FINALLY. After years of anticipation, opening weekend for Godzilla: King of the Monsters is here. My love for this particular kaiju shows no bounds, as I am a huge version of the Japanese films as well as the 2014 American effort (friends don’t let friends watch Godzilla ). If you’re interested in giant monster fights, this film will leave you more than satisfied, as director Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick ‘r Treat) has given us scores and scores of giant kaiju destruction and carnage. It definitely appears as if the movie makers took into account complaints about the lack of monster action in 2014’s Godzilla.
King of the Monsters (henceforth referred to as KotM) begins recounting the destruction of San Francisco, with main characters Dr. Emma Russell, played by Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) and her husband Mark, played by Kyle Chandler (Super 8, Grey’s Anatomy) losing their beloved son. After those events, Mark becomes and alcoholic and soon thereafter Mark and Emma separate. Emma and her daughter Madison, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), find themselves living in a rain forest outpost maintained by the company Monarch, waiting for one of the 17 titans to hatch. When it does, things go awry, and Emma fixes the situation by using a controversial device she’s created called the Orca, which somehow uses biofrequencies to communicate with and influence the titans. As she does this, the base is raided by an eco-terrorist group led by Jonah Allan, who kidnaps Emma and Madison.
Upon learning of his family’s kidnapping, Mark begins to work alongside members of the military and Monarch to devise a way to get them back. If they can find the Orca, they can find the family. There are a couple of interesting plot twists that I won’t reveal, but the rest of the movie is spent trying to find the Orca, the family, and finding a way to deal with the now sudden invasion of giant monsters. Monarch has decided to use Godzilla as their main weapon to fight off those kaiju that are such a threat to the planet.
I went into KotM with very high hopes, and I was NOT disappointed. This film seemed to do everything right. For starters, the plot itself is head and shoulders above the plot from the 2014 movie. There were twists and turns, and it made for a story that really did keep you wondering. Oftentimes I think plot is sacrificed for monster action in these types of movies, and that was not the case here. The narrative seemed pretty cohesive, and the story was told extremely well. There were lots of easter eggs and nods to previous G films, which is always a good thing.
Helping to drive that narrative were some awesome performances by the actors. Farmiga, Chandler, and Brown played excellent off of each other, and have delivered what could be the finest acting performances I’ve ever seen in a kaiju film. They were complimented beautifully by the supporting cast, including Bradley Whitford (Get Out, Cabin in the Woods) who provided some hilarious comedic relief at various points throughout, and Ken Watanabe, who continued his stellar performance as compassionate researcher Dr. Serizawa.
The main stars of this film, obviously, are the titans themselves and their unbelievable action sequences. First of all, I have zero complaints about the looks of the titans. I thought the tweaks made to the 2014 Godzilla design were fantastic. Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra all sport sleek updated looks that were equal parts rugged and terrifying. The look of the monsters is only have the battle though, as they must interact well with each other. And they did. There was a surplus of kaiju fighting action, with all the different monsters, and they were pulled off extremely well. None of it seemed redundant, and it all made sense. It was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for.
To sum it up, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was exactly what it should have been. A film that did not sacrifice plot for monster action, that executed both incredibly. Driven by incredibly acting and story telling, this film is a definite must see this summer. It was definitely worth the wait, and I think it’s going to be difficult for any other film to dethrone this one as my favorite film of the summer. Now I wait in anticipation for the ultimate clash with Godzilla vs Kong, slated for release next year.