Film Review: Godzilla – King of the Monsters

Review by Frances Winston

Directed by: Michael Dougherty – Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe

Ostensibly a sequel to the 2014 offering, Godzilla, this is also the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise (and y’all thought Rocky had a lot of films!) Historically, these were very much B pictures, but since being taken over by Legendary, they have become huge-budget offerings that are part of their Monsterverse (which also includes King Kong, who is due to share a screen with Godzilla next year).

If you haven’t seen the 2014 movie – or don’t really remember much about it except for the marauding reptilian – don’t panic. There are plenty of references here to bring you up to speed.

Conveniently set five years after the events of the last film (see what they did there) this sees Godzilla forced to confront numerous other ‘Titans’- ancient beings like himself – who have all been awogoken. Godzilla’s ultimate nemesis, King Ghidorah, is determined to make humanity extinct, but Godzilla valiantly tackles him in order to save the planet, and take his place as King of the Monsters.

This isn’t claiming to be Shakespeare, so if you were hoping for a decent story or narrative, this is not the place to come. What it does promise is spectacular CGI, and some fantastic action-scenes, and it has these in spades. This literally is a battle of the Titans.

Unfortunately, outside of these fantastic looking set-pieces, the story really lets it down. It isn’t helped by the fact that we have already seen Godzilla in the previous movie, so there is no steady build to the reveal. And as he is the lead character there is a lot of monster-action, which actually gets quite tedious, as he doesn’t have enough ‘personality’ for you to really care about what happens.

The actors do their best. But much of the script leaves a lot to be desired. It gets very preachy about the environment and climate, and while these are important issues, you don’t go to the cinema to be lectured about them (unless you’re attending an Al Gore documentary screening). This is also hampered by how dark and wet it is – literally. It rains more or less throughout the movie, and that coupled with multiple night-time scenes leads to a mugginess that is quite distracting.

With far too many monsters for you to possibly care about, this overplays its hand somewhat, and although the final showdown is fun, the tedium to get to this point may well have turned many people off by then.

If you are a fan of monster movies and kaiju, then you will enjoy this. Younger viewers will probably enjoy the fantasy element somewhat. But most moviegoers will find this a bit too contrived and clichéd for their tastes.

It is proof that, without a good story, even the biggest budgets and most spectacular effects can’t save a movie.

In Cinemas Now! See trailer:

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