Godzilla II: King of the Monsters Review

Photo: Warner Bros

Photo: Warner Bros

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters is the third movie in Legendary’s ‘Monsterverse’ franchise and the direct sequel to Godzilla which was released back in 2014. Directed by Michael Dougherty, the man who brought us X-Men Apocalypse, the film begins 5 years after the events of Godzilla. Scientist Dr Emma Russel (played by Vera Farmiga) is working with the agency ‘Monarch’ who have been left in control of keeping tabs on all of the Titans following the destruction caused in San Francisco.

Estranged from her husband Dr Mark Russel (played by Kyle Chandler) after losing a son in the San Francisco attacks, the 2 have taken incredibly different paths forward. Mark has left the company and has gained a pure hatred towards Titans blaming them for his sons death, whereas Emma has continued moving forward in understanding how the monsters work. In continuing her work with Monarch, Emma along with her daughter Madison (played by Millie Bobby Brown) is working towards developing technology which will control the Titans.

Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown in Godzilla II: King of The Monsters. Photo: Warner Bros

Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown in Godzilla II: King of The Monsters. Photo: Warner Bros

The film is a complete visual feast. There is absolutely no faulting what you see on screen. The visual effects are stunning and really pull you into the movie. It was important for the film to get the visual effects right because it would be easy to lose viewers interest if the CGI looked unrealistic (a fine line to walk when the content on the screen is already doing that for itself). There are no such problems in Godzilla: King of Monsters and every frame is a joy to watch. However, the monster fight scenes do drag on, but the cinematography will still keep your eyes glued to screen. Adding on to the visuals, the score of the film is brilliant. Bear McCreary has done a brilliant job composing the music and has perfectly paired what we are seeing on screen to what we are hearing.

The largest problem with the film is with the characters itself.

It was a strange decision to not include all of the characters from Godzilla and this film is punished because of it. We are presented with a new family in which we must now invest ourselves in, despite the fact that this is the first time we are meeting them and we are not given a chance to invest interest into them Although there are some returning characters within the franchise, such as Ken Watanabe reprising his role as Dr Ishirō Serizawa, it made Godzilla feel a little redundant as such little is carried over to this film.

The reason this is such a large problem is because the film puts forward an ethical issue and questions you on what you would be willing to do to save the planet. The grieving parents of Mark and Emma are the ones putting this forward to us, but as an audience, we have no emotional connection to them whatsoever. We know such little about them and their motives that the film falls flat in setting up what could have been an incredibly profound theme within the movie. Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russel just adds further confusion, as you wonder how a 12-year-old would even be able to make the decisions that she does within the movie. It’s incredibly frustrating because the film is on the cusp of being so much deeper than it comes across. It would have been better off by cutting down some of the fight scenes and adding more time on developing its characters because at the end of the day that is who we as an audience are going to relate to.

Vera Farmiga and Charles Dance in  Godzilla II: King of the Monsters. Photo: Warner Bros

Vera Farmiga and Charles Dance in Godzilla II: King of the Monsters. Photo: Warner Bros

The film is a little predictable. A lot of the storytelling rests on the fights between the titans on screen, and even though they are breathtaking to watch, you can only watch a fight for so long. I felt like I knew what was going to happen the whole movie and was never truly concerned when problems arose because it was easy to guess what the films next move was. Even when problems did happen, I had no emotional investment in the characters to feel any real emotion. It’s a shame because all the workings are there for a brilliant film. Godzilla II: King of the Monsters has all the right ingredients for a brilliant film, but if you were to take away the epic on-screen fights, then there wouldn’t be much substance left.

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters is an enjoyable film to watch. The constant action on screen makes easy viewing and the film has been brilliantly scored to help viewers feel emotionally involved throughout the viewing. However, without fulling developing the central characters, the film falls short in delivering its biggest blow. Somehow, the film leaves you wanting more even with a 2- hour run time, and that’s not always a good thing.

The entire Monsterverse franchise was set up with the purpose of Godzilla and King Kong meeting, so it will be interesting to see which direction they take for the crescendo of the franchise next year.

3 stars

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now showing in Australian cinemas everywhere