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As the world is trying to accept the existence of monsters, now called Titans, the human’s agency Monarch has to face a battery of god sized monsters including Godzilla as they fight for supremacy.
*Be aware of spoilers*
Five years after the first Godzilla incident Dr. Emma Russell, a paleobiologist who works for Monarch along with her daughter Madison wake up Mothra with the help of the “Orca” device while a group of eco-terrorists attack and kidnap Emma and Madison. Dr. Ishiro and Dr. Vivienne approach Emma’s ex-husband to help them find them while Emma awakens Monster Zero in Antarctica and battles Godzilla. The team learns that Emma is not kidnapped but works with the terrorists in order to free all the Titans in order to heal the Earth.
From a Monarch bunker Emma awakens another Titan named Rodan who fights with Monster Zero but looses the battle while Monster Zero battles with Godzilla again and looses one of it’s heads. The Navy launches a prototype missile called the “Oxygen Destroyer” which kills Godzilla while Monster Zero regrows his lost head and awakens all the other dormant Titans around the world. Dr. Chen discovers Monster Zero’s real identity now called Ghidorah as an ancient alien while Godzilla having survived the blast is healing in an underwater city and in order to speed up the process they detonate a nuclear warhead that kills Dr. Serizawa.
Madison steals the “Orca” device and attracts all titans to Fenway Park, calming them. Ghidorah arrives and tries to destroy the device but Monarch and Godzilla arrive and enter the fight. Ghidorah almost kills Godzilla but Mothra sacrifices herself and transfers her energy to Godzilla making him vastly superior to Ghidorah easily defeating him with several nuclear pulses. By doing so the other titans bow down to him as their true king.
When it comes to Hollywood, Godzilla has been a hit or miss situation with their blockbuster offerings the past few years. When the 1998 version was released expectations were sky high and with Emmerich behind the director’s chair things looked more than just optimistic. But the film fell under it’s own weight as both critics and fans slammed it for deviating too much from the original Toho Godzilla and the final earnings put any future sequels on hold as the risk for the sequel to fail was very high and people had lost interest after such a failed attempt.
This brought us to 2014, 16 whole years later in order to be able to get another taste of this huge monster. This time with Gareth Edwards taking directing duties the film was promising to bring Godzilla back to it’s roots and respect the original much more than what happened 16 years before it. And although there was some excitement when the first material started to release the memories of the 1998 version had not been forgotten so it was not until release that people understood that Edwards version was a completely different beast. By creating an interesting story and good characters development and wrapping all these around an amazing action filled GCI spectacle the 2014 Godzilla was something of a revelation.
It felt fresh, it felt interesting and all the time it kept honoring it’s routes and it’s original design that made this creature so famous. Edwards really managed what many thought it was not impossible by breathing new life in this dormant franchise. It was only natural for the production studios to greenlight a sequel and this brought us to 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Now there is a common characteristic that such sequels tend to have. When we are talking about films that have huge CGI monsters, making a sequel means that people want to see more of what they like in the first one so it was a given that the second film will have more fights, more special effects, more monsters and in general more of everything in its try to surpass the first movie and offer something different. And this is the trap that such kind of films fall into and ultimately fail to deliver even in the most basics.
When we first viewed Godzilla: King of the Monsters we couldn’t help but kept thinking of another film that has similar content and that was Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro’s try on the Kaiju world was a real spectacle but while in the surface it was the monsters and the giant Jaegers that were attracting most of the attention in reality it was a good story and interesting characters that kept the film tight and moving forward while the giant robots, Kaijus, special effects and CGI helped the film to elevate on a grand scale. Pacific Rim: Uprising on the other hand tried to do what the first film did but inverted. It put the action and special effects at it’s core and tried to wrap them with some story and believable characters.
This ultimately led to it’s failure and while the film didn’t bomb or anything it was not the success you would expect especially when expectations, due to the original, were so high. There were moments during the action scenes that it felt more like a Playstation videogame rather than a film that featured God like sized robots fighting enormous abominations. Production studios did not learn from that mistake and made exactly the same with Godzilla’s sequel.
King of the Monsters offered more in it’s try to beat the first film but lost track of what really made the first one so good. And so it put action and special effects at it’s center leaving everything else as little more than just extras that are needed to make a film. Forgettable characters, less than believable story and action that reaches over the top situations is what we get here. In the end the action felt very fake even if it is a grand CGI spectacle and there were more than a few moments that we felt completely uninterested of where this whole story will drive us. This usually never is a good thing and special effects can do so much to keep a viewer glued to the screen.
After all we should not forget that we live in an era that we cannot be easily impressed by visual effects as we have seen almost everything so putting this front and center will do the film more harm than good. CGI cannot be nowadays a driving vehicle as it happened in the past and can never substitute a good story and strong character development. And this is the major gripe I have with the King of the Monsters as you cannot blame the film for what it is, it’s the way that presents it that makes it look more bad than it is.
