hero but the sequel’s script could have been stronger.
With Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen unable to return due to scheduling conficts, a new family takes over. Monarch scientists Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) split up as a result of the San Francisco incident. However, the 2014 incident inspired Emma to revisit the bio-sonar prototype that they previously destroyed. Emma’s plan is to find a frequency to where humans are in control of the monsters. Things go haywire when eco-terrorist and former British army colonel Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) takes Emma and daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) hostage. Leave it to Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) to get Mark back in the picture. You can tell that Mark doesn’t want to be there but finding his family takes priority.
The Titans start waking up thanks to a Thanos-esque hope in restoring the balance. Monarch did a really good job at hiding them from the world but HOW DID THEY KEEP THEM HIDDEN FOR SO LONG?!? At first, the humans are in control but disaster strikes when King Ghidorah makes known that he’s the alpha. The only one who can really save the day here is Godzilla. Helping our favorite anti-hero is Mothra while Rodan is no ally whatsoever. The trio were teased in cave drawings during the Kong: Skull Island credits. It’s great to see these creatures roaming the screen with some updates for the 21st century. With the addition of the trio and then some, it gives the filmmakers a reason to utilize Godzilla even more. In 2014, we barely even saw the guy. For all of those who complained, the filmmakers have rectified the situation.
The film does have a lot to say when it comes to our planet’s environment. Environments have a way of rebuilding after the Titans and life also follows. Is it possible for humans to co-exist with the Titans? Or is it next to impossible? It really depends on who you choose to believe here. One thing for sure is that the metaphors are stronger in this film. After all, the Godzilla films tend to be about what happens when nature fights back against humanity. There’s a lot more to be said here but then you get into spoiler territory.
But the film’s main problem comes in cutting to the humans just when the action begins to get good. There needs to be a better way of blending the two together. I come to these films for the fights and not to see scientists going on rants about the environment. It’s important to remember that Godzilla’s origin comes from testing nuclear weapons. The film certainly makes note of this and then some. To say that the film doesn’t disappoint in this aspect would not be an understatement. Again, there’s not much I can say that’s positive but I will take the good where I can.
Other positives are learning more about the Monarch operation. Godzilla offered a little taste of this while Kong: Skull Island really expanded on it. The third Monsterverse film really dives into the ins and out of Monarch. I just wish the files would stay on the screen long enough for me to read them! Meanwhile, Monarch scientist Dr. Houston Brooks (Joe Morton) returns in a blink-and-miss it cameo. Morton replaces Corey Hawkins as it’s been 47 years since the 1973-set film. It’s a fun way to tie in Godzilla with Kong: Skull Island outside of Monarch itself. The other tie-in comes during the end credits, setting up Godzilla vs. Kong. The latter of which is due out next year.
Among the things I didn’t want to see happen: a storyline that literally draws itself from Armageddon. The whole someone-must-stay-behind-and-die plot point. Never in a million years did I think a Michael Bay film would influence a studio tentpole but here we are! With one character already ripping of Thanos in hoping to restore the balance, I suppose anything is possible.
While the visual effects are impressive, Godzilla: King of the Monsters doesn’t work as well as one would have hoped.
DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty
SCREENWRITERS: Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
CAST: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, with Ken Watanabe and Ziyi Zhang