‘Godzilla, King of the Monsters’ Review: For Once, the Title Says It All

The beloved movie monster Godzilla both goes big and goes home in this sequel to the 2014 “Godzilla.” For those of you who haven’t been keeping your scorecards updated, that movie was a reboot of a reboot, the uninspiring “Godzilla” of 1998.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is franchise fodder, however. The series is being steered to encompass a battle between Godzilla and King Kong, like the one the Japanese Big G films from the ’60s once enacted. The sort-of sideways tie-in here is with “Kong: Skull Island” from 2017. While Kong himself appears here in but a glimpse, his home gets a lot of mentions.

In this incarnation, a family torn apart by Godzilla takes the foreground. Science people Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga use their daughter Millie Bobby Brown as an emotional Ping-Pong ball while government agencies and eco-terrorists contend with the awakening of a fearsome three-headed beast named Monster Zero.

It’s rather beside the point to note plot goofiness in a Godzilla picture, but this one does push its luck now and then. At one point it seems the film could go full “Kramer vs. Kramer” with Godzilla and Monster Zero (a.k.a. Ghidorah) as attorneys for the parental plaintiffs.

This movie is often pretty slack in matters of story construction and direction. (The responsibility for the latter lies with Michael Dougherty.) Spatial relations are superlax, with characters and heavily armed forces showing up here, there and everywhere from out of nowhere.

As in the 2014 film, this Godzilla is a stouter fellow than we have seen in previous incarnations. While underwater, he resembles a giant electric eel with bourbon bloat. But he gets the wreaking-international-havoc job done, as do the many other monsters, including a Mothra almost as delightfully psychedelic as the old Toho version.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Rated PG-13 for fiery monster breath, mass destruction, teen custody battle trauma. Running time: 2 hours 11 minutes.

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