In a teal world, a group of “eco-terrorists” breaks into a Monarch facility, taking Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her monster communication device, as well as her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). Their plan is to wake the ancient monsters all over the world and let them remake the planet. Monarch, lead by Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) wants to stop them, and brings along Dr. Russell’s estranged husband, Mark (Kyle Chandler) who also happens to be an expert on the “titans.” They all set off into rain, fog, mist, shadow, and storms, where they keep running into a monster leg here, a wing there, and a head or two briefly. One thing is certain: whatever happens, it will be very, very serious.
I’d give Godzilla: King of the Monsters an extra star if they re-colored it. Or just colored it. This is essentially a B&W film, with teal taking over for white. For huge swaths of the movie, everything is blue-green. Sky? Teal. Water? Teal. Buildings? Teal. Ice? Teal. Faces? Teal. It’s a mind-boggling choice. Ghidorah, the great three-headed GOLD dragon is teal most of the time. It’s ugly and oppressive.
Oppressive is the word for the film overall. The plot is silly and half the things that happen are nonsensical, but those aren’t major problems in a giant monster movie. But the tone is deadly. This could never be a deep, thoughtful film. It’s not like Gojira (1954). By its nature, it’s a big adventure popcorn movie. And those should be fun. And this isn’t. It’s solemn and completely humorless.
There needed to be characters who weren’t either angry or grieving, but those are the only emotions in this film. Every discussion, every meeting (and there’s a lot of those), every interaction—it’s just anger or grief. And that gets old fast. I need some meat with my movie if I’m having to endure all that. But this is giant monsters shooting beams at each other and somehow feeling bullets while not being bothered by missiles. It’s not thoughtful. So why does it all have to be so grim?
It’s made worse from our lead couple, who are just awful. Mark is a terrible human being, and he’s a bright light next to Emma, who might be one of the worse humans ever born. But they aren’t terrible in a fun, charismatic way, but in a trudging way that only escapes being boring because of how annoying they are. Whatever they wanted, I wanted them to lose. The rest aren’t as bad, but none of them are interesting or engaging.
OK, so I’m talking a lot about the humans. What about the monsters? Don’t get your hopes up, because this is mainly a human film. The monsters aren’t around much. But when they are in the film…they still aren’t around much. You rarely see them. You see fog (haven’t we learned from failed superhero films that fog is not an interesting villain), and you see swirling rain, and then you’ll see a foot. Then a head will pop out, and then more fog. Then it’s time for a long shot, which is quickly obscured by debris. And then it’s a few overly close shots where it’s impossible to really see what’s going on (Michael Bay would be proud) before it’s back to darkness and fog. Just pull back the damn camera, lay off the fog overlay, and turn on a light other than teal! It’s maddening.
There are a few moments here and there that will get your blood pumping if you are a fan of giant monsters, but those are the moments that make it maddening. This could have been a fun film. It should have been better. It took some conscious decisions to screw it up. Still, for those few good moments, I say catch it on TV if you like huge radioactive lizards and over-sized moths.