Godzilla: King of the Monsters

May 30, 2019

It's summer. What did you expect?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Grade: C

Director: Michael Dougherty (Krampus)

Screenplay: Dougherty,

Cast: Khyle Chandler (Game Night), Vera Farmiga (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hr 11 min

By: John DeSando

“Sometimes I think this is Godzilla's world. We just live in it.” Chief Warrant Officer Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr)

It’s summer blockbuster world, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a hot mess of good intentions bubbling over with smoke and fog that keeps geeks from fully appreciating the original Japanese destroyers. It’s been 5 years since the old boy terrorized Tokyo and San Francisco.

The first act looks like writer/director Michael Dougherty and co-writer Zach Shields are aiming at an intelligent theme about cooperation but end in the third act losing all intelligence as in most superhero films with explosions and mano-a-mano monster mashing.

The scientists, mainly married but estranged Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga), are the chief protagonist-connections with the monsters. She is onto something about tapping into the titans’ (the identifier of the original monster/ rulers of the earth) audio frequency with an Orca machine to neutralize them and eventually fold them into a benign universe of cooperation with humans.

Along with the crypto-zoological, multinational organization, Monarch, the Russells work to save the titans from governments bent on destroying them. Not bad, but in these essentially cheesy films, Godzilla has to breathe fire, and Mothra and Rodan destroy anything, and ultimately the bad boy with three heads, King Ghidorah, has to bite his enemies to death.

In order to humanize the proceedings, Dougherty includes the usual tension between teen daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), and mother Emma, with Dad Mark in between. Because the monsters are threatening life as we know it, this familial squabbling is all the more ludicrous for its emphasis.

In our culture, we have always written about dragons and gorgons, so in a way we are right at home with these ridiculous monsters. That doesn’t mean we have to accept the foolish plot points and silly dialogue:

“We opened Pandora’s box. And there’s no closing it now.” Jonah Allen (Charles Dance)

The “box” is summer blockbusters, monsters who return relentlessly every summer. Don’t think about it too hard. Just veg out with the geeks.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at