Movie Review — “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” a B-movie debacle like no other

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It is to weep.

At the insanity of it all — the excess, the staggering amounts of cash, the cynical actors all collecting a paycheck even though they could see the script was crap and knew a very profitable movie studio had put a no-budget horror hustler in charge of the enterprise.

Because all “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was ever going to be was the priciest B-movie in history. But what’s the rule with B-movies, kids?

“Don’t forget the cheese.”

Without the B-movie laughs, without a pear-shaped guy lumbering about in a lizard suit, that’s all that’s left to us — weeping.

I don’t know which is worse, the endless “Godzilla” reboots or this homage to the Japanese series (taking its title from the Raymond Burr starring 1956 film) with all the monsters on the Warners’ payroll deposited into one “universe.”

They included the cautionary parable, monsters awakened by “atomic testing, the lesson that “history shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man,” to quote Blue Oyster Cult — which the film does.

All they forgot was the fun.

In “King of the Monsters,” we’re a long way from “The Day the World Discovered Monsters are real.” That was back in 2014, and now monsters are popping back to life, from the South Pole to Skull Island.

It must have something to do with that heartless corporation, Monarch. But surely not. Not with Sally Hawkins, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford, Kyle Chandler, Zhang Zuyi and Ken Watanabe on the payroll!

And let’s not forget Thomas Middleditch. He’s got a one liner or two.

“Is it just me, or has ‘He’ been working out?”

Millie Bobby Brown spent a “Stranger Things” vacation shooting this, a movie that’s pretty much instantly awful, in large part due to the efforts of the screenplay to work a headstrong and company-connected kid (daughter of feuding scientists Farmiga and Chandler) into the heart of the action.

“Maddie” steals this and escapes that, argues with Mom and For Dad…and for Godzilla.

Because all these monsters being awakened need a counter-balance, and that’s what the Lizard King is for, at least in these movies. He is our protector from, oh, Mothra, Rodan and that hydra-headed thing, Ghidorah.

That’s the “thinking,” anyway.

The military (David Strathairn is an admiral, with Aisha Hinds and O’Shea Jackson Jr. are the fighting elite) is inclined to shoot first and ask for budget increases later.

“Admiral, you MUST have faith in Godzilla!” Watanabe, a holdover from the last “Godzilla” movie, declares. “Poor Watanabe” is all I could think. Almost the only thing American audiences see him in is Godzilla movies.

Charles Dance shows up as a villain, the kid is put in jeopardy here and there, characters die; off-camera, as if their agent knew this was going to be a stinker, or nobly, in self-sacrifice, because that is a favorite trope in such Save the World spectacles.

And the picture travels from green screens meant to mimic Antarctica to Mexico, China (got to appease the Chinese in every blockbuster) to Fenway.

We see lots of V-22 Ospreys, the favorite vehicle of sci-fi set in our time, a flying wing (ditto) and a sub.

All just fillers — the locations, the explosions, the debates, the attempted one-liners. Because we know even without seeing the trailer that this is headed towards a Monster Sumo Mash finale.

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The parable, that humanity has been Earth’s “dominant species for thousands of years, and look what happened,” stings.

As in the classic “Godzilla” sequels, the fate of the monster is supposed to get us all choked up. Right.

The idea that some might see the deliverance of The Titans (what they call these monsters) as a good thing, a cleansing “reset” for Planet Earth, is straight out of Bond villainy. Cynical and heartless, perfectly in step with the rest of the picture, in other words.

They went with a bargain basement director (Michael Dougherty of “Krampus,” lessening their cost, if not their risk. How’d that work out?

At least the effects houses that digitally rendered Godzilla & Friends (Frenemies?) got paid for hurling radiation-zapping kaiju at me and you, usually brawling in the rain, often in edits that make even the lumbering slow motion a monstrously murky blur.

Warners is going to make a buttload of bucks with this, and I don’t usually begrudge the business side on the hard decisions they take a flier on — $200 million for this, or four much better human stories with few special effects?

But as the truism “If you’ve seen one ‘Godzilla’ movie, you’ve seen them all” still applies, I kind of hope they choke on the cash from this one.

1star6

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Zhang Ziyi, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Charles Dance, David Strathairn

Credits: Directed by Michael Dougherty, script by Zach Shields and Michael Dougherty. A Warner Brothers release.

Running time: 2:11

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4 Responses to Movie Review — “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” a B-movie debacle like no other

  1. *Chili burp* says:

    Huh. I almost inevitably see eye-to-eye with you on the big budget stuff, but not here. Thought this was passably fun, stupid, summer stock, and was surprised to see a metacritic score about 10-15 points lower than expected.

  2. Jack says:

    “…from the South Pole to Skull Island (mentioned, not shown).”

    Actually, it is shown. Blink and you’ll miss it, but it is shown. Along with Kong.

    Regardless, the movie sucks.

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