Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) | Movie Review |

In the land of the monsters – where only one can reign supreme – Godzilla is the undisputed king. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the sequel to 2014’s Godzilla and sees the titular Titan battle his archenemy King Ghidorah for the title of apex predator. Directed by Michael Dougherty. the film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Thomas Middleditch, and Bradley Whitford, with Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn  reprising their previous roles. Spoilers after the trailer.

 

Humans Are The Virus

Godzilla: King of the Monsters was either the most meta film of 2019 or one of the most disappointing ones. The plot centers around a group of eco-terrorists led by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), who wants to rid the Earth of humans by unleashing Monster Zero/King Ghidorah and other monstrous Titans because humans have been destroying the planet. Jonah thinks by letting the Titans reek havoc and destroy humanity, then the radiation provided by them will return the Earth to its natural order. Jonah even goes as far as saying that humans are a virus and that’s why this film has to be meta because the human characters are the viruses of this film.

Charles Dance and Vera Farmiga in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

A movie about giant monsters causing destruction shouldn’t have been this boring and a movie with this cast shouldn’t have been this lackluster. The dialogue throughout the film feels like it came straight out of the 1980s and not in that ‘it’s charming and nostalgic’ type of way. Nearly all of the humans in this movie are scientists but yet cannot escape Darwinism.

Dr. Rick Stanton (Bradley Whitford) makes jokes throughout the film as the resident comic relief, but they’re not funny. Whitford’s character was modeled after Rick Sanchez of Rick & Morty fame and he’s no Rick Sanchez. Stanton would make offhand remarks and imply he’s a heavy drinker, which are characteristics that are synonymous with Sanchez, yet somehow the charm wasn’t there and the jokes were flat. Bradley Whitford is too talented of an actor and just like most of the actors in this film, they can only deliver the dialogue that’s given to them. The entire time it felt like someone had watched Rick & Morty a couple of times and didn’t understand what made Rick a compelling character.

Dr. Rick Stanton wasn’t the only character that suffers from misguided attempts at humor. Dr. Sam Coleman (Thomas Middleditch) and chief warrant officer Jackson Barnes (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) are expected to serve as the film’s comedic tandem as they banter about the events going on in the film. After watching Middleditch in Replicas there wasn’t much to be expected from his performance, but as for Jackson Jr., this film was a letdown following his performance in Long Shot. Like Whitford above, Jackson is another actor that didn’t have much to do in this film, yet the movie spends a lot of time with him and the other humans that aren’t given anything compelling to work with.

Thomas Middleditch and O'Shea Jackson Jr. in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

When the Titans are attacking the world, the film recycles the same military personnel which wouldn’t be a problem but the same officers are doing the same task at nauseum.  Whether it’s preventing the awakening of King Ghidorah in Antarctica, saving humans from catastrophes in Mexico or saving the world in Boston, while fighting in the sky in between, it’s the same soldiers that are everywhere that aren’t tactical at all. They’re led by Colonel Diane Foster (Aisha Hands), who is believable as a colonel because of her demeanor and persona.

Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

In a science-fiction monster film the idea of being tactical could easily go overlooked but as with many problems with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it is something the film constantly brings attention to.  There’s a scene where the scientists explain to fellow scientist Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) that the heat and radiation under the ocean from Godzilla will kill him in seconds –  somehow – he removes his helmet and touches the monster and dies when the nuclear device explodes.

Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) is the luckiest scientist in the film because she dies early on. She gets painfully crushed to death, which has to be a metaphor for how crushingly painful it is to watch a talent like Sally Hawkins being misused in the film. Dr. Leng Chin (Zhang Ziyi) is just here to give the exposition and backstory of the Titans to the audience and that’s about it. She’s the one that tells us the names of the Titans and their significance and what they are. The sad part is none of this is done in a clever way, she’s just talking and the camera will pan to the images and scrolls of the ancient dragons that turn out to be the Titans.

IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The Russell family feud that is the central plot of the film doesn’t improve the movie. Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) are heartbroken because their son Andrew died during Godzilla’s 2014 rampage in San Francisco. Since then, Emma and her daughter Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) have been estranged from Mark and Emma has gone off the deep end. This is another film where one parent is grief stricken and results in the most foolish of plans because they cannot healthily process their grief.

