The third film in the current U.S. franchise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers a full-blown monster mash, bolstered by superb performances by Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga.
They may only be supporting players — c’mon, Godzilla himself in the star! — but as parents separated by divorce, they are united in creating a sense of human urgency. Neither actor is terribly worried that their respective characters are sometimes worrisome in their priorities; instead, they manifest absolute faith in their principles, which carries them through the bad times with their unshakable integrity and movie-star charisma.
Director Michael Dougherty and his writing partner Zach Shields previously collaborated together on the fright flick Krampus (2015), and here they do something similar, giving primacy to the human story that is wrapped up in horror trappings. Godzilla: King of the Monsters inhabits a world that has been shaped profoundly by the events in Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
Giant monsters walk the earth, and what should mankind do about them? We meet Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) in China, as she tries out a device that is meant for good. She barely has time to enjoy the moment with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) before eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) storms in with his men in a hail of murderous bullets to steal the device and kidnap Emma and Madison.
Monarch, a shadowy organization represented by Godzilla carryovers Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), seeks to regain the device and quickly enlists Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler, who played a vain actor in Peter Jackson’s King Kong back in 2005), who is more interested in rescuing his ex-wife and, especially, his daughter, than in blindly adhering to Monarch’s plans.
The narrative sometimes takes strange and perplexing turns, especially for anyone in search of nothing but giant monsters battling giant monsters, and sometimes blind alleys appear to yield few returns. Yet the story allows for breathing space in between the action sequences, along with expressing legitimate concerns about the future of mankind on the planet.
Rest assured that billions of pixels did not die in vain; the monsters and the battles are rendered in superb fashion, only rarely calling attention to their computer origins. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is very satisfying fare for its intended audience, including yours truly. Kaiju rule!
The film is now playing in theaters throughout Dallas.