Date Released: 31 May 2019
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Duration: 2 h 12 min
Age Restriction: PG 13
Actors: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown
Directed By: Michael Dougherty
Directed by Michael Dougherty, the direct sequel to the 2014’s Godzilla reimagines the giant monsters of Toho studios, including the three-headed monster Ghidorah, the vicious pterodactyl Rodan and the giant moth Mothra with returning characters Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). New additions include a broken nuclear family, consisting of two scientists, Doctors Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) and their teenage daughter Madison (« Stranger Things » star Millie Bobby Brown).
They lost the fourth member of their family, Madison’s older brother, five years earlier during Godzilla’s battle in San Francisco, and the parents ultimately separated. It soon becomes clear that their split was equally due to grief and a philosophical disagreement over how to deal with Godzilla – the father thinks they should all be exterminated, while mom believes they can be manipulated through a special sonar device.
The giant monsters can travel from one part of the globe to the other quickly via tunnels through the centre of the planet, following the Hollow Earth theory, and emerge to wreak havoc in response to the human destruction of the environment atomic testing, nuclear and chemical waste-dumping, mountaintop demolition mining, and other assaults on mother nature. In the time since the first film, Monarch, the science project, has grown into an enormously well-funded unit with outposts all over the world housing and studying Titans discovered.
The special effects team provide the film’s various creatures with lifelike features and natural looking movements which make for the excellent battle scenes, edited by Roger Barton (“World War Z”), Richard Pearson (“Kong: Skull Island”) and Bob Ducsay (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) in a way that’s breathlessly exciting without ever being too choppy.
One of the film’s fascinations is the way it treats the monsters as outward manifestations of the characters’ personal issues, at times like enormous doppelgängers or golems representing their grief and trauma. But in addition to showing empathy for the personal pain being experienced by individuals, « King of the Monsters » is suffused with grief for what might be the eventual death of human civilization itself, which is a scientific certainty if we don’t turn the current environmental situation around over the next century. Truly awesome monster fight scenes fill the screen as beautifully-designed CGI take over, often infused with emotional resonance by impeccable music cues.
Officially the longest-running film franchise in history, this latest instalment in the Godzilla franchise showcases impressive kaiju smackdowns and an entertaining plot with messy human characters and very real environmental dangers lurking around.