December 3, 2021

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[Review] Godzilla II: King of the Monsters does not crack

Five years after Gareth Edwards’ film, the giant reptile makes its comeback on our screens (but still without Jean Reno) in Godzilla II: King of the Monsters. A sequel that has almost nothing to do with its predecessor, neither in substance nor in form, and which continues to install Warner’s titanverse before the final confrontation between the lizard and the gorilla.

Previously on Godzilla: Nuclear tests woke the mythological titan with their left foot and humans began to reconsider their place in the food chain in question. And even if San Francisco paid a heavy price, the Monarch company realized that the beast was perhaps the least worst of evils in the face of other creatures far more destructive to humanity. So we are a few years later, all the previous cast have taken a vacation except Ken Watanabe, and Monarch has to deal with the awakening of new titans including King Ghidorah. Faced with his new threats, their salvation may come from the real master of the place …

The 2014 Godzilla had attracted the wrath of the public (and we are not talking about Kong: Skull Island) arguing that we did not see enough the eponymous creature. Indeed, Edwards took the party to remain on a human scale, preferring to suggest the beast during the majority of the feature film. The emphasis being thus placed on the narration and the emphasis on this little man, ultimately little in the face of the immensity of what he has awakened. In short, it’s as if you had an Alien movie, without really seeing Alien and… that it would result in a masterpiece of the 7th art called The Eighth Passenger. Obviously, Edwards’ film was far from achieving this status of cult jewel – we force the line for the irony of the thing, we are teasing -, but we maintain that it showed sacred staging ideas and that he did not deserve so much hatred, quite the contrary.

Except that the producers have not remained insensitive and it seems difficult to see anything else in this Godzilla II: King of the Monsters than a response to the critics of the first part. Just if we have fun comparing French posters, we go from a threat, seen from the back, walking on the city to a close-up on the roaring beast. From the introduction, the footage offers us a shot of a Godzilla from head to foot as if to signify that we are going to get into the heart of the subject: the film of Kaiju and his baston of monsters here’s.

The little man in mousse
The scenario may quickly paint us the portrait of a family broken up following the arrival of the lizard and even if we greatly appreciate seeing Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown (the little Eleven from Stranger Things) on the screen. , this second opus really struggles to give consistency to its most human part. The monster (s) taking more screen time, our characters quickly turn into foils whose main objective remains to take us to the next place of confrontation.

Which, in itself, would not be embarrassing if this scriptwriting tool did not constantly seek to make us believe that it was not the case, that there really is a “story” behind these piss-offs between titans. Suddenly, we are witnessing many attempts at twists, secondary stories and multiplication of characters, unnecessarily numerous and complicated, while it always comes down to people who follow dots on a map. It is all the more unfortunate that there was really something to be said about mourning and rebirth, but that the point is totally lost in this complexification of ceremonial, which becomes confused to the point that even protagonists no longer seem to know why they are doing this.

As for the discourse on the nature of Godzilla and on the ecological significance of the beast (the return of the Earth, the balance of life, etc.), nothing stated here radically changes what we have already heard or seen in previous works dedicated to Godzi, including the animated trilogy offered on Netflix.

Godzilla, King Ghidorah, octagon without ruler!
In any case, the objective of this Godzilla II: King of the Monsters is elsewhere: to offer us a fight of titans which bursts the retina and which returns to all that is done best in terms of films of Kaiju. On this ground, we can say that this sequel concocted by Michael Dougherty keeps all its promises. In terms of raw confrontation, the film is reminiscent of Pacific Rim first of the name with its wide shots which leaves the necessary space for monstrous bodies to express themselves. It’s epic, dantesque, spectacular and the footage never shows itself as generous as when it turns into a real disaster film where the elements are unleashed around a helpless humanity. If you wanted the monster, you will be served! Maybe the film struggles to tell something,

As if the film was trying to apologize for not having shown enough in the first part, the camera constantly strives to highlight its objects of fear, of fascination. We must thus underline the magnificent photograph of Lawrence Sher who seems to want to offer us a wallpaper for our PC each time a Titan comes into play. Artistically speaking, we cannot deny the effect of style and we savor the visual gluttony, almost excessive at times. Long live the king.