Godzilla: King of the Monsters - 2019
Director(s): Norman Jewison
Writer(s): William Harrison (screenplay and novel)
Cinematography by: Douglas Slocombe
Editor(s): Antony Gibbs
Cast: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn and Ralph Richardson
I was a fan of 2014's Godzilla, the human drama was compelling, and it allowed director Gareth Edwards to play up the reveal of Godzilla (a la JAWS and Alien), saving the full reveal towards the later parts of the film. But the internet complained that there was not enough Godzilla, and the studio listened to the "fans" and this time around you get ALL the monsters and ALL the Zilla you can handle - so look for the biggest screen you can find, the biggest popcorn you can afford, and get ready for DUMB-fun-loud-epic fights (and nothing else). Let's talk about it.
The story follows - well there are two stories; one is clear and straight to the point, and that is Godzilla comes out again because of another Titan (the three-headed King Ghidorah) has arrived and is awakening all the sleeping Titans to destroy the world. Him and Ghidorah fight to determine who is the king. The second storyline is a bit of a mess, as it follows the humans around going from one location to another in either a plane, a submarine or a helicopter in hopes of helping/stopping/starting the Titans' fights.
I can see this film being divisive among the fans- not because it has a complexed idea or that it tried taking the monster genre in a whole new direction - it will be divisive because there will be a camp that does not care about structure and plot and only wants a monster bash. And others that want more with the monster bash. I fall somewhere in the middle as I can see both arguments - the human-plot is stupid in the sense that it cannot be more generic and filled with tropes, but I see them as the cracker that carries the cheese to my mouth. Sure, it is fantastic when said cracker is fancy and well crafted, but a saltine works as well, and here we get an off-brand saltine delivering the all-out monster war... cheese? (this got away from me).
Quick note: I could not stop laughing at the fact that one character called via video-conference to explain why they are doing what they are doing and had videos/graphs/photos to back up their motivation. This person called, in the middle of a monster destroying the planet, to give a power point presentation - who is the real monster?
Director Michael Dougherty (Krampus), and his CGI department do a fantastic job when it comes to the pre/post fight visuals. The way the Titans are framed is visually stunning as if ripped from the wet dreams of all the heavy metal fans. The use of color, scope, and the elements around them had me saying out loud; "wow." The fights are good, but the framing could've been better as we do get lost within the madness of it all - doesn't reach Transformers levels of hecticness, but it comes close (too close) to that line. The sound design/mixing is incredible, and the score by Bear McCreary elevate the visuals and had my heart pumping.
Quick note: I loved how the monsters looked - the design was a mix of traditional stop motion animation and the now standard CGI. It felt like a lovely tribute to the original movies, and it gave the monsters a personality.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is precisely what the trailers sell you, a full CGI, colorful, mess of monsters fighting each other - and some humans are walking around. The plot is cliché and trite. The dialogue jumps from super serious, to weirdly cheesy and back again. The motivations, and the character conflicts are irrelevant. But I went to the biggest, loudest movie theater I could find, and I had a blast watching this glorious mess of a monster film because I knew exactly what it was going to be. I do not fault anyone for disliking this film, I did not love it at all, but I can see a lot of people flat out enjoying it and maybe you are one of them - give it a matinee shot.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a Glass Half Full.
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