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Beast of burden: New Godzilla delivers in action but falls down in characterisation

Beast of burden: New Godzilla delivers in action but falls down in characterisation

The modern day Hollywood Godzilla franchise has certainly been an up-and-down affair. The first film in the series hit screens in 2014 and was largely criticised due to the fact that it lacked something that you would have thought would be pretty important to the film being liked by fans – screen time for Godzilla himself.

EntertainmentWorld-Entertainment
By David Griffiths

Monday 10 June 2019, 10:00AM


Now showing in Phuket.

Now showing in Phuket.

Then came Kong: Skull Island, a more rounded effort that saw a lot more of the monster at hand and the result seemed to be an unanimous thumbs up from monster film lovers right around the world. Now comes Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the question on everybody’s lips is whether or not the franchise producers have learnt anything from their past mistakes.

Well, if the exact question you are asking is wheth­er this film presents more monster time, then the an­swer is yes. Not only does Godzilla get more minutes on the big screen, and thankfully this time a lot more battles, but this time fans also get to see the inclusion of other creatures from the deep including Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.

With that in mind, though, fans of the franchise should not think that they are about to experience a cinematic masterpiece because Godzilla: King of the Monsters is far from that. While director Michael Dougherty, who is mainly known for directing horror films like Krampus, and screenwriter Zach Shields have delivered on their promise of a monster smorgasbord, they seem to have forgotten a key element for a film like this – characters that the audience actually care about.

The flimsy storyline that holds Godzilla: King of the Monsters together sees three of Hollywood’s most talented actors completely wasted in roles that almost seem out of place on their re­sumes. Kyle Chandler is one of the best character actors in modern day cinema but here he plays easily one of the most forgettable roles – an expert named Mark Russell who finds himself on the opposite side of the argument than his scientist ex-wife, Emma (Vera Far­miga), when it comes down to whether or not Godzilla should be kept alive or not. The extremely thin and sometimes confusing plot sees Mark and Emma’s thoughts on the debate flip from side to side and to the audience it simply feels like you’re watching a long tennis rally... except with a lot more confusion.

The third underused actor is Sally Hawkins who seems badly miscast as a doctor again investigating Godzilla and the rise of the other Titans. As someone who has put in brilliant performances in films like The Shape Of Water and Happy-Go-Lucky, here she is wasted in a role that would normally go to an up-and-coming star instead of one of Hollywood’s elite.

In fact the only star of this movie who can hold her head high is young actress Millie Bobby Brown who backs up her role in one of the world’s most watched television shows, Stranger Things, with another credible perfor­mance here as the rest of the cast around her sinks thanks to a shallow script.

The one thing that does save this as a film, though, are the action sequenc­es. If you enjoyed films like Battle: Los Angeles, then this is certainly the film for you. Instead of following the modern day tradition of Hollywood blockbust­ers, Godzilla: King of the Monsters does not simply hit a lull and then cap things off with an epic battle as a finale. In­stead the film sees a number of full-on battles, including an amazing Arctic sequence, before a finale that is guar­anteed to keep fans of the franchise on the edge of their seats.

After the success of Kong: Skull Is­land, it does feel like a bit of a shame that he could not have been worked into this film somehow, but on the flipside the film does more than deliver when it comes to the action stakes. The scale of the battles and action sequences needed for this film do not prove to be daunting for Dougherty as director. Instead he delivers well-thought-out and crystal clear battles that do not fall into the trap of being almost unwatchable as creature blends into creature. Instead the battles easily overshadow every­thing else in the film and at least make the trip to the cinema feel worthwhile.

To sum up, Godzilla: King of the Monsters does overshadow its predeces­sor but its poor script means it simply doesn’t live up to some of the more intelligent Godzilla films, including 2016’s Shin Godzilla.

This is really a film for those that like action to totally dominate the film they are watching. The film does deliver when it comes to monsters and epic battle sequences but just don’t expect it to come close the memorable characterisation that we saw in Kong: Skull Island.

It’s for that rea­son we say that while you will probably struggle to remember any of the charac­ter’s names once the final credits have rolled, at least you will have a plethora of monster battles that you won’t be able to wait to tell your friends about.


David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus

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