While there’s been no shortage of attention to dissecting everything that’s gone wrong with Warner Bros’ DC Universe films, it feels like the strong work done in the early stages of the Monsterverse (2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island) has been overlooked. The series’ third film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, looks to build on those films and inject ever more action as the franchise heads toward next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
Five years have passed since the emergence of Godzilla and the discovery of other monstrous creatures known as Titans across the globe. While the Monarch organization has overseen the situation thus far, the US government is interested in assuming oversight. Before the two sides can reach a resolution, however, a Monarch facility is attacked and a critical piece of tech known as the Orca, which can communicate with the Titans, is stolen.
Eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance; Game of Thrones) is behind the assault, and in the process he takes a pair of prisoners: Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga; The Conjuring) and her daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown; Stranger Things). Desperate to recapture the Orca and save the hostages, Monarch tracks down Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler; Friday Night Lights), who has become estranged from his family. After some initial resistance, Mark agrees to help as they go to intercept Jonah at a facility in Antarctica.
Although the team arrives in time to prevent Jonah from waking the dangerous Monster Zero, Emma elects to side with Jonah and detonate the explosives to free Zero from the ice. In the aftermath, Emma explains to her former colleagues that Titans represent the only way to save the planet from destruction, equating it to a fever burning away the sickness. When the Orca provides inadequate to control Zero, however, a whole new set of problems emerge, and humanity’s only hope may be Godzilla.
We liked the first Godzilla, a lot, but it had a pretty slow pace. King of the Monsters kicks things up several notches and introduces new monsters into the fray, including Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah (AKA Monster Zero). Their design is exceptional, and the CGI is excellent from start to finish with epic visual set pieces and monster fights. There’s plenty of great action here, and the pace is pretty brisk throughout, so if the first film felt a little too slow this should have everything you’re looking for.
Thankfully, King of the Monsters doesn’t sacrifice storytelling for pure action. The movie is filled with accomplished actors and solid performances. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they’re doing, and there’s no lazy personality changes for the sake of plot advancement. That you develop a connection to these characters at a relatable level helps keep the stakes up when the fantasy elements of giants creatures doing battle takes over.
More than anything, though, the movie is fun. We had a great time watching Monarch race around the globe trying to contain the Titan outbreak, and it felt like every time we needed a little breather to reset the film was right there to oblige. It was a blast.
We pretty much enjoyed the entire thing, though if we’re going to pick nits it’d be with the late-stage story of the Russell family in that at some point it should’ve fallen more into the background and let what’s ostensibly a fight for human survival take over. There’s already plenty of relatable, personal elements and storylines throughout the duration of the film, and we found ourselves wanting the focus even more on the monster elements during the final act.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There are around 90 minutes of extras here, highlighted by in-depth looks at the four primary creatures featured in the film: Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah. If you have any interest in digging deeper into the Monsterverse, those are well worth watching. There’s also a closer look at Monarch and its role in this world. All of the theatrical trailers and a handful of deleted scenes — one which you’ll recognize from said trailers — are included, too, though nothing that hit the cutting room floor is missed.
We had a ton of fun with Godzilla: King of the Monsters with its mix of quality actors, awesome monsters and amazing visual effects. We’re officially primed for Godzilla vs. Kong.