Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Directed by Michael Dougherty.

2019. Rated PG-13, 132 minutes.
Vera Farmiga
Kyle Chandler
Millie Bobby Brown
Sally Hawkins
Bradley Whitford
Charles Dance
Thomas Middleditch
Ken Watanabe
David Strathairn
Zhang Ziyi
Aisha Hinds

If this movie taught me anything it’s that I hand out second chances too freely. When I watch a movie I hate there’s still a fifty-fifty chance I’ll see the sequel just because it’s a movie. However, there’s no way in hell I’m going to shell out hard-earned cash to see it in theaters. Back in 2014, the world was going crazy over the latest version of Godzilla. I thought it sucked. There were a number of reasons why. The biggest one was that there was almost no Godzilla in my Godzilla. I got a bunch excruciatingly boring human beings, save for Bryan Cranston, who was great. Then a few things happened. First, I heard they were using that movie as a foundation for a Monster Universe…er…MonsterVerse (everybody wants to be Marvel these days). Next, I fell in love with the second movie of this propose franchise, Kong: Skull Island. Third, I found out we were working our way towards a showdown between Kong and Godzilla. I own the original King Kong vs. Godzilla on blu ray and have seen it many times, so I became genuinely excited. I also knew I had get through King of the Monsters first. When I saw the trailer for it, I felt better about it because it promised me much monster mayhem. So there I was, in the theater for a sequel to a movie I thought I was terrible, with fingers and toes crossed. With all that swimming through my mind, I set my expectations accordingly low. I went in only hoping for a big, dumb monster flick. Therefore, I was ready to let slide all the Jurassic World styled idiocy they could possibly throw at me. And this movie gets to slinging it right away.

Five years after the events of the first movie the world is still picking up the pieces. An organization calling themselves Monarch has sprung up to keep tabs on Godzilla’s whereabouts because that makes sense. Emma (Farmiga) works for this group and has developed ORCA, a kaiju whistle of sorts. Whenever a monster hears it, they instantly calm down, or get riled up, depending on the signal. What the movie really cares about is that Emma has her tween daughter Madison (Brown) with her. The other human the movie cares about is Emma’s ex and Madison’s dad Mark (Chandler), who is in the same line of work, sorta. He’s still grieving the loss of his and Emma’s son who was killed during all the ruckus at the very end of the first film. He repeatedly tells us and anyone else who will listen that he hates Godzilla and wants him dead, but never really acts like it. Anyhoo, you’re here about monsters, right? Soon enough, we get to witness the birth of the kaiju known as Mothra. However, the real issue is that a giant three-headed monster named Ghidorah shows up and starts destroying shit. Every human with screen-time agrees that the only way to solve this problem is by waking up Godzilla. And away we go.

Everything above is a perfectly fine set up for what I want – monster fights. The only other thing I need is what the aforementioned Jurassic movies give me – supposedly intelligent people doing really stupid things just so we can maximize the amount of action. This movie gives me that in spades. I mean, in an effort to save the planet, and remember that phrase, they nuke the planet more than once. The best part? Nothing, so far as we can tell, is the least bit affected except Godzilla. It hits him like a zillion gallons of steroids. All of that is right out of the dumb-as-hell-dinosaur-movie and I’m totally here for it. I should be forcing fistfuls of popcorn through my grin and reaching peak giddiness before falling into an artificial butter induced coma. Instead, I hate every damn frame of this movie.

Before you hit me with, “You’re just another snobby movie blogger thumbing his nose at fun movies,” shut your trap! You obviously haven’t been paying close enough attention. I went in expecting exactly what this movie gives me. What gives?

I. Can’t. See. ANYTHING!

Imagine that you’re driving at night in the middle of a raging thunderstorm down a road with no streetlights. Somehow, it’s also foggy. If something or someone else dares to cross they’ll just get hit because you won’t see it until it’s right in front of you. Thunderclaps are frighteningly loud. Lightning flashes every so often. When it does, you can make out the shapes of trees and houses in the distance, but not any of their details. That’s what watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters is like. Normally, I would have shared a couple pictures of the movie in question. This time, I wanted to save them for this moment, so you know I’m not exaggerating. That pic at the top of this post isn't even from the movie. It's a shot of an action figure. It looks great! As for what shows up in the movie, well, I mean…sigh…just…just look.

What the hell is that?

It's like the director and the cinematographer got together and decided to put black stockings over all the cameras because they thought it would make things more ominous. No, dipshits! Whatever you did makes it impossible to see. They spent $200 million making this movie and tried to hide it all. Was the cgi that bad? Why don't they want me to see it?

These aren’t just a few specially selected shots to help my argument. The whole freaking movie looks like that. It’s almost entirely set at night with lots of fog, smoke, rain, and whatever else they could find to obscure the action. The monsters are all very dark green (or blue?) and I’m guessing based on past kaiju experiences by the way. This lacks any contrast which would help me make things out. To make it even more difficult the fighting is mostly shown from the perspective of the human characters I don’t give a flip about a thousand yards away. Lightning, and/or fire flashes intermittently giving us this film’s version of those shadowy trees and houses in the distance. You can see that they’re there, but that’s about it. And the thunderclaps? Powerful, to boil it down to a single word. To be honest, the sound design is fantastic. I can hear the crunch of every blow, the scream of every human, and more than anything, the roar of every monster. My ears kept teasing me with awesome sounds coming from every direction. But after two hours of not seeing what I was hearing, my eyes had blue balls.


  1. Wow... Keith liked it but I did remember that you didn't like the last one and now this? I'm not so sure as I want to stick with the Japanese versions of Godzilla. And let's pretend the 1998 version didn't exist.

    1. Enough bloggers are lovin' up on this movie that I'd say give it a chance. Just didn't work for me.

  2. I don't think I've ever read you rage so hard before - ha! I'm really sorry you wasted your time on this one but at the same time, this is also one of my favourite ever reviews of yours!

    1. It's been a while since I've went off like that, for sure. Oh well, my motto is "the worse the movie, the better the review."

  3. I'm starting to think maybe your cinema messed up because it honestly looked fine for me :) They were clearly using the fog and rain to disguise stuff but I didn't mind much

    1. It's possible I had a crappy theater, but all the screen shots I find online look like what I saw. Another possibility is that I'm just getting old because my eyes aren't what they used to be. Since everybody seems to swear by how great the movie looks I may give it a watch when it hits the streaming services or Red Box and see what it looks like on my TV.

  4. I love the original movies and wonder where Rodan is. I will see this but probably on DVD because I have seen clips of it and I did assume it’s dark and rainy...which is dumb. I even heard the 2 stupid little Japanese gals are not riding on Mothra’s back! I have to see the original movies again..I miss them

    1. I didn't mention him, but Rodan does appear. The campy originals are so fun. I miss them, too.

  5. I get that they use rain to cover up CGI, but I agree, it was too dark and because they always used rain, all the fight scenes looked alike. That was really unfortunate.

  6. I've never seen a Godzilla movie. I can't say any more than what you've said in your review here