Whether we like it or not, summer blockbusters go hand in hand with campiness. Some blockbusters embrace it and provide plenty of it, enhancing its entertainment value. Others, on the other hand, are melodramatic and unintentionally become stuff of camp legend. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the latter, which means it’s a love it or hate kind of movie.

Directed by Michael Dougherty (2015’s Krampus) and co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields (co-writer for Krampus), King of the Monsters is part monster movie, part destruction porn, and part environmental messenger. King also boasts a sprawling cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and David Strathairn. Along with a few “old” new monsters, this may be the biggest and loudest tentpole of the summer. In case you’ve forgotten, King of the Monsters is a sequel to the 2014 reboot Godzilla and it’s the latest in Legendary Pictures’ announced MonsterVerse. Honestly, this entry is enjoyable, although it takes itself too seriously.

Where do I begin with this rumored $200 million production? Well, the monsters, known as titans, are impressive. Godzilla hasn’t changed much since its 2014 incarnation – he’s really tall and bulkier than his Japanese ancestor. Since it’s a sequel there must be more monsters, so Mothra, Rodan and the alien kaiju Ghidorah (all appearing as themselves) are along for the ride. It’s a good ol’ battle royale, and only one can be crowned king of the monsters.

That is essentially the film’s plot. Ghidorah is a bad titan who wants to bust up Godzilla’s hood and take over as big boss. Ghidorah is a three-headed flying freak of a monster, who’s as primally sinister as he is ugly, so you know he’s up to no good. He beats up on Rodan, another flying monster, so he can flex on all the kaiju, then he goes about looking for Godzilla to take the crown.

Godzilla and Ghidorah throw down in the Gulf of Mexico, and while they’re fighting humans step in and perform a stupid human trick. Believing all titans pose a threat to humanity, a powerful missile called the Oxygen Destroyer is launched at the fighting titans. Ghidorah survives while Godzilla seemingly doesn’t. At this point, humans realize the remaining titans have pledged allegiance to Ghidorah and the destruction of the planet is on. It’s up to Monarch, the once-clandestine zoological organization who been studying the kaiju, to save the planet from the Earth’s “balancers.”

King is a fun time, especially when it focuses on the titans. In this case, I’m all about the spectacle and I wouldn’t have minded if Godzilla battled every kaiju that came along. I don’t need a plot, especially since the one provided is ridiculous. I’m not going to mention all of it because it’s ultimately not important but every few minutes Dougherty takes a timeout where humans bark about the titans’ origins, the titans’ history, how they could end of the world and how only Godzilla can save it. But when you realize how and why the kaiju came out of hibernation in the first place you’ll understand why the plot is so terrible and the human aspect holds King back.

Speaking of humans, Dougherty allowed the cast to go dramatic. Chandler kicked and screamed about how all the titans need to be destroyed. When he wasn’t barking about that he yelled about how he needs to find his wife and daughter (Farmiga and Brown), both of whom were abducted by baddie Dance. Farmiga played a decent ice queen when she wasn’t arguing with hubby about past mistakes. And Brown was a talkative teen who did what typical teens do – rebel. She rebelled for a good reason, although she managed to put herself in harm’s way in the process. The cast were acting for a completely different film, save Whitford, who spat out corny one-liners as if someone tricked him into thinking he was in Happy Gilmore 2.

So in this case – monsters good, humans bad! This is worth a look if you liked 2014’s Godzilla and want to see the MonsterVerse unfold. If you ignore the plot and watch the titans do what they do best you will enjoy this blockbuster for the right reasons.

3 stars out of 5


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