Action Adventure

Review: Long Live ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

May 30, 2019Ben MK

Long before the MCU, Toho's Godzilla franchise built a cinematic universe centered on the battles between a gargantuan, radioactive lizard and his equally oversized opponents. Now, 65 years after the debut of the original Gojira, Godzilla: King of the Monsters proudly continues that tradition — pitting the Big G against monstrous new incarnations of some of his most famous foes.

A sequel to 2014's Godzilla and a followup to 2017's Kong: Skull Island, King of the Monsters begins with a flashback sequence that's unintentionally reminiscent of the opening to Batman v Superman. Only this time, instead of seeing how Bruce Wayne was affected by the battle between Superman and General Zod in Man of Steel, we see how one American family was left devastated in the wake of the climactic battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs in director Gareth Edwards' reboot.

Fast forward five years, and dad Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and mom Emma (Vera Farmiga) are separated, with their daughter Maddie (Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown) caught in the middle. Formerly both scientists at Monarch, the organization charged with keeping tabs on Godzilla, Kong and the other "Titans" that have been discovered around the globe, Mark quit the company while Emma stayed on to work on a bio sonar device capable of communicating with the creatures. Now that the device is fully operational, however, it could spell certain doom for our planet and everyone on it.

Story-wise, King of the Monsters only gets more convoluted from there, as writer/director Michael Dougherty and co-writer Zach Shields bring back familiar characters like Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) while introducing new characters played by Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford, Ziyi Zhang, Thomas Middleditch, O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Aisha Hinds, all in service of a plot involving eco-terrorism and ancient alien invaders. That said, the glorious kaiju-on-kaiju action that ensues is where the film really shines.

If you're a fan of Godzilla, whether it be the classic movies from the '60s, '70s and '80s or his more modern depictions, it's hard to imagine anything being more satisfying than what we get here. From Mothra to Rodan to the three-headed Monster Zero (better known as King Ghidorah), King of the Monsters doesn't hold back whatsoever when it comes to the sheer spectacle of their epic brawls. In fact, some viewers may find themselves trying to cope with sensory overload, overwhelmed by the virtually wall-to-wall chaos and destruction.

Suffice to say, this is one case where the pros far outweigh the cons. For while the result may sometimes get mired in unwieldy exposition and questionable dialogue, never ever does it lose its sense of fun. After all, Godzilla: King of the Monsters presupposes a world where giants exist; where humans aren't the most monstrous creatures on Earth, not by far. If anything, that's pure escapist, popcorn entertainment at its best.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters releases May 31st, 2019 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 11 min.

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