‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Review

Director: Michael Dougherty

Writers: Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Stratharin and Charles Dance

Synopsis: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collies with Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene.*

 

The Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla in 2014 divided many fans over how it handled our beloved giant monster. While many wanted more kaiju action, the slow-build worked for me. So when it was promised that the sequel King of the Monsters would have more giant monster fighting, fans were eager to watch. Then it was announced that we’d be getting three of the most well-known kaiju’s in film history – Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah. Needless to say, fans flipped and wanted to see all four of these behemoths go at it on the big screen once more. So, does the massive sequel live up to the hype, or does it trip over its gigantic feet?

Picking up years after the first film, “titans” are on the rise and the organization Monarch is on a tight leash with the government, who wants to kills all the titans, where as Monarch thinks that humans and titans can co-exist. This introduces Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a scientist for Monarch, who has built a device called the ORCA to communicate with the titans somehow. However, after Emma and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped by eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance), along with the device, Monarch brings in Emma’s estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler), who also has experience with the machine, to track everyone down. This puts everyone on track to go face-to-face with the new taints, Rodan, Mothra and the new three-head beast, King Ghidorah, and the only hope for everyone is Godzilla.

Like I mentioned, King of the Monsters gives fans that were not pleased with the 2014 Godzilla – giants monsters beating the crap out of each other. While the sequel does take its time to show off Godzilla himself, once it does, it doesn’t keep him hidden. It shows him in all his glory as he goes toe-to-toe with Ghidorah on multiple occasions. Mothra and Rodan also have their moments, but talking more about them would get into spoiler territory. Needless to say, seeing all of these three together on the big screen with big-budget effects is truly a sight to see – especially if you see it in IMAX like I did.

It’s when we get to the human characters were things get a little iffy. We get our returning characters like Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Sally Hawkins’ Dr. Vivienne Graham (who thankfully gets a little more to do this time around), who help drive the grand scale of everything that is going on, along with new Monarch characters played by Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch and Ziyi Zhang. We also got our military characters in Aisha Hinds and O’Shea Jackson Jr. who provide some help, but they don’t really have anything real substantial to add other than some quips.

The main human story revolves around the Russell family. Although I won’t get too into it, but the reasoning behind some of their actions don’t make too much sense and kind of goes a bit too far. It’s not against the actors, but more of what was given to them. There are also probably too many characters in the movie for its own good, and even though almost all of them have their moments to shine, their moments come right after a monster battle, so the air kind of gets sucked out of the room a bit. There’s also one character that gets quickly introduced that feels more important than it should, but it’s kind of glossed over that I sat there confused for a second that it took me completely out of the movie.

All in all, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers on the monster mayhem that fans will love. While the human characters story muddles and slows things down a bit – and some are not used properly – director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus) keeps everything tight enough for audiences to enjoy. The ending also opens up this universe a lot that should be really interesting if done right.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

3.5 out of 5

‘Pacific Rim’ Review

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Dir: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini,Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., and Ron Perlman

Synopsis: As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

 

*Review Note:This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

Set in future, humanity is in its seventh year of war against giant alien monsters known as “kaiju”, which emerged from a portal deep within the Pacific Ocean. In order to fight back, the world put aside their difference and banded together to create giant robots called “jaegers” that require two pilots to link minds in order to operate in what’s called “the drift,” as Charlie Hunnam’s character says “the deeper the connection, the stronger the bond.” However, the kaiju invasion becomes more and more overwhelming,and the jaeger program is on its last legs.

Former pilot Raleigh Beckett (Hunnam) is pulled back in by project overseer Stacker Pentecost (Elba) in order to make a last stand against the kaiju. With the help of rookie pilot Mako Mori (Kikuchi), Raleigh attempts to stop the invasion alongside other jaegers from different countries. Meanwhile, scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Day) is hunting down a kaiju brain, which may provide the key for closing the portal.

The tagline “go big or go extinct” is perfect for setting the mood. The action sequences are not only amazing to look at but it really brings you into the movie. The jaegers and the kaiju each have their own unique designs that distinguish’ each of them and doesn’t have the viewer think about how’s fighting. Seriously, the kaiju and jaegers have their own names like two the jaegers are named Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka and one of the kaiju’s is named Leatherback. The actual fighting is a spectacle of its own. At times it feels like a boxing or wrestling match with the way Del Toro sets up the fight but it’s also an all out brawl as these giants hit each other with you can feel the hits.

One of the complaints that a lot of people have is the human element. Hunnam does a decent job as Raleigh although there are times were I wish he did a little more. Idris Elba plays the no-nonsense Pentecost well but behind his hard-ass exterior there is something there that makes us like him(you know, besides being Idris Elba). The standouts – of the human cast that is– is Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Pealman who plays a black market dealer of kaiju parts. Day plays a kaiju expert and has his comedic moments but also plays it a bit serious. Rinko however is the real standout. Her character has the most emotional depth of the cast and holds her own against the boys and quiet literally when she has a practice fight against Hunnam’s Raleigh.

Other characters that pop up are Hercules Hanson (Martini) and his cocky pilot son Chuck Hansen (Kazinsky), Dr. Gottlieb (Gorman) who works with Day’s character and isa bit odd himself. Clifton Collins Jr. shows up as an operator to the jaegers and for you video game fans Ellen McLain aka GLaDOS from Portal plays Gipsy Dangers AI voice.

All in all, Pacific Rim is a true summer blockbuster that will have something for everybody. Yes, there are moments when the movie slows down but I don’t think it hurts the movie. The human element isn’t probably the strongest especially after the action sequences. If you want my opinion spend the extra money to watch it in IMAX 3D. It is worth seeing and I think might be the only way to truly experience the movie. Also stay a bit for the credits.
Pacific Rim

5 out of 5