Godzilla (2014), with its lethargic pace and shockingly minimal screen time given to its star, had me fighting to stay awake. So when I read that the new sequel was doubling down on the established format – lots of humans explaining the monster, punctuated by monster action here and there – I steeled myself and had a caffeinated beverage at the ready. So imagine my surprise that G:KOTM was a lot more entertaining than I had expected. Now don’t get me wrong: there is still a ton of almost laughable exposition, as these vaguely defined scientists (zoologists? Crypto-zoologists? Kaiju-ologists?) explain to each other, and to us, the motivations behind the behavior of the various creatures (dubbed Titans here). But the breathless pontificating is augmented by constant seismic activity, as the earth seems to be in a constant state of geological distress due to the monster activity. There’s a lot more going on and the film moves more briskly than the previous G flick. And the movie succeeds, for me anyway, by tapping into fond, if vague, memories of watching the old giant-monster movies on local tv stations on a Sunday afternoon. Much of the old gang is all here – in addition to big G, we get Mothra, Rodan and the magnificent three-headed Ghidorah – and they are all glorious to watch. Their individual appearances and their battles with each other are appropriately BIG and cataclysmic, with a weight to them that trumps any of the nonsensical Transformer films. What’s more – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – the volumes of human explaining actually accentuate the various beasties’ individual stories and reasons for being. While not as fun as Pacific Rim, the big, lumbering, not-as-smart-as-it-thinks-it-is Godzilla: King of the Monsters accomplishes the feat of capturing the destructive grandeur of these clashing titans for a new generation.
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