Godzilla: King of the Monsters

One of the common complaints about Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla was an insufficient amount of monster action. Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which hits DVD and Blu-ray on August 27, works overtime to rectify the issue, albeit to diminishing results. Seeing the famous giant lizard taking on other massive creatures will never not be fun, but the film's approach is so overblown that it becomes tiresome.

Vera Farmiga plays Dr. Emma Russell, a paleobiologist studying “Titans” for the agency known as Monarch. She has created a device called ORCA that can influence their behavior. A terrorist group led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) kidnaps Emma and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) to get control of that device so they can unleash other creatures. It's up to Emma's ex – and Madison's estranged father – Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chander) to save the day.

When Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn't focusing on the predictable absentee-dad-makes-good storyline, it's delivering scenes in which Godzilla fights some familiar foes: Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah. Obviously, no more men in rubber suits. All the creatures have been brought to life via high-tech CGI. There are cool elements to them, particularly the way Godzilla lights up when ready to fight, or how the Titans launch ability-specific attacks on each other. Seeing Godzilla's enemies re-imagined for the modern age is enjoyable, too.

Yet even that is undermined by the unappealing visual style of the movie. KOTM has been CGI'ed to death, and all of it has the ugly “digital haze” that makes everything look grainy and artificial. (Yes, it's ironic that CGI is capable of simultaneously making something look completely real and totally fake.) Computer effects can allow for more elaborate battles; they can also rob a picture of personality. This movie has plenty of spectacle, not much soul.

The performances are generally pretty good, with Millie Bobby Brown the standout. She brings a level of emotion to the otherwise bland story. And when it focuses on the monsters, the picture shows some spark that's sorely missing in the domestic scenes. All in all, though, it feels like overkill. Too many under-developed characters populate the story, too many plot points are crammed in, and the special effects are bludgeoning.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters plays like it was made with the goal of serving as a corrective measure to Edwards' movie. In fixing that problem, the filmmakers created several others.

Bonus Features:

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be released on 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, and DVD on August 27. A complimentary copy was provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for the purposes of this review.

The disc is certainly packed with supplementary material, including an audio commentary from the director. All of it provides informative and entertaining insight into the making of the movie. Here's a breakdown:

  • Monsters 101 - A four-part feature that runs just under six minutes. Each of the film's creatures is given a brief overview.

  • Evolution of the Titans - This, too, is a multi-part feature that breaks down the visual effects used to conceive and design Godzilla and his foes. It runs twenty-eight minutes in total, so you get a lot more specific information on how the Titans were brought to cinematic life.

  • Monarch in Action - Five segments comprise this section, totaling thirty-two minutes. The focus here is on the various settings in which the story takes place, including an Antarctic base and the deep-sea pit in which Godzilla lives.

  • Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature - A short bit centered around the Stranger Things actress and her work in the movie.

  • Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight - A look at the technology used to take on the Titans in the story.

  • Monsters Are Real - Pop culture's ongoing fascination with monsters is the subject of this piece, which has experts in mythology and other areas weighing in.

  • Welcome to the Monsterverse - Godzilla: King of the Monsters is part of a cinematic universe that also includes Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island. Their connection is briefly examined here.

    Last, but not least, there are five minutes of deleted scenes.

    Great care has gone into assembling the nearly two hours of supplementary material. Picture and sound quality on the disc are first-rate.


    out of four

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters is rated PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language. The running time is 2 hours and 12 minutes.