Over the course of 65 years, the “Godzilla” franchise has certainly seen its ups and downs. The original 1954 film is a decent monster flick (“kaiju”) that, while somewhat cheesy in this day and age, still holds up as a classic, with the multitude of films that followed (i.e. “Godzilla vs…”) having a solid fanbase. However, in more recent years, the films have taken an obvious turn for the worse. The 1998 “Godzilla” is constantly criticized as being a big mistake, while the less said about the disastrous 2014 reboot, the better. With this in mind, you would think a sequel to the 2014 film would be another big mistake for the franchise, but because it made some money, you knew it was inevitable, so now we’re faced with “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” a follow-up that attempts to up the kaiju action considerably. Would the sequel finally be the one to get the series back on course, or were audiences simply in for an even bigger disaster than before?
Taking place five years after the previous film, we begin by following Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a member of Monarch, a group that seeks out and studies monsters akin to Godzilla. While she is researching a recently born creature known as Mothra, her group is attacked by eco-terrorists led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), who kidnaps both Emma and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), in addition to stealing a piece of machinery known as the “Orca,” which can influence the behavior of the monsters (known as “Titans”). Monarch approaches Emma’s ex-husband, Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), to help get them back, and while he eventually agrees, the situation only becomes more complicated when it is discovered that Emma is actually working with the terrorists to help free more Titans, believing that they are needed to help heal the Earth from damage caused by humans. With the terrorists waking more and more Titans around the world, Monarch must pin their hopes on Godzilla and his allies in hopes that they can bring the other monsters to heel.
With a film like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” there’s really no beating around the bush. There are several things that can be said about it, but unfortunately none of them are good. The film is simply one of the biggest, noisiest messes you will see in this, or any other year. When the previous film was criticized for having a very noticeable lack of Godzilla until near its conclusion, apparently the folks behind the follow-up took that to mean that the next film should be as overloaded with monsters as possible, even to the detriment of the characters and plot. Granted, no one really goes to see a film like this expecting to see anything near a well-rounded human character, but for this sequel, it feels as though they put in even less effort than before.
For those watching the film just hoping for a good bit of mindless kaiju action, there’s certainly plenty of that. Unfortunately the rest of the audience will be bored silly by the flat characters, nonsensical plotting, and the mind-numbing action. What’s even more frustrating though is that it wastes an incredibly talented cast in the process, including Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Ziyi Zhang. Alas, even such a remarkable ensemble as this would never be able to breathe life into Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields’ insipid screenplay, which ultimately ends up being the glaring source of the film’s multiple problems.
It’s really rare to find a film like this that has no redeeming qualities about it. The direction is sloppy, the action is dull, the characters are lifeless, and the plot never becomes compelling, or even slightly interesting. It’s a two-hour mishmash of monsters fighting and one-dimensional human characters running around trying to do something about it. When all is said and done, it’s rather easy to label it the worst film of the year, and it’s quite inconceivable that anything would be able to take the title away. In that sense, and in that sense alone, this “Godzilla” truly is king.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.4:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. This is a very dark and special effects-heavy film, but the picture remains perfectly sharp and clear throughout its 132-minute runtime. The Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and the extensive sound effects in excellent quality. Overall, the kaiju fans in the audience will no doubt be thrilled with the wonderful treatment that the film has received.
Monsters 101 (6 Minutes): A series of four brief featurettes all about the film’s major monsters.
Evolution of the Titans (27 Minutes): Another series of four featurettes that delve into how the monsters have changed.
Monarch in Action (33 Minutes): Yet another collection of featurettes that looks at the various spawning points of the monsters.
Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature (4 Minutes): A featurette that has everyone discussing the film’s young star.
Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight (9 Minutes): A featurette that examines the various tools at Monarch’s disposal.
Monsters Are Real (14 Minutes): A featurette that discusses the history of monster stories and Godzilla’s place in it.
Welcome to the Monsterverse (4 Minutes): A featurette that explores the monsterverse that Warner Bros. has been building.
Deleted Scenes (5 Minutes): A brief selection of four deleted/extended sequences.
Commentary: A track featuring director/co-writer Michael Dougherty, co-writer Zach Shields, and actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. in which they give some interesting behind-the-scenes info.
With its mind-numbingly dull action, flat characters, and nonsensical plot, it’s rather difficult to find a single redeeming quality in the entirety of the two-hour tedious mess that is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters." Also going so far as to waste a great cast consisting of multiple Oscar and Emmy nominees, it easily makes a case for being the worst film of 2019. Will anyone dare challenge the king for the title? It seems very much doubtful.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting today.
This article is based on a review copy generously provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.