We start off in real-time 2019. In the years following Godzilla's battle which leveled San Francisco, the world is divided over the knowledge that more of these so called titans exist and that the organization"MONARCH" desires to protect them despite the destruction they may cause. Amidst this chaotic backdrop, a MONARCH facility in China is raided by an eco terrorist cell who kidnaps scientist Emma Russell along with her daughter Madison, so as to use her invention called the "orca"; a machine that is able to record and mimic the titans bioacoustics signals which they use to communicate with each other. Led by the enigmatic renegade Alan Jonah, the eco terrorists plan to use the orca to awaken the hibernating titans in hope that they will restore the earth to its former glory. But there is more to this plot than meets the eye. Meanwhile, MONARCH engages the help of Doctor Mark Russell, Emma's estranged husband, and co-inventor of the orca, to try and locate the stolen device, his kidnapped ex-wife and child.
If it starts to sound like a human focused "angry dad rescuing family" kind of movie, rest assured it is not. Our giant monsters, the titans, they are not just the backdrop, they feature front and centre from the get go. The prize target of the terrorists plot is to awaken "Ghidorah", a three headed dragon who had been the basis of legends like the hydra. They hope for Ghidorah to establish dominance over the other titans and control them. Unfortunately, Ghidorah himself has other plans. With seemingly alien abilities and power beyond measure, the only titan that might stand a chance against the multi headed monstrosity, is Godzilla.
From the very first on screen appearance of Mothra, to Ghidorah, to the bird-like Rodan, and of course Godzilla, the whole movie goes full throttle with its plot. There is never a dull moment as we follow Mark and the MONARCH scientists led by Dr Serizawa across the globe trying to prevent an end-of-the-world scenario. You could say that it moves so fast that there is hardly any breathing room. Plot developments and characters development happen simultaneously and it's easily to get lost in the details if you do not pay attention.
At our story's core is a tale of a broken individuals dealing with loss at the expense of a loved one. The Russells were victims of the San Francisco Godzilla battle. Their loss drove Mark to drink and become abusive leading to his divorce with Emma who in turn buried herself into her work, all while Madison suffered the fallout. In their journey towards making peace with the past, we see two hurt and bitter individuals choose to put aside their differences for the sake of their child and the world. It is a simple plot thread but with a heartwarming message about family.
The cast play their roles perfectly; especially Kyle Chandler as Mark Russell and Serizawa played by veteran actor Ken Watanabe. The latter's role in the story becomes even more poignant if you watch the first movie and read both prequel comics "Godzilla Awakening" and "Godzilla Aftershock", knowing more about his history and a his connection to both Godzilla and nuclear weapons.
However, the ones I found the most memorable were the G-Team led by badass lady Colonel Diane Foster. They are side characters with minimal development but the situations they are called to deal with, suppressing a terrorist attack, evacuating a city, luring an enraged Rodan away from a populated area, they do all that with guts and a strict dedication to their duty. The best part of it all? The human element is sufficient and never overstays it's welcome.
Equal focus is given to the star attraction themselves: the giant monsters. All do them, Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah and Godzilla all feature cool redesigns that pay homage to their original looks while taking it to a whole new level of badass. Moving Pictures Company (MPC) has outdone themselves once again in the CGI department. Special mention goes to the performance capture used for Ghidorah and Godzilla. Their expressions showcase clear human-like emotions and traits. Their body language blending the actor's performance with animalistic like movements. This motion capture is truly the descendant of traditional rubber suit monster performances.
And when the titans clash, the visuals and cinematography effectively convey the immense scale of their battles. Thanks to Director Michael Dougherty and cinematographer Lawrence Sher, the movie is spectacularly shot with dark apocalyptic visuals, heightening the surreal spectacle of these massive clashes. We are truly witnessing war among gods!
Pulse pounding music by composer Bear McCreary reproduces many of the iconic tunes from past Godzilla movies while giving his own unique spin, with drums and chants, imbuing an almost operatic feel to the movie. This is easily his greatest work to date.
From the music to the characters to the monsters themselves, everything! The passion and love of the genre coming from the cast and crew is evident in every minute of this film. It is great for Newcomers to the Godzilla franchise thanks to the simple story, memorable characters, decent actors, and tight script. It's great as a gateway into the Godzilla franchise. For long time fans, there are numerous Easter eggs, references, callbacks, and parallels to past films. See if you can recognise them all. All in all GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS distills everything cool about Godzilla into a single modern movie.