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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.56%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Just Average: 5.56%
Pretty Crappy66.67%
Sucks: 11.11%

2 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a. Kaijugogo"
2 stars

Having seen at least a plurality of the 30+ films (a count not including the infamous “Bambi Meets Godzilla”) featuring Godzilla—everyone’s favorite titanic-sized atomic-powered sea monster—since the beast first burst across movie screens in his 1954 debut, I can assure you that they are essentially the cinematic equivalent of a ball park hot dog. Sure, the quality of the ingredients going into them can vary from gourmet to questionable but for the most part, they still manage to come across as reasonably satisfying and one has to work pretty hard to screw one up to the point of indigestibility. For most observers, the artistic low point in the history of the film franchise remains the mammothlyg expensive 1998 American remake by Roland Emmerich that demonstrated virtually no understanding of the appeal of the Godzilla mythos as it transformed it into little more than an extended Taco Bell commercial more notable for the careers that it helped stop dead in their tracks (wither Maria Pitillo) than for the utterly anonymous and poorly visualized mayhem that it offered up to increasingly disgruntled viewers. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the latest screen appearance by everyone’s favorite kaiju and a direct sequel to the surprise 2014 American-made “Godzilla,” is not nearly as bad as the Emmerich but there are too many times when it is headed in that direction for comfort. This is a messy, undisciplined and ultimately forgettable work that contains a few fleeting moments of real grace and beauty that are too often subsumed by a script more interested in creating a wholly unnecessary "universe" than in telling a compelling story and extended sequences of wholesale havoc presented in a manner so murky that it is often a challenge to discern what is going on in any given scene.

This is especially disappointing because its predecessor was an almost shockingly good film. When it was about to come out in 2014, most viewers held out little hope for it for a couple of good reasons—lingering resentment over the Emmerich film and the ways that Hollywood transformed Godzilla into a soulless CGI creation and the inescapable fact that films like “Cloverfield” and “Pacific Rim” had taken the basic template for a Godzilla film and took it into new and interesting directions. Happily, director Gareth Edwards presented viewers with a wildly ambitious and often surprising work that managed to combine an eye for contemporary pop spectacle and a canny feel for what made Godzilla one of the most compelling and interesting movie monsters of all time. Some objected to Edwards’s oftentimes subversive approach to the material—utilizing a slow-burn approach that kept Godzilla himself off the screen for quite a bit before unleashing him and filming most of his scenes at night in the rain that prevented viewers from getting the kind of lingering looks at the beast that they had come to expect. Yes, there were flaws—the storyline was a bit messy (I still am at a loss to explain the presence of Juliette Binoche) and the main characters played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen were eminently forgettable—but it was still far better than it probably had any right to be.

In the previous film, we discovered that Godzilla was no mere anomaly and that there were other creatures like him out there that have been dubbed Titans. Emma and Mark Russell (Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler), a pair of divorced scientists whose son was killed during the climactic carnage of the earlier film, have been working on a machine called the Orca, a device that blends the voices of various Titans in a way that creates a sound that allows for communication with them. Along the way, they split with Mark going off to wallow in booze and solitude while Emma, along with their teenage daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), has gone off to perfect the machine. Just as she gets it to finally work, she and Madison are kidnapped by an eco-terrorist gang led by former British Army colonel Jonah Allen (Charles Dance) who have nefarious plans for the machine. As it turns out, Emma is definitely down with the program—even more so than Allen is—and before long, the terrifying three-headed alpha beast known as Monster Zero is awakened and begins signaling the other Titans to wreak havoc until mankind is a memory. If humans are to survive at all, as it turns out, they need to turn to Godzilla and friendlier Titans like the giant flying creature Mother to help save the day.

