I think we were all a little bit surprised by how good Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was back in 2014. Although, that was nothing to do with Edwards. Of all the directors who could have got the job, he was definitely up there near the top of the list of most suited people. But it was the second time Hollywood had made a Godzilla film and, let’s be honest, the first time had gone about as bad as it could have. That’s the problem with Matthew Broderick. When he’s good, he’s good. But when he’s bad, it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life. I mean we’re lucky that film didn’t start a major international incident. But Edwards and co turned it around. They made a pretty decent film. It was sophisticated and not your usual blockbuster disaster movie. And it was exciting to hear that a sequel was in the pipelines with Edwards expected to return. Then, in 2016, Edwards left the project and we were left in some kind of limbo. Would it be able to live up to its predecessor without the director making a return? There was only one way to find out.
The major criticism of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla film was that there wasn’t enough of the titular character. Some people, myself included, thought this was an interesting approach and didn’t mind it. Most people were just in it for the monsters. Godzilla: King of the Monsters definitely took those complaints on board. It not only gives the King himself more air time but introduces some more classic creatures for him to battle. We see the first Hollywood appearance from Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. It seems very obvious that there has been a fairly dramatic change of pace. After all, to make room for the additional monsters, something else needed to go. Unfortunately, that was most of the good things.
The earlier film was so good because the human elements were so strong. This time? The film is stuffed with absolute nonsense that makes everything feel bloated. Doctors Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) lost a son during Godzilla’s last battle five years ago. To make sure nobody else had to suffer, the pair started working on the Orca. A classic Hollywood MacGuffin which, somehow, turns the ancient monsters (or Titans) docile. Emma manages to prove that the Orca is successful during a potential incident but, moments later, she and her daughter (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped. By Tywin Lannister of all people. Tywin and his team want to use the Orca in a way that would make Thanos proud.
This is a film stuffed with people and, for the most part, you know very little about them and have no reason to care. It attempts to bring some sort of emotional resonance thanks to the Russell family. Madison is caught between her separated parents and is being pulled in opposite directions. But there’s very little for anyone to really do. People are dispatched quickly because there are just too many people to deal with. For the most part, humans are just walking sources of exposition. The script is horrible and full of awful cliches. There are so many moments when the plot stops so somebody can tell everyone what is happening and what their motivations are. This film is so desperate to create some sort of Marvel-esque franchise that everyone is just trying to add to this grand movie lore. It’s messy, it’s boring, and it’s not how people talk. To say so much of this film is about humans, there is something very inhuman about it.
Which, I guess, wouldn’t be a problem is the monster on monster action was good enough. But it’s not. Yes, there is a lot of it but quantity does not mean quality. There is so much going on but the action is lost. It’s all shaky-cam, bad lighting, and dodgy editing. You can barely tell who is who. For the most part, it’s just one generic monster shaped thing vs another generic monster shaped thing. Anyone that thinks this is a fitting film to showcase these creatures clearly doesn’t respect their individuality. To say that a Godzilla film is silly is fairly redundant because, well, it’s a Godzilla film. But this time, the film isn’t in on the joke. It doesn’t embrace it or have fun with it. This film feels like Michael Bay and Zack fucking Snyder got their hands on the King of the Monsters. It’s dark, unsophisticated, messy, and long. Most frustratingly of all, and who can believe I’m saying this about a film full of huge monsters fighting, it’s boring. Really fucking boring.