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BENEATH THE OCEAN — The one-and-only Godzilla is lumbering into theaters again this weekend with “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
I thought the 2014 “Godzilla” was a big let down, but that “Kong: Skull Island” was a lot of fun. I was really hoping “King of the Monsters” would be more like "Skull Island," but unfortunately I was wrong.
This is a direct sequel to “Godzilla” and it suffers from the same problems. Here are a few reasons why the movie doesn't work:
We don’t care about the characters
I am fully aware that this is a Godzilla movie and he’s the star. You buy a ticket to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” to watch the giant lizard tear apart cities and clash with other mammoth beasts, but a movie needs at least a little more than that.
“King of the Monsters” tries really hard to make you care about the human characters, but it just doesn’t work.
(Mild spoiler alert). People die in this movie, but you don’t really care. On more than one occasion a character was killed and I thought to myself, “Wait, did she just die? What was her name? How did she fit in again? Oh well.”
In fact, I was more surprised and engaged when monsters died. The stakes never felt that high because I wasn't invested in any of the humans who were supposed to propel the drama.
There were also a number of characters I forgot were in the movie until they showed up again later, and others I couldn’t figure out why on earth they even existed in the film.
For example, the phenomenal actor David Stratharin is in the film, but he pops up once or twice and then vanishes. Apparently O’Shea Jackson Jr. is also in the film, according to IMDb, but I barely remember him.
It’s hard to get too emotionally invested into a movie when you just don’t really care about anyone in it.
It takes itself too seriously
One of the reasons “Kong: Skull Island” worked is because the filmmakers recognized how ridiculous the whole concept was.
In the film, a giant gorilla protects its home from invading American soldiers just before they return home from Vietnam. The filmmakers didn’t have to try to up the drama — instead, they let Kong do his thing and had some fun characters and a lot of laughs mixed in with the monster mayhem.
The tone fit what was actually playing out on screen. “King of the Monsters” decided to be a monster movie with all the mayhem, but they replaced the jokes and fun with forced drama and rain. So — much — rain.
There were some jokes here and there, but I never really laughed. Bradley Whitford’s character did his best to be the comic relief, but it really fell flat.
The monster action was a let down
As I mentioned, you don’t go to a Godzilla movie to watch human drama play out on screen; you go to see behemoths battle in the city streets.
While a lot of that happens in "King of the Monsters," I felt like we just got a lot of destruction to different cities instead of a good look at these monsters going toe-to-toe (or claw-to-claw).
This movie not only gives us Godzilla, but also includes Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah — but it all felt a bit lacking. That’s not to say there aren’t some really great monster fights in the movie. When Rodan first shows up it’s a pretty great battle, but the final one especially felt like it was happening in the background, and all we really saw was the occasional building toppling over instead of the details of the monster skirmish.
If you’re showing me a monster movie, show me the monsters.
I’m being pretty hard on “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” It’s not a terrible film — I’ve seen worse this summer — but it didn’t deliver for me what it needed to.
I wasn’t hoping to see some award-winning piece of art. I was just hoping to be entertained with watching titans clash and to get a few jokes here and there. What I got, however, were some really bad jokes and mediocre monster encounters.
Check KSL.com tomorrow for a content guide for parents on “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is rated PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language.