‘Godzilla: King of Monsters’ review: let them fight

August 23, 2019

The most recent addition to Legendary Entertainment and Warner Brother’s Cinematic Monsterverse, “Godzilla: King of Monsters” is a perfect example of a movie that must be seen in theaters. However, the film does suffer from a truly outrageous plot and bad writing.

The main plot centers around Dr. Emma Russel and her daughter Madison, played by Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown, respectively, as they are taken from a research lab by an eco-terrorist group bent on awakening the Titans (i.e. other monsters like Godzilla), in order to re-establish the natural order of the world. At the same time, Mark Russel, played by Kyle Chandler, tries to rescue them and teams up with the monster research group “Monarch.” In addition to this already complex narrative following two interlocking storylines, there’s an unnecessary plot twist in the first half of the movie that further muddles the plotlines and creates more questions than it answers. 

Furthermore, some of the character motivations are at points unclear, and the dialogue can feel out of place. For example, O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays Officer Barnes, a soldier working for Monarch, who mainly serves as comic relief. At certain points, Barnes utters some choice comebacks and one-liners, however, these often occur at inopportune moments and take away from the gravity of being near a giant monster. That being said, Jackson does a good job of providing comic relief in an overly dark film.

The film’s biggest flaw is that it tries too hard to be meaningful and emotional when the audience really just came to see Godzilla fight King Ghidorah. This was also a problem in 2014’s “Godzilla.” In that case, most of the film was centered around the human characters and the titular monster was teased throughout but only appeared for one big fight scene at the end of the movie. While keeping an unknown creature unseen for suspense may work for some movies, in a film like “Godzilla” the audience wants to see Godzilla. In this regard, however, “Godzilla: King of Monsters” actually improves upon its predecessor despite the overly-convoluted plot. There is not just one but several intense and epic monster fight scenes, which are undeniably entertaining.

Although the film’s plot has some structural flaws, it serves mainly as a reason to have giant monsters fight each other, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. This film excels the most when Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan are on screen. The excellent CGI work and amazing effects are breathtaking to watch. In my case, I was fortunate enough to see it in an IMAX theater, with top-of-the-line sound and visuals. I can personally attest that I was on the edge of my seat every time I heard Godzilla roar. It was a fantastic movie to see in theaters with the huge screen and advanced sound system. 

But, after leaving the theater and thinking back on the movie, its flaws became more evident. If someone was to see the movie at home rather than in a theater, they would most likely have a very different, if not negative experience with the film. So much of the film’s entertainment value relies on conveying the epicness of its monsters and special effects. Viewing the film outside of a theater capable of emphasizing its strengths downgrades the film from an exhilarating thrill ride to a moderately entertaining monster movie. 
Overall, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is undeniably an entertaining movie that does the titular legendary Kaiju justice. Even its flawed writing and plot cannot overshadow its excellent fight scenes. Furthermore, several fantastic performances help sell this convoluted plot. In particular, Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is captivating, as well as Ken Watanabe, who reprises his role as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. Of course, the real stars of the film are the monsters and, for better or worse, their clashes are the highlight of the film. I would recommend “Godzilla: King of Monsters” to any longtime Godzilla fan and anyone looking for action packed entertainment that does not require a degree in film to enjoy. Unless you have a stellar home theater, however, the effect of the film might be somewhat diminished when shown on Blu-Ray or streaming services. Regardless of how you view the film, it is undeniably entertaining. So just sit back, and let them fight.

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