Mark developed a device called “the ORCA” that manipulates frequencies to control the Titans, which ends up getting into the hands of Alan Jonah thanks to Emma. Emma and Jonah’s master plan is to free the Titans to allow them to kill humanity. The most memorable thing that Madison Russell does in the film is that her parents find her hiding in a bathtub in the most cringeworthy way. Emma and Mark argue while searching for Madison and chief warrant officer Jackson Barnes tells them “if you were my parents I would run away from home too,” he repeats the line and that’s when they rescue Madison at her house in the bathtub.  By the end of the film you are hoping that the Titans complete their task because spending more time with these humans would be more tortuous than living on an earth with a depleted ozone layer.

The Titans Were the Antidote

What saves this movie from being a complete mess is Godzilla and the other Titans.  The longest ongoing movie franchise in history proves why this franchise has been around for over six decades and why the titular character is the king. The cinematography of their fights and the designs of these characters are nothing to laugh at. Just look at the photo below as Godzilla uses his signature atomic heat beam:

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Every time the monsters would appear on the film to fight each other, that’s when the film was at its best. The use of colors created some of the best cinematography that you’re ever going to see in a monster film.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

This is another film where the visual effects teams save it from being a complete disaster like the carnage that the monsters are causing. If the movie wasn’t trying to force a plot by the humans and just let the monsters take the driver’s seat then this film would’ve been so much more enjoyable.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Just look at the images. During the film when the action is happening it’s easy to get caught up with what is going on with these monsters yet these humans just get in the way. King Ghidorah is a frightening sight to see:

IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The teeth to the roar and everything in between while watching the movie you know King Ghidorah is here to fight and he ain’t scared of no Godzilla. What makes things so frustrating is that the monsters do a good job at giving an idea of the story elements to the point that we did not need the humans to explain what was going on. A good example is the relationship between Mothra and Godzilla. Once Mothra hatches from her cocoon in search of Godzilla, instead of letting the film explain what we are watching, the characters have to tell us and it is less impactful.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
IMDB/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Another beautiful shot above. To say these Titans carried the film is an understatement because all the memorable things happen because of their involvement.

Final Thoughts

In Godzilla: The King of the Monsters, the humans are the virus and the Titans are the antidote, and the film takes its plot figuratively and literally. A movie with a great cast of actors and a hefty budget but overall it is disappointing. There isn’t a relatable character in the whole film, the plot doesn’t make sense and logic gets thrown out the window even right after it’s stated out loud. It feels like someone was just going through the motions when they wrote this movie and didn’t revise their drafts.

The monsters are the most enjoyable part of this movie. If you want to see some giant kaiju create chaos and rampage a city and laugh at some humans then this is your movie. If you’re looking for a smart, well thought out action movie then this is not it. There is a post-credit scene that sets up the Godzilla vs Kong sequel so if you want to stay through the credits then give it a watch. This is one that can be watched on the small screen but to get the full effect of the monsters then go to a theater and watch it unfortunately you will not be able to fast forward through the parts with the humans there.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released in theaters on May 31, 2019

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Replicas (2018) |Movie Review|

Replicas is a fitting title for a film that pretends to be authentic. The science-fiction thriller stars Keanu Reeves as Will Foster, a research neuroscientist whose family is killed in a car accident, and he plays the role of God by cloning them to give them a second chance at life.  Spoilers after the trailer.

Replicas starts out true to its title, as a copy of most sci-fi movies that deal with the ethics of cloning and the greater good for society as a whole. Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) works as a neuroscience researcher at the Bionyne Corporation, a biomedical company, and he’s trying to develop a way to merge man and machine to expand the life of someone who is mortally wounded. The first attempt is subject 345,  and the “donor” is an injured military sergeant. Foster merges the donor’s conscience with an android to unify the mind of a man with the body of the machine. Once the donor gains consciousness there’s a body horror moment because he looks at his hands and freaks out they’re robotic, which leads him trying to harm himself before Foster pulls the plug to shut him down.

When Foster gets home he tells Mona Foster (Alice Eve), his wife, about the success he had with 345, and since she’s a nurse she disapproves. She thinks it’s unethical for Bionyne to save a person’s life, but shut them down as if they were only machines. Keanu delivers a line trying to compare his biomedical job to the first heart transplant patient living  for 18 days before dying because his body rejected the organ. Keanu Reeve says all this in an unconvincing way, and it’s hard to take him seriously as a neuroscientist. What’s worse than Keanu’s delivery is the performance by Alice Eve before she’s cloned. Her performance is flat, and by the way she’s portraying her character you would think the film had opened with her being a clone.

