The quick review of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the sequel to the 2014 American remake of “Godzilla:” If you’re a fan of the big guy or giant monster movies go see it. It delivers the rock ’em sock ’em goods.
This is the 35th Godzilla, including 32 films produced by Japan’s Toho Studios, and three produced by Hollywood, although the less said by Hollywood’s attempt in 1998 the better. It took 16 years before Toho gave America another crack at adapting the city-smash nuclear-powered behemoth.
Hollywood’s second attempt got it mostly right. It had a somber, suspenseful tone that recalled the 1954 original, and it benefited from an intense performance from Bryan Cranston in the first act. The film sagged in the middle, but stuck the landing with an awesome monster smash up in the final act.
The biggest criticism of that film was that there wasn’t enough Godzilla. “King of the Monsters” doesn’t have that problem. He shows up early as do a few other classic Toho monsters, including Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, who all look terrific. The imagery associated with the monsters, referred to as Titans in the film, is often strikingly beautiful. The moment of Mothra first spreading her wings is stunning.
There are various combinations of combat for the monsters with all four colliding during a climactic battle in Boston. As Bradley Whitford quips, “It is going to be a bad day to be a Red Sox fan.”
Not that anyone pays for the human scenes in a “Godzilla” film, but they are fine largely because the talented cast, including Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobbie Brown, Charles Dance, Sally Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ziyi Zhang, Thomas Middleditch and Ken Watanabe, bring their A-game despite the inherent silliness of the material.
Watanabe, who memorably proclaimed, “Let them fight,” in 2014, is one of the only returning cast members and brings significant emotional weight to the film. He even has a surprisingly affecting scene with Godzilla.
Whitford, as one of the films many scientists, exists to toss out dry, caustic one liners. It could easily be a nothing role, but his line delivery is impeccable. He lands every line like a well-timed burst of blue nuclear breath.
The core dynamic is Chandler, Farmiga and Brown as an estranged family. The writing is shallow, but the quality of their performances almost rises above the writing. Almost. But, again, no one is here for the humans.
When director Michael Dougherty, who co-wrote the script with Zach Shields, focuses on the monsters, which is thankfully a lot of the time, the film is a blast.
What people may not be aware of is “King of the Monsters” is part of a shared universe with 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island.”
Every studio has attempted to jump on the shared universe bandwagon following the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This monster-verse is the only one to do it right because each film has been allowed to work as a standalone instead of including several scenes setting up the next film.
The two kings will come together in next year’s “Godzilla Vs. Kong,” so if you’re looking for more another monster mash, the wait won’t be long.