If you were afraid that this movie wasn’t going to do its monsters justice, you can rest easy. Sure, they might be lacking screen time, but when they are actually on screen, there’s not much else to say about the simple joy that is watching gigantic creatures engage in a poorly played Jenga match with whole cities. Godzilla returns with its iconic scales from its original iteration, while fan favourites like Mothra, King Ghidora and Rodan are splendid.
Not only do the Titans’ design look genuinely awesome, they move and fight with proper weight and flair , plus also manage to have more personalities than most of the human characters despite their vocabulary consisting entirely of roars. When King Ghidora beats its wings, you can feel the power. When Mothra descends from the sky, you want to bow to her brilliance.
It is a pity then, that every time each one is introduced with Bear McCreary’s booming score, there is a palpable sense of dread and anticipation riiiiiight until it cuts to a reaction face. I couldn’t help but think to myself that if Guillermo del Toro was watching pesky humans interrupt his beloved kaiju, he would groan. The problem alleviates moderately further along, but the movie’s pacing suffers.
Also, despite the huge, ensemble cast representing at least FOUR different major factions, most of them are one-dimensional caricatures. You get a sense that each character was written not to fill the story, but rather a checklist. Funny person with one-liner quips about the Titans and sex? Check! Wait, why not two of them?
(Side note here: Thomas Middleditch’s character makes a joke about King Ghidora’s name sounding like gonorrhea. Firstly, just why? Secondly, THERE’S NOT EVEN ONE MATCHING SYLLABLE!!! And yes, THERE WERE MULTIPLE PEOPLE MAKING SEX JOKES ABOUT THE MONSTERS.)
Person we’re supposed to feel sorry for when they die? Check! Hold up, are you sure one is enough? How about we just throw in a few more to be sure? The movie would have seriously benefited from a downsizing of the cast. Heck, so many of the characters were so similar that I see absolutely no reason why they couldn’t just be combined into one. Frankly, I couldn’t remember 70% of the characters’ names during the credits.
Thankfully, the characters with the most screen time range from alright to Millie Bobby Brown. Yes, Eleven’s debut on the big screen does not disappoint one bit. When the trailers first came out, there were a lot of jokes about the movie being Brown’s reaction face reel. Let me tell you, she deserves every single minute she gets in the film. She is phenomenal, precious, and the undisputed star of the non-monster cast. Both mom (Vera Farmiga) and dad (Kyle Chandler) do decent jobs, but their characters flip-flop more than a Havaianas store.
Ken Watanabe remains way too good an actor for his role, which has somehow been reduced since the first movie. For one entire scene spanning what felt like hours, Chandler’s character Dr. Mark tells Dr. Serizawa what to do… and he repeats it. That’s it, that’s all he does for one scene. Save for one beautifully acted sequence, Watanabe remains underutilised.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters remains a monster movie second, as the third film in the MonsterVerse doesn’t quite make tsunamis, but enough waves to keep itself afloat. When the Titans get going, it is viscerally brutal and beautiful. When the Titans aren’t going… there’s not much else.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters swims its way to our shores on the 30th of May.