Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance
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. (Source: IMDb)
The overriding complaint about Gareth Edward’s Godzilla (2014) was that it didn’t feature enough of the monster himself, and that certainly isn’t a complaint that can be transferred over to King of the Monsters, this time with director Michael Dougherty at the helm. There is certainly monster-sized action to be had in this film with Godzilla very much front and centre, along with fire demon Rodan, giant moth Mothra, and the formidable King Ghidorah. You cannot deny the spectacle of this film, at least on paper anyway, but sadly the film does not live up to it’s lofty promises.
The result is a film which is overstuffed and vacuous, and whilst there are fleeting moments of cinematic spectacle, on the whole, the film is an incoherent mess. You’ll read many reviews which criticise the human components of this film – and boy is there a lot to criticise there – and you’ll then read many counter-arguments which vehemently argue that we’re not here for the humans, we’re here for the monsters. And there is a whisker of truth in that, but the fact is, even the scenes of monster action and the huge fight scenes are completely lost amidst sloppy editing, overly shaky camera movement and an overwhelming bombardment of the elements. The action, what there is of it, is completely lost in the chaos, and that is a real shame, as seeing these legendary monsters clash on the big screen should’ve been a spectacle of epic proportions.
The argument that this is a “monster” film and therefore the human components are irrelevant does hold some truth, and I would be quite in favour of the humans playing second fiddle to Godzilla and co. had the filmmakers at least made the effort to give them a decent script to work with. King of the Monsters has arguably one of the worst scripts in recent memory and the characters have little to do except dump exposition, ask, and then subsequently answer questions, and yell intermittently. The whole thing is a mess, and regardless of this being a “monster” movie and the humans being unimportant, the fact that the human cast is so poorly written means that there is little to grasp onto here. Fact is, I am not a gargantuan fire-breathing lizard (shockingly!), I am a person and whilst accepting the film is fantastical and unrealistic in many ways, I do at least need something, someone, or anything that I can relate to. The complete lack of this and the shocking waste of an excellent cast is just one of the major problems with this film.
There’s no denying the beauty in some of the scenes in this film, however nothing fails to match up to those gorgeous posters and stills and the result is an unintelligible, thunderingly dull and narratively empty film that has spectacle in abundance, albeit not enough to make up for the shocking lack of substance.