We are truly living in a time of gods and monsters, or in this case, monster gods. It’s been five years since the first Legendary made Godzilla film and two years since their ‘Monsterverse’ was further established with Kong: Skull Island. All building up to to what will stand as perhaps one of the biggest Kaiju movies ever made: Godzilla King Of The Monsters.
The story takes place five years after Godzilla’s destructive battle in San Francisco. The world is in a panic as more “Titans” begin to awaken from their primordial slumber. The no-longer covert organization MONARCH attempts to shield the public from these ancient beasts and keep them contained, but Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) and his eco-terrorist group are hellbent on unleashing them on the world and returning things to a ‘natural order.’ He kidnaps MONARCH scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) to further his goals, leading to the freeing of King Ghidorah, an ancient beast of apocalyptic power. Now, Madison’s father and Emma’s ex-husband Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) must team-up with MONARCH and Godzilla to put a stop to a war of colossal beasts that could destroy the world.
The set-up is pretty evocative of of the more classical Godzilla movies of the 1960’s and 70’s, most prominently Destroy All Monsters, featuring a united group of humans, in this case MONARCH, trying to stop the evil monsters and giving our hero, Godzilla a helping hand. The ensemble cast for MONARCH is impressive and engaging, with returning characters/actors such as Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa and Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton. There’s a lot of fun banter between characters, cheesy sometimes, but it gives the film some dialogue and humans to root for.
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters delivers in what any kaiju fan wants: lots and lots of monster fighting action. Particularly, Godzilla and King Ghidorah throw down a few times over the course of the film along with volcano bird Rodan and ‘Queen Of The Monsters’ Mothra. Considering the kind of budget this movie has, they look spectacular and inspire awe at seeing god-like monstrosities throw down in mortal combat. Of course, they’re all-but entirely CG as opposed to the classical ‘man-in-suit’ style of the Toho films, which does make it feel different. There is some clunkiness in pacing and dialogue between these epic battles and some deaths happen a bit too fast to digest (even when characters get eaten), but per the franchise, it’s par for course and in many ways the cheeziness adds to the charm.
Michael Dougherty really outdid himself as a director/co-writer on the movie and it shows he has a lot of heart for Godzilla. Having helmed such genre favorites like Trick r Treat and Krampus it should come as no surprise there are plenty of horror references and homages hidden about. For example, pay attention to the number of the Antarctica MONARCH Outpost. As well, there is some pretty good build-up to next year’s Kong VS Godzilla coming to us from Adam Wingard.
I was fortunate enough to have seen Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in two different formats: Imax and 4DX. Of course, if you want as epic a screening as possible, Imax will be the way to go. When Godzilla gives his signature roar, it will blow you to the back of the auditorium. If you want a full-on immersion experience, 4DX is loads of fun and adds to the action. When Rodan did a barrel roll, it felt like I was spinning with that fire demon. The water, smoke, and air effects also adding details that put you into the heat of the action, especially as these monster gods duke it out.
So, if you’re a fan of Godzilla, giant monsters, and the like, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is one kaiju movie you’ll want to see in theaters with the biggest screen and the loudest sound possible.