Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
godzilla: king of the monsters | godzilla | michael dougherty | zach shields | kyle chandler | vera farmiga | millie bobby brown | action | adventure | fantasy | sci-fi | sci fi | giant monsters | mothra | king ghidorah | rodan | ken watanabe | ziyi zhang | sequel
Film: Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown
Now anyone who knows me and my film tastes knows that I loved Godzilla films growing up. I tended to watch the same ones over and over again, but I ended up seeking all of them out as an adult. I remember seeing the 1998 remake with my father and sister in the theater. I enjoyed the most recent remake and the talk of this universe they were building. When hearing about this film, I had to see it. I thankfully got to see it early as a surprise showing was happening at my theater and then a second viewing of it on DVD. The synopsis is the crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
This film starts off back in 2014. In San Francisco when Godzilla was on a rampage there. Since then, the organization Monarch has been seeking out the large monsters to keep track of and monitor them. Their goal to keep them from waking up, but the military is considering just exterminating them to prevent the loss of human life. I should point out here that it is an interesting nod to all of the names of monsters that have some kind of monarchy associated with them as well.
There is a family that is torn apart. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and his wife Dr. Emma (Vera Farmiga) lose their son in 2014 during the attack. This drives them apart with Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), their daughter, staying with her mother. The two of them are in China monitoring what turns out to be an egg containing the larva of Mothra. Things take a turn when some ecological terrorists attack, freeing Mothra and them taking Emma and Madison.
She has created a machine that can stop the monsters with a frequency, but it also can make them angry as well. They use this to free what they are calling Monster Zero, who turns out to be King Ghidorah. This draws Godzilla into battle, but the giant lizard cannot defeat him. The military gets involved and makes things much worse. The terrorist also wake up Rodan from his volcano in Mexico. King Ghidorah wakes up the rest of the known kaijus on the planet, altering the plan of this terrorist group. There is also a secret about the three headed dragon that Dr. Ilene Chen (Ziyi Zhang) thinks she has discovered.
Now I wanted to go a bit more vague than usual here. Most of what I recapped is literally within the first 15 minutes of the film. The rest is really at the end of the first act and this really is more about the visuals, than what is happening. That’s not to say that we don’t get an interesting story surrounding it, at least to me.
The first thing I really should talk about is I think a lot of people aren’t going to consider this a horror film. I personally don’t blame you. I do think that kaiju films are definitely horror adjacent for me. The thought of giant monsters destroying cities and killing all of the people that they do is pretty horrific. Now this film does have some pretty bleak moments, it is no where near as dark as the original Godzilla film was.
These films are quite interesting to me, as I think quite a bit of them are fun while they can also be cheesy. This one does have some cheesy lines by some of the characters, especially Dr. Rick Stanton (Bradley Whitford) and Chief Warrant Officer Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). I can really let that slide to be honest. What they really need to do is balance the giant monsters fighting and the humans’ story. I think this one does that well.
The human story is interesting in this as the reason the terrorist group is doing what they are doing is because humans are ruining the planet and as a race we are pretty much garbage. As bleak as stating this sounds, I am 100% in agreement with this. I really like that aspect, because there is a duality between trying to save us while we destroy the planet or allow natural progression to happen with the monsters doing what they are made to do.
Going along this story, I absolutely love the concept of incorporating mythology into the lore of these monsters. There are some really cool images that are used to associate with them that I was a big fan of. As a lover of mythology, this was definitely an aspect that really hit home for me.
This film does have some really good fights between the monsters as well. I personally love the realism of how all of these giant creatures look and that really made me happy to see. I will say here that it is definitely CGI heavy, which actually turned out to be just fine for me. It never took me out of it which was surprising. I think that the effects in this film are great to be honest.
As I kind of touched on a couple of paragraphs up, the balance of the kaijus and the humans is an interesting blend you need. I think that writer/director Michael Dougherty does an excellent job of that. Now I know him from Trick ‘r Treat which was a horror anthology and Krampus, where he had to balance different aspects for each film. I think that experience really shines through. Being this film was just over 2 hours, it didn’t feel like and I was on-board the whole way. I still think this is a bit long as there is a stretch late in the second act/beginning of the third that slows down. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though and I never actually got bored. The ending is even interesting alluding to the next film that is supposed to be coming. There are some things with the story though that is kind of plot-holes, but nothing to completely ruin the movie.
Acting for the film I thought was really good as well. There is such an interesting cast with Chandler, Farmiga and Brown as the broken family. They all did great. I was glad to see that they used Ken Watanabe, who is an amazing Japanese actor as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. I thought he was great too. Zhang, Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, Jackson and the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed as well. I could go on and on here, but I won’t.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack of the film. I saw that Bear McCreary did it I was excited. I first saw his name for The Walking Dead. What I really like about this film though, he incorporated music from the original film and other ones in the series while also doing his own thing as well. It really fit and definitely helped enhance the scenes.
Now with that said, I might be running off the high of the film, but I really did enjoy it. I liked how they incorporated a solid social message into this film while giving us what we really want. This was brought to life by great acting and writing for sure. There was a bit of cheesiness to it, but I come to expect that. I think the editing of the film keeps the balance, keeps it interesting and the ending was solid. It is CGI heavy, but it looked real. The soundtrack of the film was also helped to enhance the scenes as well. I would have liked to know more about some of the monsters that I didn’t recognize, but if these films keep having the success I think they will, they definitely could later delve a bit more into that. I would definitely recommend giving this film a viewing. I thought it was really good.
My Rating: 9 out of 10