By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Godzilla: King of the Monsters, directed by Michael Dougherty, is the sequel to Godzilla, which came out in 2014. Do not worry if you have not seen the previous Godzilla. King of the Monsters will spend some time at the beginning to get you up to speed. Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) currently works for a secret organization called Monarch, which is in charge of monitoring monsters, known as Titans, found on Earth. Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), Emma’s daughter, is there to support her mom’s research. They both witness the birth of Mothra, a gigantic moth, which quickly becomes aggressive.
Luckily, Emma is able to calm Mothra by using a device that emits a special Titan frequency called Orca. All of a sudden, Jonah Alan (Charles Dance), who runs an eco-terrorist organization, shows up to steal the Orca and kidnaps Emma and Madison. Jonah has a diabolical plan to use the Orca to control the Titans.
Monarch’s remaining scientists Dr. Rick Stanton (Bradley Whitford), Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), Dr. Sam Coleman (Thomas Middleditch), Dr. Ilene Chen (Ziyi Zhang), and Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) head out to find Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), Emma’s ex-husband, to assist in rescuing Emma and Madison. After Mark lost his son in 2014, he left Monarch to photograph wolves in the wilderness. Colonel Diane Foster (Aisha Hinds) leads Monarch’s security division. Eventually, Godzilla shows up. Ghidorah busts loose. Then Titans all over the world come out of hibernation to destroy the world.
If crazy Kaiju fights is what you want, then Godzilla fans will be right at home. However with a total of 17 titans, I was expecting some pretty epic battles. Nope. The Titans introduced in the trailer, including Mothra, Rodin, Ghidorah, and Godzilla, get most of the monster screen time, and the other 13 Titans have been relegated to small cameos and being shown on computer screens. Sorry for the spoiler! I enjoyed the monster designs, but monster battles are very dark. The worst part is that they cut between the monster battles and humans trying to survive the Titan’s rampage, and this ruins the pacing. Even some Godzilla fans were not satisfied with the Titan battles.
Now let us talk about those humans that make up the remainder of the movie. This part is dogged with action movie tropes. There are so many bad decisions being made left and right by multiple people. A critical weapon is left on a table unguarded just begging to be stolen. Monsters growl menacingly at humans and waste time, rather than just using their main weapon immediately.
Every scenario with Mark is ridiculous. The science team and military would be analyzing a situation and come to a conclusion. Then Mark would step in, do his own thing, and it would always be the best solution. Godzilla fans wish the humans were cut out of the movie entirely; I wish the humans had a better storyline.
There is a lot of fluff in this movie so that does not leave much time for the Asian actors in Godzilla. Dr. Ilene Chen has a few lines, but there is one confusing scene that will leave you scratching your head. Dr. Ishirō Serizawa has a bigger role in the movie and a “very important mission,” but will also leave you scratching your head afterwards. To top it all off, Dr. Stanton will throw out one liners like when Chen says, “They call him Ghidorah.” Stanton will reply, “Did she say gonorrhea?” I’m serious, that was really a joke in the movie, and he will throw out unfunny one-liners multiple times and ruin the mood.
If you just want to see Godzilla and other Titans fight and can tune out the human drama, you are going to enjoy this movie. If not, you should pass. I hope to God-zilla, Godzilla vs Kong will be much better when it comes out in March 2020!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is playing at a theater near you.
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.