Cinematic Releases: Let Them Fight: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) - Reviewed

Following the success of the 2014 Godzilla film directed by Gareth Edwards a sequel was immediately green lit. Originally, Edwards was supposed to direct the sequel but his work on Rogue One kept him too busy. Micheal Dougherty (Krampus, Trick r Treat) was offered the director's chair and finally five years later that brings us to Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Five years have also passed in the Godzilla universe and after the destruction the big green guy rained on the cities he is under watch by Monarch, a crypto-zoological agency. The government wants to take control of the Monarch and use their scientific knowledge to destroy not only Godzilla but the other so-called "Titans" who have been cropping up around the globe. These Titans include Toho fan-favorites Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.

The last Godzilla iteration had some complaints about too much emphasis on human characters and not enough Godzilla, and this latest one decided to go the polar opposite route with action from beginning to end. Unfortunately, the writing is not great with the dialogue being the main offender. Jokes fall flat and there is too much technobabble exposition dumping going on. The narrative is split three ways with one thread following Monarch, one thread revolving around an eco-terrorist group and both set over the backdrop of these kaiju...I mean Titans, fighting it out.  It's way too much going on. The film tries to have something to say about how humans are destroying the environment causing the Titans to emerge, but it's addressed in the most superficial way possible. King of the Monsters has a lot of great actors who aren't given much to do other than scream and run around.

I can hear someone yelling "Who gives a shit about the story, I'm just here for giant monster fights!" There is A LOT of fighting to be sure, but much of it is hard to see because it's framed so closely (and most of the time in some sort of fog or rain). Every once in awhile there is a gorgeous wide shot, but the occasional screenshot destined for your desktop wallpaper does not good cinematography make. There's not enough sense of scale--these battles are supposed to be awe-inspiring clashes between gods, but it's usually just a jumbled and murky visual mess. On a positive note, the monster designs look excellent, particularly Mothra who has been imbued with an other worldly glow.

King of the Monsters borrows some plot elements from the original 1954 film and also uses the original iconic theme songs for both Godzilla and Mothra which were wonderful to hear. In fact, all four of the Titans have their own theme music, Rodan and King Ghidorah included. Overall, the score is fantastic and fitting for an epic action film. There are other little Easter Eggs that astute Godzilla fans will notice and it's fun to find them.

While there definitely are exciting moments to be had (especially in the third act), the disjointed first two acts are a slog to get through and ultimately add up to a mediocre, but not terrible film.

--Michelle Kisner