Five years after Godzilla saved San Francisco and disappeared the Monarch company continues to search and study various monsters around the world. When his ancient nemesis Ghidorah is released, Godzilla and his human allies must race to save the world from destruction.
2014s ‘Godzilla’ split reactions into two camps. Those that thought it was stupid and those that thought it was stupid and enjoyed it. So whilst it certainly takes steps in the right direction, ‘King of Monsters’ is unlikely to convert sceptics.
The main area of improvement is in the battle scenes. The first focused on Godzilla fighting in the background whilst the protagonists had to deal with the consequence of his sheer size. Rather than worrying about being stepped on they dodged cars and debris created by the actions of the monsters. It is a great way to humanise the action and force us to be in awe of the scale. The sequel is able to balance this whilst also giving us a better look at the battles between the kaiju. They are pretty damn exciting and weave your ability to care about characters peril whilst gleefully watching skyscrapers fall to bits.
For those that complained they didn’t see enough of Godzilla in the last film, there is a fair chunk more to see but he is still used sparingly. It is a good trick to keep the pacing exciting when he does feature. Some fan favourites from Toho studios make an appearance. Both Mothra and Rodan appear unchanged and pretty consistent with previous incarnations. The CGI looks fab and it really helps bring them to life. Ghidorah really does steal the thunder (quite literally) and is the first time he has moved vaguely convincingly on screen. He works well as a world-ending threat and does create an atmosphere of menace. So much so it is hard to think how they will up the ante in the inevitable sequels.
The human cast plods away and the injections of tongue-in-cheek humour from them is definitely a needed addition. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins return to help connect events from the first film and set up expositions. Watanabe gets a bit more to do in this one which is certainly a relief but his range continues to be underused. Charles Dance still fails to live up to his name by staying still all the times and pretty much does a Tywin in a khaki uniform. The rest of the cast are about as memorable as Eurovision contest winners.
There is an attempt to interject an allegory to climate chaos which doesn’t quite pay off but doesn’t come across as cynical so the attempt is at least admirable. What the film does do well is start to flesh out the internal logic of the MonsterVerse. There is a nice bit of simple world building pulling in a variety of tropes from the likes of Jules Verne.
Is it stupid? Hell yea. Is it cheesy? It is cheesier than a four-cheese pizza that you’ve decided to add a bit of Bucheron on top. Is that what they planned? No doubt. It is a great popcorn blockbuster and on the good clean fun scale, it is squeaky clean.