Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the first movie I've watched this summer season. While a masterpiece of CGI effects, cinematography, and explosions, it falls extremely short of plot cohesiveness, character consistency, and practically scores every Hollywood trope imaginable when displaying the human subplot.
Starting with this movie's strong points, the monster battles. It was clear director Michael Dougherty didn't seek to create a convincing storyline complete with dramatic emotional scenes, twists, and betrayals. This film absolutely masters bringing computer-generated beasts into existence, as their movements, facial features, and even their impact on surrounding environments is meshed into one well executed setpiece. Godzilla, Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra are all thumping presences in their own unique ways. That reminds me, the musical score is comparable to Avengers: Endgame in how fitting and powerful it is. The tribal chanting that introduces Godzilla and Ghidorah have their own choruses, representing the personalities of both creatures. While the chanting for Godzilla is more triumphant and blood-pumping, Ghidorah's theme instills dread and fear into the listener, which reflects how they act in the movie extremely faithfully.
Mothra and Rodan, while side-kaiju, both had relatively important roles. Rodan as King Ghidorah's second in command, ravaging Boston City ruthlessly. Meanwhile, Mothra, implied to be Godzilla's wife, plays her role of protector justice, assisting both humans and Godzilla himself throughout the movie and especially during the climax. While she does sacrifice herself so Godzilla can become ultra-charged and annihilate Ghidorah, the end credits reveal her legacy continued on through a hatched egg.
I could continue praising this movie for grasping the scope of such a cataclysmic war between godly titans of remarkable power, but unfortunately, there were many casualties paved on the path of making the actual kaiju fights happen.
For example, the main human antagonist is an ecoterrorist named Alan Jonah, a former British Army colonel turned war criminal for motivations never explored in the film. His entire existence is pointless, as his character originally holds interest in 'restoring world order and natural balance', but then completely 180s into desiring the extinction of human life. He also forges a deal with Emma Russel, the mother of human protagonist Madison Russel. Of course, this monumental event which the entire plot revolves around and suffers consequences because of is never on screen. Instead, it's merely stated that in the past, Emma approached Jonah about releasing Ghidorah... What!? Charles freaking Dance was cast for this role! CHARLES DANCE! The same man whom played Tywin Lannister, a cast that defined his entire career as an extremely posh, professional, and collected Englishman. It's an utter waste to simply use him to further the practically nonexistent plot of the movie, especially when his ideologies clashed with the worldviews of Monarch and Emma Russel, which could've created interesting dialogue between them.
The protagonists are your average gang of problem-solvers and outdoorsmen. Mark Russel as the initially resistant but eventually accepting father of Madison Russel, Emma Russel as the reversed yet extremely intelligent scientist, and a band of friends that tag along for the ride, literally, in a super high-tech spaceship. Ishiro Serizawa, the Japanese scientist from the 2014 iteration, also makes an appearance and tearful sacrifice to revitalise Godzilla near the movie's end. The only character death I actually felt emotionally connected with, considering Serizawa was memorable despite being given limited material too work with.
This movie's greatest plot weakness however, are two things. 1. Characters move across the entire planet in mere moments, and 2. Everyone is incompetent at everything ever. The U.S Government doesn't immediately sack Monarch for their refusal to divulge extremely sensitive information regarding giant creatures living beneath the Earth. Said government states there will be consequences for Serizawa walking out on a meeting to recruit Mark Russel. Spoiler alert: There aren't any, as the U.S Military ends up assisting Monarch later anyway. Mothra refuses to attack evil terrorists she just saw gunning down innocent scientists and friendly humans because... all humans are righteous in her insectoid eyes, I guess. The Monarch soldier has Jonah in her crosshairs but refuses to fire... okay? Serizawa sacrifices himself because apparently no one thought of simply firing a guided ICBM through the wormholes and into Godzilla's temple to rejuvenate his powers. If they have guided drones and a freaking spaceship that withstands Ghidorah lightning storms you cannot tell me they don't have access to that technology. Serizawa doesn't immediately gain radiation poisoning and die a horrible, painful death the moment he enters an area whose radiation abundance would make Chernobyl seem a tiny slap on the wrist. Fire Godzilla (as purely epic and jaw-dropping as that moment was) is never explained in any context whatsoever. Did Mothra just give her space cosmic energy to Gojira? Did Gojira absorb her dead body? Hey, why is Mothra so loyal to Godzilla anyway? Does she psychically know Ghidorah is malevolent and seeks to conquer and destroy? How is Mothra alive for millions of years? Is she simply reborn through her egg-larvae development? Why does Monarch own an entire private army? Are they hired mercenaries? What's the origin of Jonah's terrorist faction? Are THEY just hired goons meant to help Alan? Who the hell was that second in command guy with Jonah that died at Ghidorah's ice tomb? Apparently, that's his son from what I could gather on the internet. WHAT!? He just dies offhandedly and the MAIN ANTAGONIST says nothing about it ever again!? How do all these kaiju actually help the environment? Of course plant-life overtakes apocalyptic cities, that doesn't justify causing a practical extinction-level event to see more of the same, Emma Russel! AAAAHHH MY BRAIN HURTS!
Well... aside from the literal wasteland of a storyline, this movie does set up Godzilla versus Kong and Ghidorah's resurrection at the hands of Jonah, and I harbor a fading hope both Ghidorah and Jonah's origins, personalities, and motivations can be explored more in depth in future movies. Though we'll probably just get more two hour long kaiju battle royales. I suppose personally I have no problem with that, at least just outright tell me next time in the advertising campaign.
6/10. My inner monster-lover so desperately wanted to give this a 9 or 10, but my devotion to storytelling simply wouldn't allow it. Don't get me wrong though, I'm still gonna watch each movie in this franchise just for the action anyway.