Godzilla: King of the Monsters ★★½

Long live the king.

The Godzilla franchise, the longest running film series of all-time if I'm not mistaken, is one of the all-time greats when it comes to spectacle in film. You can praise your noirs, your character dramas, and it's all for good reason, but sometimes there's no better movie to watch than something focused on giant monsters punching and lasering each other to death. It's juvenile in nature, but like good slapstick, it's something that connects with everyone. In 2014, Warner Bros. took a crack at bringing the Big G to contemporary American audiences. Response back then, and reflection now, is mixed. Most folks adored the action between Godzilla and the MUTOs, and most of those same folks loathed the human drama and wanted to get back to the carnage and theater-vibrating roars. Five years later, we get one step forward, and two steps back. Get ready for more rad monster action, but also more, and far worse, human drama.

I really want to tell you I liked Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Believe me, I do. But I can't. I figured the 2014 film, despite not being bad by any means, would be a low bar to scale. I didn't care for any of the human characters in that film, but the worst I could say about them was that they were boring. As for the characters in this movie, not only were they boring to me, but they were also dumb and hopelessly unsympathetic. An admittedly impressive ensemble cast can't do much of anything to save dialogue and storytelling that's just flat-out not good. The motivation of Vera Farmiga's character in particular, though I won't reveal it for the sake of spoilers, is so mind-numbingly stupid. It doesn't make sense at all, and a character even says this immediately after it's revealed. You're just sitting there waiting for Vera to realize "Oh yeah, that is stupid." Even with really good actors, most of the emotional scenes lack any weight. Most of them underact, and Millie Bobby Brown overacts. (I think she screams more in this than any of the other kaij- excuse me, "titans", in this movie combined.) Also, none, and I mean none of the attempts at humor land. You get MCU-esque quips and observations, or at least jokes that are attempting that, and they're painful. Bradley Whitford deserves so much more.

I don't want to be completely negative, because this isn't a terrible movie even if there are things I disliked strongly about it. As you would expect, anything with Godzilla and the boys (and the gal) is pretty neat. I could've used more wide shots with the monsters and less fog, but most of the digital effects on display are impressive. King Ghidorah is intimidating, Rodan kicks ass and wrecks shit, and Godzilla is king for a reason. But, if you know me and my feelings on kaiju, you know my heart belongs to Mothra. I love Mothra more than I would perhaps like to admit. She's the perfect balance of being a cutie and a badass motherfucker. You want to give her a hug, but if even think of messing with her, God(zilla) help you. I wasn't sold on her redesign at first, but even here, I can't ignore those gorgeous wings and adorable blue eyes. Mothra is baby, and always will be. Another compliment I can pay this flick, and a pretty hefty one, is that the score is downright amazing and deserves to be in a far better movie. If the name Bear McCreary rings a bell, you probably know him for his stellar work on The Walking Dead. Even when that show dipped in quality, Bear's work always maintained a strong quality. In my humble opinion, this is his best work to date, and will almost certainly remain one of the best film scores of the year. The new compositions are solid on their own, but the remakes of various themes well-known to the Godzilla fanbase (I won't dare spoil which songs are included, but you'll know as soon as you hear them.) will melt your heart and get your inner man-child going. (You'll have to hear the end credits song to believe it. Whoever had the balls to suggest it be included deserves a raise.)

I wish I was as ecstatic about the movie as a whole as I enjoyed the monsters and Bear's compositions. Unfortunately, this was a chore to watch. Whenever a monster isn't on screen, I was bored or annoyed. Eventually, even with the kaiju shit to ogle at, I came to a point where I wanted it to be over. It could end on the dumbest cliffhanger, it could kill off all the human characters, I did not care. I just wanted the credits to roll, and I could leave as soon as the inevitable after-credits scene ended. If you have interest in seeing King of the Monsters, go see it. If you saw it and loved it, fantastic. I'm glad you had a good time. But for those who are on the fence, I can't personally recommend it. Instead, I'll suggest a few of my favorites that do stuff we see in here but done exponentially better: 1964's Mothra vs. Godzilla, 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, and 2016's Shin Godzilla. Of course, if you haven't seen the original 1954 flick where all the crumbled buildings and "SKREEONK"s began, that's not a bad pick either. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the biggest disappointment of the year so far, and something's going to have to really let me down to top it. As the cool kids say, oof.