Movie Review By JOHN PANNOZZI Godzilla: King of the Monsters *** out of five stars The world's most famous giant movie monster returns for his latest rampage. In the aftermath of Godzilla's battle against the vicious MUTOs (seen in the 2014 Godzilla
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
***½ out of five stars
The world’s most famous giant movie monster returns for his latest rampage.
In the aftermath of Godzilla’s battle against the vicious MUTOs (seen in the 2014 Godzilla film), Emma (played by Vera Farmiga) and Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) lost their son Andrew (played in flashbacks by Tyler Crumley). In the five years since then, the couple have separated. Emma lives with their surviving child Madison (played by Millie Bobby Brown and by Alexandra Rachael Rabe in flashbacks). Emma works as a paleobiologist for the secretive organization Monarch, studying giant monsters, or “Titans.”
Emma and Madison witness the birth of a giant caterpillar-like Titan named Mothra. Emma is able to calm Mothra down with her invention, the “Orca,’ which can communicate with Titans. The mother and daughter are then ambushed and kidnapped by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and his group of eco-terrorists. Monarch approaches a reluctant Mark to help track his ex-wife and daughter.
Emma chooses to work with Jonah to unleash more Titans with the Orca. Her justification is that the monsters will supposedly return the Earth to its natural state, somehow avenging her dead son. Among the Titans unleashed are the three-headed “Monster Zero” (played by Jason Liles, Alan Maxson and Richard Dorton via motion capture) and the Pteranodon-like Rodan (played by Jason Liles via motion capture).
Soon, it transpires that Monster Zero is really Ghidorah, a creature supposedly from outer space who aims to ravage the Earth and force other Titans into subservience. Will Godzilla (played by T.J. Storm via motion capture) defeat Ghidorah in the battle for the Titan kingdom and, if so, will humanity survive?
King of the Monsters is the third entry in Legendary Pictures’ “MonsterVerse” series, following the 2014 Godzilla film and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. Legendary is attempting to do for giant monsters what Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has done for superheroes. The organization Monarch can even be considered an analogue to Marvel’s SHIELD. There is also an older tradition continued here, as the Japanese studio Toho has a long history of incorporating Kaiju (or “strange beasts”) from one-off films into their Godzilla movies, even having crossed over with a famous American monster in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Legendary has given both Toho’s stable of creatures (including fan-favorites Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan) and Kong the Hollywood revamp, while staying true to the spirit of the original films. Although Kong does not directly appear in this film, his presence is still felt through characters’ dialogue. This is no doubt a means to lead into next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong, which may be the last of the MonsterVerse films.
Like many of the best of Toho’s monster movies (Godzilla or otherwise), King of the Monsters combines slam-bang action with a parable about the dangers mankind’s scientific advancements may have on our planet. The human characters are not the most developed, even by the standards of many other films in this genre, but they are interesting enough to keep viewers’ attention.
It is a shame that this latest adventure from Godzilla is performing weakly both critically and financially. If you’re not a fan of giant monster movies, this film wouldn’t make you one. If you’re one of the many Godzilla fans out there in the world, this film is certainly worth seeing. If you’re not familiar with Godzilla or the Kaiju genre in general, this is a decent point of entry. Either way, Godzilla’s still going strong and may be stomping near your local theater soon.