The monster bash that takes place in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is among the best ever put on film. It’s not as if monster movies, films that represent a classic escapism mentality, are award-worthy endeavors. However, the good ones, the very best ones, have always been fun and, if the right filmmakers handle them, make a point.
Director Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”) attempts to pull off both. Personally, it’s just fine he succeeds with the former, correcting the severe mistake of the last effort to bring the monster lizard’s story to the screen, 2014’s “Godzilla.”
There wasn’t enough of the ferocious, but lumbering guy in that effort. In “King of the Monsters,” there’s plenty of him to go around and he brings friends to the party. The audience is treated to a regular kaiju fest as Rodan, Mothra, Monster Zero and others make appearances.
But that can’t be good for cities involved in this tale and, ultimately, real estate values, right?
In the story, co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields (“Krampus”), we’re shown some of the residual fallout from the encounter with Godzilla five years ago.
Scientists and former married couple Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) lost a son in the rampage. Although their daughter Maddie (Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things”) survived, the family is fractured by the event.
The couple goes their own way as Emma continues to work with Monarch, an agency dedicated to protecting the titans — as the monsters are called. Turns out Emma may not be as dedicated as it seems, however.
Things grow dire when Jonah Alan (Charles Dance of “Game of Thrones”) kidnaps Emma and steals the technology she has developed to awaken and talk to the titans.
The leader of Monarch, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe, a holdover from the 2014 film), seeks Mark’s help to find the monsters and stop Alan from unleashing devastation on the planet. That’s not going to happen considering all the on-screen mayhem and fun meant to be had. Additionally, Mark has his own agenda.
Dougherty and Shields attempt to get across their message about the damage the human race is causing to Mother Earth, and they succeed to a limited degree.
But in that regard, they create one of the least likable characters in the film. And while they make a pale attempt to treat that individual as a misguided soul, no one really cares to hear it by the time the narrative unfolds.
As for performances, not a lot of heavy lifting is required, but the film certainly benefits from having a cast that includes Chandler, Farmiga, Watanbe and “West Wing” alumnus Bradley Whitford. However, Brown deserves to be singled out for her turn as Maddie.
Make no mistake, however. Godzilla and his boys are the stars of this show and when they are on screen they dominate. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” proves to be fun, throwaway entertainment — exactly what fans should expect in the summer.
George M. Thomas dabbles in movies and television for the Beacon Journal. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ByGeorgeThomas