We already know there’s going to be another Godzilla movie next year, and the current film is called Godzilla: King of the Monsters. So, when the film supposedly kills off the title character less than halfway through, there’s little suspense about Godzilla’s fate — just the matter of how the red herring gets resolved. And yes, the movie predictably ends with Godzilla once again standing — again, the title spoils it for you — as king of the monsters.
Similarly, there are few surprises to be found among the characters, most of whom are stock Hollywood action characters. You’ve got the conflicted leads who get into the action for personal reasons. You’ve got the plucky, tortured teen who decides to take matters into her own hands. You’ve got the requisite characters who, when things are looking grim, volunteer to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. You’ve got the bad guy with the British accent. You’ve got the government officials who come off sounding like bad guys as well. And yes, you’ve even got the smart aleck who tosses off one-liners.
Of course, when you go to see a movie like Godzilla, you’re not going for the plot or the character development, you’re going for the action. On that front, does Godzilla: King of the Monsters deliver? Mostly.
As you would expect, effects dominate the film. I lost count during the closing credits, but there had to have been at least a dozen different CGI houses that contributed to the final product. Along with Godzilla (who is credited as “himself” in the closing roll), you’ll see plenty of the mythology’s classic monsters, including Mothra and Rodan, along with the movie’s main threat: an three-headed alien hydra known as Monster Zero. The monsters’ battle scenes are fast and furious, although the quick cutting and darkness sometimes make them difficult to follow.
There are also some truly terrifying scenes of destruction in several of the world’s biggest cities, and baseball fans will cringe when they see what happens to Boston’s Fenway Park, which finds itself contending with a whole new Green Monster.
The performances in the movie are, by and large, serviceable. Millie Bobby Brown (looking much different than she does in Stranger Things) fares the best as the emotionally troubled teen, Madison, who’s torn between two flawed parents. Vera Farmiga has some good scenes as the mother, a scientist who’s found a way of communicating with the monsters. But the always excellent Bradley Whitford seems wasted in the role of the aforementioned smart aleck.
In the end, though, you’re left with the realization that the movie really doesn’t care about its people. You get a little bit of closure with Madison and her family, but not much else. After the monsters’ reign of terror ends, you learn nothing about the aftermath. The movie’s ending focuses solely on the monsters, with the reborn Godzilla (again, the title’s a spoiler) taking his rightful place as king of the monsters. And yes, if you do stick around through the long closing credits, there is one final scene that helps set up next year’s sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong.
If you enter the theater without any great expectations, you’ll probably enjoy the ride. When the ride is over, you’ll discover you haven’t really gone very far. But, again, it’s a bridge movie. Maybe all will be redeemed when we see Godzilla vs. Kong. Only time will tell.