Review Date: 6/1/19
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Zhang Ziyi, Charles Dance, David Strathairn
In response to the original Godzilla incident, the Monarch crypto-zoological agency has doubled down on their efforts to study and understand Earth's titans, while the U.S. military grows impatient and wants to either destroy them or weaponize them. Shortly after reviving Mothra, Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are taken hostage by an eco-terrorist group and forced to awaken a slumbering Monster Zero. This definitely catches Godzilla's attention, and he comes out of hiding to take on his ancient nemesis. At first, the military attempts to destroy Godzilla, but when they realize that he's the only thing that can save the planet, they decide to aid him in taking down King Ghidorah.
Unfortunately, the movie is really bad. Not quite "Transformers" level bad, but pretty close. And there's no excuse for any film to be this bad. How could watching giant monsters beat each other up and destroy cities be so incredibly boring? Well, first of all, there's too much god-awful human drama, and the characters are uninteresting and unlikable. On top of that, the dialog is terrible and the acting is pretty weak. The story is needlessly convoluted and only serves to string together the monster scenes, which are surprisingly and disappointingly dull, due to weak lighting, jerky camera work, and chaotic editing. It's all just rapid-fire bursts of light and sound, which makes it impossible to figure out what's going on and be able to enjoy it. The pacing also suffers, and for the first half of the film you're fidgeting around thinking "ugh, I wish the monsters would hurry up and appear," and by the second half you're thinking "ugh, I wish the monsters would just go away." Granted, the visual effects are quite good and there are a handful of really nice compositions, but that's not enough to save the film from its tedious and overly inflated sense of self-importance.
In its defense, the film is littered with lots of fun little references to the original series, and it's nice to hear the classic themes come through in Bear McCreary's music score. In fact, the best part of the film was actually hearing the Mothra theme during the closing credits. But that's more like damning the film with faint praise. The film teases a showdown between Kong and Godzilla, and Kong even comes up in discussion at one point, but I never saw him. I've heard there's going to be an entire film dedicated to that epic rumble. Numerous titans make cameo appearances, but much like "Destroy All Monsters" (1968), their screen time is far too brief and of no consequence. Millie Bobby Brown is charming and does a good job as a precocious teenager, but her character is uninteresting and only exists as a catalyst for unnecessary family drama. The biggest surprise was seeing Zhang Ziyi show up in dual roles, which hinted at her being somehow tied to the original Mothra fairies, but that thread was never fully explored. She's still stunningly gorgeous and appears to have not aged at all in the last twenty years. Amazing. It's too bad the rest of the film is such an incoherent mess.