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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Ziyi Zhang, Aisha Hinds, David Strathairn, Anthony Ramos, Bradley Whitford, CCH Pounder, Charles Dance, Elizabeth Ludlow, Jason Liles, Ken Watanabe, Lexi Rabe, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Sally Hawkins, Randall P. Havens, and Thomas Middleditch
DIRECTED BY
Michael Dougherty
SCREENPLAY
Michael Dougherty (Screenplay/Story), Zach Shields (Screenplay/Story), Max Borenstein (Story)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
131 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Warner Brothers
OFFICIAL WEBSITE

 "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is Big Dumb Fun 
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Let's be honest. It's a guy thing. 

Men like things that suck. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, if we're being honest, completely sucks but it sucks in that special kind of way that makes a guy feel kind of special. It's the kind of suck that you instantly forget about except for that weird tingling in your nether regions that serves as a reminder of the sucking. 

That tingling? It could be a pleasant memory. It could also be a disease. 

But, if we're being honest guys don't care because, well, guys like things that suck. 

There's no question that Godzilla: King of the Monsters should have been and could have been a much better film. There are moments when director Michael Dougherty, following up on Gareth Edwards' serious and silly 2014 film, taps into the soul of the Godzilla films and in these moments Godzilla: King of the Monsters flirts with being an upper tier Godzilla film.

Unfortunately, these moments are often short-lived and surrounded by abysmal editing choices, excessive and unnecessary exposition, and wonkily awkward dialogue that serves little purpose other than constantly reminding us how completely unnecessary the humans are in this overly populated cast of one and two-note caricatures. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn't a necessary film. It's not even a good film, really. However, Toho devotees are likely to embrace it for the most part and those seeking escapist cinematic fare could definitely go more wrong than sticking with this nearly brainless, plodding, disorganized but still rather fun and cheekily endearing endeavor. 

The Godzilla franchise is cinema's longest running and franchise, though certainly there are others that could claim to have a wider reach. The franchise has encompassed 30+ feature films, television, breakfast cereals, and a host of other pop culture outlets on its way to having attained its current iconic status globally. Most people have managed to see at least "a" Godzilla film, while others, including friend and film journalism peer Evan Dossey, have plopped themselves down in front of a big screen and watched, quite literally, every Godzilla film ever made. 

And enjoyed them. 

In case you're wondering, Evan's a fan of this film. While recognizing its flaws, he embraces the culture of Godzilla and feels like Godzilla: King of the Monsters embraces that culture and brings it to life. 

While I'm not nearly as up on the film as is Evan, for the most part he's absolutely correct. 

The third film in Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse brand behind 2014's Godzilla and 2017's Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a difficult film to describe precisely because the film is less about narrative and far more about CGI Kaiju kick-ass sequences and goofily fun action sequences. Somewhat reflective of Toho's Heisei era flicks, think Godzilla vs. Destroyah, this is a film that defies its overly complicated plot with overly simplified action sequences. 

Somewhat logically, the film takes place after 2014's film gave us the epic battle Godzilla and the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms (MUTOs). The secretive Monarch is back with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa still at its helm and having located other "titans" around the globe. Vera Farmiga's Dr. Russell and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things) are apart from their husband/father (Kyle Chandler) following the events that unfolded in the previous film. Dr. Russell has developed a way of communicating with the Titans, calling it ORCA, and as one might expect it's a popular tool that could cause serious chaos in the wrong hands such as in the hands of one Jonah Alan (Charles Dance), an eco-terrorist who would like nothing better than to "restore balance to the Earth." 

Um, yeah.

The military also has their eyes on the tool, of course, and a certain refrence to 1954's Gojira should bring more than a few smiles to faces for true Godzilla devotees. 

If you've managed to follow that last couple of paragraphs, then you're also an obvious devotee of my writing because I'm even sitting here reading it back to myself thinking "That doesn't make sense."

Godzilla: King of the Monsters doesn't make a lick of sense, but it has a lot of fun along the way. Dougherty, who directed the films Krampus and Trick r' Treat, has crafted a visually appealing film with enough affection for its cinematic roots that it's hard not to imagine that folks are absolutely going to love it. While one could easily argue the visuals are often dark and muddy, there's a consistency within those visuals to the Toho films that is admirable and it's hard not to get a goofy ass grin on your face when such monsters as Mothra, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, and a few other surprises pop up along the way. 

The humans? They're mostly irrelevant here with Millie Bobby Brown being one of the most appealing, while Sally Hawkins, now an Academy Award winner, being completely and utterly wasted. 

But again, Godzilla: KIng of the Monsters isn't about the humans. 

Bear McCreary's original score is loud, booming and domineering, though at times McCreary serves up delightful hints of Akira Ifukube's Godzilla scores from the 1950's and 60's and suddenly all feels right within the Godzilla universe. One can't help but wish he'd stuck even consistently within that musical realm. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn't a good film. It simply isn't. However, it's also not the disaster many will proclaim it to be and it's fair to say that it earns its way within the Godzilla franchise. It's close enough in tone and aura to not be considered a guilty pleasure, because one need not feel one iota of guilt for enjoying a brainless exercise in monster mashing and kaiju bashing. 

Turn off your mind. Tune out the world. Give yourself to Godzilla: King of the Monsters and enjoy it for what it is. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

    The Official Rating Guideline
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