This is how you do a Godzilla movie! Now I personally enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla for the most part; but did find it ultimately frustrating that its focus was almost entirely on the incredibly bland human characters. Even more than that was how often Edwards actually cut away from the action just as Godzilla showed up or a fight was about to begin. It happened several times, and it was even more aggravating upon revisiting the film all these years later. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having human characters involved in the story to help build a plot and move it forward, however, lets not kid ourselves into thinking that anyone is watching the movie for anything other than to see Godzilla kick some Titan ass.
2014’s Godzilla was the first film in a larger Monsterverse being created by Warner Bros. and unlike their superhero universe, this one righted the course after the first misstep and now has its foot pressed down on the pedal heading into next year’s Godzilla Vs. Kong. Yes, in 2017 Jordan Vogt-Roberts delivered the absolutely awesome Kong: Skull Island. The film was beautiful, incredibly well-paced and seamlessly mixed in human characters that we enjoyed watching with loads of giant monsters that were the reason we were watching in the first place. Two years later the latest iteration of Godzilla got his second chance at making a lasting impression in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and director Matthew Dougherty made sure the legendary kaiju did just that.
The film picks up five years after the 2014 film ended, with the Monarch agency trying to defend its research and the Titans (specifically Godzilla) against the government that wants to either destroy these massive creatures or use them as weapons. Meanwhile, Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is in China at a Monarch facility with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown,) just as a Titan larva named Mothra is born. When the facilities systems go haywire, Mothra is attacked by the guards and defends herself. Emma rushes out and uses a small device she’s been working on called “Orca” to calm Mothra back into a subdued state. Moments later, a eco-terrorist group led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) break into the facility and kill everyone but Emma and Madison, who are both kidnapped, thanks to the power of the “Orca” device.
When Monarch’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) hears of the kidnapping, he quickly locates Emma’s ex-husband, Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and recruits him for their rescue mission. You see, Mark helped Emma build a prototype for the “Orca” and explains to Serizawa and his colleagues that it can be used to control and even weaponize the Titans. While Monarch believes that certain Titans are here to protect the earth, Mark is on the side that they should all be destroyed – greatly in part to the fact that their son was killed during the 2014 San Francisco battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs. But he’ll have to put those feelings aside for now, as the eco-terrorists begin using the Orca to help free an abundance of Titans worldwide, and the only one who may be able to stop them from annihilating the world is Godzilla.
Now, this might seem like a lot of human drama in comparison to Titan battles, but it’s actually not. This is all touched upon early on in the film, during which we get that Mothra larva attack scene, as well as a couple of other fun surprises. And once the Titans start being released and wreaking havoc, it’s really a non-stop roller-coaster ride of monster-iffic proportions!
First and foremost, the film doesn’t focus on the drama, and when there are more emotional moments, the film doesn’t hit the breaks on the action like the 2014 film did quite often. This time everything happens while this cataclysmic event is occurring around them. So, when a more emotional scene takes place, it fits well into the context and hits home the way it should, all while you know more monster action is just moments away. The human characters are also a lot less one-dimensional and annoying than the 2014 film, as they actually belong in the situations they’re in because they’re putting themselves there in an attempt to help stop the destruction of the planet.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character in the 2014 film constantly just inadvertently found himself exactly where the Titans ended up being because the plot required the story to revolve around his character. It was so forced at times that it took you out of the movie, and it didn’t help that, as mentioned above, the first few times that Godzilla showed up we cut away to Taylor-Johnson or his cliché family drama instead of sticking with the action. This time around Godzilla and the Titans are front and center throughout most of the film, and the human characters are there to help further the story instead of hindering it.
So, with that out of the way, how does Godzilla: King of the Monsters deliver on the monster side of it? Well the film is absolutely packed with Godzilla favourites such as Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla’s major nemesis King Ghidorah, and they all look phenomenal. There are enough battles that happen throughout the film to keep the pacing brisk while also not making the fights or action sequences repetitive over the films two hour and twelve-minute runtime. All in all it’s hard to put into words exactly how well it’s all balanced other than to say it’s exactly what you want from a Godzilla movie and that’s the first time that can really be said since the King of Monsters first received the Hollywood blockbuster treatment back in 1998.
If the 2014 Godzilla turned you off of the beast then I’d highly recommend giving him another shot in this latest film. While that movie may have been the start of the Monster-verse, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters are the true fast-paced, action-packed, Titan-fueled representations of what this franchise will be moving forward. In short: Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an absolute nuclear blast that shouldn’t be missed.
This is a summer blockbuster through and through, and the explosive action that is bursting from the seams looks superb in 4K for those looking for the best picture across the board. The monster battles are epic, the rest of the action is crisp and vibrant and everything just looks gorgeous. For those who haven’t made the upgrade, the 4K version may be worth picking up regardless just to have it ready for whenever you do, as it includes the Blu-ray as well (which also looks great visually, so you’re in good hands either way!) The audio transfer is also incredibly well done, with the dialogue coming through nicely, even when the explosions and monstrous roars take center stage.
Audio Commentary – First up let’s touch on the commentary, which features Director Michael Dougherty, producer Zack Shields, and actor O’Shea Jackson, Jr. The commentary covers a plethora of items, including some notes about the making of the film, talking about previous Godzilla films, following up on Gareth Edwards’ film and more. If you’re a fan of commentary tracks then this is one you should greatly enjoy!
Monsters 101 – This featurette is five and a half minutes in length and briefly touches on the films main Titans including Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah. This is like an appetizer to some of the features that follow.
Evolution of the Titans – This feature is just over 27-minutes in length and focuses on the visuals and effects used to create the four main Titans mentioned above. This is a case of padding out special features, as the above one doesn’t really need to exist when one…well, Titan sized feature would’ve done the trick.
Monarch in Action – This feature is just under 33-minutes in total and is the biggest feature on the disc. It has behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews and concept to film looks at various major locations used during the film, such as the Yunnan Temple, the Antarctic base and Isla de Maro. This is definitely a fun one to watch for fans of Godzilla and filmmaking in general.
Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature – This is a four-minute featurette that focuses on, well, Millie Bobby Brown! Fans of hers will enjoy it, and fans of the film will find it easy enough to watch!
Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight – This is an eight and a half minute feature on the military equipment used in the film, some of which is real and some of it created just for the flick. It’s fun to learn about which is which, and that we could definitely not survive against an actual Titan attack.
Monsters Are Real – This is a feature that’s just over 14-minutes in length that doesn’t have so much to do with the Godzilla film as it does with experts in the field talking about mythology of monsters and the possibility of them actually existing in reality.
Welcome to the Monsterverse – This is a brief featurette that’s just under four minutes long and looks at the connections between the 2014 Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island and the Monsterverse being created.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – There are a few scenes here to be viewed if you’re into seeing what didn’t make it into the film. Not really something I tend to enjoy, as it’s usually clear that pacing just doesn’t suit these often elongated scenes, but they’re here if you like them!
There are also three Theatrical Trailers, including the one I really love, “Over the Rainbow,” which I think is just wonderfully put together.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Presents Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Directed by: Michael Dougherty. Written by: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields. Starring: Godzilla, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Alan Jonah. Running time: 132 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Aug. 27, 2019.
Tags: Ghidorah, Godzila, Godzilla King of the Monsters, Kyle Chandler, Matthew Dougherty, Millie Bobby Brown, Mothra, Rodan