The Fosters have three children, and the children are just here to give the audience a way to sympathize with Keanu. He’s driving his wife and the kids on a rainy night, his wife warns him to slowdown (IN THE MOST EMOTIONLESS TONE), two seconds later he swerves, crashes on the roadside and is the sole survivor of the aftermath. Fittingly, he calls The Verizon Wireless Guy, his coworker Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to bring equipment such as cloning pods from Bionyne, so Keanu Reeves can save his family. Just like Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch doesn’t add much to his delivery either. He tells Keanu, “we can’t do this,” and he doesn’t even deliver that line seriously. The biggest dilemma is that there are only 3 pods so Will has to make the toughest decision as a parent, and figure out who to not make a replica of. Logically, you would think he would bring back his three kids, ya know, since they’re his kids, and let his wife parish. But for a movie that shouts so many scientific words there is no logic here. He writes each of their four names on pieces of paper, folds them up, puts them in a bowl and tells Mr. Number 2 in Customer Service by JD Power Ed to pick one. This was followed by a nice shot of Keanu crying at the table, distraught over his decision, the camera pans up his arm to his and finally focuses on the name of his baby daughter Zoe.

Thomas Middleditch and Keanu Reeves start figuring out ways to clone the rest of the family and begin the replicating process. Once they start cooking up Will Foster’s new family inside the Bionyne pods, Ed warns Will that he’s going to need a generator, if the pods lose power the cloning process won’t work, and his replicas will die (just like the real ones). We move forward in time and the garage is filled with car batteries that will suffice as a generator. Ed lets Will know that the process will take 17 days before the clones will be ready, too soon they may be deformed, and any longer they’ll age rapidly. While his family is being served up in their pods, Keanu goes around the home, removing any semblance of Zoe. He’s crying to convey the emotions that this is hard for him to erase his baby girl, even though he had the chance to save her life…

5 days into the cloning process this is where Replicas becomes unintentionally(?) goofy. The film tries to convey that people are worried because the rest of Will Foster’s family hasn’t been to school, work, answer calls, emails, chats or text. One of his kids’ teachers even visits their home to checkup on her favorite student, which leads to an awkward moment between her and Reeves. Will Foster decides to get all the mobile devices out of the rest of his family and pretend they’re alive. He calls his wife’s job and emails the school his kids attend in an attempt to cover his tracks. A police officer knocks on his door in an attempt to build suspense, framed as a wellness check, asking if Mr. Foster had his car battery because everyone else in the neighborhood had theirs stolen. He tells the officer that he did not, they laugh and say, “he must of been the lucky ONE (NEO IS THAT YOU?!?)!”

Will Foster does science things and says a bunch of scientific words to the point that you can tell Keanu isn’t even trying to be convincing anymore. On day seventeen, the replicas are ready to emerge from their pods. During the time they were in the pods Will Foster loaded all their memories like they were an Android smartphone downloading from Google Drive. He deleted all their memories of Zoe. He sedated his cloned family, and in 72 hours they wake up and he’s ecstatic because he gets to see their faces again. The day they wake up the colors in the film go from dark to bright, white, lots of light and heavenly. This color change matches the sense of bliss that Foster has.

Alice Eve’s zombie-like performance fits better when she awakens as the clone. When Keanu tells her she’s a clone her reaction might as well have been “oh.” because there’s no emotion or sense of caring there. There is a scene where the family is looking at trees, her son picks one out, and she disapproves because the tree is fake. When she and the rest of the family start vaguely remembering Zoe, there’s actually a real feeling of betrayal. Somehow there’s a tracking device in Fosters family (subjects 346, 347, 348), so BioNyne tracks them down and Jones (John Ortiz), the boss of Will Foster, wants all the replicas dead. This leads to a car chase and an obvious betrayal from Ed (Verizon Guy #2). Which is followed by the film’s predictable, yet messy finish as Keanu Reeves saves the day and outsmarts Jones and the goons at Bionyne.

This review serves as a recap because there’s a lot of issues in this film. Entertainment Studios picked a perfect time to release Replicas, because it’s your run-of-the-mill January release. Thomas Middleditch and Alice Eve had comical performances, and it didn’t help that the script was a mess. Keanu Reeves is phenomenal in action movies, but not even Neo could save this film. The movie tries to take itself too seriously, but the plot isn’t even engaging, and to call this a thriller is an insult to thrillers. There’s nothing exciting about the direction, and the plot has been done more effectively in other science-fiction films. There was a glimmer of hope that this would at least be enjoyable after seeing the trailer, but Replicas couldn’t even replicate any kind of enjoyable qualities like other films in January 2019.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[a si a si]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]