Godzilla: King of the monsters follow the story of the first film, albeit 5 years after the events in 2014’s Godzilla with a new set of characters taking the center roles and this was also a misfire as we already had an established set of characters that could help with further character development but instead the filmmakers decided somewhat to press the restart button and focus on new ones who ultimately fail to draw our interest in the same way. We don’t know if this is the fault of the actual actors or the script that doesn’t allow for them to become more interesting but our guess would be on the second.
The actors by themselves try their best but at no point did we feel connected or sympathized with their emotions. In the end we get an ensemble of characters that do what they can with what they have but unfortunately it’s a missed opportunity and they are just there to fill the gaps mostly than anything else.
When you talk about a film like Godzilla: King of the Monsters then there is no possible way not to mention the creatures themselves as well as the visual effects of the film. Although what we get is like Godzilla 2014 but tenfold this has exactly the opposite effect than what you would expect. While in the first movie any moment you would see Godzilla it gave you a sense of real magnitude, weight and realism here it felt so fake and unrealistic even though the CGI effects were on par to the first film at least as far as quality is concerned. And this shows us that it’s not only a matter of showing more but how you show these visual effects in order to make them believable to the audience.
If there is one thing that the film certainly had was good pace. With all this monster action there was little time left for anything else so we felt that at no point did the film dragged or felt boring. The pace was good something really important in order to keep things going as the story was not helping in this regard. With actual time a bit less than two hours Michael Dougherty managed to wrap everything nicely without leaving any major loose ends.
In the end the film tries so much to offer more than in the end offers much less. The story that should be front and center is pushed in the corner, the characters are mostly forgettable as humans tend to be useful mostly for cannon fodder here and the visual effects although good enough the way they are shown feel more like a videogame than a realistic depiction of this gargantuan creatures, like we felt with the first film. King of the Monsters was a huge missed opportunity to build upon the first Godzilla. The source material was there, design was established, characters were set…heck even the failure of Pacific Rim: Uprising should help them avoid certain mistakes.
But instead they fell on all the pitfalls imaginable and managed to create a film that in no way can reach the quality and magnitude of the first. Does this make the sequel a bad film? Well, bad is not a word I would choose to describe it but when you have seen and enjoyed the first so much you have such high hopes for this one only for them to be squashed under the weight of the film’s premised potential.
You are certainly going to spend two hours of entertainment watching this huge monsters reign havoc upon humans but it’s the kind of film that you have to switch your brain completely off and ask no questions later. If you go with the right mentality the new Godzilla has it’s merits, but it certainly is not the sequel we were hoping for and in no way it can reach the quality of the first as it remains the highlight of this franchise…at least until Godzilla vs. Kong is released in 2020.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters blasts into the 4K UHD format with a rock solid 2160p resolution, HEVC / H.265 encode courtesy of Warner Bothers. The UHD version has an aspect ratio 2.39:1, comes with both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ and is accompanied by a fantastic Dolby Atmos audio track that we will analyze in a bit.
Although we are talking about a blockbuster, effects driven film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters seems to have got a 2K digital intermediate (DI) meaning that the UHD version is practically an upscale although one of the better ones that we get in this new format. The film is in general very dark as many of it’s scenes take place at night or underground while the picture has a somewhat washed out feeling which is obviously a deliberate look from the filmmakers.
With so many low lit scenes HDR is becoming very important with highlights becoming more pronounced. In the Monarch’s vessel for example we see a lot of computer panels with graphics and blinking lights stand out more giving the overall “dull” and monochromatic picture more depth. Colors, as much as you can see them, also feel more pronounced and refined with textures composition being more distinct on surfaces, clothes and skin.
Usually with films that are low lit if the transfer is not very good it is easier to spot inconsistencies with the image like compression artifacts, macroblocking and banding, problems that were non existent here with the transfer being a very solid one even with the difficulties the film has due to it’s creative design.
When reviewing a Dolby Atmos track that accompanies a film like Godzilla: King of the Monsters then the stakes are indeed very high. But this transfer manages to deliver every bit of oomph and power such a film deserves and then some. The Atmos track will in all honesty kick you, beat you, slap you in the face, twist you and when you think it’s finished it will prepare you for another round. With the film having very few action-less scenes until the end credits starts rolling you will feel exhausted by all the hits you will receive from all possible angles and corners.
The film deserves to be listened with a dedicated audio surround system as it has so much to offer when it comes to a completely immersive experience. Channels distinction and separation was spot on while precise shifting will make you turn your head more than a few times. Due to the nature of the creatures that more often than not extend beyond the physical boundaries of the picture frame, the overhead layer feels full and satisfying by providing all the necessary information in order to be able to draw a complete picture of what we are seeing, and what not.
On the other hand it would be a real pity if the bass in such a film was not as satisfying as it should and in this case the film scores also very high. Your walls will shake as if Godzilla is outside your house asking for an invitation and this is a movie that can definitely test the limits of any subwoofer…or your neighbor’s patience. Dialogue also had very good resolution with the center channel being very distinct and separated very good from the rest of the channels providing crystal clear sound that never felt like overlapping with the rest of the effects even during action busy scenes.
Closing if you liked the film then you should make yourself a favor and buy the 4K UHD version as it is the best one you can view this film at home. The film may be lacking but this transfer is not.
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4K UHD Rating :