Director Michael Dougherty leads the third film in the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse franchise, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. Once again partnering with Japanese movie studio Toho, this one ramps up the kaiju action even more. It is dedicated to executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno and original Godzilla suit performer Haruo Nakajima who both died in 2017. Some minor spoilers ahead.
Five years after the events of the first film, a paleobiologist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is still reeling from the death of her son when Godzilla fought the MOTU in San Francisco. She and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) discover another kaiju (now called titans) the female Mothra. However, after the beast awakens, the lab is attacked by eco-terrorists led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and they steal a device called the ORCA, which communicates to the titans with sound.
Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Ilene Chen (Zhang Ziyi) contacts Emma’s husband Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) with the hopes he can trace the signals from the ORCA to save Emma and stop Jonah. However, it appears that Emma is working with Jonah to awaken the titans and restart humanity on Earth. However, when they unleash the powerful and alien Monster Zero, also known as Ghidorah, she soon realizes that Godzilla now has a challenger as the alpha of the superspecies.
This movie is a perfect example of the divide between critic and audience. While critics have panned the film, audiences seem to have enjoyed every minute of the Godzilla action. On the movie rating aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a “rotten” ranking from critics based on two-hundred-fifty reviews. Meanwhile, the audience rating is 83% positive based on over twenty-five thousand reviews from viewers. Not even RT’s rigging of their system could prevent that kind of split.
It is clear why critics do not like it. The film does not have any deep dives into Aristotelian philosophy or make any observations about the culture. While it does discuss the battle between beast and man while giving a few lectures on the environment, instead it is more about the basics. Monsters fighting monsters who want dominance. Ghidorah, the alien who sought to conquer the Earth, is battling its guardian Godzilla. It a simple message of protecting your home and those you care about.
This sequel is more like an old Toho film with better special effects, better acting, and a better score. It is a modern monster film that uses themes and similar story-arc to those original Godzilla movies. With that in mind, the critics just did not understand it. They were scratching their head at the formula which appeals to audiences who remember those old Godzilla movies but not the critics.
Now, the movie did have its faults. Some of the plot was a bit over the top. For instance, in an effort to find Godzilla to help fight Ghidorah, they have to dive deep into the earth’s surface, revealing the lost city of Atlantis which is littered with cave drawings of the titans. It was very convenient. Similar to its predecessor, it plays fast and loose with nuclear physics.
As for the special effects, they are next level. The first film already had amazing designs, but this one builds on that and makes them even more amazing. The sequences were outright stunning, especially the monster battles. Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, and the original creatures made for the film are well-designed right along with the king himself.
Likewise, the performances are well done. Every actor and actress put their best foot forward, driving the plot forward with ease and a pace that makes sense for a monster film.
Bottom line, do not listen to the critics. They were wrong. This is a good film that, while it has its faults, uses modern cinema techniques to tell an old story of monsters battling for dominance. It is fun, enjoyable, and leaves you saying, “Whoa, that was cool.”
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Foul language, monster action, violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: Long live the king.
Check out the trailer below:
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