Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Spectacular action, weak story

ghidorah godzilla 2 king of monsters movie still

Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters (2019) – Movie Review

Video review :

Written review :

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the sequel to the 2014 Godzilla film and it is the third instalment in the MonsterVerse. It’s directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty who’s done some horror comedies such as Trick ‘r Treat (2007, 2010) and Krampus (2015). He’s also known for writing two of the X-Men movies (2003, 2016) and Superman Returns (2006).

The story takes place 5 years after the first film and not too long after Kong: Skull Island (2017) where 17 more of these gigantic monsters are discovered by this agency of scientists called Monarch led by Dr. Serizawa from the first film. The monsters are called Titans by the scientists here and most of them are kept in hibernation at different outposts.

The people, government and military are of course afraid to co-exist with Godzilla and all the other discovered Titans but Monarch believes some of these Titans are the rightful rulers and are here to protect planet Earth. Then comes a group of eco-terrorists who hijack a Monarch outpost and awaken King Ghidorah, the three-headed thunder dragon and ultimate rival to Godzilla, along with many of the other Titans.

One of the main complaints about the first instalment was that it’s too slow-paced and Godzilla does not appear enough in it. But a movie can’t do without proper story and character development. So this sequel tries to offer somewhat of a balance of both.

Godzilla and King Ghidorah do appear a lot and there are more than a couple of fight scenes between them. Not all of the 17 Titans are shown. Mothra and Rodan are quite involved but the other three or four more featured only make cameo appearances.

As a fan, it’s fun to watch the action of the Titans battling out, clashing hard, biting and killing one another. We get to see them fight in different types of locations as well. As much as I love practical effects and the old-skool rubber suits, the CGI and visuals here are spectacular. Some sequences are even shot in wide angle to show the humans running away or doing whatever while the Titans are fighting in the background.

The big monster Royal Rumble at the end is quite entertaining. The Titans fight in a city and causing destruction on the skyscrapers and whatnot. Godzilla is not invincible and does struggle a lot here but it could’ve been more dramatic we see him bleed or lose a fin or something. And the setting of the final battle felt quite similar to the first film’s. I would’ve preferred a battleground in broad daylight that’s not fully evacuated. Yes, I’d like to see normal everyday people screaming, running and getting crushed. To prolong the final battle, the film cuts to the human characters a lot in between the action but I never felt like I wanted to see what happens to them. Which brings me to the main issue I had with the film.

The performances by all the actors are faultless but the film fails to make me care about the human characters. The Brody family which the first film took a lot of time to develop is not in this sequel. Only Dr. Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, and a couple of the minor characters are back from the first movie. So this sequel has to rush to introduce and develop a new family by starting the film off like how Batman v Superman (2016) does.

Dr. Mark Russell, played by Kyle Chandler, hates all the Titans because his son was killed during the destruction at the end of the first film. His ex-wife Emma, played by Vera Farmiga, and daughter Madison, played by Millie Bobby Brown, are taken by the eco-terrorists and he must work with Monarch to save them. Basically, Mark is the saviour-hating Batman and Chris Pratt in Jurassic World. He’s just an animal behaviour and communication expert but he can do pretty much everything in this film (lol…).

The film tries hard to be thrilling by putting the family in the dangerous set pieces but never once was I engaged or cared about them AND it’s predictable. The eco-terrorist leader Alan Jonah, played by Charles Dance who’s most known for his role as Tywin Lannister in the Game of Thrones series, is even more underdeveloped.

I like the homages and nods the sequel has to the very first, original Japanese Godzilla film. Dr. Serizawa, who bears the same surname as the scientist in that 1954 film, is actually given more important stuff to do than in the first movie. Though his script and dialogues are very unintentionally funny. He’s so bias towards Godzilla, he mentions and asks about Godzilla in the whole movie as though he’s really Godzilla’s pet.

The script definitely could’ve been better. The movie has a lot of exposition to fill the 5-year gap between the first film and this one, which I’m okay with, but there are times that the characters are just stating the obvious or just being cheesy.

The original 1954 Godzilla film and 2016’s Shin Godzilla both explore themes of nuclear bombings and disasters. And in those films, Godzilla is the metaphor of those destructions. This sequel’s story, however, is more similar to Netflix’s recent three-part Godzilla anime feature (2017 – 2018) where it is pro-environment and sees some of the Titans as nature’s defensive system. Problem is that the film just blatantly calls it out with slideshows that the characters seem to have conveniently prepared, instead of conveying any of it through the experiences of the characters. The religious symbolism is very obvious as well. This version of Godzilla is basically like Jesus.

Anyway, despite the issues I had with this sequel, I think King of the Monsters is the Godzilla movie that both kaiju fans and general audiences can be happy with.

*Rating, post-credit and Malaysian censorship information are provided in the video review above. Please do watch it and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already. Thanks for your kind support!

Check out the SPOILER Talk here:

godzilla 2 king of monsters movie poster malaysia keyartBased on: Toho’s “Godzilla” films

Genre: Sci-fi kaiju action thriller
Running Time: 132 minutes
Director: Michael Dougherty
Screenwriters: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe

Malaysia Release Date: 30 May 2019
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: Legendary Pictures

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