Godzilla faces off against a wave of monsters as humans from Monarch try to figure out a way to communicate with the beasts.
Alright, look… We at TrueMythMedia.com are fans of Godzilla; that much should be obvious from the fact that we dedicated a week of the podcast to look at some of his films. Godzilla films are some of the few movies where I’m alright with just turning off my brain in the name of dumb fun, and this film is just about as dumb and fun as can be. There are certainly moments in this movie that made me appreciate it for what it was, and if I’m being honest with myself, I enjoyed this film more than I did the 2014 “Godzilla”, though, if I’m being even more honest with myself, that film is better than this one. While this film contains an abundance of issues- from terrible dialogue, to gaping plot holes, to harebrained logic, to an utterly ridiculous story- I couldn’t help myself but truly enjoy this film. I know, deep down, that my enjoyment isn’t for sound reasons. This is a pitifully stupid movie, but it also made me laugh and smile more than many movies I’ve seen recently.
“Long live the king.”
Five years after the events of “Godzilla (2014)” ruined San Francisco and killed one of Mark (Kyle Chandler, “King Kong (2005)”) and Emma Russell’s (Vera Farmiga, “The Conjuring”) children, Emma works with the Crypto-zoological agency Monarch to find a way to communicate with Godzilla and the other kaiju, whom have been missing since their last attack. With the help of Dr. Ishiro (Ken Watanabe, “Tampopo”), Dr. Ilene (Ziyi Zhang, “Memoirs of a Geisha”), Dr. Rick (Bradley Whitford, “Get Out”), Dr. Vivienne (Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”), and a man named Sam Coleman (Thomas Middleditch, forthcoming “Zombieland: Double Tap”), Emma develops an auditory means of communication that she names Orca, but soon, an evil man named Jonah Alan (Charles Dance, “Your Highness”) takes the device, Emma, and Emma’s daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown, forthcoming “Godzilla vs Kong”) and uses it to unleash the monsters on the world, thinking that they’ll restore balance.
So here’s the thing, the original “Gojira” is about Godzilla attacking Tokyo, and since then, the most popular Godzilla entries (in America) tend to revolve around him destroying various cities. Even the abysmal 1999 “Godzilla” with Matthew Broderick pitted the God Lizard against NYC. We as Americans can forget that there are close to thirty other entries in the series, and in most of those entries Godzilla is not the destroyer of mankind, but its protector. This film returns to the idea that Godzilla is our protector, and for American audiences that might take a bit of getting used to. Indeed, I heard the people in front of me chatting away, trying to figure out why the human characters kept insisting Godzilla was benevolent.
The plot in general for this film is laughably bad and it’s filled with Godzilla-sized holes. Most of the film’s main plot revolves around Monarch and the Orca machine, which can record audio frequencies of the Kaiju monsters and then merge them with other animals in order to create a different sound that might be used to communicate. Monarch, the company in charge of dealing with the Kaiju, has faced intense scrutiny since the events of the 2014 “Godzilla” attack. Some of the people at Monarch believe that the creatures might be benevolent, while others are vindictive, and of course, they’re unable to tell which ones might be which. There are cries from the people of the world that ask Monarch to destroy the known kaiju, many of which lie sleeping underground, but Monarch’s employees fight back, saying they’d rather study the creatures. Once the monsters start to rise, Monarch continues to hold to the belief that some of the creatures are good, and that belief might be their only hope for survival.
The writers must think everyone watching this film is an idiot, because essentially this super high tech machine called Orca is just Adobe Audition; it’s an audio editing program, used to make sound that communicates with the kaiju. If you know anything at all about tech, it makes no sense that Charles Dance is chasing after this Orca machine. Really, all he needs is the audio files and then he could plop those audio files on his iPhone and play those files all over the world… (Why go through the trouble of kidnapping Millie Bobbie Brown if you don’t have to- take that a step further- what was Millie Bobbie Brown doing in an underground top secret facility in the first place?)
One of the minor twists in this movie is that Vera Farmiga’s character is actually a bad guy. After one of hers and Kyle Chandler’s kids was killed in the 2014 San Francisco attack, she secretly joined up with Charles Dance to work on a plan to unleash the kaiju on earth because she believes eventually it will restore balance to the world (eliminate overpopulation, increase supplies). Her shift just doesn’t make any sense to me. Her kid died, so she wants to awaken more monsters so more people will die, and then once enough people die, balance will be restored and everyone will be happy?
Honestly, there are so many tenuous character motivations that its best to just let the film go where it wants to go. This movie was clearly built around the idea of pitting Godzilla against a few monsters; the actual plot and how we get to the fights aren’t really well thought out.
The dialogue is laughably bad as well. The script is filled with dozens of clichéd and hilarious lines, most of which are not meant to be funny. There are a few ‘jokes’ worked into the script as well, but I never laughed when the film intended me to; I did, however, laugh quite a bit whenever the film was trying to be serious.
I’ve talked a bit about how horribly inept the script for this film was, but I’ve really only scratched the surface. I could probably go on and on and on about how ridiculous this movie was in terms of story, but you know what? Despite all this movie’s flaws, I still did enjoy myself, even though I know it’s not good.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this film was because it didn’t take itself too seriously. I sort of liked the idea that Godzilla was a benevolent protector, and I loved seeing Ghidorah and Rodan and Mothra again on the big screen. There were some pretty cool ideas that hinted at the lore of the monster, and even when sometimes those ideas went a touch overboard (like when they travel to the Atlantian-esque ruins to find Godzilla), the world building was sort of fun.
The kaiju battles, which, lets be honest, are the reason we all come to these movies, are about as much fun as you’d expect. There’s a lot more action in this film than there was in “Godzilla (2014)”, but it’s probably about on par with “Kong: Skull Island”. The action is a blast, and the special effects are fantastic. I sat in IMAX with a big stupid grin on my face for the duration of every fight sequence.
This movie is far from good, but I still enjoyed myself. As far as plot, characters, themes and meaning goes, this movie is pathetic; as far as entertainment, this movie is a perfectly adequate way to waste two hours and fifteen minutes. This movie won’t be remembered as anything special, but I certainly laughed and cheered enough to feel as if I got my time and moneys worth.
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