Film Critic, Movie Blog, Movie Reviews

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Directed by: Michael Dougherty   Rated: PG-13   Runtime: 2 hrs 12 mins

Studio: Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

Screenwriter: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Bradly Whitford, Vera Farmiga

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the second film in the “monsterverse” trilogy. The first was Kong: Skull Island. Where Skull Island had a much better storyline, tone, and pace, it also, more or less, had a better logical explanation of the monsters. ‘King of the Monsters’ fails at this. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is basically monster porn with the weakest plot and cringy lines. If you’re a big fan of monsters, then this film probably won’t put you off. Though keep in mind the trailer’s tone compared to the actual movie is misleading.

Warner Bros. Pictures Final Trailer for ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

The human characters have a purpose but have no depth. They exist merely to justify the limp excuse for a plot that moves along with the smoothness of a newbie learning stick shift. A story that revolves around culling the infectious human race with monsters—one of which is an alien. Seriously? This film is convoluted enough without that add-on. The whole justification for monsters existing in the entire trilogy is tenable until this screenplay, which is an exercise on how to fail film school. It’s meant to set up the third film, Godzilla v Kong

If I had watched these in order, I never would have watched the third film. Instead, I was under the impression I didn’t need to see this film, so I saw ‘Skull Island’ and then Godzilla v Kong. Viewing the third film, I was confused as hell, so if you can make it through this film, more power to you. 

While watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I stopped three times. My brain simply didn’t want to process the fecking train wreck in progress. Forcing myself to finish this is a crime against my brain cells. I just can’t. I don’t care about it enough to know how it ends. That’s a sad admission for any movie-goer. 

The first film is like the first act of a movie, the setup. The second film is the middle, where the plot thickens, and lots of other details are learned. Finally, the third movie is the climax, the action, or reveal, and conclusion. Keeping that in mind, that is what this “monsterverse” is set up to be. The filmmakers are playing a long game. Trying to reinvent and expand beyond every monster film before them. 

‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Image: Legendary Pictures

Kong: Skull Island is a good start; this film is the equivalent of X-Men the Last Stand. The bastard, hot-mess of a franchise everyone wants to forget about. Godzilla v Kong is like a constant show of rock em’ sock em.’ However, if you understand the setup, it’s acceptable as such. You know what you’re getting going in. 

Some argue there should be fewer humans in these movies; I disagree. The monsters can’t communicate, so the audience will understand, they were not designed to be. Therefore you need the human component. 

If you like monsters, action, a believable story, and brain cells, there are far better movies to watch. Pacific Rim is an excellent, more recent example to see. Not this! Anything but this travesty of plot and logic. Godzilla: King of the Monsters should never make it onto your watchlist. Read a spoiler about it online and skip to the third film if you want, but forget it was ever produced. 

—a pen lady

Film Critic, Movie Blog, Movie Reviews

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts  Rated: PG-13  Runtime: 1 hr. 58 min. 

Studio: Warner Bros. & Legendary Entertainment  

Screenwriter: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman

Kong: Skull Island is a reinvention of how the story of King Kong has been told before. Set at the end of the Vietnam war, a group of soldiers is tasked to babysit a collection of William Randa’s scientists (Goodman). They work for a secret government organization named Monarch. The rationale for this expedition is up there with the idea that the world is flat. Fact, the world is round, but to give you a sense of how nutty these scientists are to the government. Nevertheless, they go, not sure of what they’ll find. 

At specific points, I thought, “adventure is out there!” as the line from the movie UP proclaims. Or “Welcome to Jumanji” if the cast got sucked into the board game with Alan Parish from the 1995 film Jumanji. Other points had me thinking of “Welcome to Jurassic Park” because my mind is a bizarre place to be at times. Then again, so is Skull Island. 

‘Kong: Skull Island’ Official Trailer from Warner Bros. via YouTube

As bizarre as things on Skull Island are, it is also visually beautiful in terms of the things that live there. The sound editing was spot on for all the screaming, crushing, smashing, and gorilla noises that bellow from Kong’s behemoth lungs. Kong himself is well designed and looks, sounds, and moves without speculating that he’s CGI. 

The film’s pace moves well between the dialogue of the cast and interaction with the island or the other things they encounter that call the island their home. Kong himself is never far away and shows up early in the film and sticks around till the end. The film is named after him! Still, the story goes beyond a rock em’ sock em’ game of who can bash who first. There is meaning to the story, and that thread gives pace to the action. There is a lot of action. 

Maybe it’s because America has begun to leave Vietnam finally; that took a toll on Lt. Col. Packard (Jackson). Perhaps it’s because he’s naturally an asshole. Maybe he just cracked—you decide. Either way, Packards’ encounter with Kong gives the story a side agenda that reeks of American mentality of power, loyalty, and dominance. 

Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson in Warner Bros. film ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Image Credit: Chuck Zlotnick via Miami Herald

Other characters are WWII fighter pilot Hank Marlow (Reilly), who is the opposite of Packard. Mason Weaver (Larson), an anti-war photographer, and James Conrad (Hiddleston), a former British Special Air Service Captain. He’s the guide, on an island never been discovered before. While there is interaction with them and a sense of who they are, it’s not really important. Character development isn’t the focus in a movie designed to focus on the literal big guy, so it’s forgivable. There are many secondary characters, but remember I said this film reminded me of Jurassic Park, so that’s not worth focusing on. For such a large cast, everyone performs well given the locations and working against various things not in front of them to respond to. I give props to realistic emotions for that any day. 

Monster movies like Kong, any of them, or Godzilla have never been my idea of good movie watching. I will sometimes, but they don’t do it for me usually. With Kong: Skull Island, however, I was interested in the retelling of the story that didn’t involve him carrying a screaming blonde to the top of the highest building. I guess that’s a spoiler of sorts… whatever. The reimagined plot sets up Kong for other cinematic adventures. If the story for those is as decent as this one, then okay. For that, I’d give it a go. So, if monster films haven’t done it for you in the past, this one might. If you already love this type of film, you won’t be disappointed. 

Kong: Skull Island can go on your watchlist and is best viewed on a larger screen, ideally with more to offer than just your TV speakers. Also, stick around after the credits!

—a pen lady