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WATCHING THE MOVIES: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

You know what I want to see when I go to a movie about giant creatures fighting each other? Giant creatures fighting each other.

And I won’t sell it short: Godzilla and his compadres Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah all astound. There’s a real feeling for their destructive power and towering might that permeates the scenes of city destruction. They’re forces of nature, and nature itself seems to bend around them.

So when it decides that giant creature fights should happen, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is at least visually stunning. But that’s about all it is.

This movie most reminded me of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. (And yes, the title was that unwieldy, if you remember.) Sure, the action tilts were bombastic explosion-filled blow-out-the-VFX-budget affairs, but they were few and far between, surrounded by one of the most poorly written and acted scripts in recent memory.

Ditto here.

Every line of dialogue in King of the Monsters is a cliche. Every single one. The script feels robotic, as if written by a committee of focus groupers. But it actually has three professional screenwriters, and it’s actually remarkable how much tropey nonsense Michael Dougherty, Max Borenstein, and Zach Shields were able to cram into this movie. The film just oozes laziness.

The acting ranges from serviceable (Ken Watanabe, Comedy Relief Scientist Guy, Millie Bobby Brown) to flat (the guy who plays Tywin Lannister) to hokey (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga). But – hear me out before you go critical – that’s not exactly a fatal flaw. Or it shouldn’t be.

Like I mentioned, everyone goes to Godzilla movies to see giant creature battles. We do not go to Godzilla movies for complex human drama or Godfather-style economy of plot. We just want to see the big dinosaur breathe fire at the three-headed lightning dragon. Godzilla movies (and the “popcorn movies” that ape them) are about the creatures, those titanic forces and their eventual clash.

King of the Monsters holds off on any Zilla vs. monster battles for some time, and even when it throws us fight-starved viewers a bone, it keeps cutting back to the boring humans.

Overall, a water-treading plodding mess that had me glancing at my watch. I’m still interested in the eventual Godzilla vs. Kong, but do I have any faith Legendary Pictures won’t mess that Batman V Superman-esque clash up when they couldn’t execute a much simpler script here? No, no I don’t.

RATING: 3/10

Next week I’ll try to have a review up for Dark Phoenix, the new (and probably final) X-Men film. Until then, roll credits!

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