Before heading into Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I saw a lot of wildly mixed reviews online. People were either hating it or loving it, with nobody really feeling anything in-between. Even those cinema goers who were fully prepared for nothing more than a bunch of big monsters fighting alongside insignificant human bystanders were coming away from it fuming. Well, I’m happy to say that I’m putting myself firmly in the ‘loved it’ category, although I do understand and appreciate a lot of the issues that the haters have with it.
Since his appearance in the 2014 movie, and his involvement in the destruction of San Francisco, Godzilla has been keeping a fairly low profile beneath the ocean. He is now closely monitored by monster organisation Monarch, who were introduced to us previously, most notably in the movie Kong: Skull Island. They have a number of outposts dotted around the globe, where they are also tracking various other ‘titans’, most of which are lying dormant. Monarch is currently involved in a conflict with the military, who would rather see the titans wiped out than try and co-exist with them in the way our ancestors did.
In a Chinese outpost, we meet Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), who is working on a device called ORCA, something which will hopefully allow us to communicate with and control the titans. She’s there with daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) as they test out ORCA on newly hatched titan larva Mothra. Emma’s estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler), who helped develop the ORCA device with her, is currently leading a much simpler life, photographing wolves out in the wild having completely distanced himself from Monarch and the titans.
Things start to go wrong though when eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) kidnaps Emma and Madison, along with the ORCA device. He wants to use ORCA to wake up the remaining titans and there’s a lot of talk about cleansing the earth, restoring balance etc, something which continues to be the motivational theme throughout the movie.
Jonah and his team, with help from Emma, break free a three-headed monster called Ghidorah from within the Antarctic ice, and that’s when things really kick off. Ghidorah assumes the position of King of the Monsters and he and the other titans begin wreaking havoc on planet Earth. When word reaches Mark that his wife and daughter are in danger, not to mention the rest of the world, he returns to work with Monarch. Meanwhile, Godzilla has resurfaced and is en route to Ghidorah, looking for a fight. At the same time Mothra takes herself off to a waterfall, cocooning herself so that she can gloriously emerge a bit later on in the movie.
Godzilla takes a bit of a pounding from Ghidorah, sustaining some serious damage and leaving the fate of the world in jeopardy. But, the fact that the title of this movie declares Godzilla to be the King of Monsters, along with the promotional material for next years Godzilla Vs Kong movie that has begun emerging online, should give you a pretty good idea as to whether or not he makes a comeback.
Unfortunately, a lot of the action takes place in murky, rainy darkness, which is disappointing considering all of the marketing artwork that depicts the monsters and their battles in bright, vibrant colour. At times, far too many quick cuts make things difficult to follow – zipping between the action, the destruction and the humans that are in danger because of it. Cutting to the human cast does help to give us a sense of scale and panic but, at this point, they’ve all just become a little irrelevant. A lot of time is spent early on in the movie, introducing us to a lot of characters, with even more to come later on, but the majority of them just have very little to do or be concerned about when the monster fighting begins.
On the flip-side to all of that though, there are more than enough occasions where we find a downtrodden and seriously pissed off Godzilla handing out a satisfying series of beatings to the pretenders to his throne. I became fully invested in the huge scale of it all and what was at stake for the world. Overall I just found the whole thing really enjoyable.