Ridiculous Sci-Fi Fantasy
Godzilla is an icon in Japan. Adults love him. Kids love him. Grandmas love him. Toho Studios love him because he put them on the cinematic map way back in the 1950s. At the time, Godzilla movies were filmed in black and white. The budgets couldn’t have exceeded $1.98. The sets were so cheesy you could tell it was a guy dressed in a Godzilla suit who was stepping on model cars and cardboard houses. Ah, the good old days of innocence!
Now we have Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the newest version of the monster-as-star movies from Warner Bros./Legendary Entertainment/ and yes, Toho studios of Japan in which Godzilla is more creatively rendered and more realistic looking than someone in a discount rubber suit. Godzilla has put on a little weight and is more bottom heavy than before. Could it be Russell Crowe in disguise?
The $200,000,000 spent on this bloated production is all on the screen. Not a penny was wasted on CGI effects. The computer people must have had electrical shorts and fires on their desks and in their hair as they conjured up the dazzling, eye-popping shenanigans going on in front of you for the excruciatingly long extravaganza. Director Michael Dougherty could have made two pictures and a documentary short out of the footage.
There is a story, of sorts, spewed out of the minds of director Dougherty and his partners in crime, Zach Shields and Max Bornstein. These boys must have grown up on comic books. Although Godzilla has always been the object of comedy, not a shred of humor shows up on screen.
Last time out, Godzilla destroyed San Francisco in the 2014 film that was so dull it put you to sleep. Five years have passed and we learn there are sites all over the world where equally-as-powerful-but-more-evil-than- Godzilla live. A scientific organization called Monarch (as in butterfly?) is protecting them. Scientist Ishiro Serizawa is trying to convince the world the “Titans” should be preserved and not killed. He’s played by Ken Watanabe, who seems to have developed a thick accent since his last film. It sounds like a cross between Serbian-Croatian, Polish and Japanese rolled into one. His mumbling could have been caused from reading the script.
In the meantime, squabbling ex-husband-and-wife Mark Russell (played by a hysterical Kyle Chandler) and former mate Emma (Vera Farmiga) are scientists trying to save the monsters. Vera Farmiga is a dead-ringer for Elizabeth Olsen. I sat through most of the movie thinking it was Olsen wearing a rubber grandmother mask.
Emma is a brilliant scientist. She has invented a sound machine that duplicates the monsters’ shrieks. It looks like it is made out of an old cigar box and some broken bicycle springs that a boy made in his backyard. It seems to work, and the monsters just love the sounds it emits, and they act like little lambs when they hear it.
Of course, the whole idea of the film is ridiculous. Not a lot of it makes sense, but in a sci-fi fantasy movie, who needs to make sense? Godzilla is not given a lot of screen time, but that may have happened because he didn’t learn his lines. It takes a real actor to capture “Aaarrrrgggghhh!”, Grrrrrppp!” and “Waaaaahhhhgggggjjj!” in just the right Shakespearean tones. Only Ian McKellen (Gandolf) could do that.
(Released by Warner Bros./ Legendary Entertainment/ Toho Company and rated “PG-13” for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language.)