Despite the vacuous content we’ve come to expect from blockbuster films, they do conform to one ubiquitous truth: they’re big, they’re loud, and they’re fun. Well, almost ubiquitous. In the case of Godzilla: King of the Monsters – the third installment in Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse, which began in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot – the first two points are entirely accurate: from the obnoxious screeching of the eponymous nuclear-charged lizard, to the roars of soaring fighter jets, it’s excruciatingly loud, and much of the film is shot indiscriminately wide. But fun? You’ll need to look somewhere else.
How can that be the case for a film series about grandiose monsters fighting one another to the death, you ask? On paper, Godzilla: King of the Monsters should be the epitome of dumb, popcorn-flick enjoyment. It’s manifestly director Michael Dougherty’s key intent, as dramatic tension and character development are disregarded in favour of explosive set pieces and epic monster brawls. Unfortunately, these set pieces are little more than neurotic – if visually impressive – light shows. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the script was competently written, but Dougherty and Zach Shields’ effort is shambolic.
The central plotline relies upon the exhaustingly overdone notion that we humans are the true monsters for our sins against nature. How original! This in itself isn’t entirely egregious, but the screenplay is lined with lazy dialogue, ill-conceived character arcs (Vera Farmiga’s Dr Emma Russell especially gets the short end here) and a problematic evocation of Orientalism.
The battles are epic, the shots are wide, and the roars are loud, but no level of overcompensation can make up for laughable dialogue, hokey editing and a disregard for character development. You’ll walk into this with a yearn for monstrous fun, and emerge wanting nothing more than an aspirin. Perhaps two.
CAST: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobbie Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty
WRITERS: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
SYNOPSIS: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.