The Bigger They Come Part 14 (Godzilla, the King of the Monsters, 2019)

Godzilla_King_of_the_Monsters_PosterReturning to the present after Kong Skull Island’s 70’s setting, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is our chance for some giant monster against monster action.

With a quick revisit to the destruction of the end of 2014’s Godzilla by Gareth Edwards, we meet the Russell family who are searching for their son while Godzilla fights the MUTOs.

Jumping to the present, Mark and Emma Russell are estranged, with Emma continuing her scientific work with Monarch. When Emma and their daughter Maddie are kidnapped by Echo-Terrorists, along with a weapon that allows for some communication with the titans, Mark is recruited by Monarch to help get them back.

It turns out to be more complex than that, some believe that the Titans are the key to healing the planet.  But their confidence lacks important data that could doom the planet and humanity.

So… One of my complaints with Edward’s Godzilla was it’s slow drawn out reveal of Godzilla. This was the umpteenth version of Godzilla and the slow reveal was unnecessary and pretty annoying. Here, we get to start seeing the titans very quickly and dramatically.  Director Michael Dougherty knows that a movie called Godzilla: King of the Monsters will need to deliver on the monsters.

And boy does he.  The film has several exciting sequences as Godzilla fights the new renditions of classic ToHo monsters. The designs of the creatures are great, they have a sense of life and threat.

I also liked the human characters in this film. It was nice to see Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins return from the previous film. Chandler is solid as a character who would just as soon see the titans all dead, but is forced to confront his anger and bitterness to save his family and the world. Vera Farmiga is both sympathetic and frustrating as Emma, who loves her family, but seems to skirt the line of ethics in her choices.  And Stranger Thing’s Millie Bobby Brown is very good as the surviving child who really wants to do what is right and also honor her lost brother.  The film has a fun supporting cast as well.

I really enjoyed this film.  The myth building, the action and the characters came together for crazy monster bashing fun.

 

The Bigger They Come Part 2 (Godzilla, 2014)

godzilla_2014_posterGodzilla has always seemed to have some trouble when Hollywood takes the reins.  1998’s misguided spectacle is the pinnacle of this.  Gareth Edwards and his team opted to take a step back.  They did not, of course, go with the “Man in Rubber Suit” approach…but their digital Godzilla is far more in line with the traditional Godzilla.

Starting in 1999, there is a mysterious and horrifying event at a nuclear power plant in Janjira, Japan.  American employee Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) loses his wife (Juliette Binoche) in the event, while his relationship with his son Ford becomes estranged as the years pass and Cranston’s obsession with the accident grows.  In 2014, Ford is in the military and returning home to his wife and son.  He gets a call that his father (still in Japan) has been arrested.  The location of the event is off limits to the public, due to claims of radiation.  Joe convinces Ford to explore Janjira one more time…and they discover a a secret research facility and some large monster referred to as a Muto that appears to be in hibernation. Of course, it wakes up and starts seeking it’s other half.

This results in the awakening of something else that comes in to fight these giants.  You know…Godzilla.  Godzilla is setup in this film as the hero, with no questions by the end of how people see him.

Edwards takes a very slow reveal approach.  This serves the film well, making it very satisfying when the audience gets to see Godzilla in full monster lizard glory.  At the same time, the film’s primary focus is on Ford and nurse (and wife) Elle.  And honestly?  They are tremendously boring characters.  So, when the film does not have Cranston or Ken Watanabe or Godzilla on screen, things get dull fast.

The opening credits are really nicely done, giving the audience old news reels indicating the existence of monsters…we get brief hints of Godzilla (mostly his back-plates) and evidence the military attempted to kill him.

Overall, the story is pretty simple, giant monsters appear and fight and cause destruction.  It is a fairly strong attempt to capture the feel of older Godzilla films, and in some ways does it smashingly well.  It is the centering of Ford and Elle that lacks any emotional punch that is needed in a film like this.  What makes it a bit more disappointing is Cranston and Binoche do have chemistry that makes them compelling…and they pull it off in about ten minutes of screen time.

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