There is a moment in ‘Godzilla II: King Of The Monsters’ when the iconic creature rises up and stands to full height, dwarfing the crumbled city blocks around him.
He lets out a roar, the cinema stereo kicks in and air force jets fly past him completing an epic image. For some, that image alone, and many like it, is going to be worth the price of admission – for the rest of us, there are other movies to consider seeing.
Millie Bobby Brown kind of stars (the only star in a Godzilla movie IS and should be Godzilla) as Madison Russell, daughter of scientists Dr Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler).
She had a brother, but guess what happened to him in the original movie (shown in flashback) and so now Mum and Dad don’t live together. Interestingly enough, as scientists they are working on a sonar machine that could communicate with the monsters.
So is the film a metaphor about divorce, with a daughter dragging her two parents back together again? Now that would be telling, but sadly whatever the story is trying to say you’ll be hard pressed to care.
That is not on the cast; they all play this straight and with conviction but are hampered by the script that makes most characters indistinguishable – besides a group that are in awe of the Titans and another that are really intense about… everything.
Those who fare best are Ken Watanabe, who returns and gets one good conversation scene to set up his fate. Doing even better is Bradley Whitford, as an audience stand-in, with the only lines that are even remotely humorous as he reacts to proceedings the way we would.
Humour is what is missing in these films; they’re played straight and dour, which is fair enough when the world is potentially ending. But my goodness, if you can’t have fun with a monster movie when can you?
Due reverence is given to Godzilla, and all the other monsters, giving him a sense of mystery and personality.
Some of the action sequences are inventive and feel appropriate. An evacuation of a Mexican city with fighter aircraft baiting the winged creature Rodan gives the human characters agency and lets them do something good.
The resulting chase feels like a fair depiction of what would happen when a giant, flying beast and a bunch of air force planes get entangled, and is nicely shot and choreographed.
With super jets traversing the globe, heroes talking with urgency and monsters eyeballing the camera this is pretty much a Saturday morning cartoon but with darker lighting and a longer runtime. Kids might enjoy it, but at 132 minutes even they will probably check their watches.
There have been three entries in this cinematic universe so far, none of them great but this might be the least imaginative one yet.
For fans of monster movies there should be enough to connect with, but the struggle continues to create an engaging human story around these creatures.
‘Godzilla II: King Of The Monsters’ is in cinemas.