WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi
Spoiler alert. The title. Spoiler alert.
Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla was pretty good. It wasn’t bad. Not excellent but better than Matthew Broderick in the rain. It caught some flak for holding back on the titular beast and instead opting for a human story – and killing Bryan Cranston off pretty quickly too. Now, Trick ‘r Treat director Michael Dougherty takes the chair for this follow up in the Monsterverse that boasted a stunning marketing campaign and the promise of more monsters!
The trailers depicted this visually outstanding epic – honestly, some of the trailer shots looked like pure paintings – and Godzilla: King of the Monsters rocketed up people’s hype lists (also piggybacking off of the success of peer Kong: Skull Island). Unfortunately for ‘Zilla fans and for Michael Dougherty – Godzilla: KOTM is awful. It’s really not good which is a massive shame as I was one of those who was amped for this. A lack of Godzilla itself is a claim that cannot be levelled at this movie - he’s everywhere - shooting that blue flame stuff at anything that gets in his way – and his massive monster friends and foes are along for the ride – King Ghidorah (a three-headed dragon beast), Rodan (a flying beast) and Mothra (a giant…moth). The beasties themselves look great and, unsurprisingly, deliver the highlights of the movie with their titanic battles – Ghidorah especially was ace – the problem is this time the humans are side-lined completely and become simple plot devices. Everyone is underdeveloped or stereotyped and, to be honest, I wasn’t bothered if they got chomped or not. Kyle Chandler is the limpest hero committed to screen in a long time, Vera Farmiga had dollar signs in her eyes and Millie Bobby Brown became more annoying as the movie rolled on (that facial overacting was something else). The company behind it all, Monarch (they track own all the titans and have done since 2014’s Godzilla), now just seem like a collection of Austin Powers baddies in their lair and are on Jurassic World-levels of uninteresting villains and corporations.
With all of that, I doubt it’ll come as a surprise to know that the writing throughout is atrocious – to the point where the characters literally spell out what is happening. It’s mind-numbing even for a movie like this. One of the soldiers delivered the line “What the f*** is that?!” upon Ghidorah’s intro and it was probably the best acting/delivery in the movie. When the subpar dialogue is mixed with overly-long CGI fights, things get very tedious very quickly. The majority of the action is just fine, but by the end, it stretched out for too long and became almost boring. Whilst the score was good, Godzilla: KOTM is a prominent case of style over substance. Things look great but there’s nothing to cling to behind the visuals.
Hearing Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies was great though, I loved that bit.
Three movies into this Monsterverse and we’re at an impasse. Godzilla was decent, Kong: Skull Island, too, was decent and this was awful. So, next up? Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. Despite Godzilla: KOTM being a toilet blocker, it’s hard not to get just a wee bit excited at that title, however, can they balance the human drama with the all-out action? We’ll see and Adam Wingard is tasked with the job (eek…). Surely it can’t be any worse than this massive let down. Bigger isn’t always better and that’s absolutely the case with this monstrous disappointment.
Give us Trick 'r Treat 2 dammit, Dougherty!
June 1st 2019