GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is the latest film from co-writer and director Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick ‘R Treat) and is an incredible, show-stopping addition to the Godzilla franchise that finds our favorite sea monster up against some of the most dangerous monsters in the history of the franchise. The film stars Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, Argo), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring films), Millie Bobby Brown (TV’s Stranger Things), Bradley Whitford (Get Out, The Post), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception, Godzilla).
In this new story, we follow the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Radan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species – thought to be mere myths – rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance. With destruction and chaos raining down upon cities all over the world, and loyalties tested and secrets unearthed, it’s up to a few to help Godzilla put a stop to these Titans.
When it comes to god-like monsters, Godzilla definitely takes the cake. As one of the most recognizable figures in pop-culture history, the Godzilla franchise has amassed over 35 films in its honor since 1954. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not seen all the films, as my introduction into the franchise was the 1998 Godzilla film (which man, that movie does not stand the test of time), followed by 2014’s Godzilla (which I loved). As a massive fan of director Michael Dougherty’s work, I was beyond excited to see how he would take such a beloved monster icon and make it his own, and I’m happy to report that he did not disappoint. Though there were some issues with the writing in terms of the story feeling choppy and disjointed at times, the visuals and overall execution were beyond impressive.
I think what I enjoyed most about GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS was that it was a reminder that humans are capable of being just as monstrous and destructive as the Titans, just in their own way. We find out very early on that the Russell family was affected tremendously with the events that happened in the 2014 Godzilla film. We then fast-forward five years and Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), along with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), is hard at work on a device for Monarch that could potentially allow us to communicate with the Titans. Meanwhile, Dr. Russell’s husband Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), wants nothing to do with the organization until his wife and daughter are kidnapped, forcing him to join the Monarch scientists in order to rescue them and help with combating the Titans. Through this portion of the film not only do we see the re-emergence of Godzilla and the accompanying Titans, but we also become privy to secrets and betrayal. For some, the human interactions may not seem as interesting as the large-scale fight scenes between the Titans, but for me, I found it to be both surprising and relevant to a lot of what is going on in the world while also questioning what is truly good and what is truly bad. As for Godzilla himself, he has always been a metaphor for what is going on in the world, and once again, he is a reminder of how humanity is destroying itself and the world.
Most impressive was by far the visuals and the CGI. The special effects used in the creation of Godzilla and the Titans looked positively seamless and beautiful. Add in the cinematography of Lawrence Sher and you have a film that will leave you stunned and breathless. Furthermore, the music, which is composed by Bear McCreary (10 Cloverfield Lane) is both unnerving and exquisite, lending itself perfectly to the chaos unfolding all around. I was also very drawn to the use of color and it how that identified each of the Titans. Having had the chance to speak with Dougherty about the color symbolism, he informed me that it was due to what they represent – earth, wind, fire, and air. Honestly, the film is a stunning piece of art and I can’t urge you all enough to watch it on the biggest screen that you can. Like me, you’ll probably find yourself constantly having to pick your jaw up from the floor.
Even with some of the minor issues with the writing, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is still a sight to behold. Vera Farmiga, per usual, is fantastic and Millie Bobby Brown kills it in her feature film debut. I would have loved to have seen Bradley Whitford’s character more but regardless, he ends up being the comic relief that the film embraces wholeheartedly. The cast as a whole does a tremendous job and it was such a pleasure to see both Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) return to the series and for the mythology around these creations to take on an even larger form while also paying homage to the earlier films. In all, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is an astonishing creation and one that I think Godzilla fans far and wide will enjoy. The reveal of the Titans are spectacular with iconic fight scenes between Godzilla and his opponents. It safe to say that the King has risen again and I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS opens in theaters May 31, 2019.