Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Review by Liam Kelly
The unique cinematography, stunning visual effects and its breath-taking set pieces make Godzilla: King of the Monsters stand out from the crowd in an over-saturated market of epic action-packed blockbuster sequels. As the third chapter in Warner and Legendary’s Monster Verse, a universe populated with the God-like creatures known as Titans, the film is connected to both Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
Going into the screening, my expectations were modest. I was ultimately let down by Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, and didn’t find it particularly memorable. Kong, however, was a blast; a stylish B-movie with laughs and scares to spare. I am glad to say that Godzilla: King of the Monsters continues in that vein, being one of the best representations of Godzilla put to film while still staying true to its eastern roots.
The film is as much about family as it is about the monsters. Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) joins a rescue mission with Monarch (basically the S.H.I.E.L.D. of the Monster Verse) after the kidnapping of his 14-year old daughter Madison and her mother Emma, who possesses the ability to communicate with the creatures through her creation, the Orca.
One of the main draws of the film is its stellar ensemble cast. Millie Bobby Brown in her first feature film delivers yet another incredible performance beyond her years, sharing great chemistry with Vera Farmiga. The supporting cast is rounded up by Charles Dance, as intimidating as ever as the primary human antagonist, Alan Jonah. Ken Watanabe is also a highlight, reprising his role as Dr Serizawa from the previous film along with Sally Hawkins’ Dr Graham.
The main criticisms directed towards the 2014 Godzilla, namely it’s lack of screen time for the titular kaiju, are addressed in the sequel; this film certainly delivers where the previous failed. While the first mainly focused on the human characters, King of the Monsters strikes the right balance between monster spectacle and human drama. Writer/director Michael Dougherty has said that he wanted to show the “God in Godzilla”, and succeeds in pulling this off, creating a sense of wonder and awe in the vein of the classic brachiosaurus scene in Jurassic Park.
A special mention goes to the visual effects team who help create a unique look for each of the Titans: Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah remain faithful to their past incarnations. The set-pieces are spectacular, a highlight being the face-off between Godzilla and Ghidorah in Boston. I can really appreciate the spectacle on display in the cinematography, especially with the clever use of light. There are some shots that are pure eye candy, such as when Mothra appears for the first time out of her larva form, glowing as she spreads out her wings. If I could find any fault with this film, it would be that I was occasionally left scratching my head with some the out of character decisions made in the film that serve to drive the plot forward; a pitfall common to too many blockbusters.
Following in the footsteps of other connected universes such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, King of the Monsters serves an important purpose in building anticipation for next March where Godzilla and Kong ultimately face-off in a titanic clash. A film like this could easily be bogged down when the burden of setting up future installments, but King of the Monsters is a good film in its own right; it indicates that there could be a bright future for the franchise. See this on the biggest screen possible.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now showing in theatres nationwide.