Movie Review: 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters'

With stunning special effects and computer-generated imagery, Godzilla has come a long way since the old black and white movies.
Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures
Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) and her mom, Emma (Vera Farmiga) discover a three-headed monster dragon who threatens to destroy Godzilla.

If you have a teenager who’s interested in seeing "Godzilla: King of Monsters,” you might be interested in knowing a little more about this sci-fi thriller that’s rated PG-13.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a sequel to “Godzilla” (2014) and it’s the third film in Legendary’s Monsterverse (a series of monster films featuring Godzilla and King Kong). This sequel ramps up the monster mayhem, with many classic monsters from the old Godzilla flicks, including the three-headed monster dragon and a titan moth.

The Story

The story begins with scientists Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma (Vera Farmiga) Russell, who lost their son in Godzilla’s attack of San Francisco in the first movie. The couple has since divorced, but they still have a teenage daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). Mark now works as an animal behaviorist while Emma works for Monarch, a scientific laboratory that studies giant monsters. 

For years, Monarch Labs has hidden evidence of monsters from the public because they’re concerned that it will create mass hysteria, and they don’t want the governments killing monsters that live underground.  

Meanwhile, a high-ranking scientist at Monarch named Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) believes that monsters bring balance to nature, with Godzilla serving as the king of the monsters who keeps humans from self-destruction.

Emma and Mark have created a device called the “Orca” that tames Godzilla and other monsters using bio-acoustical sonar waves. The device transmits sonar frequencies that soothes the monsters when they feel frightened or angry making them easier to control and manipulate. 

One day, an eco-terrorist named Dr. Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) breaks into Monarch labs and kidnaps Emma Russell and her daughter, Madison. They head for Antarctica to unleash a three-headed monster dragon named Ghidorah. Little do they realize that Ghidorah is trying to overthrow Godzilla as the king of the titans. If this three-headed dragon succeeds, he will not only destroy Godzilla, but the fate of mankind. 

What Parents Should Know 

"Godzilla” is graphically violent and contains a fair amount of foul language and cursing. There are life-and-death situations, peril and danger, with titans wreaking havoc on cities and killing people. There’s a three-headed dragon and one of it’s heads is bitten off. People are attacked, kidnapped and shot at by terrorists. In one scene, a man gets shrapnel fragments stuck in his leg. A child witnesses the death of their parent. (The child is upset, but the scene is brief and isn’t too disturbing due to a lack of character development). In the beginning of the film, there is a disturbing scene where a man films wolves eating a bloody carcass. As a parent, however, I am more concerned about the movie’s pantheism and far-fetched plot.

Final Take

"Godzilla” is an enduring pop-culture icon that’s come a long way since the old black-and-white movies. Gone is the man running around in a rubber monster suit with awkward dubbing (something you might see on reruns of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”). 

The old Godzilla may be totally outdated, but the current movie continues to depict Godzilla as a radioactive reptile who morphed into monster size after being exposed to nuclear energy. Of course, that concept is laughable now. The Japanese who invented Godzilla used to think that radiation and nuclear energy would make us big, strong and powerful. It would cause an ordinary reptile to morph into monster size. Today, we know the opposite is true. Exposure to nuclear radiation can make us sick and die.

What I found more disturbing is the movie’s pantheism. Some of the characters actually get on their knees and worship Godzilla. One scientist acts like a kamikaze pilot, detonating a nuclear bomb so that Godzilla will be regenerated. (His life is sacrificed in the process). 

Several characters believe that Godzilla and the titans are the original gods who created the earth. Instead of being demonized and hunted down, Godzilla should be respected and revered. The main character Emma Russell believes that the titans must be unleashed and given their freedom for the good of the planet, otherwise the earth is doomed. Meanwhile, the government believes the titans should be destroyed because they are a threat to public safety. 

Overall, Godzilla is a suspenseful and entertaining film with strong visuals. Sadly, the plot is hokey and the characters are somewhat bland, so we just don’t connect with them. To its credit, the movie’s special effects and computer-generated imagery are stunning.