2014’s iteration of Godzilla had one big complaint, there wasn’t enough big kaiju monster action, or titans as they are referred to in the film. Well I don’t think anyone can have those complaints about the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This is far more in the vein of Kong: Skull Island, but with a lot more monsters to fight.
That said Godzilla takes a little while to get going, as we have to deal with a lot human machinations to get everyone in the position they need to be to begin the titan battling. Since Godzilla and the other titans came to life Monarch, the organisation who had been hiding the titan’s existence, have been keeping the numerous titans they’ve discovered across the world contained. The film opens when the site containing Mothra is attacked by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and his team of eco terrorists who kidnap Monarch scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Maddison (Millie Bobby Brown), before awakening the three headed dragon King Ghidorah.
Honestly the human interactions and the storyline are not the strongest part of Godzilla. The human characters aren’t as awful as those in say Michael Bay’s Transformers films, but they are the least interesting aspect of the film, as there isn’t a single standout character you’ll love by the end. Kyle Chandler plays the principle lead, as Emma’s estranged husband Mark who left Monarch after the incidents of the first Godzilla film, and he’s a watchable enough lead. The best aspects of his story is watching him, Ken Watanabe’s returning character, and the other Monarch personnel, dive into the lore behind the titans, but his family drama is far less engaging.
Thankfully once we get to Ghidorah’s awakening, which isn’t too long into the film, the big blockbuster action kicks in immediately. And boy is it spectacular. Yes this is going to be a CGI heavy film, and that seems to have inherently become a criticism, but it shouldn’t be because the monsters in the film are beautifully realised by the stunning visual effects. Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Mothra all have so much personality about them, and that is down the the brilliant work of the visual effects people as much as the motion capture actors. The secondary monsters, such as Rodan, all look incredible, particularly if you can see the film in IMAX.
And the action sequences between the monsters are great. All of the principle monsters that we see in the film: Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan all have wonderful, distinct, classic designs so they’re all clearly distinguishable and the action is clear. Director Michael Dougherty alongside the writers craft each of the big action sequences differently, so the big monster fighting never begins to feel repetitive.
But the true MVP of Godzilla: King of the Monsters has to be the cinematographer Lawrence Sher. This is a beautiful looking film. From the trailers many of us anticipated that this would be one of the biggest visual feasts for the eyes of the year, and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint. It is going to be hard for a film to top Godzilla for the best looking film of the year, even if the story and character wise it doesn’t quite come together. But as I’m sure many people were hoping that the film would be some beautifully shot, monster filled insanity, it absolutely delivers on that front.