Godzilla: King of the Monsters (12A) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Michael Dougherty, US, 2019,132 mins

Cast:  Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Kyle Chandler

Review by Carol Allen


If you like your monsters some 40-foot-high and fierce, then go see this movie in IMAX format.  As a bonus you get close ups of the actors 40-foot-high as well, surprisingly with not much in the way of warts and all.   Must be good make up.  If, however you like a film with a strong story and interesting characters, this one is not for you.  

The characters, such as they are, include scientist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga).  She is working for an organization called Monarch studying the giant monsters, which they call ‘titans’, who appear to have popped up in various countries round the world.

Near the beginning of the film, Emma is kidnapped by some British ex-army fella Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), along with her teenage daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), who just happens to be with her at the time.

Turns out though Emma is in league with Jonah, who is actually an eco-warrior and Emma believes she can somehow use the titans to restore the ecological balance of the world – don’t ask me how.  If that was ever explained I missed it in all the sound and fury.

Her disappearance rather worries her boring husband Mark (Kyle Chandler), who was away when she did a bunk.  He was dancing with wolves – well, studying them actually, but dancing sounds more fun.

Things get out of hand when the three headed monster Zero appears to be controlling the other titans in some way and causing them to be really bad guys.  And now we come to the really interesting characters.  Zero’s three heads snarl mightily and scarily plus there’s what looks like a huge slug, a rather beautiful giant moth, a vicious pterodactyl and I’m sure I spotted a cuddly mammoth at some point.

It’s a shame though that, apart from Zero, we don’t get much of a good look at these lovingly created digital beings until the climactic battle which takes up the last part of the film, when Godzilla (you know what he looks like from the posters) proves himself to be top titan in battle.   Though why he decides to save humanity I have no idea.   That possibly came up in Gareth Edwards film Godzilla (2014), which was equally noisy.

The humans however don’t get the chance to do anything half as interesting.  Also trying to make something out of their characters from that previous film are Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins, plus Bradley Whitford (press officer Josh from The West Wing).  I amused myself during the boring bits trying to identify the actor, hidden as he was behind luxuriant white hair and boffin glasses.

Godzilla himself has some cause for grievance too.   Apart from a fleeting appearance in the opening sequence of San Francisco in flames – had he caused that?  Was that indeed him?   Not sure – he has no screen time to speak of, until he wades into the fray at the end.   As the title star of the movie, I think he should complain about his lack of screen time.

Carol Allen

Author: Carol Allen

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