If there is one artistic trait that unifies all of the Godzilla films that have been made over the years, it is that the narratives diving them have often come across as little more than afterthoughts that only serve to get viewers from one destructive set piece to the next—even the original, for all of its serious-mindedness, is kind of weak in this regard. The screenplay for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is such a mess that it will have viewers yearning for the comparative clarity of “Terror of Mechagodzilla.” Like too many big-budget films of late, this one spends so much time trying to set up and sustain its title-spanning universe—one that currently encompasses “Godzilla” and “Kong of Skull Island” and will continue with the inevitable “Kong vs. Godzilla”—that it often seems to forget the story at hand. Of course, this wouldn’t have been that big of a problem if this unfolding universe were actually interesting but based on the available evidence, it could not be more boring as is. There is much to do with a shadowy government project by the name of Monarch that is supposed to be dealing with the Titan problem but I still have no idea if the they are supposed to be good or evil or what their intentions regarding the Titans are supposed to be. (A little more explanation along these lines and maybe a few fewer Skull Island references might have helped.) The rest of the script is a collection of the usual scenes that one might find in a film like this—chunks of raw exposition that attempt to explain what the hell is going on, self-conscious character moments designed to make the actors think that they are more than just props and plenty of moments when the ordinary guy hero gets to take over all the operations and order the military men around because dammit, that is his kid out there! Material like this is bad enough on its own but when this stuff is handed to the surprisingly strong cast gathered here (in addition to those already mentioned, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Straithairn, Bradley Whitford and Zhang Ziyi also turn up) and {i}they{/i} can’t make it work, it is doubly embarrassing.

However, even the action beats that viewers are presumably waiting for come up short this time around. Faced with the challenge of making the notion of kaiju-related havoc interesting in the wake of dozens of previous movies for “Godzilla,” Edwards, who had only done the super low-budget indie “Monsters” before signing on, employed a couple of intriguing touches to his approach to the mayhem that deployed unusual camera angles and an intricate sound design to suggest the wild confusion while lending a certain air of mystery to the proceedings and depicted the creatures in a way that somehow managed to use state-of-the-art CGI to give them slightly off-kilter movements that subtly suggested their man-in-suit origins and gave them a certain degree of personality. Not everyone agreed with the results—some complained that most of the battle scenes seemed to take place in inclement weather and that the title character was not on screen nearly enough—but those naysayers are likely to be appalled by what transpires here. For starters, the whole storm aspect is so overblown this time around that during the big action beats in which the creatures are doing battle with each other, it is oftentimes difficult to impossible to determine what the hell is going on—Dougherty just does not seem to have the kind of visual verve to pull off what he is attempting to do here and the visuals eventually become as murky as the plotting. As for Godzilla, while I kind of liked how Edwards carefully deployed his money creature throughout, Dougherty pushes that to absurd extremes—Godzilla does not put in an appearance until about 45 minutes into the proceedings and then disappears again for large chunks of time until the big finale. That might have been excused if we had gotten great stuff with the new creatures but there are only fleeting moments that suggest their grandeur before they are reduced to another group of largely anonymous creations.

There are a few moments to be in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” that suggest the kind of epic that it might have become in the right hands—the bit where Rodan escapes from his slumber in a Mexican volcano is pretty nifty (it is also one of the few things that you can actually see clearly) and there are a few shots of Mothra in all her surreal glory that are probably as close to sheer visual poetry as you are likely to find in a multiplex right now. Unfortunately, these are just moments and the film is unable to figure out how to sustain them, either in terms of drama or just in providing mass appeal eye candy. Hardcore Godzilla fans may still find seeing their favorite wreaking high-tech havoc to be worth watching on some basic fundamental level—and most fans of Major League Baseball will no doubt be amused by what happens to a certain landmark location during the late innings—but most are likely to find it to be an entirely forgettable experience, the kind of anonymous symphony of insignificant sound and fury that they assumed they were going to get the last time around. It probably won’t be the worst blockbuster you see this summer but considering how well the previous film worked in the face of expectations, it will probably go down as one of the more disappointing.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27813&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/29/19 21:44:24
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User Comments

9/06/19 ThickNjustrite Among the worst Godzilla films ever! Can't see anything! 1 stars
6/11/19 Jimmie T. Murakami Godzilla was a joke in 1954, now hes just a nauseating pile of garbage. 1 stars
6/07/19 Charles Tatum One of the most astoundingly entertaining movies i`ve ever seen, quite astonishing. 5 stars
6/06/19 PUMP UP THE JAM This time KOTM returned to the spirit of Kaiju film, which really moved Kaiju Fans. 4 stars
6/05/19 Bob Dog Easily the best of the American Godzilla remakes! 4 stars
5/31/19 morris campbell not bad imho best viewed on a large screen 3 stars
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  31-May-2019 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Aug-2019


  DVD: 27-Aug-2019

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