A monster good time

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobbie Brown

Rated M

A stompingly-satisfying monster mash, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is clearly made with love for the original Japanese Godzilla films but has a scattershot, frustrating plot.

With the world still reeling from the emergence of giant monsters known as Titans, the Titan Godzilla must fight for dominance against the malevolent dragon Ghidorah.

While most of the characters are thinly-written and the dialogue can be somewhat heavy-handed, the performances are engaging and the plot is driven by some compelling character arcs, including bitter biologist Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) gradually finding peace with Godzilla and helping him fight the bigger threat of Ghidorah.

The monster battles are brutal, glorious spectacles and the film is laden with references to satisfy Godzilla fans.

Famous monsters Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah, in their first Hollywood appearances, are formidable, portrayed faithfully and given ample screen-time (except for Mothra, who is short-changed), and composer Bear McCreary pays rousing tribute to Akira Ifukube’s iconic score for the final battle.

Unfortunately, the plot jumps erratically from each set piece to the next with little explanation and the Orca, a device for tracking and controlling the Titans, is very poorly-defined.

The monster action is fantastic but the human scale is chaotic and hard to follow, and the characters rarely seem like they’re in peril.

King of the Monsters is a viscerally-entertaining monster rumble with some decent character depth, but Shin Godzilla, the most recent Japanese Godzilla film, is much smarter and better-paced.

– Seth Lukas Hynes