‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ delivers simple story and great monsters

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To cut to the chase, if you go to see “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”  for its riveting story and brilliant writing, you are going to the wrong movie. Any Godzilla movie is one that is selling itself entirely on its bombastic, monster punching action. And, well, it should, as the childlike joy you will find in these gargantuan monster fights is incomparable to anything you will most likely see in 2019.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a follow up to 2014’s “Godzilla.” It follows divorced couple Dr. Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Dr. Emma (Vera Farmiga) Russell, who are still dealing with the fallout of the death of their son Andrew after Godzilla’s rampage in the previous film. Emma lives on a research facility with their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), still studying the titans (the film’s term for the gargantuan Godzilla-type beasts), while Mark has sworn them off and continues studying Earth’s smaller animals. However, things quickly turn sour, as Emma and Madison are attacked by an eco-terrorist group lead by former MI6 member Alan Jonah (Charles Dance). Mark is swept back into the frey of chasing around titanic beasts, as Jonah threatens to unleash Titan-0, an enormous 3 headed dragon that can call other titans under its command, soon becoming apparent that Godzilla may be humanity’s only shot of survival.

Again, the story here is not what anyone came for. It simply serves as a vehicle to get the characters from location to another to watch the monsters fight. It gets a little convoluted at times, but overall it’s simple enough to follow. The cast is jam-packed with fairly big names that round out the largely ensemble cast, although sometimes the cast feels too big, with each character sometimes feel like they’re struggling for screen time. The above plot summary doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the other characters, but there are fun performances littered throughout, the highlight being Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa, who delivers a plethora of dramatic one liners about the nature of monsters. They’re cheesy, but in a good, fun way.

Naturally, where this movie shines is the monster fights, and there are plenty here. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” brings back not only its titular Godzilla, but other classic monsters from Japan’s large library of Kaiju films. Iconic Godzilla adversaries Ghidorah, Rodan, and sometimes ally Mothra all make glorious appearances here. To the film’s credit, you can tell there is a deep devotion to the design of all the monsters. While they have been updated for a now CGI oriented Hollywood, each design is gorgeous, and where finesse in cinematography may lack in the human scenes of this film, each monster is framed like a work of art. The movie does a great job of establishing the scale of the monsters, as human buildings can often be found at the feet of the giants on screen, creating a great sense of the awe-inspiring size being presented. There’s something kind of breathtaking to seeing the absolute enormity of the monsters, followed by a frequent childish joy at watching said monsters punch each other, very, very hard.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is not anything game changing for a blockbuster. It is a simple story, with simple characters and a clunky script. But “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” also has Godzilla and a three headed dragon called Ghidorah destroying Boston for a half hour, and that’s quite fun. If you don’t see the joy in really, really big things, and you don’t enjoy big, city destroying fights, then clearly this movie isn’t for you. If you do, then go see this. There are no shortage of monster fights, and each one of them packs a powerful punch that leaves you feeling like an excitable child again. And that’s what the movies are for, aren’t they?