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By midlandsmovies, May 31 2019 07:40AM

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Directed by Michael Dougherty


When the 2014 Godzilla came out, audiences had two big criticisms: firstly, that Godzilla was chunkier than expected, and secondly that he wasn’t on-screen nearly long enough.

With this year’s Godzilla: King of Monsters, director Michael Doherty certainly can’t be accused of holding him back – there’s plenty of the big green guy on show as he smashes his way through buildings and throws down to show the roster of revived kaiju who’s boss. He’s also no less hench this time around, as his neck seems to have disappeared completely. I’m not body-shaming, he looks great!

Set five years after Godzilla duked it out with the MUTOs in San Francisco, the film follows estranged couple Emma (Vera Farmiga) and Mark (Kyle Chandler) along with their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). Emma is a scientist at Monarch, the global organisation introduced in the first film as the people charged with finding and researching Godzilla and the other Titans.

Mark left the organisation and retired after their son died at the hands (or feet) of Godzilla, but when a group of eco-terrorists (led by the always-great Charles Dance) kidnap Emma and Madison and threaten to unleash the Titans upon the world, he’s out of retirement to rescue them faster than you can say ‘that trope is so old it’s got false teeth in’.

Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins reprise their roles from the first film, but are relegated to side-kicks and exposition providers; one of the film’s most awkward moments has Chandler explaining Godzilla’s motives and how to handle him to Watanabe, who’s been established as having been researching and hunting for Godzilla for decades. Having the American man school the Japanese man on Godzilla of all things makes for uncomfortable viewing!

The actors all put in terrific performances, especially Farmiga and Brown, though I could have done with more Charles Dance because I love him very much. The film really hits it stride when all hell breaks loose and the Titans clash as the trailer promised that they would. The plot may have had some structural weaknesses, but it’s clear that this part of the film is what the filmmakers wanted to focus on; big monsters knocking the crap out of each other.

The effects are superb, as you would expect, with Godzilla and Rodan especially characterful. It’s easy to see these creatures as individuals with personalities rather than just dumb beasts with a penchant for stepping on people. I watched this in the IMAX and the film really makes use of that, especially in the battle scenes; make sure you see this on the biggest screen possible. The 3D feels tacked-on and unnecessary, though, as it was barely utilised at all; in fact it often set the actors apart from the action in a way that made me unconsciously aware of how the actors are acting against a green screen.

The film is far from perfect; certain characters deserved better treatment, the plot is hokey an predictable at times and there’s an alarming dynamic of White Heroes and Sidekicks of Colour (all the people of colour in the film are subordinate to the main heroes), but if you disengage your brain and go in expecting a fun spectacle where big monsters smash things up then you won’t leave disappointed. Plus it sets up next year’s Godzilla vs Kong quite neatly.


Sam Kurd

Twitter @splend

By midlandsmovies, Jan 1 2019 10:26AM

Monsters (2018)

Directed by Chrissie Harper

Vamporama Films presents director Chrissie Harpers second short film Monsters, an eerie outlook of a dystopic future.

The film focuses on one Man (Liam Woon) as he addresses how this ruined world came to be, walking his audience through the history of horrific events that have taken place.

The man details that “monsters have emerged” and that they are “callous” and “unforgiving”, he goes on to say that humans have been forced to live underground much like the setting of the film as it is wholly set in an abandoned air raid shelter.

Who the monsters are? Where they have come from? Why they have attacked? These questions are not made clear. The man speaks softly but ambiguously as if he doesn’t want to know the full story. He continues to divulge that humans can be monsters also, that they have exacted vengeance after the initial attacks which have resulted in the monsters fearing humans also.

This is where Monsters shines, Harper successfully plants a dialogue inside the viewer’s minds asking them if humans are so different to monsters. Whilst watching the film I couldn’t help but mirror our history, our present and what could be our future to what was being displayed on screen. Is this the result of toxic human behaviour?

The fantastic story idea is credited to Steve Green who also produces, whilst director Chrissie Harper also writes the screenplay. Harper with the help of sole actor Liam Woon, creates an overwhelming sense of dread, that all hope is lost. The fact this takes place underground gives off the impression humanity has lost and the monsters have won.

Liam Woon, who also starred in Vamporama Films previous short All Bad Things, is given the huge task of being the only actor, a job he seems to relish as he delivers his monologue poetically and concisely.

I was hoping for clarity at the end of Monsters, who is the Man speaking to? Is he making a record for the future? One could argue the ambiguity of the films nature is what makes it successful, regardless, the last five seconds of Monsters will leave the viewer with a smile…or a shudder.

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

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