GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS: 2 ½ STARS. “Go, go, Godzilla (yeah).”
If Blue Öyster Cult were to write the hit song “Godzilla” today they’d have to change the lyrics. In 1977 they sang, “Oh, no, there goes Tokyo.” Today the prehistoric sea monster has expanded his worldview beyond Asia and is now concerned with the entire planet.
The action in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” begins when paleo-biologist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped by terrorists. What would these bad people want with this Emma and Madison? Turns out Emma belongs to the crypto-zoological agency Monarch, a scientific watchdog group who study the Titans, creatures long believed to be myths. Along with her ex-husband Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) Emma invented “the Orca,” a device that allows communication with these mysterious beasts. More importantly, for the bad guys at least, it can also “control them using their bioacoustics on a sonar level.”
As reluctant hero Mark teams with Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) to save Emma and Madison from the kidnappers the Titans, Mothra, Rodan, the three-headed King Ghidorah and others, rise, threatening to destroy the earth. It’s the ultimate clash of the Titans as Godzilla (who now appears to have a beer belly) stomps in to level the playing field. Cue the Blue Öyster Cult: “Go, go, Godzilla (yeah).”
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a remarkable achievement. It’s one of the most incomprehensible movies in the “Godzilla” franchise and that is really saying something. This story of restoring harmony to the world by releasing these angry monsters is pure codswallop and remember, this is the series that once devoted an entire movie to the king of the monsters teaching his dim-witted son how to how to control his atomic breath.
I’ll start with the script, and I only call it that because it contains words and was presumably written by people and not some kind of Kaiju-Auto-Cliché generating device. Ripe with pop psychology (“Moments of crisis can become moments of faith.” #Deep), horrible dialogue (“We’ve opened Pandora’s Box and there is no closing it!” #howmanytimeshaveweheardthat?) and several big emotional moments you won’t care about because the characters are walking, talking b-movie stereotypes, the movie is as clumsy as the script is dumb.
But you don’t go to a Godzilla movie for the human content; you go to see Titans battling it out and on that score “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” delivers. Unlike the 2014 Gareth Edwards reboot the new film wastes no time in introducing the radioactive monsters. We then sit through a bunch of pseudo-scientific pontification until the main event, the cage match between G-zil and his three-headed foe. In those moments the film improves, mostly because these characters don’t spout endless exposition about saving the world. They simply fight. It’s WrestleMania with fire-breathers and when they’re wreaking havoc it’s a good, fist-pumping time.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is in 3D—Death, Destruction and Decibels—and has a certain kind of cheesy appeal. Watching the cast of good international actors try and play it straight as they muddle through the nonsense leading up to the climax is fun for a short time but next time I hope we get more actual monsters and less monstrous scripting.