STILL THE KING
Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Review by Ray Schillaci
Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If Japanese monster movies do not warm the cockles of your heart, then Godzilla: King of the Monsters is not for you. The proof: 39% RT score from critics while audiences are lapping this one up with an 86%, and that’s the 86% that get joy out of monsters duking it out while tearing cities apart.
Aside from great monsters, brutal fights, and enough devastation for a dozen Irwin Allen flicks, this film may end up being a camp classic. That’s what the critics and some wives and girlfriends do not get. Godzilla is kind of like a rite of passage for many guys and some women.
Like The Three Stooges, you either love them or can do without, what some may consider brainless behavior. But, the love of The Stooges or monster movies is by no means brainless. It’s a profound primal joy to be experienced by those that love that nostalgic feeling, the one that reminds us of our childhood days as Stranger Things does so well. And, Godzilla: King of the Monsters does not disappoint the fans. At my screening, the audience was laughing, gasping, cheering, and applauding at all the right moments.
The story takes off years after Godzilla and the other monsters laid waste to San Francisco. The Monarch Corporation now tracks down “Titans.” Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is a scientist who’s developed a sonic device that in theory could control the behavior of the monsters. She’s accompanied by her daughter Madison, played by Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown, when they witness the birth of a giant larva, soon to be dubbed “Mothra.”
At this point, we’re asked to suspend belief, because who in their right mind would take their kid miles underground in a black site-like facility to watch the birth of a monster. This is the moment when we get a wink, wink from director Michael Dougherty and his writing team. And, if you’re familiar with Dougherty’s previous work (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus), you know he’s the man to go into overdrive and have these monsters get ready to rumble. After all, this man knows how to assemble a sound engineering team that will have Godzilla’s roar sending chills down your spine.
Are the human actors secondary to this monster brawl? Absolutely. Although, Ken Watanabe returns as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, bringing breadth to the plight of humanity and perhaps Godzilla himself. The only other actor standing a chance against the monsters is Millie Bobby Brown, who has held her own before with stranger things (yes, a play on words – couldn’t help myself). Brown is a joy to watch and keeps our interest the whole time even while dodging some of the most ridiculous catastrophes. The rest of the cast is serviceable. But, fans of GOT will get their Tywin Lannister fix with Charles Dance once again playing one despicably evil SOB.
But, what it all comes down to is the monsters. Of course, all does not go well with Dr. Russell’s sonic experiment as she, her daughter and the device fall into the wrong hands, Tywin Lannister – oops – I meant Jonah Allen (Charles Dance). Monsters are eventually released to call upon a new age for man. But, first we must have Armageddon. The monsters eventually are called upon not by Russell’s sonic machine, but by an alpha monster, “King Ghidorah,” the three headed dragon. This king intends to set off the decimation of man, and his only challenger is…GODZILLA. By the end of it all we get a hint of the biggest challenge of all…Godzilla vs King Kong!
That’s basically the movie you will be paying to see. The one predominantly for kids and guys who have not shaken their Peter Pan syndrome. All joking aside, this is one of the best monster movies since Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013). Del Toro’s film does have a better story, but the monsters in Dougherty’s new Godzilla movie are far more spectacular. Seeing Dougherty’s film on the big screen with the bombastic sound is like riding a thrill ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The only difference…the admission is less expensive and just as thrilling.
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Run Time: 131 Minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures/Legendary Entertainment