Monday, June 03, 2019

Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)


If you’ve been following my blog even a little, you know I’m a pretty big Godzilla fan. It’s been that way since I was a wee lad watching movies on rainy Saturday afternoons on WPIX and the Thanksgiving marathons on WWOR. There was just something so powerful about the imagery used as this gigantic monster blazed a trail of destruction through the city. The giant battles against colorful foes didn’t hurt either.

While the first American attempt at a Godzilla movie didn’t go over well, the second one in 2014 was a masterful kaiju movie that really brought home the size and scale of the creatures involved and featured some great designs. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the sequel to that second film and builds upon a world that has discovered monsters and is honestly a blast.

Five years after the events of the first film, Godzilla is nowhere to be seen and humanity is still recovering from discovering that they now live in a world where they are the ants. Monarch, a secret scientific organization, has been searching for and cataloguing the locations of more of these monsters, which they have called Titans. One scientist in particular, Dr. Emma Russell (played by Vera Farmiga) is working on a device that uses the bioacoustics of the monsters to tame them or enrage them. She and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), witness the device’s effectiveness first-hand when the Titan egg they are studying hatches a giant caterpillar named Mothra and manages to placate it when after it attacks the soldiers around her in self-defense.

 Just as they are celebrating that the device, ORCA, works, a group of eco-terrorists breaks into the lab and kidnaps Emma and Madison. Monarch, looking to find them and recover their missing employee and the ORCA, brings in Mark, Emma’s ex-husband and co-creator of the ORCA to track them down before the terrorists can fulfill their plan of waking up all of the Titans around the world and ushering in an age of monsters. Unfortunately for all, one of the monsters they awaken isn’t from Earth, and it is going to take the combined powers of humanity and Godzilla to defeat it.

Whereas the first movie limited the amount of exposure we got to Godzilla and the battles he has with the monsters in that film, G: KOTM jumps right in with the kaiju combat as we see Godzilla, the firebird Rodan and even Mothra  as they try to fight the invading Monster Zero, aka King Ghidorah, a golden three-headed hydra from space. These fights are all-out brawls, harkening back to those we saw on Saturday mornings with the Showa era films, but this time it isn’t men is rubber suits but gorgeously rendered 3d models that claw and bite and blast their way across the screen. Each action set piece is bigger and better than the last, culminating in a multiple monster fight unlike any ever seen in the series.

In between the moments of spectacle, we follow the human portion of the cast as they try to stop terrorist and monster alike. Whereas in the first film this portion seemed reactionary more than anything, in the sequel, they are much more proactive in dealing with the monster threat and are constantly working to try and stay ahead of their foes. The cast is great and bring a lot of heart to the film and their story is entertaining and draws you in so you aren’t just marking time until the next bout of kaiju fighting. The score is top notch too, with Bear McCreary doing some of his best work in crafting new themes and mixing in the old that originated with Akira Ifakube.

I feel like a monster brawl like this was a long time coming and it was well worth the wait. The designs are awesome, the story is good and the action scenes will melt your face like a blast from Godzilla’s atomic fire. Long live the King…of the Monsters.

Check it out.

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