Godzilla: King of the Monsters

132 minutes | Rated PG-13

    The best known and most popular of the Japanese “Kaiju,” or giant monster, Godzilla, returns to the big screen in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The monster first appeared in the 1954 Japanese film “Gojira,” the name derives from a combination of the Japanese words for whale and gorilla. The original film was directed by Ichiro Honda, of Toho Studios, in response to the use of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the bomb’s radiation waking the beast from the depths of the sea. In 1956, the film was Americanized as “Godzilla, King of the Monsters,” this version added an American reporter named Steve Martin to the film. Martin was portrayed by Raymond Burr of the popular TV show Perry Mason.

    The new movie is the third in a series of films which began with 2014’s Godzilla, and continued in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. This series of films deals with an organization known as Monarch and their discovery and interaction with creatures that they have termed “Titans.” As revealed in the film, Godzilla and Kong are but two of seventeen titans that have been discovered by Monarch. The new film opens five years after the events of Godzilla. Dr. Emma Russell, played by Vera Farmiga, has been working on designing the ORCA system which analyzes sounds made by these titans to, hopefully, communicate with them. During the event five years ago in San Francisco, Russell and her husband, Mark, portrayed by Kyle Chandler lost their son. They have since split with Mark studying wildlife abroad, and Emma working for Monarch. Their daughter, Madison, played by Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from “Stranger Things”), lives with her mother and has recently begun communicating online with her father.

    Emma is taken to a secret Monarch facility where the titan dubbed Mothra is breaking free from its cocoon. Madison tags along and witnesses the spectacle. The facility is invaded by troops lead by the mysterious Alan Jonah, played by Charles Dance. They have come for the ORCA device and kidnap Emma and Madison as well. The device is then used to awake the alpha titan King Gidorah an immense three-headed dragon like creature. This signal also awakens other titans such as the fire demon Rodan, among others. Monarch informs Mark of what has happened. He; Dr. Ishiro Sherizawa, portrayed by Ken Watanabe; Dr. Rick Stanton, played by Bradley Whitford; Dr. Ling and Dr. Ilene Chen, both played by Zhang Ziyi; and Dr. Vivienne Graham, played by Sally Hawkins, devise a plan to awaken Godzilla to challenge the alpha titan Gidorah and bring balance to the chaos.

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters is exactly the sort of thing fans of these giant monsters created by Toho Studios have dreamt of. Many of these creatures look better than they have ever looked. The special effects are awesome. The acting is excellent. I’m not 100% sold on the current look of Godzilla. His head looks a bit too small to me, and with the thickness of the neck, slopes to the shoulders. I think it would look better with either a slightly thinner neck, or a larger head. Fans of the old song by Blue Oyster Cult should stick around as a new version is played over the closing credits, there is also a post credit scene teasing the next movie in the series.

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters is rated PG-13 for violence and language, it should be fine for most older children and up. I rate it four-and-one-half out of five giant moths.