The follow up to 2014’s Godzilla, and in the same franchise as 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is about the organization Monarch, who realize that Godzilla isn’t the only monster out there, and these others surface and eventually clash with Godzilla.
The trailers to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, showing only the big, loud action sequences promised a film that looked a lot stronger than this one. Because the truth to this film is that it’s built around those sequences, but has very little to care about in between. Somewhat similar to Kong, which also was lacking in well-developed characters, Godzilla is built and structured around these monster fights, but while they’re (for the most part) well-executed, there’s not enough otherwise to hold the movie together.
Starting with the positives, the CGI in this is fantastic. It gives the monsters a sense of scale and is able to somehow realistically capture all of their abilities really, really well. The CGI also does a bang-up job recreating their designs from the original films and bringing them to life with modern effects. And for most of the film’s action sequences, it’s able to bring together these monsters pretty well too. They interact with each other and provide for some really fun sequences. Which is why the last act disappointed me so much. The final battle took up most of the last act and dragged on for way too long, without anything really interesting being introduced to retain interest. It didn’t help that it was very dimly lit either, reducing the third act an overwhelming barrage of sound and repetitive action that you can’t quite make out. A lot of the big set-pieces have settings that utilize their color pallette, but the last act, which is the big selling point, climactic battle of the movie that it’s supposed to lead up to, looks very dull. While there are fun parts of it, these factors turn it into a slog.
On the character side, most are very thinly written, with generic arcs and even more generic motivations. The villain of this has a motive that’s been overused in so many blockbuster action movies in the last decade, and while it’s clear the actors (made up of an ensemble, talent-stuffed cast) are trying their best, Godzilla: King of the Monsters uses tired cliches to try to get you to connect with its characters, who feel like they exist only to move the plot on and connect each monster battle. The writing fails the performances whether its the sometimes baffling character choices or also cliche dialogue. The film has its attempts at levity, which come through a lot of one-liners that know their campiness and are really trying to work. Still, there are a few parts where the acting is enough to bring up a scene, and a few nice character moments.
Godzilla (2014) barely featured its titular character but provided good character drama, although this wasn’t advertised as much. King of the Monsters, on the other hand, tries to have both, and can’t deliver 100% on either, leading to dull characters, but definitely fun action set-pieces.