While Gareth Edwards‘ 2014 Godzilla divided opinions, I loved it. This was due to the focus on the human element alongside the gradual reveal and low-angle views of Godzilla from a different perspective, as well as G’s big moments as the ultimate anti-hero. While I was excited for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I was also apprehensive and especially with the re-invigorated link between Kong: Skull Island and another upcoming titan epic in the distance. Was I right to be concerned? It’s a bit of both with Michael Dougherty‘s fresh take on the Gigantis.
So, Godzilla: King of the Monsters instantly places us into the aftermath of the events of 2014 but, particularly, focusing on Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga‘s Mark and Dr. Emma Russell, and their daughter Madison, as they look for their son in the destruction of a flattened San Francisco but it seems, even at this stage, that something terrible has happened to them. We skip to 5 years later with the now estranged family (and an older Madison played by Millie Bobby Brown) to discover that their son, Andrew, was killed and they’ve been living separate lives and are barely connected but… Emma is very much involved as a Scientist as all across the Globe, discovering MUTO’s have been surfacing… and, you’ve guessed it, something major is about to go wrong.
Through a mix of bizarre eco-warrior behaviour and other things I’m not entirely sure about, the monsters all begin to surface because Charles Dance‘s Jonah Alan wants to restore the Earth’s ‘natural balance’ and release the monsters/titans to ‘cure’ the Earth and so forth. It’s not the most original base narrative and, as you’ll probably guess, things don’t go to plan. I guess because it’s not a very smart plan. Also, they try to throw in a message about climate change and over-population but it feels oddly preachy, which isn’t that necessary when most of us are now on-board with ‘we must save the planet’, something The Day After Tomorrow did ahead of its time and with greater strength.
But, saying this, Godzilla: KOTM is very much a mixed bag, whilst most of the side characters are sadly one-dimensional, this is a Godzilla film and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the big moments with those who matter: Mothra, Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah who all look absolutely epic. Where Edwards’ film stepped back, Dougherty’s approach is to literally give you what you want straight away but it’s almost overwhelming because it’s so close and so huge. I’m still to decide if he’s put on a lot of pounds over the time passed but, thankfully he’s a similar look to 2014’s, which was an awesome design.
If you’re here for the classic blockbuster, with a desire for enormous chaos and fights, you won’t be let down at all. Whilst that aforementioned human element isn’t quite as nuanced, the magnificent central trio of Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga save the day with perfect chemistry and strong performances, plus an intelligent and timely flip on the usual stereotypes. The return of Ken Wanatabe is also important with a vital role to play, and we also see Sally Hawkins again but as much as we love her, she doesn’t have much time for anything too in-depth.
The overall script hits the slightly clichéd ‘explain the plot out loud’ but seems content doing that, and there are jokes to lighten the intensity which don’t always hit the mark but, oddly it doesn’t matter because, let’s be honest, we’re here for the Monsters. The enormous scale of the fight sequences and many knockdowns suit the monsters and give us what we want, I mean, who doesn’t want to see King Ghidorah and Godzilla smashing their way through a city?
On a further positive, the final quarter is the strongest section of all, throwing in the high stakes, the huge set pieces and destruction on a scale I don’t think I’ve ever encountered before. These are titans, there’s no doubt, and there’s little to no sitting back when it comes to all-out war between the major kings (and queens) of the monsters and it IS breathtaking. For all my reservations, the mighty moments? They’re incredible, exceptional and what the word ‘epic’ really stands for, there’s no holding back.
As a proper big-screen (IMAX, cinema or big home TV) blockbuster, it ticks every box so switch off, get comfy on the sofa, grab your snacks and take in the spectacle because it’s that and a whole lot more, I just wish there was a lot less over-explanation in some places as it’s not always necessary but, anyway, let’s watch it again, yeah?
The Blu-ray extras include a select number of extended, deleted scenes, which gives the impression KOTM is very much the Director’s Cut, there’s also Monsters 101, which breaks down a little segment for each one feature here: Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah and Rodan. These are brief insights, with loud-pulsing music that overwhelms a little, but it’s still enough to enjoy. They all feature the cast and crew sharing their love and giving reasons why.
Evolution of the Titans does something similar, we take a closer look at Godzilla 2.0, who’s been bulked up subtly and re-establishing the others in a modern setting. There’s no doubt of the scale here (again) and the more you see Ghidorah, the more impressive that death machine is! They also break down Monarch’s role in the whole film, their placement in each location and so forth.
Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature is as much fun as we already know she is! Crazily she was 13 when they made this, the other cast and crew, including Dougherty’s admiration for her, just talk about her sheer natural talent, it’s good to get this more normal look behind-the-scenes. This is a good one. Monsters Are Real is the other interesting featurette, delving inside the history of monsters in ‘real’ life and their representation in the world, how we react and their power over humans – in a psychological sense. I enjoyed how it breaks down the evolution of human beings and the classic ‘fight or flight’ that’s embedded somewhere deep in our DNA.
Monster Tech looks at all the tech they’ve got on-board in the new film, and all the ‘fun’ stuff they get to use and Welcome to the Monsterverse is look towards the general combination of Kong, Godzilla and everything that’s being slowly built up by Legendary. And finally, the excellent Commentary with director Dougherty, exec producer Zach Shields and O’Shea Jackson Jr, which offers a fun insight after another re-watch and it also opens up a whole host of secrets and homages, including Tony Stark’s daughter – whaaa! – plus their love for Jaws and certain things named because of the classic. It’s a really good commentary and one that gives us a host of extra layers. So, combining the feature with the extras, we’ve got to give it…
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is out on Blu-ray, DVD on 14th October, and on Digital now.
Order it now: https://amzn.to/319jINc