Michael Dougherty (director)
2h 11mins (length)
30 May 2019 (released)
30 May 2019
Though generally positively received, one of the criticisms of Gareth Edwards's 2014 Godzilla movie was that it didn't feature enough of the titular monster.
But the same certainly cannot be said of the 2019 follow-up Godzilla: King of the Monsters, co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, with the plot almost entirely focusing on the beastly so-called Titans.
Set in the present day, the narrative kicks off with an introduction to the research of Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a paleobiologist employed by a corporation named Monarch, who has co-invented a machine known as the Orca which enables communication with the monsters on a sonar level so they can potentially co-exist with humans.
However, Emma and her 12-year-old daughter Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) are soon kidnapped by eco-terrorist Colonel Jonah Alan (Charles Dance), who has become disillusioned by humanity and is obsessed with getting his hands on the Orca as means of restoring the natural order of the globe.
A chain of events leads to the reawakening of the mighty Godzilla, as well as a series of other lesser recognised Kaiju creatures such as the moth-inspired Mothra, the dragon-like Rodan, and the three-headed King Ghidorah - Godzilla's ultimate nemesis.
Simultaneously, Emma's ex-husband Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), an animal behaviour specialist, is collected by members of Monarch and the G-Team, a special military forces group specialising in fending off battles with the Titans, as led by scientist Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and mythologist Dr. Ilene Chen (Zhang Ziyi), with the crew setting about to locate and save Emma and Madison, as well as make attempts to control or kill the monsters.
While the humans all formulate plans to tackle the issues at hand, Dougherty centres the action on the ensuing battles between Godzilla and the other creatures, with the plot zooming between jungles in China, volcanos in Mexico, ancient underground caves in Antarctica, and at Boston’s baseball grounds, Fenway Park.
The director attempts to delve into some important themes, like protecting the environment, nuclear warfare, and natural disasters, but touches very briefly on each idea, with such concepts minimised by lengthy "bash and crash" sequences between Godzilla and his enemies which are evocative of Michael Bay's Transformers franchise flicks.
Yes, the CGI effects are well executed, but some moments feel rather rushed and overcomplicated, and the dimly lit night scenes become tedious.
Lead stars Vera and Kyle commit to their characters, though at times it's obvious that they don't quite buy into all the tech speak, while Millie delivers as a plucky teen who is forced to stand between her divorced parents and make serious decisions in the face of an apocalyptic scenario.
And while Japanese star Ken offers an earnest performance, much of the supporting cast has little or nothing to do, with Charles, Sally Hawkins, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. on screen for mere minutes, and the likes of Bradley Whitford and Thomas Middleditch underused as means of comic relief.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters may play a big game in tackling the mother of all beasts, but at the end of the day, this flick is simply 132 minutes of fighting and not a lot of fun.