To watch in awe as creatures of nightmarish proportions brawl and battle over large cityscapes is something cinema goes across cultures have relished in for decades. Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reboot was a solid enough film. An admirable attempt to bring a darker more multifaceted story of the giant lizard to life. The biggest criticism of the film was the surprising lack of screen time for its titular monster. Godzilla wasn’t really in Godzilla. Therefore Michael Dougherty’s sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, has directly addressed the issue while also introducing an array of classic creatures of Toho lore. While the monsters are given the room to stomp and roar as much as they like, the human characters and every other aspect of this film are squashed underneath.
The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with giant moth Mothra, pterodactyl Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance. The trailers led one to believe this was going to be a monster movie with heart, action and reverence. This is not what we got. Instead the film is loud and ludicrous. Devoid of any form of heart or human emotion, stuff with cringing dialogue and weighed down by clunky exposition. The script consists of people standing around explaining the ever-increasing farcical plot.
The ensemble cast is led by Kyle Handler, Millie Bobby Brown and the always talented Vera Farmiga. While Farmiga tries in vain to bring humility to the wooden script, her lines are so ridiculous one gets the sense even Farmiga is embarrassed of the work. Brown, terrific in Stranger Things, sadly struggles within her performance.
There is a thematic device, Dues Ex Machina, translating to ‘god from the machine’, whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. The opposite of this common device is overused to the point of eyeroll in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Diabolus ex Machina (Demon from the Machine) where all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there’s some new problem that now needs to be solved. For whatever reason, Michael Dougherty felt that this makes for compelling viewing. It doesn’t, it makes for a headache.
References to Skull Island throughout are inevitably leading to next years duel with the March release of Godzilla vs Kong, an attempt to continue to grow this MonsterVerse that is frankly crushing under its own big footed weight.
Would rather watch Godzilla Vs. The Meg.
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