August 26, 2019  (Web Review)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Warner, 132 min., PG-13, DVD: $28.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, Aug. 27

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

This Godzilla bears little resemblance to the iconic sci-fi monster called “Gojira” that Ishiro Honda and his Japanese collaborators created in 1954 as a warning against nuclear proliferation following the horrific WWII bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here, a CGI Godzilla along with a number of other Titans emerge from the briny deep as a result of climate change. With humanity continuing on its course of ecological extinction, these prehistoric creatures—hiding in remote spots around the world—might be Earth’s only hope for restoring balance. These clandestine sites are guarded by Monarch, a well-funded scientific organization. Testifying before a congressional committee, crypto-zoologist Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) insists that these creatures have existed on Earth longer than humans, so perhaps they are the rightful rulers of the planet. His view is supported by scientist Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), whose husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) became an alcoholic after their son was killed during Godzilla’s San Francisco rampage. Retaining custody of daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), Emma built the Orca, a sonic device that can lure Titans out by imitating their audible calls. After the Orca awakens larval Queen Mothra from her cocoon, the machine is stolen by eco-terrorists, led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), who kidnaps Emma and Maddy. Chaos reigns as Godzilla proves that he’s actually mankind’s friend, ultimately battling King Ghidora, a ferocious three-headed dragon that is part of an invasive species from beyond our galaxy. Unfortunately, the human story in director Michael Dougherty’s film gets short-shrift in favor of special effects. Optional. [Note: Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Michael Dougherty, producer Zach Shields, and costar O’Shea Jackson Jr., as well as the production featurettes “Monarch in Action” (33 min.), “Evolution of the Titans” (28 min.), “Monsters Are Real” (14 min.), “Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight” (9 min.), “Monsters 101” (6 min.), and “Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature” (6 min.), plus deleted and extended scenes (5 min.), a “Welcome to the Monsterverse” behind-the-scenes segment (4 min.), and bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a fine extras package for a disappointing film.] (S. Granger)