Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) **

Coming off of the first rate Kong: Skull Island from 2017, Godzilla: King of the Monsters returns to standard monster movie territory. The plotting and acting recall the 1970s disaster movies, but it never takes the complete left turn into camp. 

At the center of the film is a family, an estranged married couple played by Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga and their daughter Madison played Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame. Both parents work for Project Monarch, the secretive organization trying to unlock the mysteries of the monsters who live in the hollow earth. I feel sorry for the actors having to act in front of green screens (sure they were paid well). Kyle Chandler's emoting at all the chaos is especially strained. As a family they never get to have a real scene together, Brown has nothing to do but run around and yell the entire film.

The character actors allow for some levity. Ken Watanabe provides dignity as a lead scientist and Bradley Whitford makes Dad jokes. The rest of the b-movie cast (certainly not all) make the best of it.

Monsters from past Godzilla movies also appear including Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah - all in a deadly battle for supremacy. When Godzilla finally shows up (it takes awhile) I was underwhelmed, there's lots of roars and smashing buildings as one expects, but it all gets redundant. There's so much rain in the film. it's like watching it though a pair of foggy lenses. 

The underlying theme in the Monsters Universe is that humans are destroying the earth and a balance must be restored and humans have little say in the matter. That's a clever modern spin to put on these movies - and one worthy to explore in further films that aren't so concerned with half hearted spectacle.

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