REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ may be a king, but not of cinema

The latest “Godzilla” is chock-full of monsters, yet even the gargantuan creatures don’t necessarily hold this feature up.

The movie begins five years after the 2014 “Godzilla,” where the secretive agency Monarch is keeping track of the giant creature and others across the globe. One of the Monarch researchers is Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a woman who lost her son in the 2014 Godzilla battle of San Francisco.

Monarch’s research is taken advantage of by radical environmental terrorists, though, led by a man named Jonah (Charles Dance). As a result of their actions, the powerful monster Ghidorah is released, and several others respond by awakening and causing havoc. To stop them, Godzilla has to get back into action.

Why does a “Godzilla” need all this extra junk, I will never know. A few years ago “Kong: Skull Island” came out, and it was straight to the point. Some solid character actors on an adventure and they come across some monsters who fight.

“King of the Monsters” feels the need to push the bar higher, though, by inserting a family-relationship drama and an environmental message with all the subtlety of getting hit with a baseball bat.

Even when the movie tries to have some fun, it comes off as awkward. A great example is the character Rick (Bradley Whitford), who provides some of the comic relief. The problem is very little of it works.

Godzilla prepares for battle. Courtesy Warner Bros., Legendary Entertainment and Toho Company.

It also doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t have a single true protagonist. Kyle Chandler’s Mark, Farmiga’s Emma and Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa all have their moments but there’s no character taking charge. In a sense it’s a similar problem the 2014 “Godzilla” had. Movies like this need a charismatic actor to bring that energetic screen-presence. In fact I kind of wish Dwayne Johnson had been cast in this rather than “Rampage.”

Of course the reason an audience shows up to these flicks is to have some popcorn and watch some monsters smack each other around. That’s all certainly here, and it looks, OK I guess. There are some pretty entertaining sequences, especially whenever Godzilla decides to use his atomic breath. Yet there’s a feeling it could be better, especially considering what other movies such as the 2013 “Pacific Rim” showed.

Overall “King of the Monsters” does offer some entertainment, but there’s little else in terms of value. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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