Film Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Director Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is something of a po-faced monster movie. The emphasis on the human characters weighs the film down.

It has been five years since Godzilla attacked, and the monster has not been seen since. Agency Monarch has to fight against a series of monsters, as the monsters battle each other…

Director and co-writer Michael Dougherty (with co-writers Zach Shields) brings the monsters together with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a follow up to 2014’s Godzilla. The opening ten minutes is an exciting introduction to the film, succinctly introducing the narrative set up. After this, the film settles into a standard pattern for an action blockbuster, with several scenes there to provide exposition on the monsters and current state of affairs, interspersed with big action set pieces.

There are a few good thrills, where Dougherty plays up horror aspect of the monster movie. The additional monsters are introduced quite quickly; it feels like a rush to pit the monsters against each other. Viewers do not get to have a full appreciation of these new monsters.

The script is rather lacklustre. The dialogue is exposition heavy, and lacks any particular character. The explanation of Dr Russell’s actions, which occurs about a third of the way through the film, is bizarre in its need to illustrate the rather basic things she mentions with images. The film does not really earn its moments of gravitas, as the characters are not fleshed out in any meaningful way. The frequent cuts to the human activity during the big fight sequences exposes Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ flaws.

The moving camera does help to infuse the film with a sense of urgency. The CGI effects are not particularly seamless. In some of the scenes, there is simply a whirlwind of CGI and bright lights, which is not particularly exciting to watch. The real star of the film is the sound. The sound effects for the monsters, in particular, are most impressive. The film boasts a good cast including Ken Watanabe, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler. The script does not give them much to work with unfortunately.

Given the high-concept premise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters should have been a lot more fun.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is available on DVD, Blu-ray™, 3D Blu-ray™ and 4K Ultra HD from 14th October 2019.

Previews: Dark River Poster, Oceans 8, More!

Plenty in this pre-Christmas preview of coming events, including the new Dark River poster, Gringo, Oceans 8, and more…

Dark River Poster

Here is the new Dark River poster. The drama is about fraught relationship between a brother and a sister. Directed by Clio Bernard, the film stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, and Sean Bean. Dark River will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd February 2018.

Gringo Trailer

Gringo is a dark comedy about a businessman who finds himself at the mercy of colleagues and local drug lords in Mexico. The film features an all-star cast that includes David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, and Amanda Seyfried. Gringo is directed by Nash Edgerton (brother of Joel), and is set for release on UK screens on 9th March 2018.

Oceans 8 Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Oceans 8. The film features the same big heist set-up as its predecessors, albeit with a brand new cast. Sandra Bullock leads the star-studded cast, and is joined by Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, and Anne Hathaway. Oceans 8 is scheduled for release in June 2018.

Isle of Dogs Poster

Here is the newest poster for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. The stop-motion animated film is about a boy who travels to an island of dogs to find his dog, Spots. The enviable voice cast includes Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Ken Watanabe, and Greta Gerwig. Isle of Dogs will be released in UK cinemas on 30th March 2017.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Trailer

The sequel to the hit 2008 film Mamma Mia! gets a belated sequel. The film is part sequel and part prequel as it focuses on current activity and well as telling the story of Donna when she was younger. Lily James plays the young Donna, and the cast of the original reprise their roles, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released on 20th July 2018.

Film Review: Godzilla

Godzilla

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is a through and through blockbuster that should prove enthralling to viewers.

When researchers find unusual fossils at a mining site, they are flummoxed. Little do they realise the effect that their find will have on the world…

Godzilla is a great modern example of spectacle cinema. Director Gareth Edwards has learned from the best in making the audience wait for the visual pay off. When it does come, it is a fantastic spectacle.

Godzilla distinguishes itself from recent movies of this ilk by maintaining a straght face throughout. There are no humorous asides or comic characters or relief. This may have been a negative had it not been for the fact that everything else in the film is so well executed. This lack of lightening the tone adds tension in pivotal scenes.

The film does feel formulaic in some respects. There are some familiar disaster movie tropes to be found in this version of Godzilla. Nonetheless, the narrative unfolds in a way which keeps viewers engaged. Edwards’ direction is on point; he proves he can handle wide-scale action with aplomb.

The characters in Godzilla are not more important than the overall action. This is by no means a problem. The audience will want to see the action rather than dwell heavily on a sob story. The film’s protagonist gives enough to root for without delving too far, and unnecessarily, into his psyche.

Special effects in Godzilla are magnificent. Production and sound design are also most commendable. The use of 3D is not overt, but it does add depth in a subtle manner. Godzilla‘s opening titles are great at setting the scene, referencing both history and the history of the title character in film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson makes a suitable hero. Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe provide decent support, whilst Bryan Cranston packs the most emotional punch in a small role.

This version of Godzilla is far more likely to stand the test of time than its 1998 predecessor. Godzilla delivers the spectacle that is required of a blockbuster such as this, and it does it with style.

Film Review: Inception

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is the best film of the year so far, and a pinnacle which all blockbusters should strive to match.

A team of specialists, led by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb, are hired by a business man to infiltrate the dreams of his rival and plant an idea; a near-impossible feat even in this world of dream extraction. Cobb hopes this last job will be the key to his way home…

Inception works on every level – it is an incredibly entertaining film. The special effects are seemless, and Wally Pfister’s cinematography is spectacular. Hans Zimmer’s score is suitably pervading, perfectly matching the tone of the on-screen action.

But perhaps the greatest achievement of Inception is the combination of interesting storytelling with slickly produced, high-octane action sequences. These scenes excel not only because they are well made, but also because there is a significant narrative that they work within.

Nolan provides his audience with a completely original screenplay, one that he wrote himself. Whilst the ideas Inception promotes have been explored in science fiction films and books before, the film nonetheless offers filmgoers an original blockbuster; a blessed relief considering much of Hollywood’s fare in the last few years.

The concept of inception (that is to say, planting an idea in someone else’s mind) is an incredibly powerful one. With so little known about dreams, Nolan is astute to capitalise on this. With its interesting plot and narrative twists, Inception provides a winning formula of on the one hand offering intellectual stimulation, whilst on the other not being too complex as to lose half the audience. The film thus retains the entertainment and accessibility to appeal to the mainstream audience, whilst giving viewers an intelligence missing from most recent blockbusters.

As ever, Nolan appears to elicit superb performances from his cast. Regular Nolan players like Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe do a great job, whilst newcomers to the fold such as DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt excel in Inception. Tom Hardy is excellent as Eames; the exposure the actor is likely to garner from this film will probably make it his wisest career move.

Inception really is this year’s definitive blockbuster, one that deserves to be seen on the big screen. It is the type of film Imax theatres were made for.