Godzilla: King of the Monsters? More Like King of the Clunkers
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a Godzilla movie that genuinely seems to hate Godzilla movies.
Imagine two gigantic monsters are duking it out in front of you.
What's the most interesting perspective from which to show the battle? A wide shot so you can see the totality of their scaly dinosaur bodies? An overhead angle for scale? Or perhaps a close-up of the elemental blasts exploding from their mouths? If you answered, “Some guy on the ground yelling for his daughter, because why would anyone even want to see a kaiju fight?" then congratulations, you're Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn't just bad; it's aggressively bad. It's so bad that the audience during my screening reached a point where they were collectively laughing at serious lines––like when Vera Farmiga, in a career-low performance, claims she's “never been more sane" after the most stereotypical “humans are really the bad guys, so I'm committing genocide" speech in movie history.
Speaking of which, Godzilla is chock full of famous faces giving terrible performances. There's Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and many, many more. They all play generic scientists and doctors and ecoterrorists and who-gives-a-craps, and nothing any of them do matters in the slightest. Seriously, I would give you a breakdown of the movie's plot, but it barely has one. Some crazy scientist lady (Vera Farmiga) awakens the three-headed dragon King Ghidora and then a bunch of ill-defined human characters track Godzilla's location on a monitor and update the audience on both monsters' locations.
The script boils down to a carousel of actors stating what Godzilla is doing at any given moment, instead of, you know, showing us Godzilla. Oh, you thought Godzilla: King of the Monsters was actually going to be about cool monster fights? Hah! This is a movie about meetings. Every now and then they'll take a break to make an awful joke or announce that a machine is broken, inevitably leading to an unending series of “fix the machine" sidequests. The dialogue is so painfully on-the-nose that it's almost hard to believe a human wrote it instead of a robot programmed to bore viewers to death. I genuinely can't think of a worse movie script without getting into The Room territory.
But, surely, the actual monster fights must be good, right? Eh. The fights have some cool moments, but unfortunately they're all plagued by poorly composed, action-obscuring angles and constant cuts to whatever bland conversations the various generic humans are having at the same time. The fights are lackluster at best and imperceptible at worst, aside from a few cool shots of Mothra, one awesome scene where King Ghidora drops Godzilla from the sky, and a welcome appearance by Burning Godzilla. Two dudes in Godzilla costumes can and have had far more visually impressive fights than anything this movie manages with a massive CGI budget.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a Godzilla movie that genuinely seems to hate Godzilla movies, as well as Godzilla movie fans and movies, in general. And yet, I enjoyed watching it. It wasn't so bad that it was good. It was really, really bad. But it was bad in that collective way where everyone watching realized it was so bad, so quickly, that we embraced its badness with glee.
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