Godzilla has always been bit of a tough sell for western audiences, at least compared to the near unanimous adulation he receives in Japan. It doesn’t help that attempts to make him western-friendly have included the disastrous 1998 version by director Roland Emmerich. But hell, even the 2014 Gareth Edwards version seemed almost embarrassed to show the big scaly bloke for more than a few seconds at a time, leaving the heavy lifting to a largely tedious human cast and a bewilderingly under-utilised Bryan Cranston. Still, the 2014 version made bank and allowed the creation of an extended “MonsterVerse” that continued with 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and now manifests its most spectacular entry, Godzilla II: King of the Monsters.
King of the Monsters really has two stories happening throughout. There’s the monster story and the human story and you can probably guess which one’s the best. The monster story features stunning action sequences with the likes of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah (and numerous lesser entities) fighting amongst themselves or destroying whole chunks of this pretty blue planet we call home.
Director Michael Dougherty (Krampus) has an absolute ball setting up blistering beastie beat downs in all sorts of environments, and they never fail to impress. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the human story – despite featuring quality actors like Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, Ken Watanabe and Kyle Chandler – is adequate at best, bewilderingly silly at worst. The plot, revolving around crypto-zoological agency Monarch and an eco-terrorist conspiracy, works on paper but in execution falls flat. It’s strange because monster movies don’t need to be this flavourless, Kong: Skull Island proved that, so quite why KotM chooses to be so is a little baffling.
However, this is Godzilla II: King of the Monsters, not Humans: A Coherent Story and taken as a loving homage to the Godzilla flicks of yesteryear and a balls-to-the-wall creature feature in its own right, KotM succeeds; and in terms of sheer unbridled spectacle, it is the best of the MonsterVerse so far. One does rather hope, however, that when Godzilla vs. Kong drops next year, they’ve actually included some human stories that are either good enough to enjoy or silly enough to appreciate ironically.
Still, if you’re in the mood to see skyscraper-sized monsters smacking the everloving shit out of one another, you’re absolutely going to have a good time with Godzilla II: King of the Monsters.