Godzilla: King of the Monsters

 

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The third instalment in Warner Bros’ MonsterVerse is an incomprehensible, humourless affair with little cohesion or human interest.

 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Bat out of hell: Ghidorah flexes its wings

 

If you like science, if you like the Greek myths, if you like to see your favourite cities obliterated and if you believe size is everything, then this is for you. For sheer scale, it’s hard to imagine a bigger movie outside of the Pacific Rim franchise. This clash of the Titans, the sequel to Godzilla (2014), features creatures so humongous that it’s hard to fit them on the screen. We get an eye here, a claw there and then a blast of radioactive halitosis. The new monster on the block is the Hydra-like Ghidorah, a three-headed fire dragon that emerges from a Mexican volcano looking decidedly disgruntled. It appears that the natural order of things has been unsettled by pollution, human over-population and constant warfare and so Nature has awakened its old gatekeepers to combat this new infection – mankind. Well, that’s one theory put forward in this bloated belch of muddled storytelling.

 

Bizarrely, San Francisco was largely laid waste in 2014, an incident bypassed by most of our more up-to-date history books. In the interim, Godzilla has vanished and our new heroine, paleobiologist Emma Russell (the franchise-friendly Vera Farmiga), is working with the crypto-zoological organization called Monarch to hatch the larva of a kaiju. She is the architect of ‘Orca’, a machine that can orchestrate frequencies that manipulate the mood of the ‘monsters’ that now threaten the planet. Not that she sees them as a threat – but as the saviours of our world. Then she, her daughter Madison (the English actress Millie Bobby Brown) and the Orca are kidnapped by the eco-terrorist Colonel Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) for his own nefarious ends.

 

In an attempt to present a vaguely tenable take on the monster movie, writer-director Michael Dougherty packs his film with scientific geek-speak and provides a murky visual palette. The aim is to engage and awe, but the convoluted narrative, chainsaw editing and endless set pieces eventually numb the senses and try the patience. Only the 15-year-old Brown, an appealing presence, gives the film any human dimension, while Vera Farmiga comes off more bonkers than impassioned (“I’m saving the world!”). There are way too many characters for any of them to matter, and the death of one Oscar-nominated star early on completely passed me by. There’s already another sequel in post-production – starring Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall – so that may be able to plug some of the plot holes left by this exhausting monster mash.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson Jr, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Anthony Ramos, Elizabeth Ludlow, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, Randall P. Havens.

 

Dir Michael Dougherty, Pro Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Brian Rogers, Mary Parent and Alex Garcia, Screenplay Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, Ph Lawrence Sher, Pro Des Scott Chambliss, Ed Roger Barton, Richard Pearson and Bob Ducsay, Music Bear McCreary, Costumes Louise Mingenbach.

 

Legendary Pictures-Warner Bros.

131 mins. USA/Japan. 2019. Rel: 29 May 2019. Cert. 12A.