Saturday 1 June 2019

Film Review: Godzilla - King of the Monsters

All hail the king. Godzilla stomps back into cinemas this weekend, this time facing off against a horde of classic enemies in Michael Dougherty's sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

An icon of Japanese cinema for decades, Godzilla failed to make the translation to American cinema for years.

After Roland Emmerich tried and failed in the 90s, it fell to young upstart Gareth Edwards and Legendary Pictures to give Godzilla the Hollywood adaptation he deserved in 2014. Simply titled Godzilla, this moody disaster movie divided opinion; the deliberate pacing and shyness with its titular kaiju aggravated some audiences, while enthralling others. The follow-up, this time directed by horror filmmaker Michael Dougherty, will also polarise, albeit for the opposite reasons as its predecessor.

Set five years after the events of the first film, King of the Monsters sees the world reeling from the revelation that Godzilla and other 'Titans' are real. Monarch, the shadowy organisation who studies them, are being grilled by a US Senate committee, who demand answers surrounding Godzilla's arrival (and subsequent disappearance).

Meanwhile, Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is a Monarch scientist living and working at a remote operation in China's Yunnan rainforest. With her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) in tow, Dr Russell is researching an innovative new technology that would allow Monarch to control Titans, potentially preventing future devastation.

Naturally, Godzilla's appearance has inspired by bad people to do bad things – and British ecoterrorist Jonah Allen (Charles Dance, gleefully hamming it up as a villain once again) is looking to bring about a new world order by unleashing the full power of the Titans on the world, with three-headed winged serpent Ghidorah as their leader.

Rodan, Mothra, Ghidorah – the whole gang is here to share in the carnage.

King of the Monsters bounces around a lot, from China and Antarctica to Mexico and Boston. While the human cast of 2014's Godzilla were largely passive bystanders to the destruction unfolding around them, here they take a more active role in driving the narrative. There are several overlapping motivations and plots turning the wheels of the film, and while this does mean the human characters are given more to do, it also means the film itself is more convoluted.

Long-winded exposition wins out in its duel with emotional stakes, with the heart of the film – the family dynamic between Farmiga, Brown and Kyle Chandler, who plays their separated husband and father respectively – falling flat. Instead, most of the dialogue is preoccupied with lots of jargon that explains what has happened or is about to happen. Each action scene is bookended by a sequence in which characters stand around and talk about the next. The screenplay never strikes a balance between character and plot – it always skews towards exposition.

Supporting characters – such as the quippy lawyer Sam (Thomas Middleditch) or science guy Dr Stanton (Bradley Whitford) – exist solely as comic relief, which is both tiresome and pointless. No-one is paying to see Godzilla for the gags; just get to the monsters. The humour falls flat throughout, and could be excised completely – note to studios, not every film needs Marvel's patented brand of irreverence.

King of the Monsters might be lacking the brain department, but it's simply gorgeous to look at. A whirlwind of noise and fury, the fight scenes are swirling with rain, dust, fire and lightning. Dougherty paints stunning scenes of destruction – from Rodan sitting triumphantly atop a volcano spewing brimstone to Mothra emerging from behind a cascading waterfall.

The Verdict: 6.5/10

Astoundingly stupid but inarguably fun, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a brilliantly beautiful mess. With its action frequently undercut by cookie-cutter characters, stilted humour and convoluted plot machinations, King of the Monsters can't quite recapture the same sense of awe that the first film had.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is in cinemas across Australia now.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...