Godzilla: King Of Monsters left me dumbfounded. How can someone at the helm of such an iconic franchise believe that a film about mythical titans who once roamed the earth to keep our planet in check feel that this film need to be driven by its narrative? Here we are one day until the film opens and that’s what audiences are going to be treated to. When Godzilla is found in only a quarter of a film which bears its name, then that’s a significant issue. Now don’t get me wrong, when we do see the king of all monsters, it’s a sight to behold, and the other Titans are a spectacle the likes we haven’t seen grace our screen. It was just frustrating as an audience member having to decipher a clunky storyline (and that’s putting it mildly) when we should have seen a build up to these monsters clashing.
So where did Godzilla: King Of Monsters fall flat? Writer/Director Michael Dougherty (best known for his work on Krampus) with the help of writer Zach Shields constructed a storyline around Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and Mark Russell’s (Kyle Chandler) estranged marriage. It seems that the death of their son following Godzilla’s initial appearance five years ago, lead to them going their separate ways. Not even their work with Monarch (the organization tasked with tracking these cryptids) was enough to keep them together. They still have a daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) is becoming increasingly concerned about her mothers mental well being. Dr. Russell is seemingly having a hard time coming to terms with her son’s death and attributes it to a lack of balance in the world. She sees the only way to make things right, is to restore the natural order by releasing the seventeen Titans they’ve now discovered (what could wrong). Now, if you are worried like any rational human being would about releasing creatures which could level cities, our grieving doctor has developed a device (the orca) which seemingly can control these beasts. However, she decides that releasing these beasts will require some manpower. So does she reach out to her estranged husband? No, she makes the rational decision (eye-roll) and enlists the help of eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance from Game Of Thrones) to help. Madison starts to realize that her mother has morphed into something truly horrid.
When the film focuses less on the melodrama concerning the Russell’s and more on the mythology of these creatures and even the acts being committed by this eco-terrorist, the narrative is fine. When we pivot towards the good doctor, daughter, and her ex-husband, the momentum in the film comes to a screeching halt. Just that additional twist to the storyline causes Godzilla: King Of Monsters to drag at certain points. Why not make the good doctor and her daughter innocent bystanders who caught in some terrorists twisted plot? Visually, the movie is outstanding. Just the selection of colors during each sequence adds to the spectacle of seeing each of these monsters. Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah all come off as stunning in their respective battles that it was as if they ripped it from our collective imagination and made it a reality. Bear McCreary’s score hit the perfect notes accentuating the majesty of these creatures on top of the fear they could instill on the populous.
Overall, Godzilla: King Of Monsters is a visually stunning disappointment which got in its way. I wouldn’t fault anyone paying to see it this weekend ( I fully expect it to be the #1 movie in America) but this is the sort of film which will fade fast once the word gets out about it.