Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and no one knows it better than Godzilla. The prehistoric, atomic fire-breathing monster has ruled Earth for millennia, and with this summer’s arrival of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, he’s back to remind audiences of that fact in as big a way as he can.
Godzilla’s latest destruction-filled romp around the world is a pleasure to watch and experience–if there was an issue with the first installment back in 2014, it was that the film seemed to think audiences were more interested in the activities of the humans, instead of skyscraper-sized monsters battling each other.
Even though director Michael Dougherty figured it out, wisely reducing the humans’ screen time as much as possible, the cast is still a pretty stellar one. It focuses largely on the exploits of a small family, torn apart by grief and loss. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and his wife, Dr. Emma Russell (Vega Farmiga) are separated, after their son was killed in the destruction of San Francisco back in 2014 at the hands (feet? fire breath?) of Godzilla, and are each dealing with it in their own way. Their surviving daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), lives with Emma, and she’s worried about her mother who is acting increasingly strange when we meet the Russell family at the beginning of the film.
As mentioned, the Russells may be the human names on the billboard, but they don’t really get a lot to do–which is a good thing. Chandler, Farmiga, and Brown are all fantastic actors, but no one is going to see them chew the scenery. No, we are all going for the same reason: to see giant monsters tear up each other and cities alike.
Thankfully, Dougherty gets the action to us early and often: Godzilla travels to Antarctica to investigate a mysterious frequency, which results in a battle between our hero and King Ghidorah, the three-headed dragon who rivals Godzilla as the apex predator. The other monsters (referred to as Titans within the film) bow to the will of the Alpha apex predator, so accordingly, Godzilla and Ghidorah battle it out throughout the film several times.
We get glimpses of other ‘famous’ monsters as well; Mothra, a giant insect-like creature with opalescent, glowing wings, and Rodan, a dinosaur-like winged creature who hibernates within an active volcano. They round out the ‘big four’ with Godzilla and Ghidorah, both of which add some spectacular visuals. That’s where the movie shines in a way that hasn’t been seen on the big screen for some time–it’s easy to tell what’s going on, and each monster has distinctive sounds and movements.
There are other, unnamed monsters wreaking havoc around the globe as well, though we never get more than a few glimpses of them. One tantalizing look at Skull Island also sets up a sequel with Kong, another famous movie monster, but that seems far off. Fair warning: there is also an after-credits scene, so stick around if you want the full experience.
Based on every other Godzilla movie ever, you can probably guess how it ends–but it’s not really about the ending, truly. It’s about the journey–the explosion-filled, monster-fied journey–that takes the audience from one glorious scene of carnage to another. It’s easy to wish that the action never stops, but I suppose there has to be something for the eventual sequel. If you’re a fan of the kind of spectacle that is delivered in disaster movies such as Independence Day, or the kaiju-angled Pacific Rim, then you’ll love the big guy’s latest outing.
In the end, Godzilla: King of the Monsters brings monster movies back to the big screen in the biggest of ways possible, exulting in the sheer damage that each of the movie legends wreaks in as little time as possible. As expected, the best moments are saved for the titular Godzilla, and he delivers in a way that only summer blockbusters can.
Long live the king.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters released in theatres on May 30, 2019.
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