Main cast: Kyle Chandler (Dr Mark Russell), Vera Farmiga (Dr Emma Russell), Millie Bobby Brown (Madison Russell), Bradley Whitford (Dr Rick Stanton), Sally Hawkins (Dr Vivienne Graham), Charles Dance (Colonel Alan Jonah), Thomas Middleditch (Dr Sam Coleman), Aisha Hinds (Colonel Diane Foster), O’Shea Jackson Jr (Jackson Barnes), David Strathairn (Admiral William Stenz), Ken Watanabe (Dr Ishirō Serizawa), and Zhang Ziyi (Dr Ilene Chen and Dr Ling Chen)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Set ten years after Godzilla, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is everything that movie wasn’t. This is a literal monster mash, and I enjoy every minute of it even as my brain melts into goo.
In 2014, during the grand confrontation between Godzilla and MOTU in the previous movie, the Russells lost their son Andrew, and the tragedy tore the family apart. Today, Dr Mark Russell studies wolves in the wild, while his ex-wife Dr Emma works for Monarch, the covert organization dedicated to containing and studying these big-ass kaijus, called Titans here. Their daughter Madison lives with Emma, but secretly corresponds via email with her father behind her mother’s back.
Trouble begins when Emma finally finishes perfecting Orca, a device that transmits frequencies in a manner that allows its user to exert some limited influence over a Titan. By emitting the alpha frequency of a certain Titan species, for example, the user can attract the attention of that Titan. Often, this means that the Titan will charge at the person in order to challenge the authority of the “alpha”, as we shall soon see, but hey, science is wonderful. Emma successfully tests the Orca on the newly-hatched moth-like Titan, Mothra, only to have herself and Madison captured by Alan Jonah and his men. Jonah is the leader of an eco-terrorist group who believes that mankind is destroying itself, and the only way to restore balance and save the Earth is to release the Titans so that they can cull the human population, so to speak.
Dr Ishirō Serizawa and his Monarch second-in-command Dr Vivienne Graham seek out Mark, as he and Emma worked on the initial Orca prototype together and he may be able to advise Monarch on how to get it and his ex-wife as well as daughter back, as well as to contain any damage caused by it at Jonah’s hands. Of course, Monarch is shockingly inept and dumb here, so it’s not long before King Ghidorah is freed from his icy prison in Antarctica, and the three-headed dragon Titan is now going to take on Godzilla to be the King of Monsters. Also present in this battle royale are Mothra, the pterodactyl-like Rodan, and cameo appearances from Kong (in clips and such – they are saving that fight for the next movie), the giant Methuselah, the sea monster Scylla (not sure how this sea Titan ended up in a desert in Arizona, but whatever), and the mammoth-like Behemoth. Another MUTO also shows up for a cameo.
However, the true fight here are between Godzilla and King Ghidorah, with Mothra lending her aid to the former and Rodan to the latter. And that’s the best thing about this movie. Non-stop destruction and explosions from the Titan, with a titanic showdown that is truly epic in proportion. The pace is relentless – this movie is an adrenaline rush of a ride from start to finish, and it’s grand fun. I kind of feel that Godzilla’s inevitable victory is cheapened by the aid he receives from the boring humans, but still, I can only have two thumbs up for the glorious monster bust-up and throw-down here. Seriously, much of this embodies the true meaning of fabulously braindead fun.
The humans are boring, yes, although Ken Watanabe has far more lines here than he did in the previous movie. They are all boiled down to a few one-note traits, and yes, the teenage brat is also the annoying plot device that needs rescuing even as the rest of the world crumbles to pieces. Why waste time and resources on saving other people when there is an annoying, whiny teenage girl to rescue? Also, the humans’ plots are as dumb as can be, relying on a lot of coincidences and convenient last-minute “Oh wait, we just realize that we have this awesome science that is just what we need in this situation, so let’s have a quick exposition before we use it!” nonsense, and the movie also plays to the tired old cliché of loud too-cool-for-rules outsiders coming in to show how much smarter they are when compared to supposed experts who had spent years studying the subject matter. Still, they are like ants – the moment the Titans are out to play, they are easily brushed aside like the annoyances they are to focus on the big, beautiful bastards.
Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a good movie? Oh, not at all if one wants to scrutinize the plot and what not. Does it matter how bad the movie is, though? It delivers epic carnage, destruction, and glorious monster brawls. That’s why we watch this thing, after all, and boy, it serves all of those like a demented tennis player determined to win it all. Two thumbs up for the brainless awesomeness, and I can’t wait for the upcoming lizard versus monkey fight.