Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a movie I had little expectations for considering, at least from memory, not caring a whole lot for the previous entry, but even then, the film feels every bit of its 2+ hour running time and features paper-thin characters.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 132 min. – $44.95 | August 27, 2019
Date Published: 08/30/2019 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Brothers Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.
THE MOVIE — 2.5/5
Given the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, every studio wants their own shared universe. With the DC Extended Universe not exactly going as planned, and still trying to find its footing, and the Fantastic Beasts floundering, Warner Brother’s next option apparently is Godzilla. Funny thing happened when the series started back in 2014… it wasn’t exactly greeted with very much praise, though the name did help carry it to a respectable $529 million worldwide gross set against a $160 million budget. Apparently that was enough to warrant a sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, with a premise that should excite any fan of the big dark-green monster, pitting him against some classics.
I should mention right here, I’m not a “Godzilla” fan. Don’t hate him, but my knowledge of the character is rather minimal. Also notable, although I did see (and review) the 2014 film, I honestly don’t remember very much about it and didn’t really have the desire to revisit it either, just recalling it was underwhelming. So, with that in mind, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a film that attempts to give us enough character development for the audience to care about their wellbeing before, spoiler alert, a few become monster nutrition. Unfortunately the storylines here are rather lame, and the central one seemed to come straight out of a soap opera or an episode of Arrow (but I repeat myself).
Godzilla: King of the Monsters opens five years after the events of the first movie. We’re reminded, and I needed reminding, that during Godzilla’s stampede on San Francisco, Mark (KYLE CHANDLER) and Emma’s (VERA FARMIGA) son was killed and now the couple are separated with Emma raising their daughter, Madison (MILLIE BOBBY BROWN), and working with Monarch, the company tasked with seeking out and studying these monsters, known as Titans.
Emma, who has brought her daughter to the science lab for reasons that become (kind of) clear later, has finely tuned the frequency to control these creatures, and in this case a larva named Mothra (and Godzilla fans around world squealed). Just as she makes the breakthrough, a band of eco-terrorists, led way by a man named Alan Jonah (CHARLES DANCE), killing almost everybody and taking Emma and Madison with them. Their plan: go to other secret Monarch facilities housing these Titans.
With his wife and daughter in peril, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (KEN WATANABE) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (SALLY HAWKINS), track down Mark and bring him on board, as they attempt to find where Jonah is going next, all the while also keeping tabs on Godzilla who is still roaming the globe in the waters, though no attacks in the meantime. This supporting cast of consists of a bunch of one-dimensional, dispensable characters, albeit portrayed by respectable actors including Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy), CCH Pounder (NCIS: New Orleans), Joe Morton (Terminator 2) and, for the Chinese audience, Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha).
I will make special mention of Charles Dance, a fantastic, if not also intense, actor who was not only vastly underutilized, and was used as a smoke-screen for the true human villain, but his “story” is left open-ended and, unless he’s to be added later, doesn’t seem to have a role in next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong. Why cast an actor of his stature for him to have absolutely no impact whatsoever? Reminds me of Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3.
I can’t say I was disappointed with this movie considering its predecessor wasn’t all that good, though with a respectable filmmaker Michael Dougherty (writer/director behind Trick ‘r Treat and screenwriter of X2: X-Men United and Superman Returns), apparently a big Godzilla fan, at the helm, had hoped this would be a sequel that would at least improve (like Ouija: Origins of Evil), instead it’s pretty much more of the same: lots of mass destruction, throwaway characters and worse yet, darkly lit, rain-filled, scenes when the monsters do fight, I guess to allow for some visual effects shortcuts. It didn’t look good in 1998’s Godzilla and it sure as hell didn’t look good 20 years later.
In the end, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was certainly well-intended as there were a few fun and entertaining scenes, all of them completely involving Godzilla and his Titan friends. Problem is, a fair chunk of the overly long running time was dedicated to characters I couldn’t care less about. I’m also less than hopeful Godzilla vs. Kong, being directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest and… Blair Witch).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Co-Writer/Director Michael Dougherty, Co-Writer/Executive Producer Zach Shields and Actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. sit down in what is an increasingly rare feature on new movies, a commentary track. The trio provide for a genial track offering up information on both the production and working on the set. (This track is available on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray)
Monsters 101 (5:43) gives the rundown on the creatures featured in the film including Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah and Rodan. This is pretty much promotional material with intercut interview sound bites with the cast and filmmakers.
Evolution of the Titans (27:24) is a multi-part set of featurettes looking at the creations and designs of the monsters. At least these have a bit more depth than the previous ones, does have a collection of interviews with the cast (Vera Farmiga, O’Shea Jackson, etc) and crew (Michael Dougherty, etc).
Monarch in Action (32:56) – This set of featurettes delve into the various secret locations where the Titans are being held. We get looks at storyboards, pre-viz footage and an all around breakdown of the sets with behind-the-scenes footage.
Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature (4:07) is a profile on the young actress and her character.
Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight (8:34) looks at the variety of gadgets available to the secretive government agency.
Monsters Are Real (14:18) is more of an academic-like featurette that includes interviews with experts about monsters and the history behind them.
Welcome to the Monsterverse (3:42) is an introduction to the shared universe and talked about in the review portion (and before I even knew about this featurette).
Deleted Scenes (5:01) — Not much here, just two extended scenes. The movie was long enough already, so I’m okay with these being trimmed.
Theatrical Trailers (12:08) – There are four trailers included here, another kind of rare thing on newer releases…
4K UHD VIDEO – 5.0/5, BD VIDEO – 4.75/5
|Warner Brothers unleashes Godzilla: King of the Monsters onto 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray and is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and 2160p and 1080p high-definition transfer, respectively. Although a fair portion of the movie is either set on a dark soundstage or completely at night, this still looks rather good, detail is generally sharp throughout. Colors do get a slight boost on the 4K format courtesy of the HDR (as mentioned in other reviews, I do not have access to utilize the Dolby Vision) and there were no signs of artifacting, aliasing or even banding, which usually shows up during underwater sequences. The Blu-ray disc is no slouch either, while the 4K UHD is a bit sharper, the Blu-ray is nicely defined as well.|
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|Both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray comes with a Dolby Atmos track and even though the video looks great, this audio track really takes off. Dialogue levels come through with good clarity but this comes to life during Godzilla’s and the Titans’ attack scenes where the LFE kicks on to rattle the floor and walls, and every channel is put to full use with the fronts getting the biggest workout but the rear speakers providing for the depth with ambient noises (mainly windows smashing and people screaming bloody murder before being stomped on or eaten. This is reference quality work.|
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a movie I had little expectations for considering, at least from memory, not caring a whole lot for the previous entry, but even then, the film feels every bit of its 2+ hour running time (and then some) and features paper-thin characters. On the positive side, when Godzilla was on-screen, along with the other Titans, those were pretty entertaining, though the nighttime fight during the climax was far too dark. This 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack has great video and audio transfers and the bonus material was surprisingly fairly well stacked.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.