When delivering big monster movies to the screen, screenwriters and directors can often forget that what people want to see are cool monster moments. This unfortunately means that we get a lot of human characters we don’t really care about, doing things which make little sense, while the monster scenes are reduced to make way for whichever Hollywood mega-star took the money to make this particular creature-feature.
Luckily, although stacked with human characters, Godzilla: King of Monsters leans heavily into the monster aspect and uses the human characters to good effect. In fact, refreshingly for one of these kinds of movies, its is the human characters which make the film work so well, although it does tend to stray slightly too much in their favour towards the finale.
This is a film which knows very much what it is about though and from the very beginning, Godzilla has been established, we get to see our first Kaiju (Mothra) and we understand that these “Titans” are waking-up. Enter “rent-a-villain” Charles Dance to seemingly kidnap our heroes, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown, and then subsequently wake the biggest of the monsters, the three-headed and effortlessly cool, Ghidorah.
This set-up works very well and although there are lots of sub-plots involving broken families, shady corporations, machines which can talk to Titans and nuclear power, this is a film firmly about monsters attacking monsters. In this case, the film doesn’t disappoint and the action sequences involving Godzilla, taking on his biggest rival yet, are impressive. The design of the creatures alone is staggering but when you see them brought to life and kicking that life out of each other, it makes for a classic blockbuster and mindless popcorn flick that the title is seemingly promising.
This is where the issue with having so many humans, and fairly decent stars at that, hurts the film. The human characters need time and to develop their story which means we get small interludes where we need to leave the battling Titans. The human stories are good and don’t feel written in as filler at all but they can’t compete with the huge three-headed dragon fighting the huge lizard.
Luckily, King of Monsters delivers a finale which pays-off your patience. The title delivers and this was never going to be a straight Godzilla vs Ghidorah. There are some very good ideas in the finale and some surprises which keep you guessing. Its testament to the design of the creatures that they feel genuine and that it doesn’t quite devolve into the heartless CGI mess that other movies like this have done in the past.
The film also leaves you wanting more. The world where Titans exist and people know about these creatures and live alongside them, is an interesting one. It is a world with plenty of potential and as teasers throughout have hinted at, one which features a huge Godzilla-sized Gorilla for the next movie.
Overall, Godzilla: King of Monsters does a very good job of delivering on the promise of the title. This is a film which successfully pits very well-designed and realised creatures against each other in inventive action scenes. It even manages the seemingly impossible task of making the human elements relevant and interesting too but once the Titans start battling, you still don’t care that much for the “real” characters.
Rating – 4
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